Category Archives: Globalism

Ian Flelcher: Newt Gingrich, Pseudo-Intellectual Free-Trade Kool-Aid Drinker

Ian Fletcher

At least one Republican presidential candidate (Roemer) is actually good on trade issues. At least one (Romney) may be at least o-kay if he really means what he says.  At least one (Cain) is an odd mix of very good and very bad. And at least one (Perry) seems to be just naïve and corrupt on the subject.

But I have yet to report on a candidate who is proactively, deliberately, ideologically wrong on trade as a matter of high principle.

Until now.  His name is Newt Gingrich.

Gingrich is, of course, already familiar to Americans from his unhappy stint as House Speaker in the mid 1990s, a stint which ended up disappointing both Democrats and his own Republicans.  Republicans, of course, abandoned him as leader in 1999 after he led his party to the worst-ever  Congressional loss by a party not in control of the White House.

And there was all that nastiness in 1997 about  allegedly using tax-deductible charitable donations to fund a non-charitable college course he taught—and of then lying about it to the House Ethics Committee. Was he innocent? Well, the House voted 395-28 to fine him an unprecedented $300,000 as part of a deal to avoid a full hearing, if that helps the reader any.

Gingrich seemed, as recently as a year or so ago, to have been relegated to well-paid has-been land—decorated, of course, with the polite fiction of his being an elder statesman of the party.

During this earlier career, Gingrich racked up a record of supporting every major wrong move on trade issues the United States has made in recent decades. To wit:

·         In 1993, he supported the North American Free Trade Agreement. (Which wasn’t even enough, according to him.  He wanted to eventually add Chile to the deal with the aim of eventually expanding it to cover the entire New World.)

·         In 1994, he  voted for creation of the World Trade Organization and American membership.

·        In 1998, he supported Most Favored Nation (now  known as Permanent Normal Trade Relations) status with China.

Gingrich has been openly contemptuous of American sovereignty when it comes to trade.  He said, in testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee in June 1994,

I am just saying that we need to be honest about the fact that we are transferring from the United States at a practical level significant authority to a new organization. This is a transformational moment. I would feel better if the people who favor this would just be honest about the scale of change.

This is very close to Maastricht [a key European Union treaty], and twenty years from now we will look back on this as a very important defining moment. This is not just another trade agreement. This is adopting something which twice, once in the 1940s and once in the 1950s, the U.S. Congress rejected. I am not even saying we should reject it; I, in fact, lean toward it.

Gingrich’s naiveté with regards to America’s most formidable economic adversary, the People’s Republic of China, is astonishing. The following PBS interview excerpt is almost painful to read, pure Thomas Friedman fantasy:

INTERVIEWER: Was it a good thing to allow China to become an open trading partner?

NEWT GINGRICH: Absolutely…Trade increases the likelihood that you and they will engage in win-win activities. The difference between politics and trade is that in politics I may take something from you to give to somebody else, even though you don’t want to lose it, so I raise your taxes. I charge you a fee. I confiscate your farm. In a free market you only do the things that make you happy in order for me to get the things that make me happy, and if we’re not both happy the trade doesn’t occur. So free markets dramatically lower the friction of human relationships and increase the relative pleasure and the relative success of human relationships. The more the Chinese and Americans [sit] down together to create more wealth, the happier they’ll be with each other, the less likely we’ll have conflict.

No concept of state capitalism at all. No concept that under state capitalism, capitalism strengthens, rather than disciplines, the state.  No concept of mercantilism, or the idea that trade can be practiced by foreign nations as rivalry, with a deliberate agenda to weaken the U.S.

Gingrich doesn’t seem to have wised up since, either.  If one consults his current campaign website’s section on jobs and the economy, there is no mention of trade issues. I guess they’re just not that important, despite a $500 billion-a-year trade deficit. The closest he comes to trade issues is to suggest some policies to “strengthen the dollar.”  While I’m sure the use of the word “strengthen” may make some conservative hearts beat faster, a strong dollar is actually something that has been inflicted on us by Chinese currency manipulation, it is a bad thing, and we need to go in the other direction if we ever expect to balance our trade.

