[German proposal for the 'beware of Asia' crowd] An Argument for a Trans-Atlantic Free-Trade Zone By Gabor Steingart, Spiegel Online Excerpts [Full Article]: Asian businessmen are probably the friendliest conquerors the world has ever seen. But despite the politeness and the smiles, Western governments must act quickly to combat the rise of China and Asia. The West should discuss an ambitious project: a European-American free-trade zone. ... The sins of growth The history of the well-fortified West has taught us that those who defend their values also spread them. The principle of fair trade could also be spread in the Far East in the same way that the 1975 Helsinki Conference set off a process which ultimately benefited human rights in the entire Eastern bloc. Asia has a right to succeed. But the West also has the right to fight to preserve its own accomplishments. Can a Western free-trade zone really prevent Asia's ascendancy? Clearly not. Nor is that the goal. However, what it can do is to help reduce the slope of Asia's ascent and prevent our flight paths from crossing too frequently. But doesn't that sound too defensive? Is the energy needed to set up a trans-Atlantic free-trade zone worth it? Absolutely. A plane can take off in different ways: There is a violent updraft that creates turbulence on the ground and there is milder form of thermal wind which can also take others up with it. This take-off may not be as steep and as fast, but it is less destructive. Yes, global growth would slow down. But that wouldn't be nearly as tragic as many people think. The growth of the last few years has been impossible to enjoy anyway because of the many sins committed along the way, both in Asia and the West. Plus, it has been bought with other people's money -- namely through hefty borrowing and the money of future generations. The creation of a trans-Atlantic free-trade zone would also send a strong political message: Look here, it would say, like-minded nations are coming together. The nations that gave birth to the Enlightenment are devoted to the individual's right to freedom, but not at the expense of the collective. World leadership may ultimately end up in others' hands, but we won't stand complacently by while it happens. The Asians still need us more than we need them: They thirst for Western capital and technological expertise. And without Western markets, the Asian export industry would soon fall apart. No one less than Henry Kissinger, the godfather of modern American foreign policy, is encouraging Western government leaders to take steps in the direction of such a free-trade zone. The enormity of the task should not be a deterrent. The duty of governments, after all, Kissinger says, is to lead societies from where they currently are to places they have never yet been.