Do as I Say Not as I Do
In his first ‘international summit’ of other Treasury officials Henry Paulson (at the IMF-World Bank annual meeting) asked that his colleagues restrict the flow of funds from Iranian financial institutions as a means to limit Iran’s ability to build its nuclear program after a failure to gain support for an UN resolution against same. Workers has blogged previously about how Paulson’s economic analysis and policies seem to be sound, but now he has crossed the line into politics (don’t hate the players hate the game).
Why should Iran not have the right to self defense, does not China, India, Israel, the US and France? Why should the US be in the position of telling others how to live? This is how “we” (the US nation-state and therefore by proxy those of us living inside its borders) get in trouble and get others angry with us – by these obvious hypocrisies, you can’t have what we have, because we say so.
Besides, did not mutually-assured destruction work in the cold war? Mankind somehow rose to the occasion then.
Putting a limit (how? Pretty soon there will be as many people monitoring financial transactions as those making them; too much information for any bureaucracy to handle) on the legal flow of “illegal” funds (eg funds of terrorist organizations) will just force the funds into other means of distribution. Laws do not change human behavior, just makes the behavior less efficient and more ‘dirty’.
This type of confrontation, and military-economic nationalism, is exactly what the great thinkers have been warning us about since polis was established out of pre-state society. A benign state, that enforces natural law (the right to be free from coercion) is what is needed. Otherwise it is just a continued downward cycle of violence and control and an economy which is increasingly sucked into militarism as opposed to prosperity, harmony and advancement. The answer is to pull back on our confrontations and our fatal conceits and don’t let ego, politics and short-term thinking (and the need to get re-elected) outweigh human social and moral evolution.
Paulson is also asking that the IMF control more of the ' developing world's ' currency exchange regimes, which is a whole other story, but you get the general idea.