Politically it may be correct for American foreign policy to be “involved” without being “overexpanded,” as Stanley Hoffmann advises and as Clinton’s waffling already makes a foregone conclusion. Our foreign economic policy, by contrast, has been aggressive, not just in prying open overseas markets, as Hoffmann mentions, but also in posing the market mechanism as the solution to foreign governments’ every woe. Unemployment is one of the most serious problems of the world economy, and can no more be relieved by free-market nostrums today than it could be in the 1930s. If unemployment in the United States were still measured the way it was measured during the Great Depression, it would be around 15 percent.
Today’s global joblessness originates in the electronics revolution and the rapid diffusion of labor-saving technologies across national borders. The Reagan-Bush neoliberal policy mix that Clinton finds so comfortable a hand-medown makes matters worse by being contractionary. To reduce unemployment we need innovative solutions. Stanley Hoffmann, however, seeks asylum in “essential American values, which are those of liberalism.”...
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