How did Gingrich end up with these appalling ideas?  I can’t plumb his personality, but one of his worst liabilities, on a personal and political level, is his astonishing pseudo-intellectualism.  Intellectually pretentious politicians are a dime a dozen in, say, France, but they are quite rare here, so he stands out for this. As a PhD and former history professor, he seems to instinctively believe that his thoughts go on a higher level than other politicians.

This is a recipe for disaster.

First, intellectuals rarely make good politicians. It’s just a different skill set. A historian can spend a lifetime pondering a question and then give a carefully hedged and nuanced answer. A politician must vote Yea or Nay today. A physicist can discover a theory than only a dozen other people in the world understand, win the Nobel for it, and deserve it.  A politician in a democracy must think and act in ways that millions can understand.

This doesn’t mean politicians shouldn’t be smart, but it does mean that they generally shouldn’t be intellectuals.

It’s no accident that we haven’t had a decent intellectual president since Teddy Roosevelt, who could have gotten tenure teaching history at any university he wanted and whose naval history of the War of 1812 is still a standard work on the topic. The Founders’ generation had a lot of highly intellectual political figures. But that’s unsurprising, as this was a time when the ideology this country is based on was new, so it took genuine brains to understand and fight for it.

What’s even worse is that Newt Gingrich isn’t even an actual intellectual so much as a pseudo-intellectual.  He’s not somebody who has mastered an actual intellectual discipline and takes seriously the idea of intellectual discipline—that is, thinking not however one might wish, but in accord with certain canons derived from objective reality.  He’s more somebody who just loves ideas. Especially big ideas. I am told his staffers used to joke about having a whole filing cabinet labeled “Newt’s ideas” and a file folder labeled “Newt’s good ideas.” There’s a gaseousness, a love of big for the sake of big, a preference for the intellectually flashy over the boring truth, that runs through what he writes and says.  And it’s thus no surprise he’s so hot for globalism, this being one of the biggest, flashiest, most gaseous ideas since the death of Marxism.

America has already had one go at being the lab for Prof. Gingrich’s speculations; we don’t need another.

Ian Fletcher is Senior Economist of the Coalition for a Prosperous America, a nationwide grass-roots organization dedicated to fixing America’s trade policies and comprising representatives from business, agriculture, and labor. He was previously Research Fellow at the U.S. Business and Industry Council, a Washington think tank, and before that, an economist in private practice serving mainly hedge funds and private equity firms. Educated at Columbia University and the University of Chicago, he lives in San Francisco. He is the author of Free Trade Doesn’t Work: What Should Replace It and Why.

The madness of Mitt Romney

I thought Mormons shunned alcohol and drugs. This statement from the Romney campaign makes me wonder what Mitt is smoking or drinking:

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney says he will offer a more assertive foreign policy than President Barack Obama, promising increased military spending, a strong deterrent against Iran and an investment in missile defense systems.

Uh, Mitt, have you noticed that WE’RE BROKE? And that the Bush/Obama wars are a major cause of our financial troubles? You haven’t noticed? Well, here’s Pat Buchanan serving up a healthy dose of reality:

We are going to have to reduce the benefits and raise the age of eligibility for Social Security and Medicare. Cut and cap Great Society programs. Downsize the military, close bases and transfer to allies responsibility for their own defense. Or we are going to have to raise taxes—and not just on millionaires and billionaires, but Middle America.

And if our leaders cannot impose these sacrifices, the markets will, as we see in Europe, where the day of reckoning is at hand. Ours is next.

As Pat says, it’s time we started looking out for ourselves and letting the rest of the world look out for itself. Ending the Empire is something all conservatives should support. The most serious problems that conservatives face, from open borders, to deficit spending, to affirmative action, all stem from the central government’s pursuit of global empire, as explained here.

Liberty can only exist in a small, culturally based body politic, as countless examples from history and the daily news prove. Mitt Romney doesn’t get it; he thinks we should sacrifice even more to expand DC’s empire when our survival requires us to abandon the monster.

