Why does the Bush administration hate the world’s poor?

by Chris Bertram on September 5, 2003

Glenn Reynolds asks

“WHY DOES THE EUROPEAN UNION hate the world’s poor so much?”

and links to a Guardian article about Franz Fischler’s rejection of demands from poor countries that the Common Agricultural Policy be reformed. Fair enough, it should be: Europe should abandon its protectionist policies that, as Glenn says, harm the poor. But a more thorough reading of the same article would have led him to this paragraph:

bq. Washington and Brussels have tabled a joint proposal on agriculture that would involve far smaller cuts in protectionism than developing countries want. The proposal has been countered by a blueprint from leading developing countries that would involve far more aggressive reductions.

A joint proposal then? So it isn’t just those cheese-eating surrender-monkeys after all.



Barry 09.05.03 at 4:20 pm

Reynolds in the Limbaugh of bloggerland for two reasons – (1) he’s got a big audience, but also
for (2) he’s a very, very dishonest person. The only difference is that he’s got a differenct trick, that of linking to an article with a short, approving comment. Then, if somebody points out that the article is false/mislieading/complete BS, he falls back on ‘I didn’t read it’. Which wears thin after repeated usage.

My tipping point was an article which described how the Bush administration, the vatican and representatives of certain muslim countries (Saudia Arabia and Sudan were mentioned) had found common ground at the UN, opposing liberal social policies.
In short, actual conspiracy with the closest thing on Earth to real ‘islamofascists’.

Glenn used it to bash liberals.

I realized that if Jesus Christ had come down on Earth to bless all Democrats, ‘Glenn would immediately link to an article saying, ‘Jesus visits Earth, sees Democrats, flees.’.


Dick Thompson 09.05.03 at 5:10 pm

Heh. Indeed.


alkali 09.05.03 at 5:20 pm

Well, if he had written “Why does the Bush administration hate the world’s poor?” people would accuse him of being banal.


Keith M Ellis 09.05.03 at 5:42 pm

Glenn wasn’t bad back when I knew him as a fellow star poster on Slate’s “Fray”. He’s gotten more ideological in his blog, I guess.

Because you sure as hell can’t argue that the Bush administration has pursued free trade policies. Pretty much at all in comparison to the Clinton administration. Pretty darn weird. But more to the point, Bush aint done so hot on ag subsiidies, either. Pot, kettle; kettle, pot.


dipnut 09.06.03 at 12:44 am

“Africans need the chance to compete with the few things they have: cheap sun and cheap labour. They need access to the world’s markets. And yet several of their richest potential markets are ring-fenced by tariffs and other protectionist measures designed to keep Western farmers in business. The EU and the US in particular are engaged in a protection racket designed to keep rural constituencies and their media fan clubs in some sort of acquiescence.

This, with hearty approval, from Instapundit, last June. About two weeks ago, he said US farm subsidies and tariffs should be abolished.

As for the current dust-up: the article in question was mostly about the EU minister’s aggressive (and splenetic) defense of European protectionism. Read the headline. If Instapundit’s choice of emphasis in presenting the story was “very, very dishonest”, then so was the Guardian’s.

It’s reasonable to assign more blame to the EU than to the US, as these things go. US policy is an obstacle to African farmers, starting at US borders. EU policy is an obstacle to African farmers, starting at the seed from which they grow their crops, and the soil under their feet. Our racket is unfair; theirs is draconian.


walter 09.06.03 at 4:57 am


So by your reading Instapundit’s post should have read. “Why Does he U.S. hate the worlds poor, and why does the E.U. hate them even more?” Am I correct?


James Hamilton 09.06.03 at 2:48 pm

The US has been criticised for taking big decisions without regard for their impact on other countries. Much of this criticism has come from European governmental sources. It is inevitable – and fair – for this criticism to come back onto Europeans when it is our turn. Glenn Reynolds has done a lot to support and publicise the Guardian campaign for free trade in agriculture, and has used his huge readership in a positive way. And he has aimed his attack at both Europe and the US as part of the effort. While it is typical Crooked Timber behaviour to take an issue of this size and use it merely to swipe at another blogger, at least the post pushed the Guardian article to the fore and showed just what the campaign’s up against.


