January 17, 2010

DOES EVEN HE READ WHAT HE WRITES?:

The New Sputnik (THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, 1/17/10, NY Times)

Most people would assume that 20 years from now when historians look back at 2008-09, they will conclude that the most important thing to happen in this period was the Great Recession. I’d hold off on that. If we can continue stumbling out of this economic crisis, I believe future historians may well conclude that the most important thing to happen in the last 18 months was that Red China decided to become Green China. [...]

I believe this Chinese decision to go green is the 21st-century equivalent of the Soviet Union’s 1957 launch of Sputnik — the world’s first Earth-orbiting satellite. That launch stunned us, convinced President Eisenhower that the U.S. was falling behind in missile technology and spurred America to make massive investments in science, education, infrastructure and networking — one eventual byproduct of which was the Internet.

Well, folks. Sputnik just went up again: China’s going clean-tech.


Even by Mr. Friedman's standards this is unbelievably stupid. While his comparison is entirely appropriate it teaches precisely the opposite lesson to the one he's trying to draw. Thirty years after the USSR launched the technologically insignificant Sputnik, and produced a hysterical reaction from those who didn't understand the inherent weaknesses of its system, it had pretty much ceased to exist. Twenty years from now, if anyone looks back at Mr. Friedman's columns, they'll note that this one ranks with those looney ones predicting Japan's greatness from the 1980s.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 17, 2010 4:13 PM
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