by Rod D. Martin
March 8, 2018

True free trade means ending all trade barriers. That exists among the 50 states. It doesn’t exist between us and anyone else, not even our NAFTA partners. What does exist is at the very least, shall we say, less than free. And too frequently it was poorly negotiated and skewed against the United States.

Those of us who believe in actual free trade would do well to learn from history.

In the 1980s, Democrats were apoplectic when Ronald Reagan refused to continue the fake “arms control process”, which in two prior treaties — SALT I and SALT II — had given the Soviets the right to massively expand their nuclear forces while restricting ours. This is Washington’s idea of “progress” and “a good deal”. Reagan had the temerity to say that emperor had no clothes, and refused to play the game. For this he was branded a crazy incompetent drooling warmonger racist Nazi.

And then he got the Russians to sign two real arms control treaties, one (START I) that dramatically reduced the number of nuclear weapons on both sides (and to a fair number), the other (INF) that eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons, the only treaty in history ever to do so.

He did this by making America strong again. He did this by pushing the technological limits and researching missile defenses with which the Russians couldn’t keep up and which the Beltway Establishment said were “terrifying” and “destabilizing”. He did this by walking away from a bad deal — literally walking out on a summit — at Reykjavik, to the universal condemnation of Washington and the Enemedia. He did this by calling evil evil, and convincing everyone he was ready and willing to back his words with strength. Not “soft power”: the real thing.

Thus we not only did not have a war, we actually ended the Cold War and established peace.

It might be worth remembering how that worked when we examine President Trump’s approach to trade.

True Free Trade originally appeared as a Facebook post by Rod D. Martin.