February 13, 2003


One for All (Daniel W. Drezner, 02.12.03, New Republic)
In its foreign economic policy, the administration has played the part of responsible hegemon to the European Union's petulant protectionism. Yes, the farm bill and the steel tariffs were problematic. But one can argue that these steps were necessary evils to secure congressional backing for trade promotion authority (and that they pale in comparison to EU protectionism). The United States took the lead in jump-starting the latest round of World Trade Organization talks. On both agricultural and manufacturing barriers, U.S. trade negotiators have demonstrated a willingness to liberalize that makes their European counterparts blanch. The United States has been equally aggressive in pushing a hemispheric free trade area, as well as free trade agreements with Southern Africa, Morocco, and Australia. The administration has bolstered its foreign aid budget by 50 percent and pushed for more concessionary spending from the international financial institutions. [...]

[W]hy does the Bush administration receive no credit for its multilateralism? Part of the explanation is obvious. [...]

The second reason is that the American view of multilateralism differs from most other countries. For the United States, multilateralism is a means to an end. The Bush NSS explicitly states: "In all cases, international obligations are to be taken seriously. They are not to be undertaken symbolically to rally support for an ideal without furthering its attainment." This administration is consistent on this point--when multilateral rules are broken, be they IMF lending agreements or UN Security Council resolutions, the United States will use the necessary means to enforce the norms underlying those multilateral institutions.

For much of Europe and the rest of the world, multilateralism remains an end in itself.

Very well balanced essay, especially for the New Republic. (Should we expect it to wobble back to the Right now that Al Gore is retired?) And Mr. Drezner gets big bonus points for openly stating what should have been obvious to everyone about George W. Bush's trade tactics for two years now. Posted by Orrin Judd at February 13, 2003 8:08 PM
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