Another strike against free trade

You may note that among my four points against free trade, I note that free trade is incompatible with democracy and national sovereignty. One argument I failed to note in this regard is the way in which free trade permits extortion by holding the national economy hostage:

Saudi Arabia has told the Obama administration and members of Congress that it will sell off hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American assets held by the kingdom if Congress passes a bill that would allow the Saudi government to be held responsible in American courts for any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The Obama administration has lobbied Congress to block the bill’s passage, according to administration officials and congressional aides from both parties, and the Saudi threats have been the subject of intense discussions in recent weeks between lawmakers and officials from the State Department and the Pentagon. The officials have warned senators of diplomatic and economic fallout from the legislation.

Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, delivered the kingdom’s message personally last month during a trip to Washington, telling lawmakers that Saudi Arabia would be forced to sell up to $750 billion in treasury securities and other assets in the United States before they could be in danger of being frozen by American courts.

Dr. Miller mentioned that he couldn’t think of any way that foreigners buying up American assets could be a bad thing. But, once more, we have an object lesson in letting reason be silent when experience gainsays its conclusions. Free trade not only imperils democracy, but also endangers the rule of law.

Notice again that free trade theory fails due to the limited imaginations of its advocates and their inability to even conceive of potential problems that are actually occurring in the real world.

But speaking of Dr. Miller, I emailed him to broach the possibility of a second debate addressing a topic that more than a few readers observed we failed to discuss, namely, whether free trade necessarily requires the free movement of people or not. He agreed at once, although we both need to do a bit of research before we’re prepared to debate it. When we’re ready, I’ll let you know and we’ll hold another open Brainstorm event.