Still 99% wrong

The spreading “Occupy Wall Street” protests, which we noted yesterday, are not only filled with the usual leftist silliness of drum beating and group yoga (yeah, that’ll fill your enemies with fear!), but once again illustrates the left’s wrong-headed aims.

Here’s how confused these people are: The “Occupy Kansas City” protesters wanted to bring in members of the far right who agreed that big business was responsible for middle-class suffering. They see themselves representing 99% of the population standing up to the 1% that controls the wealth. That sparked this outburst from a former leftist ally:

I have just read posts on the two OCCUPY KC Facebook sites that indicate that outright racists, even nazis would be welcome to join in by some since they agree with parts of the agenda. One site went so far as to say we need to find the one thing we all, including them, agree on, then we can gather together. If nazis and white supremacists are part of the 99 percent, then count me out until we weed down that percentage a bit.

What these folks don’t get is that the mega-corporations they so despise are the chief promoters and profiteers of the scheme to obliterate borders and nations in order to globalize both labor and capital. Both the cool cats and the fat cats want one world government, but while the first group thinks it’ll bring peace, love, and brotherhood, the second lusts for profit and power. In other words, the leftist agitators are free volunteers at the service of big business and big government.

Over at TakiMag, the ever-helpful Jim Goad spells it out for them:

The whole “Occupy Wall Street” thing was launched in July when consumer-culture-hating Canadian magazine Adbusters ran an ad asking whether America was “Ripe for a Tahrir Movement.” Adbusters founder Kalle Lasn seems to hate all things American and love all things global. He openly endorsed “Not just a carbon tax, but a global across-the-board pricing system.” Adbusters also hosted a “One Flag” competition to design a flag symbolizing “global citizenship.”

Over the past decade, Adbusters Media Foundation is said to have received over $300,000 from the giant progressive golden calf known as the Tides Foundation, which in turn has received millions in donations from culture-busting globalist currency-meddler George Soros’s Open Society Institute. Adbusters is also said to have received an additional $176,500 “from organizations associated with…George Soros’s Democracy Alliance.” The US Day of Rage site, another agitant in the Occupy Wall Street movement, has also allegedly received Tides Foundation cash injections.

The multicult left likes to imagine no countries — and no religion, too. They imagine all the people living life in peace. They see themselves as dreamers.

But what they don’t realize is that they’re not the only ones.

Court: No right to resist illegal cop entry into home

Don’t look now, but the basic relationship between the individual and the government is quickly being redefined — and not for the better:

Overturning a common law dating back to the English Magna Carta of 1215, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Hoosiers have no right to resist unlawful police entry into their homes.

In a 3-2 decision, Justice Steven David writing for the court said if a police officer wants to enter a home for any reason or no reason at all, a homeowner cannot do anything to block the officer’s entry.

“We believe … a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence,” David said. “We also find that allowing resistance unnecessarily escalates the level of violence and therefore the risk of injuries to all parties involved without preventing the arrest.”

David said a person arrested following an unlawful entry by police still can be released on bail and has plenty of opportunities to protest the illegal entry through the court system.

Yeah, those old Western European traditions are passé in an empire, where all cultures (except one) are equal. The tradition under English common law that recognized the right of a man to defend his castle just won’t do in a multicult regime. Back then, if the King’s men act illegally, a citizen had the right to resist — it was a type of nullification over illegal acts, another right the ruling elites wish to eradicate.

Instead, we’re supposed to submit to a central government that claims all power, all sovereignty. Re-read that last paragraph in the above quote. It states that the Empire’s subjects are not to worry about the abuse of government power, because they can rely on — yes, the government — to make sure everything’s all right. Feel better?

I prefer this view of the matter:

“The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the force of the Crown. It may be frail; its roof may shake; the wind may blow through it; the storms may enter, the rain may enter, but the King of England cannot enter.”

But as the Anglo-Celtic majority does away with itself, expect the legal and political traditions that it nourished to fade away with it.