Cheryl 09.06.03 at 3:10 pm

Atrios had some post (his site appears to be down at the moment) refering to Glenn’s site as a mecca for a bunch of cult following groupies (Bushie Groupthink Central). It doesn’t seem to matter that Glenn never reads though the entire article (a real problem for Glenn apparently and even when he did posted on Slate he still offered Insty dipnut perspectives). What is with the George Will types of world offering close-minded commentary and never explanation to valid rebuttal that shows big holes and gaps in their extremely flawed reasoning.

I’m glad to see that Dem’s line up over attacking Bush’s policies and Bush himself as ” Miserable Failure” instead of each other in the New Mexico debate. It was one the thing they missed doing for so long that it felt odd if notway overdue behavior.


dipnut 09.07.03 at 12:13 am


I’m dumbfounded. You have put the fear of God into me.

Needless to say, there will be no valid rebuttal of your post; your incoherence is seamless, without the smallest hole or gap which might admit a little enlightement.

If mechanical engineers were as cogent in their thinking as you, the entire ingenuity of the human race wouldn’t be enough to sharpen a stick.


dipnut 09.07.03 at 12:52 am



Seriously, everyone, what’s the big deal here? Instapundit sees an article about an EU bigshot bad-mouthing advocates for poor farmers. Instapundit then makes it into another riff on the ongoing theme of “why do/does x hate y?” And he gets blasted for not acknowlegding a marginal involvement of US policy.

Yes, marginal. The US and EU hammered out a piddling and unsatisfactory agreement to lower trade barriers. Just becase there is such an agreement does not mean our trade policies are equal, or equally bad, or equally “hateful”. We gave what little we were willing to give, and the EU gave what little they were willing to give. The EU’s policy began much worse, and ended much worse.

To see how much worse, consider this: despite a severe food shortage, Zambia last year had to refuse food aid, worsening a near-famine condition for 2.4 million people. Why? Because the proposed aid would have come in the form of genetically modified grain. Zambian officials feared the GM grain might be used as seed, and the resultant plants might interbreed with native crops. This would render Zambian food unsaleable in the EU, where GM foods are heavily restricted, on protectionist grounds. It was considered better to let people starve than risk the loss of a vital export market in the EU. US trade policy may be unfair, but it doesn’t present anyone with such a cruel dilemma.

Besides, the food aid comes from the US. Why the hell should we wear a hair shirt?

Instapundit made no mention of EU protectionism when he blasted US protectionism (on humanitarian grounds, I might add), two weeks ago. Why should he exercise exquisite discretion, mincing and parsing and qualifying himself to death, when it’s time to take the EU to task? I repeat: the EU is the main topic of the linked article, and Instapundit is manifestly not promoting a double standard, or trying to deceive anyone. Is that a problem for you all?


Kragen Sitaker 09.07.03 at 9:33 am

“Dipnut” writes:

“The EU’s policy began much worse, and ended much worse.

“To see how much worse, consider this: despite a severe food shortage, Zambia last year had to refuse food aid, worsening a near-famine condition for 2.4 million people. Why? Because the proposed aid would have come in the form of genetically modified grain. Zambian officials feared the GM grain might be used as seed, and the resultant plants might interbreed with native crops. This would render Zambian food unsaleable in the EU, where GM foods are heavily restricted, on protectionist grounds. It was considered better to let people starve than risk the loss of a vital export market in the EU. US trade policy may be unfair, but it doesn’t present anyone with such a cruel dilemma.”

The EU’s trade policy is not entirely based on protectionism; there’s considerable anti-GMO sentiment among the European public, which is another reason for the trade policy.

Quite aside from that, the reason for Zambia’s difficult situation isn’t the EU’s trade policy; it’s the combination of the EU’s trade policy (against GMOs) and the US’s trade policy (in their favor). The US was offering the tainted grain that Zambia refused. It makes more sense to blame the Zambia catastrophe on the combination of US and EU policy than on either one alone.


dipnut 09.07.03 at 10:52 am

“The EU’s trade policy is not entirely based on protectionism…anti-GMO sentiment among the European public…is another reason for the trade policy.”

Yes, but: protectionist elements have played a non-trivial role in whipping up anti-GMO sentiment, and EU policy-makers are not democratically accountable anyway; policy is made top-down with the primary purpose to “balance” (read “oppose”) the US.

You imply that US policy is partially at fault, for allowing GM crops to be grown and exported. I say, if you want to blame US policy, blame agricultural subsidies and sideline the GM issue. Here’s how it goes: not only the dusky third-worlders could be hurt by heavily subsidized US farmers; EU farmers could be wiped out as well. Restricting GM grain in the EU was a simple way to carve out a trade zone where US influence would be attenuated. It’s a horrible, desperate policy, but if you like you may blame it on the US.

