Sunday, February 04, 2007


For several years now, the Bush administration has sought to blunt criticism of its appalling conduct in Iraq by the claim that "if we don't fight them there, we will have to fight them on our own shores." Those of us who remember similar scare tactics with regard to the Vietnamese a generation ago have not been impressed. Yet many were take in by this mendacity.

Moreover, the Bushbots have claimed that they must abridge civil liberties, both here and abroad, in order to save the Republic. Again, these are scare tactics that must be resisted.

Nativists (who are not joined by the Bush administration) have sought to raise the alarm about immigration. "The ethnic character of our country, including our Anglo-Saxon heritage, is in danger," they proclaim. Surely it is possible, though, to control our borders without resorting to such racist appeals.

With regard to another major issue of the day, though, fear-mongering is considered perfectly appropriate. This is the matter of global warming. We are told the following. "We must act now. Disaster is just around the corner."

First, it doesn't much matter what the United States does in its own bounds, as Long as China and India continue to increase their emissions. Two billion people aspire to a first-world lifestyle, and they see pollution as a necessary price to pay in order to attain this goal. Since we now enjoy a first-world lifestyle and we reached this status by pollution, among other evils, who are we to say that they must not follow this path to prosperity? Whatever the case, the plees are falling on deaf ears in Asia.

Moreover, to judge by the Paris Report and the opinions of other experts, global warming and the rise of sea levels will continue for decades. This would be so even if the world were to cease carbon emissions immediately. This development is inevitable. Of course the process is happening gradually, not suddenly. In this context we must take steps to manage the effects of global warming, for they cannot be rolled back.

Yet some advocates of policy change with regard to global warming seek to manipulate the public by generating fear. Rhetorical extremism and even untruths are deemed justifiable in order to convey the urgency of this matter.

Fear-mongering never offers a good basis for rational policy decisions. That was true after 9/11. It is true now with global warming.


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