The Antifa Fad: Totalitarian Anti-Fascism?


“Antifa” protesters bristle as they watch Jared Taylor hold a news conference in Charlotte, NC. An undercover cop, dressed in a leather jacket and baseball cap, stands ready.

Here’s my TakiMag article on an under-reported phenomenon, the antifa movement. It grew out of the punk rock scene, but is more reminiscent of Mussolini’s Black Shirts – hence the title.

Why Conservatives Should Oppose KORUS Part II: States’ Rights

This series is a work-in-progress. Your feedback would be appreciated.

That group of conservatives often identified as paleoconservatives are usually characterized by three issues on which they differ from “regular” (i.e. movement) conservatives. They are non-interventionist on foreign policy, they were immigration restrictionists before immigration restriction was cool, and they are skeptical of free trade. (There is more to paleoconservatism than these three issues, but this should suffice for the sake of this discussion.)

One curious exception to this categorization has often been Southern conservatives. (When I say Southern conservatives I don’t just mean conservatives who happen to be from the South although obviously there is some overlap. I mean those conservatives who consciously come at their conservatism from a uniquely Southern perspective.) Southern conservatives have generally been regarded as a subset of paleoconservatives, but many Southern conservatives have been more reluctant than their other paleo peers to embrace “protectionism” and “protective” tariffs (as opposed to a revenue tariff). (I use quotation marks around protectionism, not because I don’t think it is a real thing, but because I don’t think both sides necessarily agree about what the word means.)

There is a clear historical reason for this. Southern conservatives have naturally become well versed in defending the Southern cause in the War Between the States, and one of those causes was opposition to a high protective tariff, which was rightly seen as intended to benefit one section of the country, Northern merchants, at the expense of another, Southern agrarians. So Southern conservatives have been slower to embrace protectionist tariffs that they view as intended to benefit some (industry primarily) arguably at the expense of others.

Of course there are exceptions to this. The average man on the street conservative in the South may be just as likely or more to be skeptical of free trade, than his man on the street conservative Northern counterpart. I am speaking here primarily of an identifiable subset of Southern conservative thinkers who would otherwise be easily characterized as paleocons. This reluctance to whole heartedly endorse protectionist trade measures among historically attuned Southern conservatives is evident in the blogosphere and paleo commentariate.

And this is not just because Southern conservatives have to a greater degree adopted laissez-faire free market ideology. On the contrary, Southern conservatives (and paleocons in general) are more likely to recognize the importance of an economics (and politics) of the human scale and to be skeptical of economic reductionism and “economic man” thinking. I believe what is more at work here, besides historical sensibilities, is a skepticism toward nationalism in all its manifestations (and protectionism is often couched as economic nationalism) and a healthy skepticism that the Feds could create a rational and fair (unbeholden to powerful lobbies) economic nationalist agenda even if it were deemed desirable and constitutional. (While no conservative would doubt the constitutionality of tariffs per se, the “industrial policy” that often accompanies an economic nationalist agenda could be viewed as constitutionally suspect depending on what exactly is being proposed.)

I will leave this debate to the various partisans. My point with this essay is to point out that Southern conservatives who might otherwise be reluctant to embrace “protectionism,” should recognize the danger of the proposed KORUS FTA to another issue that is near and dear to their hearts, states’ rights. A vote on KORUS is imminent. Obama could drop it in the hopper any time he thinks would best facilitate its passage. It is time to put pointy headed discussions like the one above aside for a later day, and work to stop the KORUS broadside to US sovereignty and states’ rights.

According to Americans for Free and Fair Trade, KORUS “using language almost lifted from NAFTA … obligates the federal government to force U.S. states to conform state laws to every single provision in the 1000-page agreement – whether directly related to trade or not.” Furthermore, “Korean and other multi-national corporations could take any dispute with federal or state laws, regulations, or rules to the World Court or United Nations. Federal or state courts would have no authority over the companies.” (emphasis mine)

A person might not like all the rules and regulations individual states may impose on businesses in their state. In fact, conservative minded folks probably don’t. But those rules and regulations are a matter that is properly addressed by the people of the state and their representatives and state and federal courts if necessary. To allow foreign corporations to challenge state laws before foreign tribunals is an intolerable outrage. No self respecting Southern conservative or any other patriotic conservative should stand for this.

