Saturday, July 05, 2008

Gorbachev to the Candidates On Warsocialism

There has been unusual interest throughout the world in the U.S. presidential race.

Skeptics, of whom there are quite a few, say the campaign is just a marathon show that has little to do with real policymaking. Even if there's a grain of truth in that, in an interdependent world the statements of the contenders for the White House are more than just rhetoric addressed to American voters.

Major policy problems today cannot be solved without America - and America cannot solve them alone.

Even the domestic problems of the United States are no longer purely internal. I am referring first of all to the economy. The problem of the huge U.S. budget deficit can be managed, for a time, by continuing to flood the world with "greenbacks," whose rate is declining along with the value of U.S. securities. But such a system cannot work forever.

Of course, the average American is not concerned with the complexities of global finance. But as I talk to ordinary Americans, and I visit the United States once or twice a year, I sense their anxiety about the state of the economy. The irony, they have said to me, is that the middle class felt little benefit from economic growth when the official indicators were pointing upward, but once the downturn started, it hit them immediately, and it hit them hard.

No one can offer a simple fix for America 's economic problems, but it is hard not to see their connection to U.S. foreign policies. Over the past eight years the rapid rise in military spending has been the main factor in increasing the federal budget deficit. The United States spends more money on the military today than at the height of the Cold War.

Yet no candidate has made that clear. "Defense spending" is a subject that seems to be surrounded by a wall of silence. But that wall will have to fall one day.
In yesterdays International Herald Tribune - From Russia with alarm, questions for the candidates. Obamamandius is challenged to become the least parochial, most broadly encompassing president in U.S. history. The singular nature of this challenge calls for a unique capacity to maintain that rorschachian quality onto which myriad folks project their interests and priorities and come out the other end with at least a little something they can articulate in their post hoc rationalization of the many things this administration will be called upon to do.