By Gideon Rachman
A banner at the protests in Moscow on Saturday carried a stark message: “Mubarak, Gaddafi, Putin”. Mingling with the crowds, it was clear that what began in December as protests against rigged elections has become much more personal. The diverse group of liberals, nationalists and communists that tramped through the frozen streets is united by its loathing for Vladimir Putin, Russia’s prime minister and would-be president.
Lest it be thought that I regard all global economic governance as a crock and don’t give credit where it’s due, congratulations to the US for accepting that “zeroing” – a way of blocking imports by disregarding evidence you don’t like – is dead. In theory Washington will try to negotiate its reacceptance in multilateral talks at the World Trade Organisation, but everyone knows those are going nowhere.
It’s another illustration of two general principles: 1) WTO rules might be patchy, but where they exist, they have held up pretty well, certainly a lot better than protectionism doomsters have been warning; 2) say what you like about the Americans but when they sign up to a trade treaty, eventually, even after a lot of bitching and moaning, they generally stick to it.