It is time for the various partisans in the academic free trade vs. fair trade debate to put their differences aside while we stop this KORUS outrage before it is too late. Once we have done that, then we can reengage this always entertaining debate, a debate to which Southern conservatives bring a unique and historically informed perspective.

Why Conservatives Should Oppose KORUS Part I: Sovereignty

I am working on a series of articles on the KORUS agreement, but I thought I would post this to give CHT’s readers a taste of what is to come. Your feedback would be welcome.

Conservatives relentlessly complain, appropriately so, that the Fed Gov does too much. With the recent reemergence of Constitutionalism, this is even more the case. This Constitutionalism is characterized by the belief that the Feds can only do that which they are specifically authorized to do, primarily in Article 1 Section 8, and nothing more. This can be called the enumerated powers doctrine.

This renewed focus on enumerated powers and constitutional limits is welcomed, but it should not be forgotten that it can also be a problem when Congress fails to do those things it is specifically authorized to do. Congress is specifically authorized to regulate foreign commerce and set tariffs. But actually making laws is hard and dirty work, and trade laws are particularly fraught with political difficulties. That is why we end up with these “free trade” agreements which are negotiated by unelected trade representative that then must be “fast tracked” so as to limit debate. This represents a failure of will on the part of Congress. While this unsavory end around the normal legislative process may not be unconstitutional per se, what Congress can’t do constitutionally is fob off to supranational entities powers that are specifically vested in Congress.

Here we have an inherent problem with KORUS as with NAFTA before it. The agreement cedes authority over our domestic trade matters to the United Nations and the World Bank. Foreign corporations can challenge federal and even state laws by dragging the US before foreign tribunals. This is an intolerable outrage and no patriotic American should stand for it.

Sovereignty is an issue that unites left and right, but my main audience here is conservatives. No conservative, whether a free-trader or a fair trader, should be willing to stand by while Congress effectively punts its responsibilities to globalist bureaucrats. Let your Representative know how you feel. Tell them to vote no on the sovereignty trashing managed trade KORUS boondoggle.

Another Potential Divide at CPAC: KORUS FTA

Movement conservatism has long been committed to free trade. While the base of the GOP is skeptical of  “free trade” deals, movement cons are a slightly different more ideological breed. This disconnect between the more populist base and the more ideological movement was seriously exposed during Pat Buchanan’s ’92 and ’96 runs for the GOP Presidential nomination.

There is a growing movement on the right in opposition to the KORUS FTA, however. I wonder if this anti-KORUS sentiment  is anywhere in evidence at CPAC? I’ll sniff around for evidence that it is and let you know. If any of our readers are attending CPAC and would like to report in, that would be much appreciated also.

Update: I do know that “The Donald,” who is against KORUS, spoke today.

The Chrysler Super Bowl Ad

I was encouraged by the Chrysler Super Bowl ad. It was an obvious emotional appeal to patriotism and to bring a once proud American city that has been devastated by de-industrialization (among other things) back. I could have done without using a controversial figure like Eminem in it, but I understand that the Detroit connection was there.

Just for discussion’s sake. I thought the Bridgestone beaver ad was the best. I also like the dog running for the glass door Doritos ad and the Darth Vader Volkswagen ad. I watched the Super Bowl with some friends and the beaver ad was easily our consensus favorite.

Not So Fast Mr. Kagan: The Emerging Politics of Trade

Here is my latest at EtherZone.

In this rambling neoconish offering (Does he write any other kind?), Robert Kagan ties together two seemingly unrelated things, the US’s relationship with Colombia and Egypt, in his ham-handed attempt to make his neoconish point that America’s actions should be guided by both our interests and our “ideals.” (Apparently Mr. Kagan had two axes to grind and only one column to do it.)

