As I said before, my money is that he’ll cozy up to this wing by sounding protectionist trade themes. ~Dan Drezner
Drezner did say this before, and it didn’t make sense the first time. Not only does Pawlenty favor all pending free trade agreements, he believes the U.S. “should start new bilateral talks with our trading partners,” and in his speech today he took a very aggressive neoliberal line on
massively increasing inequality in Egypt opening up the Egyptian market. Pawlenty said:
We act out of friendship when we tell Egyptians, and every new democracy, that economic growth and prosperity are the result of free markets and free trade—not subsidies and foreign aid. If we want these countries to succeed, we must afford them the respect of telling them the truth.
That may be, but Pawlenty is not taking account of how much worse the backlash against such policies could be. When the would-be new democracy in question has an electorate that expects the next government to solve Egypt’s economic woes practically overnight, force-feeding the people neoliberal policies is a very good way to ensure an immediate populist backlash and the permanent marginalization of supporters of economic liberalization. It hardly helps that Egyptians correctly associate such reforms with the circle around Mubarak’s son, and they correctly perceive privatization policies as an important source of corruption and cronyism under Mubarak. Pawlenty may offer up thin pseudo-populist gruel on the debate stage when the debate turns to trade, but according to his speeches he appears to be a true believer in the virtues of free trade under any and all circumstances.
P.S. Earlier today, Drezner helpfully reported Pawlenty’s speech live on Twitter.