On his November 28 program, CNN's Lou Dobbs accused a major American corporation of sponsoring terrorism. But in leveling his charge, Dobbs didn't bother to give viewers a balanced perspective on American exports and business dealings in foreign countries that, to say the least, are not the nicest neighbors on the geopolitical block.
But while it's understandable to be critical of American companies doing business in Syria or Sudan, how exactly does selling cars and trucks to civilians in those countries amount to "bankrolling" terrorism?
My full article is available at the MRC's BusinessandMedia.org Web site. Before the election we documented Dobbs's bias in favor of liberal Democratic policies in his self-appointed defense of the average Joe in what he believes is the Bush administration's "War on the Middle Class."
Here's a sample:
“American companies doing business in countries that sponsor terrorism. The federal government is now investigating some of those deals, but the deals may not, believe it or not, be against the law,” Dobbs introduced a report by correspondent Lisa Sylvester as an graphic appeared over his left shoulder with the label “Investing in Terror?”
Sylvester reported that in Sudan and Syria, Ford subsidiaries run car dealerships while the Mazda Corporation, which Ford owns a minority stake in, “has set up shop in Iran.”
Sylvester found controversy in the business dealings because all three countries are listed by the State Department as state sponsors of terrorism. Yet rather than give a balanced look at the controversy, Sylvester relied only on national security experts critical of the business deals. In Ford’s defense, Sylvester briefly quoted from a Ford press statement.
Following her story, Dobbs went into lecture mode, scolding the automaker for being a disloyal corporate citizen, complaining that “perhaps that's too much to think of in these days.”
Yet lost in Dobbs’ attack on Ford was the other side, that trade and foreign investment could help create a favorable environment for reform in foreign countries. In other words, trade of civilian goods and services can help promote American interests.
“There’s a legitimate question here about the role of foreign investment in countries like those,” the libertarian Cato Institute’s Dan Griswold conceded in an interview with the Business & Media Institute. He offered that there were an “off-setting set of facts worth considering.”
“These companies bring at least a taste of private sector free enterprise, they give citizens of those countries real jobs independent of the government, they come in contact with people and managers from free societies and in a small way it does boost U.S. exports to that part of the world,” added Griswold, director of the Center for Trade Policy Studies at the Washington-based think tank.