Obama’s Last Quarter: Trade
Obama recently listed what he’d like to accomplish in his last two years, or as he referred to it as his last quarter. It’s a given that congressional support for any policy of Obama’s short of re-introducing slavery, indentured servitude or other actions rolling back both the 20th and 10th centuries will be opposed by Republicans to a man.
Republican women might baulk at such an agenda. Time will tell.
Obama has also embarked on actions which can be completed by the executive alone. His one slight step on immigration is one such, as is his beginning the neo-liberal re-conquest of Cuba.
A further set of deals which Obama can bring to their conclusions are TPP, TTIP and TISA, the secret trade treaties. Secret because their provisions appear so awful that there’s be open rebellion in the streets of the world, including at home, if they were made public.
These treaties effectively establish foreign corporations as Sovereigns. The goal is to return the world to the 19th Century of Charles Dickens. These Undemocratic corporate Sovereigns, wherein the executives and the elites are at the top of feudal baronies, and are answerable to no one, would be able to impose their wills on countries who sign on to these treaties. Question for President Obama: Why would anyone who is purportedly a believer in democracy, elevate these corporations and their leaders to such power? It’s not as if large corporations had a long history of caring for the people who are affected by their actions: for example Walmart. We predict that within 10 years there would be no major US corporations, or they’d all have offshore companies running their business in the US, because all corporations would reside where they could exercise these sovereign rights.
Obama could take executive action and publish these treaties and discuss openly the loss of Sovereignty. He has not. What has he to hide? Maybe Americans might not like the idea that he is sponsoring unrestricted corporatocracy for both Americans and the rest of the world?
To pass these opaque treaties Obama will not only need to fast-track trade deal approval in both houses of the US legislature, so requiring the legislators to completely surrender any semblance of their participation in the process. If Congress were to accede to such demands, their inaction would have a similar effect on American democracy as the Roman Senate’s abdication of their responsibility some 2000 years ago, when they gave Julius Ceasar extraordinary powers which paved the way for Octavian to complete the process by assassinating all opposition to imperial rule.
Obama’s behavior is extraordinary, only if you believe he is not pandering for massive contributions to his post Presidential career; you could understand it if he wore a right-wing political label — but as a Democrat, his support for anti-democratic trade bills shows complete contempt for the people who elected him twice.
Will these treaties come to pass? Well maybe not. There are a few minor items to resolve:
First, if the Japanese were to sign the treaty proposed by Obama, they would face the extinction of their Agriculture Industry, not a smart move if one wants to feed one’s people. Moreover, the Japanese appear to have a special reverence for Japanese food and its preparation. Surrendering the Japanese food supply to foreign corporations would be like France agreeing to replace French sauces by Heinz Ketchup and A1 Steak sauce. Not going to happen unless the US decides to actually negotiate, instead of trying to dictate. Friends don’t let friends behave badly.
Next the Germans, who are also supported by many Europeans; Europe understands what loss of Sovereignty really means: their history is replete with examples wherein the local populace lost their rights, money, and land, as a result of rule by foreign Kings. Of course, it’s not just kings – parts of Europe felt the lash meted out by two fascist governments in the 1930’s and 1940’s. They are very familiar with the unpleasantness that ensues when your country is forced to bow down to another country.
Going back a bit further, to the 30 Years War wherein Europe was “united” in having a war, – which was thrust upon them because of enforced dogma, (in that case the ruler’s dogma was required to be the people’s dogma,) and that idea went badly. The trade treaties embody a different dogma, but it’s dogma all the same. Let us simply note how badly the 30 Years War hurt Europe: 30% of Europe’s population died because of it. Europe remembers.
As a result of these memories, the Europeans, starting with Angela Merkel, are a little sensitive about sovereignty and the rights which flow from sovereignty. One might note also that the problems that the EU is having with the Euro are a direct result of individual states giving up sovereign control of their currencies. However, one might note that the loss of sovereignty due to losing control over currency is trivial when you compare it with the loss of sovereignty that would occur by signing a treaty which, in the Investor State Dispute System, places corporations above the sovereignty of the signatory states.
The corporations effectively become “Super-states” which can threaten the country with lawsuits/arbitrations before an arbitration panel which appears to be controlled by the corporations. What country in its right mind would sign on to an agreement like that? We’ve already seem bad results from treaties like that. Think NAFTA, CAFTA , with Bolivia’s loss to Chevron and Canada’s Quebec being sued on a Moratorium on Fracking.
Nothing like losing something only to discover that one was very fond of it, and wants it back. As Joni Mitchell once sang, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone?” She’s right.
Pity about that loss of Sovereignty in TTIP. Can TTIP survive with ISDS?
On to TISA.
As is by now well documented, TISA would strip Europeans of the privacy they enjoy under EU law. Privacy hard-won after the previous fascist rule of much of Europe. Strong privacy law is the first bastion against those who want to attack a people’s freedom. It keeps the extremists from gathering information about people, families, and minorities. European minorities experienced attacks based on their minority status. One wonders how the Jewish, Gypsy, Gay, and Muslim populations in Europe would react to the potential of being identified by their association, and subject once again the action of a state focused on “The Ultimate Solution?” One expects that might be a sensitive point, given the recent historical lessons. When politicians start to “identify” potential problem minorities, be watchful. The next step may well be direct attacks on minorities, one after the other. The fascists in Italy and Germany showed how it could be done. Given recent history, it seems others are determined to emulate their disgraceful example.
It couldn’t happen here you say. Oh ye of little faith, we thought Torture was Unacceptable until they became part of the set of Exceptionalism tools. There seem to be no limits to the behavior of these proponents of extreme political dogmas. Look beyond the political labels. Look and judge by the actual behavior, not the claims the politicians and right-wing extremists make.
Publish the treaties. Discuss Sovereignty. Open up the process.
We won’t hold our breath. We would have to rely on the Republicans hating a black in the White House so much they won’t even advance their own non-democratic behavior. And let’s not discuss Clinton or Bush. They’re the heirs apparent, waiting in the wings, for you to “choose”. What a choice. How will America get back on the right path, when there are more similarities than differences between the candidates?