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Smile and Dial

The phone is 800-886-9364.

The time is Sunday, April 27 at 6.

The question, with new facts on the ground in Iraq, is whether we can still call it “globalization”?

Or: Is Americanization, for better and worse, the real name of the rapid integration of world markets, technology, culture and power?

Or: Does the triumph of American arms in Iraq define a condition of stability, or crisis?

Here’s a tip sheet on our guests:

Niall Ferguson’s hot new book (and BBC series) “Empire” pleads with the United States (an “empire in denial”–pre-Iraq) to come out of the closet.  He openly urges us to take up, in Kipling’s words, “the white man’s burden” of ordering the commerce and politics of a needy planet.  Ferguson’s defense of the British Empire makes some very colorful history, but I want to ask him: can those imperial colors and cockades ever fit us Americans?  The dustjacket painting on the American edition of “Empire” puts the question too bluntly:  it shows British warships putting the torch to Boston’s Charlestown in the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1776–one of those early battles in our Revolutionary War that the Brits won.  Ferguson invites us to grow up to a role that in truth we’ve been playing indirectly for a long time.  But it seems to mean identifying with the enemy warships in the picture, not with our own founding patriots.

Amy Chua is a law professor and economic historian at Yale.  In “World on Fire,” she has the temerity to write about her politically incorrect fascination with rich minorities in poor countries.  The Lebanese merchant class in West Africa, Indians in East Africa, Chinese in Indonesia, Jews in Russia are instances of “market-dominant minorities” among poor, sometimes angry majorities.   And they are models, in some sense, of the position that the United States (with something less than 5 percent of the world population) now holds in the world.  Is this a morally, politically, economically defensible position–much less a happy place to be?

Arundhati Roy, novelist of “The God of Small Things,” has become an anti-imperial cult figure in the European press, in her native India, and among American web readers.   It is “obnoxious,” she says, for ex-colonial spirits like hers to hear Niall Ferguson sentimentalize British rule in the past.  And she thinks it’s “despicable” in the present that the UN Security Council conspired in disarming and isolating Iraq before the United States went in and smashed Saddam and Baghdad.   The rest of the world, outside the hypnotic effect of American mass media, looks at the news from Iraq and sees bullying, greed, an illegal occupation, she says.  “The issue is how to deal with it.”

This will be part seven of our series decoding globalization, the “ism” of our time–the many globalizations, in fact, that are tearing up the planet on some days, knitting it back together on others.  

It’s our first chance to hear you directly, live on the line. So, please call.

{ 4 } Comments

  1. Anonymous | June 12, 2003 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Arundati Roy opposed the removal of the Taliban from power by U.S. and allied forces on ‘moral grounds’.
    On ‘moral grounds’, rather than fight a war, Ms. Roy would have let the Taliban remain in power to:

    1) Continue denying health care to millions of Afghan women (the Taliban forbade women from seeing male Doctors for a long list of medical problems– thereby sentencing countless 100′s of thousands more Afghan women to death by medical care exclusion).

    2) Would have kept all Afghan women under the crushing weight of the Burkha for years to come.

    3) Would have allowed Al Quaeda to continue to exist unmolested and at full power in Afghanistan.

    Arandati Roy is a destructive idealist.

    Morality without pragmatism is ultimately immoral.

    Outcomes and consequences of positions of principle correctlty gauge the moral worth of such positions, not their internal ‘purity’ devoid of consequence in reality.

    Arandati Roy (and many other disconnected idealists) would have let the Taliban rape Afghanistsan for another generation, rather than go to war to stop it.

    Rather than ‘get dirty’ and do the imperfect thing with the far superior moral outcome:

    That is– use military force to remove the Taliban, liberate Afghanistan and deliver a blow to Al Quaeda.

    Arandati Roy, darling of the unrealistic faction of the Left, gets the limelight, while those who would get their hands dirty and even risk their own lives, get morally perfectionistic condemntation.

    All of this in the upside-down fantasy world of Left perfectionists who yammer endlessly from their many perches in the American and British media.

    As James said, essentially, elsewhere on this Blog…

    …whatever happened to the REAL Left?

    Phil Murray

  2. Anonymous | September 16, 2005 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

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