Wednesday, November 19, 2003
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Routine trade politics
Andrew Sullivan thinks the EU has hit a new low:
Now, I love a good EU-bashing as much as the next guy, but on this occasion I fear Sullivan is overreaching on two fronts.
First, the Guardian story makes it clear that the EU is not proposing anything at the moment. Rather, Stephen Byers -- a former trade and industry secretary in Tony Blair's government -- sent "a letter to Pascal Lamy, Europe's top trade negotiator," suggesting this tactic. So this is not emanating from the Eurocrats.
Second, even if this does become official policy, it's not new. Ever since the WTO came into existence, both the United States and European Union have carefully targeted WTO-approved punitive sanctions against key industries. The hope is that such sanctions mobilize the affected industry into lobbying the government to reverse its policy.
The U.S. does this all the time against the EU -- for instance, raising tariffs on Parma ham to get the Italian agricultural lobby to force the French agricultuiral lobby into backing down.
Sullivan says the proposed policy is Bush-hatred gone mad. However, the quoted section from Byers' letter to Lamy suggests good-old-fashioned bargaining:
Nothing extraordinary to see here, folks -- just your typical transatlantic trade spat. Move along.posted by Dan on 11.19.03 at 06:07 PM
Fair enough. We have no reason to rush to judgment. This is also admittedly an area where Daniel Drezner has far more expertise than Andrew Sullivan. Yet, there is something we should not overlook: does anyone believe that the “mainstream” media would not be asking more questions, and even implying malicious manipulation, if the shoe was on the other foot? What if the Bush administration was even minimally suspected of trying to defeat an Old European head of state in their next election?posted by: David thomson on 11.19.03 at 06:07 PM [permalink]
Wow...I can't beleive that Sullivan would actually claim that the retaliation is about Bush-bashing. Thanks Dan for calling it what it is...just an awareness by Europe of the political reality of the US. What would Sullivan propose as an appropriate punishment? Tariffs on computer software from those damn liberals in Washington State?posted by: Rich on 11.19.03 at 06:07 PM [permalink]
“Wow...I can't believe that Sullivan would actually claim that the retaliation is about Bush-bashing.”
Why not? It seems entirely sensible to me. We are seemingly in an unofficial and nonviolent war with France. The Old Europeans detest President Bush and are extremely envious and bitter concerning America’s preeminent position in the world. Jealousy is a vice often underpinning the motives of all human beings. Contrary to the naive views of many Liberals, the at least metaphorical reality of Original Sin is alive and well on planet earth. No, I will simply, for the time being, go along with Daniel Drezner’s more educated opinion.
PS: Sigh, do I upset a few of you with my reference to Original Sin? OK, would you prefer Isaiah Berlin’s crooked timber rhetoric? It’s essentially the same darn thing.posted by: David Thomson on 11.19.03 at 06:07 PM [permalink]
Defining Deviancy Down...
The fact that it is your "typical transatlantic trade spat" doesn't mean that there is nothing to see here. Bush started playing a negative-sum game with the EU. The EU is jumping in with glee. This is a bad thing.
At the very least, the correct response is not "nothing to see here", it is:
BAD BUSH!! BAD!! NO!! BAD BUSH!! GO TO YOUR CORNER!! START PLAYING ONLY POSITIVE-SUM GAMES!! BAD PASCAL!! NO!! DOWN!! BAD PASCAL!!posted by: Brad DeLong on 11.19.03 at 06:07 PM [permalink]
“Bush started playing a negative-sum game with the EU.”
Baloney. The exact opposite is the case. Have we already forgotten the decision handed down a few years ago by the Old Europeans concerning the General Electric merger with Honeywell? The United States cannot be blamed for the Old Europeans being envious about our successes. These are often bitter people who desire to stick it to us.posted by: David Thomson on 11.19.03 at 06:07 PM [permalink]
Brad DeLong is right about one thing: the Bush administration chickened out on free trade. President Bush does indeed deserve to be criticized for his farm policies and steel protectionism decisions. Bush is far more of a free trader than Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt. Nonetheless, Bill Clinton was far more courageous on this issue.posted by: David Thomson on 11.19.03 at 06:07 PM [permalink]
"an unofficial and nonviolent war with France"
If it is both unofficial and nonviolent, why call it a war at all? Of all the regional powers in the world today, France is not one that the United States (or its citizens) needs to worry about. Even if France were, name calling would not be an effective tool for dealing with it.posted by: SamS on 11.19.03 at 06:07 PM [permalink]
So once again Sullivan posts without any understanding whatsoever of the specifics of the issue?
posted by: GT on 11.19.03 at 06:07 PM [permalink]
"Why not? It seems entirely sensible to me."
