The West should circle the wagons.

Adapted from Robert Whitcomb's Nov. 3 "Digital Diary'' column in GoLocal 24.

In  one of the nuttier episodes in the trade wars,  the government of Wallonia, the poorer, French-speaking part of Belgium, held up for days a trade deal between the European Union and Canada. Finally, concessions were made to the Walloons aimed at protecting their farmers and Rust Belt-style businesses from being hit hard by competition with multinational companies, and the pact was signed.

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which backers predict will boost trade by 20 percent between Canada and the E.U., will now go into effect.

I can understand the opposition of many people in Europe and the U.S. to international trade that seems to have benefited the elite and not the middle class, but we should be expanding trade within the West as much as possible to strengthen the world’s core of democracy, human rights (including labor rights) and environmental protection. It’s trade with police state China that has done the most damage. Cut U.S. trade with China, Russia and other dictatorships as much as possible and boost it with Western Europe,  Canada, Australia, NewZealand, as well as with India, Japan and Taiwan and a few other non-Western nations that share many of our democratic values.

Western nations need to circle the wagons and do as much as they can to  better compete with China and other dictatorships.  We need a free-trade zone with all the Western democracies. That doesn’t mean a larger version of the European Union, which, with its noneconomic elements, is quite something else. Rather we need, first off,  what used to be called the “European Common Market’’ expanded to include the U.S. and Canada while boosting NATO to stop Russian aggression.

Will Putin admirer  (and debtor?) and "free-trade'' foe President-elect Donald Trump come to recognize this?