While there is much wrong with Kagan’s column and much that could be responded to, one throwaway line struck me in particular. Among other things, Kagan is hectoring, as neocons are want to do, the Obama Administration for failing to advocate sufficiently on behalf of passage of the Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA). According to Kagan’s logic, passing the long languishing FTA would be a sort of reward to Colombia for its progress in the area of human rights and democratization.

This is the line that got my attention:

But the administration shows no inclination to push the agreement forward, even with the new free-trade-oriented Republican House sure to pass it. (emphasis mine)

Not so fast there Mr. Kagan. Me thinks Mr. Kagan needs to get out more and quit talking only to his little circle of fellow neocons and other Establishmentarians. While FTAs are broadly supported by the Establishment and a certain element of free-trade ideologues that make up a part of the conservative coalition, the base of the GOP is generally hostile to them.

Continue reading

What the US Should Do About Egypt

What the US should do about Egypt:

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What the President Should be Saying About Egypt

Here is what the President should be saying about Egypt:

Chirp…                                                                            …chirp,  chirp…                                      …chirp, chirp, chirp…                                                              …chirp…

Ron Paul and Ralph Nader Agree on Withdrawing from NAFTA and WTO

Ralph Nader has been talking up a libertarian and progressive alliance against corporatism recently. He and Ron Paul were on Freedom Watch with Judge Napolitano to discuss it. They touched on many things, but in keeping with our recent focus on the Korea – US FTA I have chosen to highlight what both men had to say about NAFTA and the WTO.

Paul said:

Paul added that he agreed with Nader on a host of issues, such as cutting the US military’s budget, ending undeclared US wars overseas, restoring civil liberties and civil rights by dumping from the Patriot Act, and withdrawing from the NAFTA and World Trade Organization agreements.

Nader called NAFTA and the WTO “sovereignty shredding and job destroying” (about min 5 of the video). I don’t normally associate liberals with concerns about sovereignty (although Nader is not your typical modern liberal) so that Nader would cite sovereignty concerns speaks to the power of that issue.

Donald Trump “Seriously” Considering a Run for President in 2012

Trump says this is the first time he has “seriously” considered running, but third party advocates will remember that he flirted with seeking the Reform Party nomination in 2000.

Trump cites trade as his main reason for considering a run.

“The Apprentice” host cited what he called the “unfair” trade relationship between America and China and the administration’s inability to utilize the country’s top business talent in trade negotiations as his main reasons for mulling a run.

Trump says he “guess(es)” he would run as a Republican this time around.

Cross posted at IPR.

Donald Trump Opposes Korea “Free Trade” Agreement

“The Donald” thinks the Korea – US “Free Trade” Agreement is a bad deal for the US.

“Have you seen what’s happened recently with the trade pact with South Korea?” said Trump. “They ask us to sign something that only a moron would sign.”

Donald Trump has always been for fair trade. Remember that he seriously considered seeking the Reform Party nomination in 2000.

South Korea: Free Trader or Freeloader?

My latest on the Korea – US Trade Deal is up at EtherZone. Here it is below.

On November 24, Americans were bombarded (pun intended) with the news that North Korea had fired upon the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong. This news follows on the heels of a March incident where a South Korean warship was allegedly sunk by a North Korean sub.

While events of this nature in a far off country should normally be of only humanitarian and economic interest to Americans, our country was put on edge by these unnerving developments because, for some reason, we still have nearly 30,000 US troops stationed in South Korea (many more if you include Japan, Okinawa and Guam) that would be put at immediate risk in the event of a war between North and South.

Then, less than two weeks later, we were greeted with the news that South Korea and the US had reached an agreement on a new trade deal.

Am I the only one who is a bit irked by the dichotomy of these two Korea related news items?

Some sixty years after America went to war on the Korean peninsula we are still there protecting the deadbeat South Koreans at great risk of life and treasure. And the otherwise nationalistic South Koreans seem disinclined to change this arrangement anytime soon. (Unlike our officials in Washington, the South Koreans apparently know a sweet deal when they see it.) They recently negotiated a delay (read fobbed off) a planned transfer of wartime operational command from Washington to Seoul that had been scheduled for April 2012.

