Lessons of Clinton’s Kyoto Capitulation

by Patrick J. Buchanan – December 18, 1997

The blockheads at the IMF and World Bank were
sitting in the cab of the locomotive when it jumped
the tracks and went over the trestle into the creek.
Now, they want to oversee rail safety!…

The American diplomatic collapse at Kyoto, Japan, has one salutary benefit. It vindicates totally the coalition that denied Bill Clinton “fast-track” authority. The Kyoto cave-in is conclusive proof that Clinton and Al Gore cannot be trusted to defend U.S. vital interests. Congress remains America’s last line of defense.

Kyoto was a textbook example of how not to negotiate.

Consider: At Kyoto, Clinton faced a failed summit if he did not surrender a position he had promised to hold — no treaty on global warming without the signature of big Third World polluters like China. But Beijing refused to sign. With the summit’s end at hand, and no treaty, the Clintonites panicked and buckled at Gore’s behest, rather than accept responsibility for Kyoto’s collapse.

Contrast Gore at Kyoto with Reagan at Reykjavik. Handed the “deal of the century” — Moscow’s offer to give up nuclear weapons if the United States would do the same and give up SDI — Ronald Reagan walked away from the table. Reagan would blow up a summit rather than yield U.S. defense; the Clintonites will sign anything not to be seen as “isolated” from the “international community.”

Under deadline pressure, the Clintonites crumble. Thus, before House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott again demand that the president be given fast-track authority — carte blanche to cut trade deals — they must review his appalling negotiating record.

At Kyoto, Clinton accepted cuts in U.S. energy consumption that would mean America’s end as the world’s greatest industrial power. To expand the ABM treaty, he compromised the U.S. ability to build effective theater missile defenses. No sooner had Clinton used the Chemical Weapons Convention to justify U.S. disarmament than we learned how easy it was for Iraq to build (and hide) toxic weapons of mass destruction.

Under Clinton’s North American Free Trade Agreement, the U.S. trade surplus with Mexico has turned into our fourth-largest trade deficit. Under GATT, the United States has lost $3 in manufacturing sales at home for every $2 we gained abroad. Following Clinton’s trade deals, U.S. trade deficits hit all-time records. Is this the kind of negotiating success Congress should reward by surrendering its right to amend any trade treaty Clinton brings home? Because that is what fast track does.

During his Latin American tour, the president declared that the goal of his trade policy was “global economic integration.” Imagine where America would be if we were even more deeply “integrated” with Asia than we already are. We would all have the “Asian flu.” We would all be headed into a depression.

And consider the record of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to which Clinton has given a free hand to negotiate Asian bailouts — for which U.S. taxpayers are to be put at risk for scores of billions of dollars.

In “The World Bank: Its First Half Century,” published this year by the Brookings Institution, the bank trumpets itself as “one of the major institutions to which the Korean economy owes much of its success.” Calling Korea a “role model” for “developing countries,” the bank brags: “Korea’s strong demand for advice on economic development policy created a close and working relationship between Korean officials and Bank economists … the advice of Bank missions was highly regarded and well taken.”

And the IMF? Just three months ago, in its annual report, the IMF said: “Directors welcomed Korea’s continued impressive macroeconomic performance (and) praised the authorities for their enviable fiscal record.” About Thailand, then on the precipice of disaster, the IMF declared: “Directors strongly praised Thailand’s remarkable economic performance and the authorities’ consistent record of sound macroeconomic policies.”

The blockheads at the IMF and World Bank were sitting in the cab of the locomotive when it jumped the tracks and went over the trestle into the creek. Now, they want to oversee rail safety!

Neither the IMF nor the World Bank nor Robert Rubin nor Bill Clinton saw Mexico’s crisis coming. None saw Asia’s crisis coming. Only weeks ago, the IMF and World Bank were toasting the Asian economies they now tell us they can extricate from the wreckage if only we advance the IMF and World Bank billions of dollars.

Congress must, as it did in November, say “no.”

As for the Republicans who stood up to their leaders, and big business contributors, to join House Democrats in blocking any new money for the IMF and derailing fast track — Duncan Hunter, Gerry Solomon, Zach Wamp, Chris Smith, Van Hilleary, John Duncan, Joe Scarborough, Ron Paul and all the rest — they deserve the gratitude of the republic, and they are the hope of the party.