Remember yesterday? The Iron Range seemed to be closing the deal on the Essar Global Minnesota Steel project near Nashwauk, the all-in-one iron ore to steel plant that has been in the works for a decade and a half. Yeah, that was cool. Until Gov. Tim “Lucy” Pawlenty pulled the football out from under our Charlie Brown butts yesterday afternoon. (Read the Duluth News-Tribune story).

Turns out Essar Global has a deal in the works for an oil refinery in southern Iran.* Pawlenty, in an effort to appear vice-presidential, is now saying that not a dime of state money will go to support any project affiliated with any company doing business with Iran. It’s not clear to me whether this is statute (part of U.S. sanctions on Iran) or just political posturing by Pawlenty. Well, it IS political posturing, but I don’t know if it’s legit or not.

I do know this. India, its government and private industries have had relations with Iran for a long time and finding those ties to Iran is easy. Even me, not an expert on global business dealings, found plenty of Indo-Iranian ties in a quick sweep of business news sites. (Check out this piece). The surprise is Pawlenty’s sudden reversal and inflexible negotiation stance on Essar’s Nashwauk steel plant. Iron Range lawmakers found out about the Minnesota Steel “sanctions” only moments before the governor’s press conference. Most local officials found out in the media. This is another piece of the governor’s consistent, seemingly pathological record of attempting to disrupt the Iron Range’s political and economic culture (a culture that does not support the “me first” model of conservative government). He wants our mining tax revenue, but he won’t support efforts to modernize the Range unless they come from his administration. Tim Pawlenty is about as helpful to the Iron Range as Iran is to the political structure of the Middle East. Go ahead, Tim. Hold your press conferences. Get your kudos on Fox News.

Oh, and by the way. Screw Iran, too. I’m not taking their side.

In summary: We live in a global economy that will never stop being global. The fastest growing nations in the world are India and China; they are also the most populous. These nations are working with the screwballs in Iran because Iran has what they need: oil. There’s your problem. Kicking the Range and our best chance to modernize our steel industry will do nothing to solve your problem. Kill the steel project and Essar will still open the Iranian refinery. Who wins? Iran. Whooppee! Thanks, conservative movement. Your inconsistently applied doctrine of global power is finding new and better ways to stick it to the Iron Range.

* This is not the same as Iraq. A refinery in southern Iraq would have been rewarded with boxes and boxes of unmarked American currency. Iran has been named a terrorist state. Normally, we’d invade Iran to “spread democracy,” but we’re f-ing busy, alright. We’ll do it later. (In case you missed the headline: Aaaarrrgghhh!)

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