Robert Zoellick's Dec. 14 Taking Exception column was a wonderful example of the high peeve among the Washington trade policy establishment regarding the recent protests in Seattle and what they portend.

It annoys these insiders that ordinary Americans have begun to question both the reigning trade dogmas in this country and a World Trade Organization that has operated like a private club. It annoys them even more that Americans seek to sully their pristine global mathematics with inconvenient concerns such as communities, the environment, human rights and a fair shake for American businesses and workers.

So they blow smoke, as Mr. Zoellick has done. He contended for example that the critics of the WTO in Seattle want to turn it into a "global government" to impose environmental and labor standards upon the world. That, however, is what the WTO does now. The organization sits as an unelected super government that tells nations and even localities what they can and cannot do. If a local jurisdiction passes a law to respect families or protect the environment, the WTO can knock it down as a barrier to trade.

Insiders such as Mr. Zoellick like that kind of global government because it puts the interests of multinational corporations first. But Americans want a seat at the table too, and President Clinton was right to express this concern.


U.S. Senator (D-N.D.)