Threats to U.S. Sovereignty
Even paranoids have real enemies, as the poet Delmore Schwartz once remarked. To this famous maxim one might add: even demagogues can invoke real principles. But while real enemies can usually be recognized as such, real principles sometimes never recover from their abuse by demagogues. “States’ rights” was a perfectly serious and respectable cause for most of American history, until it came to be exclusively associated with the ugly rhetoric of Southern segregationists in the 1950′s. Opposition to Communist organizing efforts in the United States was a respectable cause among labor leaders and liberal political activists in the 1940′s, but could not survive its association with the wild charges of Senator Joseph McCarthy in the following decade.
It would be most unfortunate if the recent, highly charged debate over the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) should turn out to have a similar effect on appeals to safeguard American sovereignty. For American sovereignty is, in fact, threatened by a number of current trends, and NAFTA does reflect a number of these tendencies. Yet the inconsistency and bad faith of some of NAFTA’s critics did much to discredit criticism of the underlying trend.
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