Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Oh The Irony

Communism means stability? That’s what corporate America thinks, according to this column in today's WaPo:
Vietnam's edge, it seems, is political. "Communism means more stability," Laurence Shu, the chief financial officer of Shanghai-based Texhong, one of the world's leading manufacturers of cotton fabrics, told Bradsher. This view, Bradsher reports, is common among Asian executives and some American executives, too, though they have the presence of mind never to say so on the record. After all, Vietnam, like China, outlaws independent unions. Absent free speech and free elections, no radical shifts in the government's economic policies are likely to be sprung upon unsuspecting American businesses.

Now, far be it from me to begrudge the Vietnamese their moment in the sun before global capital finds them too costly and moves on to Bangladesh and Somalia. But didn't we fight a war to keep Vietnam from going communist? Something like 58,000 American deaths, right? And now American business actually prefers investing in communist Vietnam over, say, the more or less democratic Philippines? In all likelihood, it would prefer investing in communist Vietnam to investing in a more chaotic, less disciplined democratic Vietnam, if such existed.

Ah, yes. The old “stability” question. American businesses and the American government have always preferred dealing with totalitarian regimes, for the same reason: “stability.”

Remember this?

So why did we fight in Vietnam? Meyerson has a few ideas, but this one seems to make the most sense:

American business, backed by the American government, has realized that the problem with communism wasn't that it was undemocratic but that it was anti-capitalist. And that once communism was integrated into a world capitalist system, its antipathy toward democracy not only wouldn't be a bad thing but would actually be good.

Because when all is said and done, fighting to save capitalism has to be a good thing, right?

Which makes me wonder about why we're in Iraq. Saddam had nationalized his oil companies, cutting out Western interests. What other "anti-capitalist" ideas was he harboring? In September 2000 Saddam announced he was switching to the euro frpm dollars for its oil currency. This article suggests Iraq is our first oil currency war:

Candidly stated, ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ was a war designed to install a pro-U.S. government in Iraq, establish multiple U.S military bases before the onset of global Peak Oil, and to reconvert Iraq back to petrodollars while hoping to thwart further OPEC momentum towards the euro as an alternative oil transaction currency (i.e. “petroeuro”).

Iraq switched back to petrodollars in June 2003--three months after the invasion. Pure coincidence? I don't think so.

Vietnam will end up with the government it was always meant to have, whether we had invaded or not. So will Iraq.

Whether we're there or not.