Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Globalism: Lysol-Huffing For Elites

Is POTUS a kook? Sure. But consider harm caused by experts whose advice subjected the US to China
Screen Shot 2020-04-24 at 1.21.51 PM

Listening to Trump gas on yesterday about the possibility that ingesting bleach could cure coronavirus, I thought, “This guy is Cliff Clavin.” You remember Cliff, the barstool know-it-all in Cheers, who would float stupid theories like they were great wisdom?

So look, some Celebrity Math:

It is infuriating and humiliating to have to listen to the President of the United States carry on like this. There is no justification for it. Every time he opens his mouth, the man confirms that he’s a fool. However, I was reading last night someone on Twitter saying that he wishes that the US were like Germany, a country that has strong confidence in its experts, and listens to them, and therefore has handled the virus pandemic much better than America has. Yeah, I get that. I think we’d probably be better off too — up to a point.

I will never, ever forget how the smartest people in US foreign policy, on the Republican side, led this country into the Iraq War. In the 1960s, the smartest people on the Democratic side did the same thing with Vietnam. The title of that famous David Halberstam book about that war’s architects, The Best and the Brightest, is meant to be ironic.

I want you to watch this tough 15-minute interview Tucker Carlson just did with Peter Walker, a former top-echelon executive at McKinsey, the global consultants:

Walker has defended the Chinese Communist regime, with whom he worked as a McKinsey consultant. In this interview, Carlson roasts him for defending China’s treatment of its Uighur Muslims, including throwing a million of them into concentration camps. Walker tries to have it both ways, saying that yeah, it’s suboptimal, but you have to understand that the Chinese see the world different from us. To them, that’s an acceptable price to pay for stability. Carlson calls that a defense of fascism. It’s a tough interview.

Around the 8:30 mark, Carlson queries Walker about how much money he personally made counseling China over the years. Walker doesn’t answer. The context of the question is that American experts profited by counseling American political and business leaders to outsource manufacturing to China. Walker admits several times in this interview that the US is now vulnerable because it has become too dependent on China. Carlson keeps asking him if he, Walker, regrets having advised Americans to send so much of our manufacturing to China. Walker will not admit that he was wrong. It’s really something: Walker says flat-out that it was a mistake, but he won’t concede that he made any errors in judgment. He sticks with the mistakes were made defense, and adds to that a version of everybody was doing it at the time.

As Carlson points out in the exchange, that’s true: almost all the experts at the time (the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s) really were saying that globalization was a great idea, and that US corporations should take advantage of cheap overseas labor. Peter Walker is telling the truth. And this wasn’t just a Republican thing; the Clinton-era Democrats were big globalists too. Our entire expert class promoted this stuff, signed it into law and policy, and executed it. Only marginal figures like Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader, widely regarded by the mainstream as fringe weirdoes, warned that it would come back to bite us. And now look.

Where else in the mainstream media, aside from Carlson’s show, are you going to see a TV journalist laying into the Davos Men who built the system? Where else are you going to see the experts shown up like this, and made to own up to their own mistakes? Carlson is doing a great public service.

Look, don’t get me wrong: nothing justifies Trump’s crackpot daily digressions. He’s a lunatic. But let us not assume that the experts are always right, or always have the public’s interest foremost to mind in their policy recommendations. Nobody — well, almost nobody — is going to inject Clorox into their veins, or huff Lysol, because our dingbat president wondered aloud if it might cure coronavirus. But this nation spent a generation putting itself at the mercy of the Chinese Communist Party on the basis of sober, thoughtful advice from experts, Republican and Democratic, who believed globalization was the way of the future. I don’t believe that these experts were necessarily malicious, or advised what they advised in bad faith. But they were the best and the brightest, and our leaders followed their recommendations. We are in a world of trouble now because of it.

UPDATE: Well, I was wrong about “almost nobody” considering Lysol huffing etc.:



Want to join the conversation?

Subscribe for as little as $5/mo to start commenting on Rod’s blog.

Join Now