The Law and Politics of Socially Inclusive Trade
American ambivalence toward international institutions is nothing new. In his farewell address, George Washington famously warned against foreign entanglements. After World War I, the U.S. Senate rejected the Treaty of Versailles, leaving the United States outside the formal post-war order it helped establish and neutering the new League of Nations. Throughout the late twentieth century, the United States refused to ratify multilateral agreements ranging from the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, to a host of human rights agreements. Nor did the dawn of the twenty-first century change the United States' attitude. In 2001, President George W. Bush began his administration by "unsigning" the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the Kyoto Protocol on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. These agreements run the gamut from treaties on peace and security to the environment, and from human rights to the law of the sea. But one area--international trade--has fared better than others in insulating itself from the United States' hesitation toward international institutions. Even while he warned against foreign entanglements, Washington also counseled his successors to "establish[,] with powers so disposed, . . . conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit .... This embrace of commerce and the international institutions that support it has been relatively consistent throughout American history. Even in the face of significant domestic political resistance to new trade agreements, such as opposition to NAFTA in the early 1990s and the Seattle riots at the WTO Ministerial in 1998, key government institutions have by and large supported international trade institutions, even when they have been leery of other institutions.