The "why not" is the reason that Dan mentions. Specifically the fact that this is just the way the game has been played even before Europe decided that Bush was someone they didn't like. We retaliate with tariffs on Parma ham, they retaliate with tariffs on citrus products.
Let me add that just because something is sensible, is not a substitute for evidence. A bunch of former oil men invading Iraq for reasons of oil seemed sensible to lots of people. Of course if you looked at all the risks and reasons for invading Iraq it is pretty clear that doing it for oil is just not realistic. So if you want to engage in the same kind of spurious arguments that I am sure you attribute to naive Liberals that is fine, just be aware that it won't come off to persuasive to a critical audience.
Finally, about Bush doing the exact opposite of, "started playing a negative-sum game with the EU." If Prof. DeLong claimed that Bush started the game, then perhaps (emphasis on perhaps...I don't know enough to evaluate the statement) you could say that is baloney. But Bush is playing a negative sum game with Europe. Ergo, he must have started playing the game. Europe is playing the game too, and I am sure both side is convinced the other started the game, but unfortunately neither took the moral high ground and both are playing.
Perhaps if Europe was really saavy they would have let Bush just keep playing the game on his own. They could allow Bush to raise steel tariffs, drive metalworking and other manufacturing overseas, lose American jobs, and lose an election. But they believe that none of the Democratic candidates seem strong enough to take on unions and make a real free trade argument, so Americans and Europeans are left suffering the consequences of this game, hoping that each move will be the last.posted by: Rich on 11.19.03 at 06:07 PM [permalink]
By itself, this is hardly a turning point. Part of the overall picture of increased trade frictions with China, the collapse of world-talks on trade, the move toward bilateral treaties with preferential US contractual riders like ICC exemption for US soldiers, the failure to 'reform' or cap agricultural subsidies, the failure to articulate a coherent trade policy regarding basic manufacturing and acknowledging that there might be political, financial, and absolute economical limitations to globalization, market liberalization, and deregulation ...
Overall the picture ain't too pretty. One data point don't count for much. The trend is pretty disturbing however.posted by: Oldman on 11.19.03 at 06:07 PM [permalink]
K0e regional powers in the world today, France is not one that the United States (or its citizens) needs to worry about.”
On the contrary, France’s back stabbing has made this a more dangerous world. This country does not make decisions based on what’s best for everybody concerned---but mostly on how to stick it to the United States. Their leaders are childishly immature and pathetically silly. They are akin to jealous school boys desiring to bring down the star football player a peg or two.
“So once again Sullivan posts without any understanding whatsoever of the specifics of the issue?”
Nobody’s perfect, but Andrew Sullivan is usually far more right than wrong.
“Let me add that just because something is sensible, is not a substitute for evidence.”
I picked the wrong word. Instead of sensible, I meant "plausible." And yes, just because something sounds plausible doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true.
“If Prof. DeLong claimed that Bush started the game, then perhaps (emphasis on perhaps...I don't know enough to evaluate the statement) you could say that is baloney. “
The central difference between Brad DeLong and myself is his embarrassing ideological knee jerking. I am more willing to see the positives and negatives of other people. Sadly, DeLong lives in a Manichean universe where everything is either completely black or white.
“Perhaps if Europe was really saavy they would have let Bush just keep playing the game on his own. They could allow Bush to raise steel tariffs, drive metalworking and other manufacturing overseas, lose American jobs, and lose an election. But they believe that none of the Democratic candidates seem strong enough to take on unions and make a real free trade argument...”
Are you implying that most Old European governments are committed to free trade? I wish this was true, but the unfortunate reality is that most of them are likely left of Dick Gephardt! For instance, the French are extremely protective of their farmers. President Bush’s own ridiculous farm bill doesn’t begin to offer our farmers similar economic protections.posted by: David Thomson on 11.19.03 at 06:07 PM [permalink]
Yes, Sullivan is far to the right.
And he is mostly wrong.posted by: GT on 11.19.03 at 06:07 PM [permalink]
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