No “Legitimacy” to the WTO

By Jeff Milchen 
Published by The Washington Post, April 18, 2007

In his April 2 op-ed [“Free Trade: Pause or Fast-Forward?”], Sebastian Mallaby expressed the worry that trouble will follow “if the legitimacy of WTO panels is undermined.”

U.S. citizens have not voted to abdicate their sovereignty. Americans were not asked if they wanted local, state and federal laws to be preempted or repealed by unaccountable World Trade Organization tribunals representing the interests of global corporations. The WTO and trade pacts that Mr. Mallaby promotes under the guise of “free trade” have failed precisely because they lack legitimacy and undermine our constitutional right to self-governance.

International trade under democratically enacted laws broadened our choices and helped build wealth for centuries before the “free trade” hucksters came along. As 13 years of the North American Free Trade Agreement have proved to U.S. and Latin American citizens, treaties that subordinate democracy to the desires of corporate elites have undermined not only democracy but decades of reliable economic improvement for average citizens.

The writer is the director of

© 2007 Washington Post