One of the chief supporting arguments of globalization is that, in an era in which war between great powers is no longer conceivable, free trade between all countries is now desirable, in as great a quantity as is possible, because trade is a positive sum game that generates gains for everyone.
Within its confines, this logical argument isn’t refutable. But when the sub-component facts change, so does the validity of the overall argument. If war between great powers actually is conceivable, even likely and ongoing in a covert manner, then open trade between possible enemies is a great danger: you could simply be feeding in to the economic development of your own enemy, selling him the guns and bullets with which he will use to shoot you tomorrow.
In such an environment, trade is still absolutely necessary, just as it has been necessary since the dawn of civilization. However, promiscuous trade becomes much dumber than it was before, and maintaining some measure of autarky as a fail-safe for times of war begins to make more logical sense.
In effect, the United States has accepted as logically and permanently true that war between great powers is over thanks to the theory of mutually assured destruction. It considers the record since 1945 as proof of this theory, and especially the record since the early 1990s as further ratification of its solidity as a guide to action.
Most of the arguments around free trade in the United States are of a torpid quality, because they either rest on impossible assumptions (a war-free world for the foreseeable future) or logically invalid propositions (like arguments against the positive-sum nature of trade). In modern America, as with everywhere else, there’s a tendency towards going after lazy solutions that can be simplified for the TV audience. Why international diplomacy has always been so complicated is because of these complex needs to balance the goods of trade with the risks of war.
In a magically perfect free-trade world, there is no reason to worry about the balance of trade. In a world in which war is always a risk to be calculated, then the balance of trade and what goods are traded suddenly takes enormous importance. For example, Japan’s dearth of oil supplies once the US began to cut its trade routes shortly before WWII was critical enough to encourage the former country to ambush Pearl Harbor. The lack of that particular good, and the diplomatic incapacity for Japan to secure adequate substitutes, changed the course of history. Perhaps if they had known about the existence of the Daqing field, not discovered until the late 1950s, they would not have needed to bother with the US. But they didn’t know, and they didn’t have a network of strong foreign allies to fall back on.
In a world of theory, you could ask why Japan didn’t simply trade for oil. The answer is that they tried, but Yankees embargoed all their boats, and most of their previous existing trade relationships were with Americans.
As we enter into an era of renewed conflict between great powers, the stuffy pre-Globalization concerns about free trade must begin to loom larger. One can argue for world peace as much as one likes, but maintaining it isn’t possible given the many conflicts that divide the human species.
The computerized fiat money system which encourages de-industrialization in the West becomes much weaker when it must go up against competition through gold-backed monetary systems. An empire can force the use of its coin upon its subjects. A shadow of a former empire is not capable of such a thing.
Whereas for generations now, the American financial elite has reaped profits by dismantling domestic industry, collecting an exorbitant privilege of being the first-users of the inflationary global money supply, that exorbitant privilege is likely to reverse into a horrible disadvantage, as those with the actual physical stock of productive capital equipment will have a trump hand to play against those who only own paper claims to symbolic capital.