The Multilateralist

Is John Bolton a WTO protester?

John Bolton is out with a flurry of articles making his by-now familiar argument that the Obama administration is signing away American sovereignty to international organizations and, even more deviously, seeking to effect domestic change it can’t get through Congress via international treaties. These arguments are what they are. There’s something obvious and important in ...

John Bolton is out with a flurry of articles making his by-now familiar argument that the Obama administration is signing away American sovereignty to international organizations and, even more deviously, seeking to effect domestic change it can’t get through Congress via international treaties. These arguments are what they are. There’s something obvious and important in what Bolton says: we should worry about the transparency and accountability of international organizations. But there’s also loads of exaggeration and fearmongering;  these pieces are not designed to persaude anyone who’s not already convinced.

I do have one question for Bolton: are you against American participation in the World Trade Organization? As far as I can see, none of his jeremiads mention the WTO. This is a strange omission since the United States has in theory ceded control over the direction of its economy to the the WTO’s appellate body. If it rules against the United States, the U.S. is obliged to honor that ruling and adapt its domestic law accordingly. And if Bolton’s not for withdrawal from the WTO, why not? I suspect the answer is that Bolton is not categorically against the ceding of some sovereignty to international bodies. He opposes those international organization that he believes will drag the country in a leftward direction and supports those that will drag the world rightward. That makes him less a man of principle than a man of politics. Maybe he should run for president!

 Twitter: @multilateralist

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