Is the Trade Issue Still Up for Grabs?

by Patrick J. Buchanan – February 21, 1994

With the appearance of the WTO, all the embryonic entities in the visions of the Strobe Talbotts and Boutros-Ghalis — are visible. The United Nations is to be the world parliament, the International Monetary Fund to regulate the world’s money, the World Bank to redistribute its wealth, the WTO to manage its trade. All in the interests of mankind — as understood by the transnational elites who will run the institutions that will rule the world…

More than a week has elapsed since President Clinton demanded, and Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa refused, numerical targets for Japanese imports from the United States. “You are asking for “managed trade”,” huffed Mr. Hosokawa, whose nation has been managing its trade for decades.
After that confrontation, and Mr. Clinton’s warnings that the United States is prepared for a trade war, Japan’s stock market lost nearly 6 percent of its value — and the yen soared. Crippling Japan’s export prospects and hopes of recovery. U.S. markets took the news in stride.

Mr. Clinton is in the catbird seat. While no one wins a trade war, Japan has more to lose than we. They have the $60 billion annual trade surplus; they need our markets more than we need theirs.

While Mr. Hosokawa was welcomed home with cheers for being the first prime minister since Tojo to say “no” to America, Mr. Clinton has suffered no political damage from his emergence as an economic nationalist. Indeed, the most surprising aspect of this crisis is the dog that didn’t bark. Where are the free traders?

A week after he rejected Tokyo’s promise to increase imports as too vague, allowing his first Japan summit to collapse in failure, Mr. Clinton’s country is behind him and his critics are mute.

As the Tories, in Disraeli’s rhetoric, “caught the Whigs bathing and walked off with their clothes,” Bill Clinton has swiped the trade issue from the Republicans. All last fall he was the toast of the Trilateral Commission, fighting for the North American Free Trade Agreement. This winter he has executed an about-face play.

Where does that leave House Republicans who gave Mr. Clinton 135 votes to win NAFTA? With the Booby Prize of ’93. They revived the Clinton presidency when they had an opportunity to drop him on the deck for good. They could have rewritten NAFTA without all its globaloney, and co-opted the Perot constituency. For a small pile of press clippings, thanking them for “helping end gridlock,” and hailing Newt Gingrich for having “grown”, House Republicans kissed off the chance of a decade to make themselves the party of a new populism.

But the GOP may get a second bite at the apple.

Japan, with so much at stake in a trade war, may opt not to retaliate against U.S. sanctions but to take its case to the UN of world trade, GATT — to have the United States declared the aggressor, and Japan the aggrieved party. Tokyo has a case, since its trade barriers are mostly nontariff, not covered by GATT. Tokyo’s goal would be to put internationalist pressure on Mr. Clinton, in the United States and abroad, to sue for peace and avert a trade war. This could force Mr. Clinton to choose between his internationalists – and the American Firsters to whom he is playing with all the tough talk toward Tokyo.

The fly in the ointment is that Mr. Clinton has just done a GATT deal that will set up a powerful new Supreme Court of World Trade. The World Trade Organization, against whose rulings the United States would have no appeal, would infringe on U.S. sovereignty, and supersede the U.S. Constitution that gives Congress the power to regulate the nation’s foreign commerce.

With the appearance of the WTO, all the embryonic entities in the visions of the Strobe Talbotts and Boutros-Ghalis — are visible. The United Nations is to be the world parliament, the International Monetary Fund to regulate the world’s money, the World Bank to redistribute its wealth, the WTO to manage its trade. All in the interests of mankind — as understood by the transnational elites who will run the institutions that will rule the world.

But before the United States bows forever to the authority of the WTO, Congress must approve the trade deal negotiated by Mickey Kantor. Here is where Clinton & Co. can be cut off at the pass, and the GOP can recapture the populist and nationalist side of the trade issue — without compromising any adherence to free trade.

How? Declare WTO an infringement of U.S. sovereignty, and tell Mr. Clinton unless the WTO goes, his GATT deal is dead.

In a brilliant essay in the Mises Institute’s Free Market Letter, Lew Rockwell traces WTO’s lineage, in all its varied reincarnations, all the way back to America’s first globalist president: “Woodrow Wilson’s 1918 plan for a World Trade Tribunal was a part of his League of Nations Covenant. Thanks to Henry Cabot Lodge…and his allies, neither the League nor its Trade Tribunal were approved by the U.S. Senate, in one of the most courageous acts in history.”

History can repeat itself if the GOP can produce a courageous Cabot Lodge on Capitol Hill to lead the battle to kill the WTO — and make the GOP again the party of a healthy nationalism that is America’s last best hope against the long dark night of the New World Order. To borrow from Nancy Reagan, “Just say No — to the WTO!”