This blog comments on Friedman's writings and provides examples of thoughtful editorials for him to emulate in the future.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Why Putin Doesn’t Respect Us - March 4, 2014

In this column, Friedman complains about "the Putin-body-slammed-Obama prattle" because "[t]his isn’t All-Star Wrestling." But then he insists that "we" must "expose" "our real strength," presumably without actually wrestling.

Does he mean we should don a luchador costume?

Pretty much, that's exactly what he proposes, if you read his goofy policy suggestion.

He does give us the new byline for this blog though: "There is much nonsense being written."

I'll start by agreeing with Friedman that the breakup of the Soviet Union was not the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century. But I can see how it was from Putin's perspective. And I agree with Friedman about this:

"The Soviet Union died because Communism could not provide rising standards of living, and its collapse actually unleashed boundless human energy all across Eastern Europe and Russia. A wise Putin would have redesigned Russia so its vast human talent could take advantage of all that energy."

I don't agree with his next sentence, though. "He would be fighting today to get Russia into the European Union, not to keep Ukraine out." What country in its right mind would join the EU just as it's about to collapse? The combination of overly generous welfare programs, moral decay, overregulation, the Euro, and economic protectionism have doomed the EU.

But here's where Friedman, as usual, gets confused. "So spare me the Putin-body-slammed-Obama prattle. This isn’t All-Star Wrestling." This is followed by " it is time we expose his real weakness and our real strength." So apparently we're not talking about wrestling, but some other sport? Some other way to demonstrate our manhood?

Recall Friedman's opening paragraph: "Just as we’ve turned the coverage of politics into sports, we’re doing the same with geopolitics. There is much nonsense being written about how Vladimir Putin showed how he is “tougher” than Barack Obama and how Obama now needs to demonstrate his manhood."

So Friedman doesn't want people writing "nonsense" about how Putin is tougher; instead, he himself writes about how we need to "expose" "our real strength." This hilarious, hilarious prose.

Not only that, but Friedman wants to "frighten Putin." Maybe he means we should adopt a luchador costume and avoid the fight by looking tough?

Friedman thinks we can "frighten Putin" by doing three things: "raise our gasoline tax, put in place a carbon tax and a national renewable energy portfolio standard — all of which would also help lower the global oil price (and make us stronger, with cleaner air, less oil dependence and more innovation)." While I agree with the increase in gasoline tax for many reasons, not one of them is to "frighten Putin." But spending more billions on green dreams would only encourage Putin. It would constitute more economic waste, increase our energy costs, and make America less competitive on the world markets. We'd have the worst combination of high labor costs and high energy costs.

Maybe reading Friedman's columns is the real reason "why Putin holds us in contempt."

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