- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 21, 2001

It seems that Tom Daschle has forgotten that there is more than one definition of internationalism in every historical textbook.
The Senate majority leader charges that President Bush will plunge the country into an age of isolation if it does not lead by following others.
Mr. Daschle supports the Wilsonian outlook that puts an emphasis on maintaining coalition unity over considering the specific merits of an international agreement for the United States.
But unlike the Wilsonian ideology, which began at the turn of the past century, the realist international tradition in the United States dates back to the Founding Fathers. The federalists negotiated a number of treaties, including Jay's Treaty of 1793, with the outputs of agreements (i.e. was the treaty in the American self-interest) foremost in mind. The Founders certainly did not consider "leadership" to be following the dictates of other countries, regardless of the merits of any specific treaty.
Luckily for the United States, President Bush favors a realistic policy based on outputs of treaties over Mr. Daschle's obsession with following the consensus, even when those decisions are clearly not in American interests.
For instance, Mr. Bush refused to sign the Kyoto treaty, which deals with global warming. Despite the fact that the protocol's regulatory emissions standards are unrealizable, American allies attempted to bully the United States into signing the treaty by charging the United States with isolationism if it did not do so. In reality, Kyoto would account for a minute change in atmospheric temperature and cost billions of dollars and more than 2 million American jobs.
Also, two of the largest polluters, China and India, would not be covered by the provisions of the treaty. How can such a treaty be in U.S. interests? As Mr. Bush concluded, it simply cannot be. The U.S. economy has slowed considerably, and further pollution restrictions would strain already tight corporate budgets. Furthermore, billions of dollars would be devoted to financing a new regulatory regime and equipment for pollution control. The treaty could have helped push the economic slowdown into a full-blown recession.
In addition to Kyoto, Mr. Bush refused to send the Rome treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC) to the Senate for ratification. The Europeans, following the Wilsonian ideology of sign now and perfect later, castigated Mr. Bush for his lack of vision on international justice. But is the treaty in U.S. interest? As it stands, the proposed ICC would be the beginning of a supranational justice system, which sets itself as the highest court on Earth with an unlimited jurisdiction. The treaty would infringe on the sovereignty of the national court system and give more power to a supranational organization that has no democratic claim over U.S. citizens, and is thus politically unaccountable.
Obviously, such a system undermines the legitimacy of the U.S. Constitution and the rights of each citizen.
President Bush's realist-motivated policies have kept the United States out of these dangerous treaties, but it does not mean that his international outlook limits productive cooperative endeavors.
In fact, Mr. Bush has been an ardent supporter of NATO expansion. The administration sees NATO as a bulwark of democracy, which by inviting new countries into the organization upon meeting standards of development, will help foster continued economic growth and improve democratic stability. The president is on record as being committed to bringing new members into NATO in 2002.
In the case of the U.N. agreement on the international trade in illegal small arms, the United States was able to reach a mutually beneficial goal with other countries through strong diplomacy based on national interests. The original draft of the agreement would have limited the Second Amendment rights of Americans to bear arms. But the countries involved bowed to U.S. pressure and wrote a draft that proved beneficial for combating the illicit arms trade while protecting the interests of Americans.
Crucially, in the case of missile defense, the Bush administration has made every effort to discuss American plans with allies. In doing so, Mr. Bush found many countries receptive to the idea. Now the United States can count on Italy, the Czech Republic, Poland, Spain and Turkey for support in implementing the system.
This does not sound like the record of a convinced isolationist. Mr. Bush has not forgotten history, as Mr. Daschle seems guilty of doing. Like the federalists, Mr. Bush should continue to maintain the realist perspective and act multilaterally where possible and unilaterally when necessary. If the president sticks to this philosophy, as he has thus far, then the United States will not fall into dangerous international agreements that do little more than limit U.S. power. A strong United States is the bastion of the present political order. Preserving it is the truest form of internationalism.

John Hulsman is research fellow in European affairs at the Heritage Foundation. Greg Schmitt also works in the foundation's European Affairs Department.


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