Submitted by Jan Hebbard on Tue, 04/10/2018

Is America better served by a free trade agenda or protectionist measures? Author C. Donald Johnson will examinCover, The Wealth of a Nation e the history of trade politics, the focus of his new book from Oxford University Press, in a lecture on Tuesday, April 17 at 4 p.m. in the large event space of the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries.

The United States is entering a period of profound uncertainty in the world political economy, an uncertainty which threatens the economic order its own statesmen helped to create at the close of World War II. Amid breaking news reports of the Trump administration’s order for new tariffs on Chinese imports and a potential trade war, Johnson’s book offers an important look back at trade over the course of the last century.  

In The Wealth of a Nation: A History of Trade Politics in America, the author charts the rise and fall of the U.S. protectionist system from the time of Alexander Hamilton to the Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930, and then examines the liberal rules-based economic order that has dominated the globe since World War II. The book also looks at the anti-free trade movement that has swelled in recent years, casting globalism as anti-worker, pro-capital, and even anti-American.

“This is a very dangerous course. We’re in uncharted territory,” said Johnson, who currently serves as director emeritus of the Dean Rusk International Law Center at the University of Georgia, in a recent interview with Bloomberg News. “Whether they’re just doing this [implementing tariffs], like many things President Trump does, as a way to get leverage in negotiations, we’ll see. But if it’s not a bluff, we’re going to see a trade war.”

Johnson’s experience with trade goes beyond just scholarship. He served as a Clinton-appointed Ambassador in the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) from 1998 until 2000, and specialized in international trade law as a partner at Patton Boggs, LLP in Washington, D.C. During his time in Congress, representing Georgia’s 10th district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993-1995, Johnson focused on national security and international economic policy, including legislation implementing North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the early 1990s.

The lecture is free and open to the public; a light reception and book signing will immediately follow the program. This event is co-sponsored by the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies and the Dean Rusk International Law Center. For more information call 706-542-5788 or visit www.rbrl.blogspot.com.

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