OPINIONSrnThe Sword in the Stonernby Pat Choatern”The call for free trade is as unavailing as the cry of a spoiled child for the moon.rnIt never has existed; it never will exist.”rn—Henry ClayrnOpening America’s Market: U.S.rnForeign Trade Policy Since 1776rnby Alfred E.EckesrnChapel Hill: University of NorthrnCarolina Press;rn382 pp., $34.95rnDuring the closing days of the 1993rncongressional debate over thernNorth American Free Trade Agreementrn(NAFTA), 300 of the nation’s leadingrneconomists, including two Nobel Laureates,rnreleased a joint letter that urgedrnthe pact’s immediate ratification.rnSubsequently, a reporter for a nationalrnradio network contacted 150 of theserneconomists and asked them two simplernquestions; Why do you support thisrnagreement? Have you read the 1,000-rnpage agreement you endorsed? All answeredrnthat they supported free tradernand open markets. Only one of the ninernclaimed to have read the NAFTA agreement.rnPat Choate is director of the WashingtonbasedrnManufacturing Policy Project. Hisrnmost recent book is Agents of Influencern(Alfred A. Knopf).rn1 doubt that few, if any, equally distinguishedrnlawyers would endorse a contractrnwithout reviewing it, or that anyrnreputable accountant would approve arncompany’s books without first checkingrnthem. So, why would some of America’srnleading economists urge ratification ofrnan economic pact that they had not evenrnread? The answer, of course, is that mostrnof them are doctrinaire free traders. Sorntoo are most of America’s political andrnopinion elite. To label a prospectiverninternational agreement as free trade,rnregardless of what is in the pact, virtuallyrnguarantees an influential base of politicalrnsupport. Cant has replaced thought.rnThis unthinking support for free tradernwas not always so. Indeed, from GeorgernWashington’s first message to Congressrnin 1790 until the eariy 1930’s, Americanrnpolicy was to build a strong, self-sufficientrneconomy behind a wall of protectionsrnfor its producers and workers. Inrnthis lucid, well-researched book, OpeningrnAmerica’s Market: U.S. Foreign TradernPolicy Since 1776, Alfred E. Fckes, Jr., thernEminent Ohio Research Professor atrnOhio University, traces how Americarnevolved from the world’s most closedrnmarket to its most open.rnMuch as in a novel, Eckes, a formerrnchairman of the United States InternationalrnTrade Commission, traces thisrnevolution from the 1790’s to the presentrnwith dozens of heretofore little-knownrnexamples and facts which he foundrnin presidential libraries and variousrnarchives. George Washington, for instance,rnhaving fought a war in which thernnation lacked the manufacturing facilitiesrnneeded to supply his army, used hisrnfirst annual message to Congress to warnrnthat the safety and interests of a free peoplern”require that they should promoternsuch manufactories as tend to renderrnthem independent of others for essential,rnparticularly military supplies,” Tornset a personal example for his countrymen,rnWashington bought Americanrngoods first. At a time when fashionablernAmericans wore European clothes, forrnexample, Washington attended his firstrninauguration in a suit made in Americarnfrom locally produced cloth. He servedrnonly American ale and American cheesernin his home, and as head of the govern-rnTo order these books, (24hrs, 365 days)rnplease call (800) 962-6651 (Ext. 5200)rn30/CHRONICLESrnrnrn