The Art of Economic Warfare (Part 4): Overcoming the European Fantasy of Free Trade

The dogmatic popular version of “free trade” is a pretty terrible deal for most Americans. Yet our elites continue to push what amounts to an unwanted and unneeded policy—which they are pleased to call “free trade” but which amounts to a privileging of the elites—upon the public. Most of our elites in the business and political world insist that such policies have worked very well for the European Union and we should not allow ourselves to be left behind by such advanced peoples in the Old World.

But let’s look at the “economic miracle” of the EU just a bit closer, shall we?

Even when the European Union experiment seemed unquestionably successful, the truth is that unemployment throughout the continent was grotesquely high. During the period of 2000–05, the most recent economic boom time, the overall unemployment rate in the EU was around 10 percent, according to Eurostat.

Most economists argue that an unemployment rate higher than 5 percent is bad. If that is the case then Europe’s general unemployment rate was high even during what was supposed to be a boom time in the global economy. The reasons for these high unemployment numbers were related to the European Union’s commitment to open borders and cheap labor above all things. The problem was that Leftist leaders throughout Europe defined their national interests in ways that were “coincidentally” tied up in the economic interests of their friends and supporters and allowed the supranational interests of the EU to supersede common sense—to say nothing of the interests of their countrymen. This was a failure of “free trade.”

Also, since when is the European Union a model for free trade? It’s a customs union, which is quite dissimilar from a simple free trade agreement, as former British Conservative MP, Daniel Hannan argued recently. The EU is a conglomeration of states and businesses seeking to unify the European continent in a supranational union that effectively boxes out foreign goods and services through an external tariff, in favor of domestically-produced, European ones.

Indeed, the EU is one of the biggest protectionist entities out there—all while it is hailed by the global elite as a model of free trade. Yet, when Trump advocated on behalf of policies offering protections for American workers and industry, he was lambasted as a parochial nationalist who would launch a trade war.

There is little doubt that Europe is the model for the American Left. Is it really a surprise that the same business tycoons and popular Democratic politicians championing this view of the world are all based in cosmopolitan coastal cities? These are cities that have far more in common with post-national cities, like Brussels and Paris, than they do with working-class towns, like Omaha, Nebraska, and Canton, Ohio.

The cities in question are also places where unemployment (save among the highly educated, insular, ruling class) is high and there exists a culture of a very few haves and a great many more have-nots. Such a system should not be replicated for the entirety of the United States.

The United States has suffered mightily under the brutal yoke of global “free trade.” Over the past eight years, America’s unemployment numbers have started looking like Europe’s unemployment numbers. This ceaseless assault from those packaging cronyism as “free trade” has marginalized a majority of Americans. It has also gutted America of many opportunities for real growth and expansion. Without opportunity and with the rise of the welfare state, America will increasingly come to look like the Europe that our forefathers sought to liberate themselves from: class-minded, divided, highly centralized, and devoid of economic opportunity for the common man.

Donald Trump’s election has signified that the common man is fighting back. It is a kind of non-violent  form of American Revolution. Trump sees the disruptive effects that unnecessarily are being visited upon Americans before they can adapt to the new paradigm and a changing economy. Therefore, President-elect Trump’s policies seek to  protect most Americans from these pernicious effects until such time as an adaptation is possible. This is the thrust of what Trump supporters mean when they advocate for “economic nationalism.”

Finally, an American president is placing the economic interests of Americans, not just international hedge fund-types, at the forefront of our policy aims. This is the essence of good public policy. We should not allow our economy to become distorted and permanently harmed by the greed and the mistaken beliefs of a handful of global left-wing elites.

Let’s “Make America Great Again” by preventing it from looking like Europe.

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About Brandon J. Weichert

A 19FortyFive Senior Editor, Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (May 16), and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (July 23). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.href="https://twitter.com/WeTheBrandon">@WeTheBrandon.