by Thomas W. Zeiler, a history professor at the University of Colorado Boulder focused on the history of diplomacy
Led by Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, presidential politics has been overtaken by a decidedly anti-trade narrative. The Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP), a regional free-trade accord between 12 nations, including the United States, is the latest agreement to come under fire. Candidates bolster their America-first image by opposing free trade agreements, yet it is prudent to note that trade is not only about imports, exports, and balance sheets. The TPP relates to grand strategy as well: mutual dependence for lasting peace and security.
While some presidential hopefuls recognize the interplay of international politics and trade, the loudest and most negative voices on trade, Trump and Sanders, fail to recognize what history so clearly tells us — that only since America took leadership in the global economic system after World War II, has peace, security, and prosperity been shared on this scale worldwide. This history is crucial to TPP and international trade. But to quote Henry Ford, are Democrats and Republicans treating that history as mere bunk?
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