Luckily for President Bush, there is still a way for him to recover from his unfortunate four-nation swing through Asia. We are speaking not about the "intestinal flu" that laid him low in Tokyo (a less frenetic schedule might help) but about the role he assigns to trade policy in combating the current recession.
Instead of kowtowing to the "America First" voices chafing at him from left and right, Mr. Bush should come back from Japan asserting he had learned anew that protectionism is not the remedy for anything. If the Japanese resort to their invisible barriers to foreign imports, if the French and the Germans construct a "Fortress Europe," if other nations adhere to destructive mercantilist policies, the United States should have nothing to do with such approaches.
Yes, this country will retaliate -- though with great reluctance -- to protect its short-run position against unfair competition. But it should adhere unflaggingly to the concept that only a world with a free flow of goods and services, including vital agricultural products, can escape turmoil, suffering and environmental catastrophe.