WTO and the USA

Via Jacob Sullum, I see the Europeans aren’t the only ones whose agricultural policies are being dictated by the WTO:

Brazil has won a preliminary ruling from the World Trade Organization in support of its complaint that U.S. cotton subsidies violate America’s free trade commitments. Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, told The New York Times, “This could mean problems for all domestic subsidy programs, for corn, wheat, rice, everything that receives big direct payments from the U.S. Treasury.”

Next thing you know, they’ll be sending their black helicopters in to pick up Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot.

This is certainly an interesting situation. On the one hand, this is overruling the–in my view stupid–will of the American people (or, more accurately, the ones who care enough about this issue to organize) as expressed by their elected representatives. On the other, treaties trump ordinary legislation in our constitutional hierarchy. That’s why they require a 2/3 ratification vote in the Senate. In exchange for getting more of the world to play the international trade game by our rules, we’ve voluntarily given up the right to violate them ourselves. A pretty good tradeoff, if you ask me.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.