- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 23, 2009

CLIMATE CONTROLS

European Union Ambassador John Bruton is alarmed over what he sees as congressional attempts to manipulate climate issues to impose protectionist trade policies that will hurt foreign auto exports to the United States.

“We cannot use climate change and clean energy to justify protectionist measures,” Mr. Bruton wrote in an analysis of the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

Mr. Bruton said the act will provide federal subsidies to U.S. car companies to develop electric vehicles but excludes foreign auto manufacturers; he called the law “both protectionist and wasteful.”

He also repeated his objections to a bill, titled the Travel Promotion Act of 2009, that would impose a fee on foreign visitors to the United States, calling it a “tourist tax.”

And, he warned that the bill will lead to retaliation from other countries that will levy their own fees on American visitors, predicting the tit-for-tat could “further depress trans-Atlantic travel.”

Mr. Bruton, writing in the Ripon Forum, said: “In our highly interdependent global economy, protectionism by one country could bring down the whole [World Trade Organization]-based global trading system, so the EU and the U.S. must together lead the drive for open trade and investment.

“Protectionist measures that introduce one-sided restrictions on trade in the name of security would be equally dangerous. So, too, are restrictions on exports.”

The Ripon Forum is a publication of the Ripon Society, which describes itself as a “progressive” Republican public-policy organization in the spirit of Theodore Roosevelt.

‘UNHEALTHY’ RELATIONS

The new U.S. ambassador to Britain criticized former Prime Minister Tony Blair for an “unhealthy” relationship with former President George W. Bush and insisted that the release of the Lockerbie bomber did no permanent damage to the U.S.-Britain alliance.

Ambassador Louis Susman, a top fundraiser in Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, told London’s Financial Times in an interview published Tuesday that Mr. Blair too often followed Mr. Bush without “questioning” and without “interaction.”

He contrasted Mr. Obama’s relations with Prime Minister Gordon Brown to those between Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair, who supported the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in the face of criticism from his own Labor Party.

“Many people here in [Britain] didn’t think it was healthy because it was without questioning and [without] interaction,” Mr. Susman said of the two former leaders.

Mr. Susman insisted that the Obama administration intends to listen, adding that the United States is “not a bullying power.”

“We want to build partnerships. We want to listen. We want to consult. We want to cooperate, and that’s what I want to do,” he said.

“I think that there have been eight years of difficult times for America abroad, and anybody who doesn’t agree with that isn’t looking at reality,” he said, referring to Mr. Bush’s two terms as president.

Mr. Susman noted that Mr. Obama criticized Scotland’s decision to release Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, but insisted that action did not damage the U.S.-Britain relationship.

“We are an incredible partner for [Britain] in all our intelligence efforts. We are incredible partners in all our military efforts,” he said.

“It’s almost seamless how well the two countries work together, and I have seen that firsthand. So when I look at the relationship, I look at the big things.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison @washingtontimes.com.

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