June 30, 2004

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If there was a greater distinction between globalization and corporatization, I would probably be happy to call myself a globalist. Unfortunately, the western model of the nation state has become pretty much synonymous with (or, subservient to) the corporate state. This is one of the main reasons for the tension between the western and the Islamic world. In our version, we bow three times a day in the direction of the market.

With these distinctions never very far from my mind, I was somewhat aghast to read the piece in this weekend’s NYTimes Week in Review by David Sanger titled: “Looking at the Costs if Iraq Goes Up in Smoke.” I have to quote the last two paragraphs:

But over the next five years, the real test of strategic success or failure may not lie in democratic elections; it took the Philippines and South Korea decades to get to that moment, even with American troops based in the country. The real test may be Starbucks.

Will Baghdad – or Falluja or Najaf – be peaceful and prosperous enough one day for Iraqis to sip a cappuccino on the sidewalk without fear of losing a limb or worse? Starbucks thrives in lots of places that do not enjoy American-style freedoms. But it depends on security and a rising middle class that wants a wireless hot spot more than it wants a religious war. There are 10 in Beirut, the Baghdad of the 80’s. In the end, the Bush administration would take that outcome, happily.

Wow! Don’t you get that the willingness to substitute democracy for cappuccinos and a wireless hot spot is the main reason for the conflict in the first place.

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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