Much of the appeal of the Obama campaign for those who supported it revolved around the contention that if the erstwhile Senator from Illinois were elected President, we would instantly see a significant improvement in relations between America and the rest of the world.
Those who believed this obviously did not take into account the possibility that the protectionism of the Obama Administration might tick a few of our allies off:
Taro Aso, Japan’s prime minister, has condemned the proposed Buy American provision in Washington’s forthcoming US economic stimulus bill as a violation of established norms of international trade.
Mr Aso’s remarks in the Japanese Diet highlight concerns among US trading partners about the requirement for US companies to use domestic steel and manufacturing products in projects funded by the stimulus bill.
The European Union has warned of possible trade litigation against the US if Washington presses ahead with the Buy American provision.
Oh, and guess what: The EU is angry too.
Thanks to this exceedingly negative reaction, it now increasingly appears that the Administration will find some way to back out of the “Buy American” provisions with something resembling intact dignity. That’s a good thing, of course. Less good is the fact that the Administration has signaled both to a domestic audience and to an international one that it is prepared to engage in economic antediluvianism and might seriously consider the implementation of harmful protectionist policies in the future.
Apparently, “Smoot-Hawley” draws blank stares of incomprehension and non-recognition in the White House these days. And the Obama Administration is supposed to be the antidote to Herbert Hooverism?