Fred LaSor: Trump disappoints New York Times columnist, world not surprised
Does a fish know it lives in water? Does it know its food, oxygen, and mobility are dependent on the environment that surrounds it? No more so than my former Foreign Service colleagues or 90 percent of civil servants living and working in the Washington metropolitan area recognize they’re living in a liberal environment that influences their perception of every political and economic development America experiences, and every story they read in the newspaper.
Now President Trump has announced his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and the liberal establishment is beside itself with anger, frustration and a New York Times’ warning America will “seem disgusting in the eyes of the world.” Fox News commenter Tucker Carlson described the outrage as “a priesthood defending its faith.” That is as succinct and accurate a description as could be pronounced.
Columnist David Brooks is a member of that priesthood. His latest column (“Trump Poisons the World”) is filled with outrage over the fact Trump made this decision. Brooks is the fish who doesn’t know he lives in a liberal environment and sees the world through a leftist lens. Put him, or most of my Foreign Service colleagues, at an American dinner table anywhere except on the two coasts and chances are better than even they would flop around like a flounder dragged onto the sand, protesting the entire time the other people at the table were ignorant, selfish, and destined to destroy the world.
In what Kafkaesque world do you enter a negotiation such as the Paris Agreement by listing all your own faults and promise to correct them? That’s not a negotiation, it’s a 12-step addiction program. Because Obama wants us as a nation to kick the energy habit he set goals he hoped we would commit to reach well after he had left the White House. Trump has announced we will not commit to that science-as-religion.
The Paris Agreement was a classic example of President Obama enacting a policy by ceding U.S. national interest without extracting compromises from the other parties to the negotiation. The Iran nuclear agreement was another example. In both cases, the U.S. government agreed to concessions — economic in Paris, security with Iran — that were contrary to our national interests. In return, Obama extracted promises from the other parties to try harder at a much later date — or maybe not at all. And in both cases, large sums of money were to be transferred from the U.S. to the other parties. Do you see a pattern here?
This is precisely the problem with Brooks’ analysis June 2 in the New York Times, (and with dozens of commenters in newspapers, TV, and left-wing blogs) of President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord. They’re so immersed in their liberal environment they don’t recognize just how out of step they are with a large number of Americans, and how imperfectly they understand what the Paris accord actually does. They just keep repeating the mantra “it’s settled science: 97 percent of scientists agree.”
The science isn’t settled and 97 percent of scientists don’t agree, but that’s a discussion for another time. The Paris Agreement, like that with Iran, was never going to be acceptable to the American Senate or public. That’s why it was called an “agreement” instead of a treaty: so it wouldn’t need congressional consent. Our forefathers perfectly anticipated Obama two centuries ago when they decreed Senate approval for treaties.
Brooks describes Trump’s decision as a triumph of selfishness over reason, of greed over international stability, of stupidity over enlightenment. He totally ignores the more than 90 million American workers out of the workforce, the New York and Hollywood A-listers who commute to global warming conferences in private jets, the fact Trump’s decision on the Paris Agreement was actually a campaign promise he’s now fulfilling. In other words, it’s something they knew six months ago but hoped they could shame him into not following through on.
Trump addressed the employment issue in his Rose Garden announcement, pointing out the Paris Agreement merely transfers coal mining jobs to India without killing them. How parochial is it to preach against coal, but insist it only be outlawed in the USA, not in mega-polluters such as India and China? Obama knew he would never get those countries to sign onto damage their own interests, but he tried to commit us to damaging ours.
Liberal cant has it that exactly because this is not a treaty it offers more flexibility. Their position has been characterized as a lofty goal to which we can aspire while “the world community” holds hands and sings “Kumbaya.” Blogger Lewis Anselem saw through that: “An accord such as this one, although not ratified by the Senate, would quickly find its way into our law books and spawn endless lawsuits and civil actions against firms, individuals, and government agencies … It is yet another in the endless effort to provide full employment to divisions of progressive lawyers.”
Thank you, President Trump, for recognizing the Paris Agreement as an international confidence game and refusing to commit us to acceding to it.
Fred LaSor retired from the Foreign Service to the Carson Valley, but continues to follow international affairs closely.