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Mark Steyn's explanation of our politically correct military policy also explains our trade policy
Howard Richman, 6/17/2011

Mark Steyn explains the common threads of modern U.S. foreign policy in a brilliant and humorous commentary (Too Big to Win) in the June 15 National Review. He sums up our post-cold-war military policy in this perceptive paragraph:

Transnational do-gooding is political correctness on tour. It takes the relativist assumptions of the multiculti varsity and applies them geopolitically: The white man’s burden meets liberal guilt. No wealthy developed nation should have a national interest, because a national interest is a selfish interest. Afghanistan started out selfishly — a daringly original military campaign, brilliantly executed, to remove your enemies from power and kill as many of the bad guys as possible. Then America sobered up and gradually brought a freakish exception into compliance with the rule. In Libya as in Kosovo, war is legitimate only if you have no conceivable national interest in whatever conflict you’re fighting. The fact that you have no stake in it justifies your getting into it. The principal rationale is that there’s no rationale, and who could object to that? Applied globally, political correctness obliges us to forswear sovereignty. And, once you do that, then, as Country Joe and the Fish famously enquired, it’s one-two-three, what are we fighting for?

Without realizing it, he is also summing up U.S. trade policy. Our politically-correct leaders can't advocate a trade policy that would be in our national interest, because, as Steyn points out, that would be "selfish." 

So when the Chinese government places tariffs (and other barriers) upon U.S. products and manipulates exchange rates in order to grow its power and destroy ours, we can't object on the basis of our national interest. Instead, Geithner and Bernanke have to argue that China should consider changing its policy because doing so would be in China's best interest. For example, in his January 22 written testimony at his Senate confirmation hearing, Treasury Secretary designate Timothy Geithner said:

More generally, the best approach to ensure that countries do not engage in manipulating their currencies is to demonstrate that the disadvantages of doing so outweigh the benefits. If confirmed, I look forward to a constructive dialogue with our trading partners around the world in which Treasury makes the fact-based case that market exchange rates are a central ingredient to healthy and sustained growth.

Similarly, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said in his 2010 speech in Frankford Germany:

Third, countries that maintain undervalued currencies may themselves face important costs at the national level, including a reduced ability to use independent monetary policies to stabilize their economies and the risks associated with excessive or volatile capital inflows.... Perhaps most important, the ultimate purpose of economic growth is to deliver higher living standards at home; thus, eventually, the benefits of shifting productive resources to satisfying domestic needs must outweigh the development benefits of continued reliance on export-led growth.

So far, Chinese leaders have been unconvinced by Geithner and Bernanke's brilliantly phrased arguments about what is best for them. Could it be that they don't think that Geithner and Bernanke are so brilliant, given that the U.S. economy is stagnating with high unemployment under their leadership while the Chinese economy has been growing at about a 10% pace?

And, meanwhile, the leaders of the United States don't even consider imposing a WTO-legal scaled tariff to balance trade and force China to change. After all, doing so would be in our national interest, and might hurt China, which would be selfish.

So rather than be selfish and pursue a foreign policy that would be in our national interest, our politically-correct leaders pursue a policy which saps our wealth and gives away our children's economic and political future.

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