The 2005 World Economic Forum is being held in Davos, Switzerland this week. Lots of world leaders attended as did captains of industry, rock stars, the anti-capitalists and a fawning media to cover them all. But what of worth really goes on here -- frankly I am not quite sure. Certainly no major agreements are negotiated or signed but rather it seems like a higher powered version of the Oscars where attendees preen and work to be seen. This year, not surprisingly, the WEF was yet another anti-Bush and anti-American event.
Jay Nordlinger whose Impromptus are typically insightful and occasionally superb covered Davos for the National Review Online and he submitted four excellent screeds on consecutive days. Below is a short excerpt of each one. (clicking on the roman numeral will bring you to the specific article) Do read them, it's worth it.
I. The theme of this year's Annual Meeting is Taking Responsibility for Tough Choices. To this end, a magazine is published, and its contents tell the tale. On Geopolitics & Security, we have articles by: Kofi Annan, Paul Martin, Javier Solana. We have an interview with Richard Holbrooke. We have further articles by Hanan Ashrawi . . . well, you get the idea.
II: One of the questioners in the audience is Chris Shays, the congressman (moderate Republican) from Connecticut. He makes a statement about European hostility to America, and European condescension to America. The BBC, he says — in short — is disgusting. He has never heard such arrogance. He also says (and I paraphrase): "We hear about the European view, and Europe's positions, and as far as I can tell, it's just France and Germany, talking to each other. To me, that's like New York and California talking to each other."
President Bush's inauguration speech last week marks a consistent evolution of U.S. policy. He spoke of America's mission to bring freedom in place of tyranny to the world. Leave aside for a moment the odd insistence by some commentators that such a plea is evidence of the "neoconservative" grip on Washington — I thought progressives were all in favor of freedom rather than tyranny. [Go ahead — read that line again. You know you want to.] The underlying features of the speech seem to me to be these: America accepts that terrorism cannot be defeated by military might alone. The more people live under democracy, with human liberty intact, the less inclined they or their states will be to indulge terrorism or to engage in it. This may be open to debate — though personally I agree with it — but it emphatically puts defeating the causes of terrorism alongside defeating the terrorists.
This is why Bill Clinton isn't fit to carry this man's spittoon.
III. Speaking of Bill Clinton a surpassingly venal man who desperately wants to please, even at the expense of his country:
[A moderator] puts it to Clinton: Why is America so ungenerous? [the US giving only one percent of GDP in foreign aid]
And he gives this answer: "Because no one will ever get beat running for Congress or president" by not espousing foreign aid.
Bit of a shameful answer, I think: Clinton might have mustered at least a partial defense of his country, and I have complimented him before on being pretty good when he's abroad. But not on this occasion.
[Clinton] says we don't need such "picayune" measures as Chirac's taxes. "The White House has just announced another $80 billion for the war in Iraq, and we could take half of that," and solve all these problems. The crowd whoops and cheers. It is the loudest reaction I have heard at Davos.
Clinton has behaved pretty rottenly, I think. He has kicked Bush in the teeth — and the war in the teeth — in order to call for more aid to the Third World.
[Clinton] says that anyone who complains about corruption in African governments — anyone who expresses caution about handing over money to these governments — "should be put in a closet, so no one has to listen to them."
Another disgusting thing to say. This is supposed to be a democrat? Those who demur, or have a different point of view, ought to be put in a closet, so no one has to hear them? Can you imagine if a conservative had said this?
IV. Then he [Gaddafi's son] says something utterly fascinating: We Arabs have lost all our wars against Israel because Israel is democratic, and we are undemocratic. In other words, in one of our states, the worst general becomes army chief of staff, because he is no threat to carry out a coup d'état. Loyalty to the number one is all that matters. Democracy, on the other hand, is a competitive mechanism — and that's why Israel wins.
Building upon Wongdoer's work above, here's the link and an excerpt from Nordlinger's shorter fifth entry:
V. The al-Jazeera crowd refers to suicide-bombers as "martyrs," because there is no other way to refer to them: The Arab public demands that they be known as martyrs; and, without Israeli "occupation," the suicide-bombers would not "have" to carry out their acts; hence, martyrs.
I wonder: If you describe mass murderers as martyrs, how do you describe their victims?
And Nordlinger's sign-off from Davos is excerpted here:
VI. . . . as I leave this dinner, I think of Bush's critics in general: Sure, the president has made mistakes, as anyone would in a job so big (and as we all do, in jobs much smaller). But I believe that history will remember him as a man who did miraculous things for liberty — and hence for the well-being of the world — in the first decade of the 21st century. And his critics will seem like so many gnats around the ankles of a great, beneficent beast.