The Atlanticist

Much of Europe is rooting for a Democrat, meaning most likely Evita, to replace George Bush in the White House. Be careful what you wish for. Neither Hillary Clinton nor either of the other major contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination Barack Obama and John Edwards would be good for Europe, much less for America.

Once upon a time advocating and supporting free trade and the liberal world order were policies to which Democrats and Republicans both adhered. However, as former Washington Times editor Tony Blankley observes in “Hillary, Huckabee and Trade; It’s Time for a Free-Trade Debate” in recent decades a majority of the Democratic Party has embraced protectionism.

While Bill Clinton (with Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich!) supported NAFTA and systematically reducing world trade barriers, a majority of his party did not. Today all the principal Democrat presidential contenders have adopted anti-free trade positions, whether from conviction or political expediency.

In sharp contrast, while not all Republicans are free traders, virtually all politically viable committed free traders in America are Republican. Of the leading Republican presidential contenders only glib and surging former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee is not a vigorous free-trade advocate.

America’s domestic policies affect Europe as well. Ronald Reagan’s America ushering in less regulation, lower taxes, and reduced government growth, created wealth and tens of millions of jobs, was an engine for global economic growth, and along with the Iron Lady set an example for continental Europe.

America’s Nanny State is proportionately smaller than those in most Western European countries. Nonetheless it is enormous and growing. A second President Clinton with a Democrat Congress would increase the size and scope of government, boost taxes, and diminish free trade commitments, weakening the world’s largest economy, and consequently Europe’s prosperity.

Notwithstanding wishful thinking in Brussels assuming a new era for mankind is
at hand in which force has no place, good and evil don’t exist, and good faith negotiations can resolve all problems, human nature is eternal and the world remains a dangerous place. Force is sometimes a moral and very, indeed the most, efficacious means of resolving problems.

Great Britain by and large enforced a liberal world order in the 19th century, kept the sea lanes open, reduced the global slave traffic, and planted lasting seeds of the rule of law, property rights, and consensual democratic systems of government, to the lasting benefit of much of the planet. Britain’s policy was self interested and on balance principled. Much as many Europeans are uncomfortable with the thought, the Free World needs an active sentinel and as Niall Ferguson compellingly argues in his provoc
atively titled Colossus: the Price of America’s Empire in the 21st century only America can play the role. Europe’s signal danger is a more isolationist America brought about by Democrats abjuring global leadership, supported at least in some measure by an isolationist, nationalist Republican rump, and/or an America hobbled by pledging fealty to an utterly ineffectual and corrupt United Nations.

While Hillary Clinton has judiciously avoided some of her kindred Democrats belligerently pacifist rhetoric, a second Clinton presidency would weaken America’s military, be a less stalwart ally, and have a decidedly less muscular foreign policy. With cause Russia’s capo Vlad Putin, Dear Leader Kim Jong Il, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Hossayni Khamenei, Osama bin Laden, Bashar Assad, and Hu Jintao, would rejoice.

However, an economically and militarily weaker and less confident America disengaged from the world is decidedly not in Europe’s interest.

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  1. Free trade does not always lead to prosperity, certainly not for the weaker player whose markets are being taken over by stronger and subsidized markets of the richer player. If free trade can be successful, the markets, economies, and governments of both participating countries should be comparable. The precarious situation of the weaker player should be taken in consideration. If two players are not well matched, applying the same rules, duties and rights will benefit only one player at the expense of the other. Although you say most of the democrats, including Hillary Clinton, do not support free trade, as in (according to you) they are protectionist; at least they are being honest about it. Instead of Bush, or for that matter the EU, who are claiming to support free trade in order to develop the economies of their (weaker) economic partners, but in reality still hold up their own barriers in order to protect their economy. I think the Democrats, whether it would be another Clinton, Obama or whomever, will be the best thing for America ánd for Europe. Maybe finally the lying and hypocrite behavior of the Republicans (regarding to this, the outstanding performance of a certain Bush Jr.) will come to an end when Democrats win. I sure do hope so.

  2. Eric is pretty much on the money as far as I’m concerned. The attitudes of the left, as expressed by Jess, are so lacking any sound economic basis, that they are rendered laughable.

    The Republicans may not be all that I’d like them to be, but imagine if Al “I invented the Internet” Gore were elected. We’d all be speaking Arabic, and the U.N. might be determining the laws of the USA.

    The Republicans disappoint me greatly. They preach conservative philosophy to get elected, and then act like liberals when they get into office.

    The Constitution means what it says, and says what it means. Those who try to make it mean something else do great harm to the country.

    Someplace along the line we are going to need another “Gipper”


  3. I understand that Jess is anti-Bush and that is fair. I’m going to ignore Hillary-hating or Bush-hating in my comment.

    Democrats are arguing for more government involvement in trade. Certainly the Republicans are not perfect, but the Democrats are more active in that arena.

    Protectionism hurts global prosperity. To argue against that makes you look like a fool.

    In an effort to appease less informed voters, politicians fall into the trap of pushing for trade protection. Let’s face it… it just sounds good on the podium. It wins votes.

    When government meddles in trade and tries to build a pier in front of the tide of trade only the smart and rich do well. It’s the poor and uninformed that get hurt.

    Many an investor will get rich on a protectionist platform winning the presidency… even as the stock market and real estate market stagnate. It is the poor worker that get hurt.

    Thank you Hillary for hurting the poor with your populist rhetoric.

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