Dun Surber: Farm subsidies=bad foreign policy
The United States needs all the help it can get in fighting terrorists. To his credit, the president has worked well on the international stage forming the largest international coalition since George H.W. Bush was president. You try to get Pakistan and India on the same page.
But farm subsidies strain international relations. The BBC reported that the United States just had its chops busted by the World Trade Organization for giving subsidies to cotton farmers. Brazil had complained.
The WTO reviewed the complaint and said Brazil would be right to retaliate against this unfair trade practice.
Has anyone in America ever heard of free trade?
I think it goes a lot deeper than international relations, though.
In the comments section, what appears to be a Surber response to a comment reads:
There is no connection between terrorism and poverty. Osama bin Laden’s loaded.
I disagree. Bin Laden may have been loaded, but without widespread poverty and anger against those perceived to be maintaining that poverty, the extremists don’t have such a large pool of volunteers and supporters or so many places to hide. Poverty doesn’t cause terrorism, but poverty enables terrorism. At least the terrorism we’re fighting right now.
In 2003 I wrote in Farmers and the Fourth World War:
It’s the people with empty stomachs, starving children, and nothing to lose that we have to worry about. They will listen to the fundamentalist preachings of hate and terror. They will buy into a system that promises eternal rewards for suicidal attacks against civilians. They are motivated to lash out in any way they can against those they perceive to be their oppressors.
We talk about spreading democracy to the rest of the world. Democracy is really just the tool. So is capitalism. What we really want to spread is wealth. What we really want to spread is a standard of living high enough that it makes death look like a bad alternative. Right now, a lot of people see a glorious death as a good option. That’s what we need to change.
There will always be extremists and nutcases and folks who are just really pissed off. But if they remain marginalized and unable to mobilize the masses, their ability to threaten us will remain small.
Food and a better standard of living is a direct attack on the enemy’s ability to mobilize the masses. Farm subsidies that hurt international farmers for the benefit of agribusiness are counterproductive.
Also, this comment is intriguing. Might make me not quite so opposed to short-term ethanol subsidies.