In his fine editorial comment ”Democratizing Foreign Policy” [Jan. 14/21], Evan Hill has daringly suggested that informed progressive public opinion might have a significant role to play in shifting the focus of US policy away from one of “endless, costly, worldwide conflict.” Unmentioned, though, in this tidy description of the possibility of actual peacemaking by our government is any discussion of the elephant in the room: the immense leverage of the Department of Defense and associated lobbyists in maintaining the perpetual war economy for the sake of their own power and existence.
It seems obvious that any realistic discussion of reaching for the tantalizing lure of a world at peace would need to include conversations about how to deal with the elephant. So let’s talk about it!
Worth 1,000 Words
I have enjoyed Tim Robinson’s collages in the Books and the Arts section for so long that I feel I ought to write in their praise. As well as being visually arresting, these collages also seem to be in illuminating dialogue with the reviews they accompany. I have gotten into the habit of scrutinizing them not only before I read the review, to get a kind of insight into what to look for, but also afterward, to see what I missed. I hope we’ll be seeing Robinson’s work in The Nation for a long time to come.
Paul Scott Stanfield
Parsing the New NAFTA
Re Lori Wallach’s “The Battle Over NAFTA 2.0 Has Just Begun” [Jan. 14/21]: This is a clear and thorough explication of what is at stake in NAFTA 2.0, the best I’ve seen anywhere. Wallach should be congratulated for clearing up so many of the foggy, politicized issues and outlining a concrete program for dealing with them. I hope the progressives in the Democratic Party will take good note of this.
Greenspan’s Historical Amnesia
Thanks to Kim Phillips-Fein for her critical review of Alan Greenspan and Adrian Wooldridge’s recent book, Capitalism in America [Jan. 7]. However, she leaves out Greenspan’s most ironic historical error. If Greenspan loves James J. Hill and the other railroad robber barons for their independent, entrepreneurial spirit, he simply does not know economic history. The railroads received massive subsidies in the form of land and bond guarantees, and even with those government-granted advantages, most never made any real money. Had the federal government stayed out of the 19th-century market, those Randian “captains of industry” would either have lost their shirts or never have built a mile of line.
Thank you, Kim Phillips-Fein, for reading Greenspan’s self-congratulatory garbage. Her critique, in the first half of the essay, so nicely captures the phrases and structure of his and Wooldridge’s own vision that I grew queasy and grumpy just reading it (even though I knew she wasn’t advocating that vision). The second half is a finely shot arrow piercing the ballooned egoism of the authors and bringing them back to earth. Again, thank you for sparing me the agony of slogging through this mire myself!