WHEN THE excitement of war dies down, much of the world will still be in recession, and freer trade will still be a major tool for pulling out of it.
So it is a good thing that the U.S. House of Representatives has given President Bush trade promotion authority on trade deals to be negotiated in the future.
It was a one-vote victory on a largely party-line vote, but approval from the Democratic Senate is expected to be easier. This reverses denial of trade promotion authority to President Clinton twice in his second term.
The last major trade enhancements were approval of the World Trade Organization and the North American Free Trade Agreement more than seven years ago. Most of the world's trade agreements since then have bypassed the United States while enlarging other nations' trade.
Trade promotion authority allows Congress to approve or reject a trade agreement made by the executive branch, but not to amend it, which means a renegotiation and usually failure.
Trade promotion authority will allow President Bush to engage in the new round of world trade negotiations that the United States helped start last month at the talks in Doha, Qatar. It will allow him to try to broaden NAFTA into hemispheric free trade.
That is what he should be doing.
The concerns for the environment, labor standards and protection of such endangered industries as steel are legitimate. They belong in trade negotiations. But sector issues should not override the world's greater good.
When the recession ends, it will do so on the back of increased trade. When trade is again the main international issue on people's minds, the world will have become a more peaceful place.