TOM FRIEDMAN POINTS OUT A PARADOX:
But next to the meat imported from the U.S. was a tiny asterisk, which warned that it might contain genetically modified organisms — G.M.O.’s.
My initial patriotic instinct was to order the U.S. beef and ask for it “tartare,” just for spite. But then I and my lunch guest just looked at each other and had a good laugh. How quaint! we said. Europeans, out of some romantic rebellion against America and high technology, were shunning U.S.-grown food containing G.M.O.’s — even though there is no scientific evidence that these are harmful. But practically everywhere we went in Davos, Europeans were smoking cigarettes — with their meals, coffee or conversation — even though there is indisputable scientific evidence that smoking can kill you. In fact, I got enough secondhand smoke just dining in Europe last week to make me want to have a chest X-ray.
So pardon me if I don’t take seriously all the Euro-whining about the Bush policies toward Iraq — for one very simple reason: It strikes me as deeply unserious. It’s not that there are no serious arguments to be made against war in Iraq. There are plenty. It’s just that so much of what one hears coming from German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and French President Jacques Chirac are not serious arguments. They are station identification.
They are not the arguments of people who have really gotten beyond the distorted Arab press and tapped into what young Arabs are saying about their aspirations for democracy and how much they blame Saddam Hussein and his ilk for the poor state of their region. Rather, they are the diplomatic equivalent of smoking cancerous cigarettes while rejecting harmless G.M.O.’s — an assertion of identity by trying to be whatever the Americans are not, regardless of the real interests or stakes.