- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Trade charade

“It has been less than a decade since demonstrators clogged the streets of Seattle … accusing the U.S. of shoving free trade down the Third World’s throat. But as the latest round of trade talks collapses in Geneva, it’s clear that the U.S. government is, in fact, one of the greatest institutional barriers to free trade. Asked to choose between freedom and the farm lobby, Washington will opt for agribusiness almost every time. …

“Now the Doha Round has collapsed without an agriculture agreement. The U.S. refused to cut subsidies unless the Europeans agreed to deeper cuts in tariffs, while the Europeans refused to cut tariffs unless the U.S. agreed to deeper cuts in subsidies. Neither had a strong incentive to reach a consensus, because the biggest beneficiary would be the developing world.

“There is at least one reason for hope. Rising powers India and Brazil don’t like the North’s ag subsidies or intellectual property rules, and as they grow wealthier and more influential they will be a counterweight to American and European hegemony. It is a sad state of affairs when the demands of a foreign government carry more weight than the interests of most American citizens. In this case, though, the foreigners and the citizens share the same interests. The enemy isn’t India — it’s Archer Daniels Midland.”

—Jesse Walker, writing on “Doomsday for Doha,” Friday in Reason Online at www.reason.com

Facts of treason

“Alger Hiss was a Soviet spy. Not ‘according to Whittaker Chambers.’ Not ‘an alleged Soviet agent.’ After more than five decades, Hiss’s treason can now be stated simply as fact. …

“For 30 years, defenders of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg protested their innocence. …

“The Soviet spy cases in the end transcended fact, becoming tests of faith. … [T]he Hiss case pointed to the cleavages in American history represented by the Depression, the New Deal, and even Vietnam. …

“What, then, begins to emerge as the truth of Soviet Cold War espionage? That Joseph McCarthy was right all along? About the fact of Soviet espionage, yes. About its penetration into the U.S. government at uncomfortably high levels, yes. …

“For too long, the demagoguery of Joseph McCarthy has been used to argue the innocence of Alger Hiss and the Rosenbergs. The truth, in the end, is more complex and even more interesting: McCarthy was a demagogue, and Hiss and his colleagues were traitors.”

—William Nolte, in a recently declassified review of the 1999 book “The Haunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America — the Stalin Era,” by Allen Weinstein and Alexander Vassiliev, in the CIA publication Studies in Intelligence

Under the influence

“Mel Gibson, pulled over for the alleged offense of speeding and the further alleged offense of speeding under the influence, decided that he needed to demand of the arresting officer whether he was or was not Jewish and that he furthermore needed to impart the information that all the world’s wars are begun by those of Semitic extraction.

“Call me thin-skinned if you must, but I think that this qualifies [as anti-Semitism]. I also think that the difference between the blood-alcohol levels — and indeed the speed limits — that occasioned the booking are insufficient to explain the expletives. … One does not abruptly decide, between the first and second vodka, or the ticks of the indicator of velocity, that the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion are valid after all.”

—Christopher Hitchens, writing on “Mel Gibson’s Meltdown,” Monday in Slate at www.slate.com

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