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Economic Nationalism and War

Tyler Cowen alerted me to this essay ("The Lou Dobbs Democrats") today in Slate.  It’s by Jacob Weisberg, who appropriately worries about the rise of economic nationalism signaled by yesterday’s election results.  (Greg Mankiw worries, too.)

Here’s a key paragraph from Weisberg’s essay:

Many of the Democrats who recaptured seats held by Republicans have
been described as moderates or social conservatives, who will be out of
synch with Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi. The better term, with props to
Fareed Zakaria, is probably illiberal Democrats. Most of
those who reclaimed Republican seats ran hard against free trade,
globalization, and any sort of moderate immigration policy. That these
Democrats won makes it likely that others will take up their
reactionary call. Some of the newcomers may even be foolish enough to
try to govern on the basis of their misguided theory.

Especially bad on this front is Ohio Senator-elect Sherrod Brown.

I posted the following comment:

Re "The Lou Dobbs Democrats" (Nov. 8):

Many newly elected Democrats oppose both war and free trade.  They should avoid this inconsistency.

– especially by Solomon Polachek – finds that trade promotes peace.
Commerce unites people economically (it’s bad for the bottom line to
kill your customers) and culturally (trade with foreigners demands that
you better understand them and that they better understand you).

the extent that Senator-elect Sherrod Brown and other "Lou Dobbs
Democrats" manage to isolate Americans from foreign commerce they will
not only make us poorer, they also will increase our chances in the
future of waging senseless and gruesome wars.

Bob Higgs reminds me also, along these lines, of this essay by Erich Weede.

Nationalism fuels war.  This fact isn’t changed by economic-nationalists’ ignorance that the potion they’re peddling is flammable.