We've been repeatedly told that one of the best things about President Obama will be how he will restore our image and rebuild relationships in the world community. Once that old meanie Bush leaves and Obama is in the White House, the nations of the world will hold hands and sing a secularized version of Kumbaya around the global camp fire. Looks like our friends in the East haven't gotten the message quite yet (WSJ sub req):
The heads of 21 Pacific Rim countries will gather in Peru this weekend for their annual summit, with many growing increasingly worried that U.S.-Asian economic ties are about to unravel.
A global recession, rising protectionist sentiment and Democrats' recent election successes are combining to raise concerns over a possible chill in trans-Pacific relations. Among the specific steps Asian leaders fear: increased U.S. pressure on China to raise the valuation of its currency; postponement of a long-sought U.S.-Korea free-trade agreement; congressional passage of antitrade legislation; and stronger U.S. efforts to hold Asian economies to strict greenhouse-gas limits that could choke their economic growth.
There are a whole host of policies that Obama could pursue that would damage the American economy. But perhaps the one that would have the greatest and most long lasting impact would be if he followed up on the anti-free trade rhetoric from the campaign. We can only hope that Obama will recognize the danger that going down such a path would bring and pull back from the protectionist impulses that many Democrats and the special interest groups that they are beholden to now seem to be feeling. When it comes to trade, we could use another Democratic president like Bill Clinton again.