Equality and American Democracy
Why Politics Trumps Economics
Fight or Flight
America’s Choice in the Middle East
Russia's Perpetual Geopolitics
Putin Returns to the Historical Pattern
Making America Great Again
The Case for the Mixed Economy
The End of the Old Israel
How Netanyahu Has Transformed the Nation
The Case for Offshore Balancing
A Superior U.S. Grand Strategy
The Truth About Trade
What Critics Get Wrong About the Global Economy
France’s Next Revolution?
A Conversation With Marine Le Pen
Populism on the March
Why the West Is in Trouble
Populism Is Not Fascism
But It Could Be a Harbinger
Wealthier World, Poorer Nation
The Problem With the Rise of the Rest
Lone Wolves No More
How ISIS' European Cells Really Operate
Watching American Democracy in China
Liberals and Conservatives After Trump
The Apocalypse in U.S. Political Thought
Trump Isn't the First—And He Won't be the Last
America's Misguided LGBT Policy
How the United States Hurts Those It Tries to Help
The Future Lies With Urbanization
The New Dictators
Why Personalism Rules
A Westphalian Peace for the Middle East
Why an Old Framework Could Work
A Tale of Two Statues
Putin, Stalin, and Russia's Bloody Past
Why Trump’s Victory Was 30 Years in the Making and Why It Won’t Stop Here
Just because a U.S. presidential candidate bashes free trade on the campaign trail does not mean that he or she cannot embrace it once elected. After all, Barack Obama voted against the Central American Free Trade Agreement as a U.S. senator and disparaged the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as a presidential candidate. In office, however, he came to champion the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a giant trade deal with 11 other Pacific Rim countries.
Yet in the current election cycle, the rhetorical attacks on U.S. trade policy have grown so fiery that it is difficult to imagine similar transformations. The Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders has railed against “disastrous” trade agreements, which he claims have cost jobs and hurt the middle class. The Republican Donald Trump complains that China, Japan, and Mexico are “killing” the United States on trade thanks to the bad deals struck by “stupid” negotiators. Even Hillary Clinton, the expected Democratic nominee, who favored the TPP as secretary of state, has been forced to join the chorus and now says she opposes that agreement.
Blaming other countries for the United States’ economic woes is an age-old tradition in American politics; if truth is the first casualty of war, then support for free trade is often an early casualty of an election campaign. But the bipartisan bombardment has been so intense this time, and has been so unopposed, that it raises real questions about the future of U.S. global economic leadership.
The anti-trade rhetoric paints a grossly distorted picture of trade’s role in the U.S. economy. Trade still benefits the United States enormously, and striking back at other countries by imposing new barriers or ripping up existing agreements would be self-destructive. The badmouthing of trade agreements has even jeopardized the ratification of the TPP in Congress. Backing out of that deal would signal a major U.S. retreat from Asia and mark a historic error.
Still, it would be a mistake to dismiss all
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