I am not necessarily opposed to free trade in theory, but I am sick of Uncle Sam being a chump. South Korea wants freer access to the lucrative American marketplace. I don’t blame them. Who wouldn’t? But at the same time they want the beleaguered American taxpayer and our overextended military to continue underwriting their defense. Sounds like a good gig if you can get it – IF YOU’RE SOUTH KOREA, but if you’re America, it stinks.

South Korea needs to get off the military dole. It needs to direct more of its own money towards shoring up its own military for its own defense if such is truly necessary and quit coming with its hand out to Uncle Sugar.

Once South Korea is solely responsible for its own defense and no longer relies on a bankrupt America to protect it from its menacing neighbor to the north, then maybe we should be more in the mood to talk about granting them freer access to our marketplace, but pardon me if I remain a tad bit surly about the prospect while South Korea continues to freeload.

Internationalism and New START

I never commented on New START before it passed the Senate. I certainly did not think its passage represented an existential threat to our survival as many of its alarmist, fearmongering Russiaphobic opponents did, but I was vaguely opposed to it for the mostly visceral reason that I am just skeptical of treaties in general. Treaties seem to me to suppose the need for consensus and bilateral (or multilateral) approval and hence contrary to our ability to act unilaterally in our own interested. Again, I admit this is largely visceral, and I admit that it is not inconceivable that a treaty could be in our best interest.

For some reason Daniel Larison was VERY invested in the passage of New START. I’m not sure why he was so invested, but I think it might have had as much to do with reflexive opposition to the treaty’s interventionist, fearmongering opponents than it did that he felt the treaty would be in America’s best interests.

I think my visceral instincts have been validated by this post by Larison. (Larison’s post refers to this article by Robert Kagan.) Here are my comments below Larison’s post.

Daniel, the fact that the approval of START is hailed as a breakthrough for “internationalism” is a reason why some of us non-interventionists who are not fearmongering Russiaphobics (In fact, I have been accused of being Russiaphilic.) were not nearly as sympathetic to the treaty as you were. We clearly don’t need our current level of defense to defend us against Russia or anyone else. Why do we need a treaty to cut unnecessary arms? I realize that few of the opponents were making that case, but something about the internationalist establishment getting what they want (and the reinforcing of underlying internationalist assumptions) despite the loud objections of the base to me doesn’t bode well. (The treaty might have been broadly popular, but the base hated it as evidenced by the number of screaming e-mail alerts I received about it.)

If the opposition to KORUS contains both purist free traders who object to any amount of managed trade (Such as Ron Paul and the von Misians) and ideological opponents of free trade (like Buchanan), then I’m not sure why we shouldn’t/couldn’t have an anti-internationalist coalition in opposition to treaties that contains both anti-internationalist non-interventionists and unilateralist hawks.

I made these comments before I actually read the Kagan artcle. Reading the Kagan article confirms my instincts even more. Check this out.

… while bipartisanship is not always a virtue, in this case it has positive ramifications in the real world. Other nations need to know, at a moment when there are doubts, that the American political system can pull itself together and make a decision. Note how many of America’s allies weighed in before the vote in favor of passage. This was not just about the merits of the treaty. It was an implicit plea for the United States to show some domestic unity as a necessary foundation for world leadership. The idea that Washington could tie itself in partisan knots over such a small matter was disturbing to those who are finding themselves once again in need of a strong and capable United States.

… The internationalist coalition that passed this treaty will be critical in advancing U.S. interests over the coming years: in dealing with Iran; China; the continuing war in Afghanistan; the stabilization of Iraq; the ratification of free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama; and the maintenance of adequate defense and foreign affairs budgets. With the right presidential leadership, this muscular internationalism ought to, as it has in the past, provide the center of gravity for American foreign policy.

Read the Kagan article. (Make sure you have a barf bag handy.) If you were sympathetic to New START before, you might not be after reading this paean to “muscular internationalism.”