The Clintons and Global Trade Policy

Topic: The Clintons and Global Trade Policy

James Goldgeier:  It was interesting about Bill Clinton because he came in. He was going to be the globalization president. He really understood globalization much earlier than many other politicians. Certainly the Republicans, you know, sort of derided him for, you know, they called it "globaloney" and they had these annual meetings in Davos, Switzerland. And, you know, to them it was just this lot of elite chatter about issues that they were really quite condescending to him about. On the Democratic side, you had the unions very concerned about the United States trading agreements, for example the NAFTA, the agreement with Canada and Mexico. Clinton was really trying to move the Democratic Party in a more free trade direction. He was determined that the Democratic Party embraced globalization. In his view, you know, it was a technological revolution. You couldn't stop it. You had to try to be part of-- in the forefront. You know, you wanted Silicon Valley to be in the forefront. You wanted the United States to have a leadership role, and you wanted the United States to be engaged with the rest of the world and to take advantage of the, you know, sort of a new borderless world to increase everyone's well-being. And certainly in the second Clinton term, you have tremendous economic growth taking place. I think one of the things that he did very well which we've lost in this administration and I would hope we'd get back in the next administration, he elevated the economic side of foreign policy and made it co-equal with the national security side. He elevated the role of the treasury secretaries. Robert Rubin and then Larry Summers were very powerful players in American foreign policy. And it wasn't just that they were listened to on economic issues, they were players with the secretary of state, secretary of defense, national security advisor, as, you know, people who really had an important role to play in America's relations with the rest of the world. And, that's been lost-- this administration has been so much more traditional national security-oriented. And we had two very weak treasury secretaries to start. The current treasury secretary is stronger but not a figure the way Rubin and Summers were. And we really need to recognize that the United States-- a core part of foreign policy is economic policy and that treasury-- you have to have a strong person in the treasury department who really is able to interact as an equal with the national security advisor, vice president, secretary of state and secretary of defense to formulate a coherent American foreign policy that, you know, can help this country in this globalizing world. The Clinton mantra was, you know, you can't wall yourself off in a globalizing world. You know, you have to find ways to create new kinds of jobs. The jobs that are leaving, you know, aren't necessarily going to come back. Protectionism doesn't work, and so you have to find new ways to create new kinds of opportunities and promote technological revolution, not try to run away from it.


Recorded on: 07/08/2008


James Goldgeier says Clinton's second term saw a successful focus on the economics of foreign policy.

American imperialism: fat-shaming Uncle Sam

Opponents of 19th-century American imperialism were not above body-shaming the personification of the U.S. government.

Credit: Bill of Rights Institute / Public domain
Strange Maps
  • In the years before 1900, the United States was experiencing a spectacular spurt of growth.
  • Not everyone approved: many feared continued expansionism would lead to American imperialism.
  • To illustrate the threat, Uncle Sam was depicted as dangerously or comically fat.
Keep reading Show less

Why information is central to physics and the universe itself

Information may not seem like something physical, yet it has become a central concern for physicists. A wonderful new book explores the importance of the "dataome" for the physical, biological, and human worlds.

Credit: agsandrew via Adobe Stock
  • The most important current topic in physics relates to a subject that hardly seems physical at all — information, which is central to thermodynamics and perhaps the universe itself.
  • The "dataome" is the way human beings have been externalizing information about ourselves and the world since we first began making paintings on cave walls.
  • The dataome is vast and growing everyday, sucking up an ever increasing share of the energy humans produce.
Keep reading Show less

CT scans of shark intestines find Nikola Tesla’s one-way valve

Evolution proves to be just about as ingenious as Nikola Tesla

Credit: Gerald Schömbs / Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • For the first time, scientists developed 3D scans of shark intestines to learn how they digest what they eat.
  • The scans reveal an intestinal structure that looks awfully familiar — it looks like a Tesla valve.
  • The structure may allow sharks to better survive long breaks between feasts.
Keep reading Show less

Dogs know when people are lying

A new study tested to what extent dogs can sense human deception.

Credit: Adobe Stock / kozorog
Surprising Science
  • A study of 260 dogs found that, in some cases, dogs can tell when people are lying.
  • The experiments involved giving dogs information about the location of food.
  • The majority of the dogs did not follow false suggestions when they knew humans were lying.
  • Keep reading Show less