“When some foreign nation restrains … the importation of some of our manufactures … revenge … naturally dictates retaliation.” Some trade union protectionist? A politician backing restrictions on imports so as to “save jobs for American workers?” Actually, this was written by Adam Smith in Wealth of Nations, the bible of free traders. And once restrictions are installed, “freedom of trade should be restored only by slow gradations” to avoid throwing lots of people out of work.
Smith, of course, saw retaliation as a means of forcing a trading partner to end its own restrictions in a process of bilateral mutual disarmament. Now, battles over trade policies gets played out in the World Trade Organization, and against a background of mounting Sino-U.S. geopolitical rivalry.