I’ve tried to limit my Edwards bashing, but on occasion he does something so profoundly stupid that I feel the need to attack it. Take this, for instance:
Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards on Thursday outlined his plan to tackle global poverty that calls for educating 23 million children in poor countries and creating a Cabinet-level position to oversee other initiatives.
Seeking to link poverty in other countries to U.S. national security, Edwards argued that militant extremists in nations torn apart by poverty and civil war have replaced government educational systems and are teaching young people to hate the United States.
“When you understand that, it suddenly becomes clear: global poverty is not just a moral issue for the United States — it is a national security issue for the United States,” he said at Saint Anselm College.
“If we tackle it, we have the chance to change a generation of potential extremists and enemies into a generation of friends,” Edwards said.
Neil – he of the ethical werewolfery – calls this “The Best Idea In The World.” Er, no. For one thing, it isn’t even an idea. Edwards does not propose any policy to reduce global poverty – he just calls for a new cabinet department. This is a cop-out, and a smart one. If Edwards actually gave a damn about reducing world poverty, he would propose opening up trade to poorer nations by pushing the Doha round forward and being more open to eliminating farm subsidies. Hell, if he actually wants to make this the crux of his campaign, he should propose a unilateral elimination of all tariffs and farm subsidies. But he won’t, because he doesn’t care about global poverty, he cares about winning in Iowa and he cares about the union vote. He isn’t serious about this in the slightest, and I hope that Neil and the rest of Edwards’ supporters realize that.
But I’ve covered all of that already. What’s new in this statement is Edwards’ conviction that poverty causes terrorism, and that we should, for the sake of our national security, seek to reduce it. Ignoring the fact that terrorism isn’t a major national security problem, this is just wrong. Mohamed Atta was a college-educated urban planner. Ramzi Yousef is a college-educated engineer. The London and Madrid bombings were committed by upper-middle-class kids born in the West – not only were the attackers not poor, they weren’t even in the third world. The notion that poverty causes terrorism is rubbish, and Edwards should know that if he read anything on the subject. What causes terrorism is foreign occupation; if we stay out of Saudi Arabia and get out of Iraq, we’ll be fine.