I have enjoyed the opportunity to interview a wide variety of
personalities on a broad spectrum of issues and topics. These have
included Karl Malden, the recently late Desmond Lewellan (“Q” from the
Bond flicks), Ambrose Evans Prichard, Arkansas trooper Larry Patterson,
William F. Buckley and his son Chris, Dave Hackworth, Bo Gritz, Maj.
Gen. Jack Singlaub, Russian defector Stan Lunev, and more politicians
and authors (from heroes to goats) than I care to remember. However, to
date my fondest memories remain of an interview/debate I had with Warren
Christopher’s special assistant for the North American Free Trade
Eight years ago I was among the more vocal critics warning of
potential dire consequences that could and would result from NAFTA (and
later from the World Trade Organization). NAFTA was, and is, an
interesting study, in that it collected strange bipartisan supporters
I was fortunate to have been befriended by a man who was both a
patriot and an economist. I know, it sounds like an oxymoron, but that
was how I viewed, and still view, Dr. Pat Choate. Before the trade
agreement had popped up on the political radar screen, I started
researching NAFTA. In the course of that study I did something scant
few (if any) of the legislators who voted for insidious
treaty-that-isn’t-really-a-treaty-but-is, had done. I read it. All
1,472 pages. I sat at my dining room table with a yellow highlighter
and red pen and pored through every flipping line — page after page
after page after page.
My neophyte analysis suggested that NAFTA was r-e-a-l bad. Even
before the bastard son GATT proposed the World Trade Organization, NAFTA
was, and is, sleazy, disingenuous, duplicitous, and overflowing
with potential negative consequences.
I confess, I kinda got obsessed. I spent far too much time trying to
explain the evils of NAFTA to my radio audience. Most of them didn’t
care, and would have preferred my spending time on almost anything else
– preferably their pet topic. However, NAFTA was, and is, more
dangerous than a double-edged razor. As P.J. O’Rourke once observed,
“It’s like giving alcohol and the car keys to a teenage boy.”
Here’s a quickie Readers Digest version of the key dangers of our
- It isn’t a treaty per se. A treaty requires a two-thirds
majority vote of the U.S. Senate. However, even before Ross Perot, Pat
Choate, Ralph Nader and Jesse Jackson circled their wagons to fight it,
the New World Anus realized they couldn’t get it passed as a real treaty.
So although it walked like a duck, and quacked like a duck, and flew
like a duck, and defecated like a duck, they called it “an agreement.”
See, an international “agreement” only requires a simple majority of
both houses. The vote was so close in the Senate that Vice President Al
Gore had to cast the deciding vote. That alone should be ample reason
not to vote for the @#$%& thing.
- NAFTA was literally the camel’s nose in the tent. It planted the
seed for its illegitimate offspring-on-steroids that followed. The
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) had been percolating in
the shadows for years. However, the addition of the World Trade
Organization as the “dispute resolution” arm was the coup de grace.
- NAFTA is a trade agreement between the United States, Canada and
Mexico. When conflicts occur (which are inevitable), NAFTA created a
mechanism for resolving disputes. Any dispute could be brought to an
executive committee, which is comprised of representatives from each of
the signatory countries. However, the adjudication of the dispute is
held in secret executive session, and the decision of the judges is
final. No appeal, no review of the proceedings, no recourse other than
to eat excrement and try not to develop a taste for it.
- The biggie is the cruel reality that local, state, and yes, even
federal law can and will be abrogated by a secret trade star chamber.
But it gets worse. If you lose a dispute with either the NAFTA star
chamber tribunal or the GATT World Trade Organization, you cannot
appeal. State or federal legislation cannot mitigate a bad decision.
It cannot be overruled through a judicial procedure. It cannot be
expunged by executive order. In other words, the three branches of
government established by the framers and codified by the Constitution
have been neutered by a treaty that really isn’t a treaty but has the
force of treaty but we agree not to call it a treaty. Get it?
Wink/wink … nod/nod.
Ambassador Myles Frechette — the Warren Christopher rep I
mentioned up there in the first paragraph — was a very nice man. He
was confident, charming and armed with a sheet of “talking points” to
explain NAFTA to my radio audience and me. Others have suggested that
he brought a paper knife to a gunfight. He had a tough day that
afternoon. He tried to spin the “advantages” of NAFTA only to have me
counter with questions quoting specific pages, paragraphs and sections.
He would riposte with a broad brush and I would lunge with a specific
quote from the “agreement” and its inevitable consequences. He was a
skilled, credentialed diplomat, and I was a nobody at a small Sacramento
radio station (who was more prepared than the expert that day). I ate
his lunch. However, he left, NAFTA became law, and beyond a snotty quip
to a legislative aide during a D.C. cocktail party, my questions
evaporated into the ether of insignificance.
Notwithstanding the implementation of NAFTA, eight years later, I’m
still right. And notwithstanding the Ambassador’s protestations to the
contrary, the negative consequences of NAFTA and GATT continue to invade
The Vancouver Methanex Corporation has filed a $970 million NAFTA
lawsuit against California. Why? Because California finally got around
to banning the gasoline additive MTBE that has been poisoning
groundwater. A similar lawsuit last year that was filed by a U.S.
company compelled Canada to overturn its ban on a similar additive.
This should not be a surprise; it was an anticipated consequence of
NAFTA and GATT. It happened with Argentine gasoline and dolphin-safe
Even California Democrat George Miller acknowledged, “Local
legislation can be nullified because a secret trade tribunal says so.
… It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, a
conservative or liberal.” And he is right!
In 1992, ’93, and ’94, I was called all the usual names including the
classic “right-wing wacko” (although my criticisms were mirrored by
Ralph Nader, Jerry Brown and Jesse Jackson).
I have always maintained, “It’s not WHO is right or wrong, but WHAT
is right or wrong.” NAFTA and GATT were, are, and will always be
wrong. For example, Daniel Seligman, director of trade policy for the
Sierra Club (yeah, the Sierra Club), observed, “Trade has become a kind
of de facto global government serving only one constituent –
transnational corporations. … You end up with corporate property
rights that go well beyond what is provided by 200 years of Supreme
I could write more, but hey, when Geoff Metcalf quotes the Sierra
Club, and they are right — it’s time to close.