American Trade Politics and the Triumph of Globalism: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

American Trade Politics and the Triumph of Globalism

1st Edition

By Orin Kirshner


192 pages

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A deep and unresolved tension exists within American trade politics between the nation’s promotion of an open world trading system and the operations of its democratic domestic political regime. Whereas most scholarly attention has focused on how domestic politics has interfered with the United States’ global economic leadership, Orin Kirshner offers here an analysis of the ways in which U.S. leadership in the arena of global trade has affected American democracy and the domestic political regime.

By participating in multilateral trade agreements, the U.S. Congress has transferred its trade policymaking authority to the president and, through international trade negotiations, from the American state to the GATT/WTO regime. This reorganization of policymaking authority has resulted in the "triumph of globalism," and fundamentally alters the citizen-state relationship assumed in democratic theory. Kirshner illustrates this process through four case studies: The Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1945, The Trade Expansion Act of 1962, The Trade Act of 1974, The Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988, and further examines the impact of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act of 1994 on the political and institutional structure of American trade politics up to the current period.

American Trade Politics and the Triumph of Globalism makes a significant contribution to the study of both international trade and domestic American politics. This is essential reading for students and scholars of trade policy, international political economy, American politics, and democratic theory.


"Kirshner’s careful study underscores a conflict between U.S. trade policy, long shaped by the global priorities of large corporations and government elites, and the everyday concerns of ordinary citizens. He demonstrates that the transfer of trade policy from Congress to the Executive, and then to the WTO bureaucracy, has worrisome consequences for democratic governance in nation states. Kirshner’s thoughtful analysis of the enduring alliance between big business and big government merits special attention from both students of trade policy and a wider audience of informed citizens."

—Alfred E. Eckes, Ohio University, former Chairman and Commissioner of the U.S. International Trade Commission

"Kirshner’s sharp analysis clarifies the real sources and stakes of American trade policy, and their connection to the international political economy of globalization. With historical and theoretical depth, he shows that the delegation of trade policy-making to elite institutions poses serious challenges to democracy and endangers the relationship of citizens to the state."

—Joseph G. Peschek, Hamline University

"Kirshner convincingly demonstrates the primacy of foreign policy, even in the area of trade politics, showing how the logic of America's imperial role led to changes in specific domestic legislative practices and in the nature of American democracy more broadly."

—Herman M. Schwartz, University of Virginia

Table of Contents

PART I: THE PROBLEM 1. Triumph of Globalism: American Trade Politics PART II: THEORY 2. Political Science Trade Theory 3. Superpower Trade Politics PART III: HISTORICAL CASES 4. Going Global: The Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1945 5. Atlantic Partnership: The Trade Expansion Act of 1962 6. Trilateralism: The Trade Act of 1974 7. The New Multilateralism: The Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 PART IV: CONCLUSIONS 8. Triumph of Globalism: Politics, Theory, and Policy

About the Author

Orin Kirshner teaches American politics at Florida Atlantic University. He has been a senior fellow at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), a visiting fellow at the Wuhan University WTO Studies School (People's Republic of China), and the executive director of the Global Environment & Trade Study (GETS).

About the Series

Foreign Policy Analysis

The Routledge series Foreign Policy Analysis examines the intersection of domestic and international politics with an emphasis on decision-making at both the individual and group levels. Research in this broadly defined and interdisciplinary field includes nearly all methodological approaches, encompasses the analysis of single nations as well as large-N comparative studies, and ranges from the psychology of leaders, to the effects of process, to the patterns created by specific dynamic or contextual influences on decision making.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economic History
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / International / Economics
HISTORY / United States / 20th Century
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / Trade & Tariffs
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Economic Policy