Friday, September 5, 2003

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Chris Bertram overreaches

Crooked Timber's Chris Bertram thinks InstaPundit is slanting his posts.

Glenn linked to a Guardian article on agricultural subsidies with the header, "WHY DOES THE EUROPEAN UNION hate the world's poor so much?" Chris observes:

[A] more thorough reading of the same article would have led him to this paragraph:

Washington and Brussels have tabled a joint proposal on agriculture that would involve far smaller cuts in protectionism than developing countries want. The proposal has been countered by a blueprint from leading developing countries that would involve far more aggressive reductions.

A joint proposal then? So it isn’t just those cheese-eating surrender-monkeys after all.

Brad DeLong provides a similar interpretation.

Lord knows I've been hard on the Bush administration's protectionist leanings as of late, but Chris and Brad are making a bogus allegation with this post.

The Guardian story that Glenn linked to focused entirely on some belligerent quotes from European officials, including this one from Franz Fischler that manages to top anything Donald Rumsfeld has said:

Franz Fischler, the EU agriculture commissioner, said Brussels would strongly defend its farmers.

He said many recent attacks on the EU's much maligned common agricultural policy (CAP) were"intellectually dishonest" PR stunts....

"If I look at the recent extreme proposal co-sponsored by Brazil, China, India and others, I cannot help [getting] the impression that they are circling in a different orbit," Mr Fischler [told] reporters.

"If they want to do business, they should come back to mother earth. If they choose to continue their space odyssey they will not get the stars, they will not get the moon, they will end up with empty hands."

As for the agreement that Chris and the Guardian reference, the reason that it stinks is not the U.S., which has pressed for further liberalization in agriculture. The culprit is the E.U., which has been dragged kicking and screaming into making only minimal concessions. You can blame the U.S. for not bargaining better with the Europeans (or the Japanese) on the issue of agricultural subsidies, but that's it.

I've got no love for U.S. agricultural subsidies, but what's driving the potyential impasse at Cancun is not the Bush administration, but the European Union's intransigence -- a point the Guardian's blog emphasizes.

Glenn's framing of the story was correct -- Chris's (and Brad's) wasn't.

NOTE: I've updated this post since Chris Bertram's comment below in order to respond to his points.

posted by Dan on 09.05.03 at 08:26 PM


A bogus allegation? So it isn't true that Fischler was defending a joint proposal?? And Instapundit's coverage was fair and balanced?

FWIW, Brad DeLong drew the same conclusion as I did.

posted by: Chris on 09.05.03 at 08:26 PM [permalink]

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