I couldn’t help but notice that the title of World Bank President Robert Zoellick’s speech to the National Press Club on Wednesday bore some similarity to a certain blog. His remarks, “An Inclusive and Sustainable Globalization,” outlined the Bank’s vision for the next few years. Increasingly this looks like movement away from the anti-corruption focus of the Wolfowitz era and toward building support for the benefits of globalization.
I appreciate that his definition of “sustainable” globalization extends to both environmental and political sustainability. Here in the US, the political sustainability of globalization has lately been much in the news. As Congress considers punitive action against China and presidential candidates from both parties score easy points with protectionist rhetoric, it is worth remembering that, as Zoellick points out, globalization has lifted 300 million people out of grinding poverty over the last two decades.
Globalization offers enormous opportunities…we shouldn’t try to stop it or shut it down. But we do need to try to channel it and manage it. We need to help those that would otherwise get left behind.
Mind you, he’s not talking about Americans in manufacturing districts being left behind. He’s talking about “indigenous people, women in developing countries, Africans, the rural poor, and their children.” In turning our backs on globalization, we might just as easily be turning our backs to the people on that list.
Protectionism may be politically sustainable, but it hardly seems fair.