Warfare (Not) By the Numbers

In response to my post yesterday about President Bush’s overdue decision to repeal his cynical steel tariffs, one reader emailed:

I read your remarks on the steel tariffs (together with those of Sullivan et al), and I wonder, does anyone ever reflect that Bush just might have been guided, not by a few thousand workers’ votes which he is not likely to get anyway, but by the thought that America really does need a steel industry, when Europeans and others attempt to influence American policy by trade and travel restrictions? And will no doubt attempt to influence it further as time passes? Just a thought.

First off, when our government enacts a bad policy, I don’t care who criticizes it, nor do I care who tries to use influence to change it. I just want the bad policy gone. Period. If that means I have to agree with a Frenchman, then so be it.

Bad policy is bad policy, and should be cast aside like leftover picnic mayonnaise.

(That’s not to say all influence is good influence. Al Qaeda attempted to influence our foreign policy by slamming airliners into our office towers. Well, two can play at the raw power game, and we play it better. But what we’re talking about in this trade case is diplomacy and the threat of relatively mild economic sanctions.)

What I found more interesting was the reader’s assertion that “America really does need a steel industry,” and the outdated premise that assertion was founded on.

Why do we need a steel industry? If country A can produce steel as well as we can, and do it more cheaply, then it makes sense for us to make less steel ourselves and produce more computer chips