Hell, everything flows from US policy anymore. It must drive those poor bastards nuts.


Randy McDonald 09.08.03 at 3:02 pm

The EU is democratically unaccountable?

I question that. The powers of the Commission and Court of Justice aside (and the limited but growing powers of the European Parliament, too), the European Union remains dominated by its member-states. It was not the Commission that created the Euro; rather, it was cooperation between those member-states who wanted a single currency, carried out through the Commission, that created the Euro.


dipnut 09.08.03 at 5:33 pm

I confess, I don’t know much about the EU’s political structure and decision-making processes. It has been my impression that policy is mostly drafted and haggled over by unelected bureaucrats. If anyone is qualified to trace the linkage between EU top-level policymaking and electoral processes, let him outline it here. I think you’ll find the linkage is very weak indeed, and that top-level decisions which would outrage the majority of the people can be made, and are made, without electoral repercussions.

Adoption of the Euro is a poor test of principle. To rely on it is tantamount to saying that nations decide democratically to join the EU, and therefore the EU is democratic. I’m much more concerned with what happens afterwards.

I googled EU policy democratic, and the top four results are about EU relations with North Korea! But there are a couple of interesting papers (PDF) on the EU “democracy deficit”, here and here.

The former of the two documents hints that the EU was formed with a view to limit electoral influence in government, and therefore reform will be virtually impossible. Note the chart on page 9 of the latter document. In some EU member states, there is major dissatisfaction with EU democracy.


a different chris 09.08.03 at 11:04 pm

I hate to start a web tirade, but you guys (both left and right) know “dipnut” about ag policies. There’s no way I can fit enough information into comment threads, but you guys don’t even seem to realize how lost you are. Look at this very comment thread.

Does it make any sense that the third world country that’s being “harmed” by import barriers NEEDS ‘effing food??? They CAN’T FEED THEMSELVES, dudes. Why do you think that they are suddenly going to turn into an exporter?

When pieces like that just don’t fit together, I start researching. You guys just seem to shout louder.

Hey, discuss why we shouldn’t subsidize agricultural to the point that starving people can have it for FREE? It’s just as logical as your mouth-foaming over some non-existant 3rd world agricultural powerhouse that’s just being held down by “the man.”

You don’t have a clue. Neither does the Guardian. I’ve been studying it as a hobby for 10+ years and the more I know the more I feel I need to know. All I can tell you so far is US policy (F2F)==sucks, EU policy==ruthlessly logical if not pretty, No Policy==worldwide chaos.

So give it up. You’re just useful idiots for the people who have already managed to swipe 90% of the consumer’s money before the farmer sees it. They want 3rd world land so they can get close to 100%. Sound familiar?


dipnut 09.09.03 at 12:03 am

A different Chris,

It occurred to me that exporting food isn’t consistent with needing food aid. But hey, it doesn’t matter what I think. Zambia refused food aid because they didn’t want to lose an export market. So yell at the Zambians.

Also, just because Africa isn’t an agricultural powerhouse now, doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be if trade barriers were removed. As it is, African agriculture isn’t profitable. If there was the promise of profit, and freedom to use the best technology, there would be foreign investment in African agriculture. As it says above, the Africans have cheap labor and plenty of sunlight, just waiting to be exploited.

I infer that you are a farmer, or have relatives in the business, or something like that. You complain about the “people who swipe 90%”, and so on. You care about this stuff.

Look, I can rationalize subsidizing American farmers. Let’s just say we lowered the trade barriers and everything played out according to plan. Some American farmers would be forced out of business, and America’s food suply would increasingly depend on imports from politically unstable places like Africa. This, I guess, is the No Policy==Worldwide Chaos scenario.

Unfortunately, I have to guess at your meaning, because you’re more interested in telling us we’re all full of shit than actually setting us straight.

If you had to devise a US agriculture policy this afternoon, what would it be?


Andrea Harris 09.11.03 at 3:20 am

I don’t think “a different chris” is a farmer or a relative of one. I think he is just someone who is ignorant about Africa, the way many of these Carers™ seem to be. I’ll be he holds the common stereotype of the entire continent of Africa as being no more than a combination of non-arable desert and non-arable jungle.

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