Rethinking Obama’s Foreign Policy

Rethinking Obama’s Foreign Policy

In this Presidential election cycle, trade deals, most importantly the Trans Pacific Partnership, have become particularly politicized. Hillary Clinton has flip-flopped on the Trans Pacific Partnership, Democratic Activists were waving anti TPP signs at the Democratic National Convention, and Donald Trump opposes the Trans Pacific Partnership. Often times during elections, complicated and nuanced issues like trade deals get muddied by the partisan and political process. It is hard to tell if either candidate is genuinely against the Trans Pacific Partnership or if they are claiming to because they perceive it to be politically advantageous for them in this election season.

Regardless, this article seeks to lay out the basics of the Trans Pacific Partnership in order to provide clarity through the partisan accounts and explain the key reasons to be skeptical from a conservative perspective with the Trans Pacific Partnership.

The Basics:

The Trans Pacific Partnership is a trade deal between the United States, Canada, Malaysia, Australia, Vietnam, Japan, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Brunei, Peru, and Mexico. The Obama Administration strongly supports the Trans Pacific Partnership and sees it as a key piece to his long-term legacy. The administration has an entire section on the website of the United States Office of Trade Representative ( extolling their perceived benefits to the Trade Deal. Here are some examples from the website and the Obama Administration’s arguments for the Trans Pacific Partnership:


It is hard to tell whether any of these arguments being pushed by the Obama Administration are believed to be benefits or if they are merely empty rhetoric in an attempt to convince Americans to support his trade deal.

Conservative Skepticism:

One of the strongest reasons to be skeptical of this particular trade deal is the fear of Obama negotiating things that conservatives are against. This may seem like a petty reason to be against the Trans Pacific Partnership, but if you’re a constitutional conservative, then ask yourself if you can think of examples when the Obama Administration enacted a substantial policy that you agreed with? I bet the list is very short.

Also, it is evident that the Obama Administration disdains the Constitution and free markets domestically. How can we expect him to negotiate an actual free trade deal based off of free trade and not crony corporatist trade? How can we expect Obama to negotiate a trade deal that respects the Constitution, when he disregards the sacred document so regularly?

Additionally troublesome is the Obama Administration’s proclivity towards multilateral and supranational institutions, like the United Nations, at the expense of our Constitution and the United States of America. Barack Obama went over the heads of Congress and sought authorization from the United States Security Council rather than obtaining the required authorization of war from congress for his Libyan intervention (also a violation of the Constitution). Barack Obama flew to the United Kingdom and interfered with their internal politics urging citizens to vote against leaving the European Union. Both of these actions suggest that he is very comfortable with international institutions at the expense of typical national institutions, a comfort not shared by conservatives.

How does the Trans Pacific Partnership affect Millennials?

Trade deals of this nature will last for a long time and most likely will be in place for the rest of our lifetimes. This trade deal could have a large impact on our economy and our relationship with this region and the rest of the world. There are geopolitical advantages to integrating our economy with our allies, especially in light of the rise of China on the world stage. There are also advantages to nudging some of our allies to fix problems in their domestic politics, economies, and security situations, which can sufficiently be accomplished through a trade deal.

Additionally, this trade deal allows the United States to exert more influence in the region, ideally, in order to help maintain regional (and thus global) stability. But because a trade deal in this region is so important–seeing as it will probably exist for the rest of our lifetimes and could have profound consequences on our relationship with key countries like China–we need a good trade deal that consists of actual free trade and not cronyism or corporatism.

Our country must trade with other countries. I am not advocating against trade deals as a general rule. However, there are reasons to be skeptical of this particular trade deal. In theory, trade deals that are actually free trade deals and not attempts to usurp our sovereignty will benefit the United States of America and, subsequently, the world. That is why we need a conservative administration that is dedicated to the Constitution of the United States, free market capitalism, and America, rather than supranational institutions, to negotiate a trade deal.

Follow this author on Twitter: @Connor_Radlo

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