Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Straight talk from Down Under

On Monday, I attended a small briefing for the press held at the Washington office of the United Steelworkers Union to discuss organized labor's view of policies to address climate change. At the briefing was Paul Howes, head of the Australian Worker's Union, who was in the country to lobby for the U.S. government to take the lead on reaching an international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

When I asked Howes why he felt only the United States had the influence to push for a global climate deal, he responded in a fashion that I'm sure would offend all Good, Respectable critics of the Iraq war (those who initially supported the invasion but now say it was "mismanaged" -- in other words, the war critics you see on television):
When the United States shows leadership the rest of the world will follow . . . I mean, look, half the world got involved in an illegal, immoral war just simply because a request was put out – this is what happens.
Earlier in the briefing, Howes also described the global scope of U.S. power in a way that serves as a useful reminder that Washington, DC, is not merely the capital of the United States, but the capital of a world empire:
The ever-looming presence of the United States is felt throughout every corner of the world, and on other issues the U .S. government is never afraid to use whatever force necessary to get its agenda through on issues that it sees of being importance to it.
I should also note that at 26, Howes is just a few years older than me yet is married, has two children, and heads a 135,000 member union. In contrast, I have a blog read primarily by people mistakenly arriving here after Googling for celebrity upskirt pics (there -- I just doubled my traffic!).

That certainly puts things in perspective...

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