Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The US on a protectionist path?

An IBD editorial muses about what I consider Obama's weakest point: his willingness to submit free trade treaties to the whims of Unions and a few pols in Congress. The example of course is Colombia who is blocked from an FTA because under Uribe assassination of trade union leaders has not gone down enough to the tastes of Pelosi and allies. True, Uribe still has work to do but on that field looking at his global actions of taking down the FARC and trying to control general violence, including a considerably improved safety for union leaders, one would thing his successes should be rewarded instead of putting him through more unnecessary hoops that might in the end tire him and become counter productive. Not to mention that the current Colombia US balance is right now in favor of Colombia, which makes the Pelosi gang on trade look even more silly than what they really are.

But as it is usually the case, trends are more worrying than actual cases and the IBD folks wonder about Canada playing footsie with Europe since Obama announced that the FTA treaty with them might be reviewed. In fact it was the lowest point of Obama in his latest debate, when pressed on FTA by McCain. Clearly he did not know what to answer and reached for a fast "on the trail" cliché to reply. That is very worrisome. And I am sure that his misstep on Colombia was noticed by Canada and Mexico.

There are two things that need to be noted here: the US has always had a tendency toward isolationism. It was brought out kicking and screaming by Pearl Harbor and has been playing around since there, to global benefit in spite of a few pointed errors. Or does anyone think that we would be better off today if the Soviet Union where still splitting Europe in two?

The second thing to be noted is that Senators usually do not make the best candidates, the more so when their Senate experience is pretty much all that they have. And this year we have TWO senators running!!!! Usually I prefer when there is at least a governor, they do have a better grasp of the real world (though Bush is a flaming exception!). Although I have decanted for Obama I am still worried that he is a single term senator. And it shows when he takes positions like he does on Colombia and NAFTA. The current US problems are not due to NAFTA or Colombia, they are due to Wall Street uncontrolled speculation and the unwillingness of the US to confront its social drug problem. Creeping isolationism will not protect the US against drugs or loss of jobs overseas while it will favor authoritarian regimes elsewhere. Chavez would love nothing better than an autocratic Uribe to justify his strong armed rule and justify a road to war.

-The end-

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