What’s Wrong with the Obama Administration’s Trade-Deal Arguments

Eric Zuesse

Here is from the June 3rd article at the pro-trade-deals Americas Society & Council of the Americas, “Summary: The Trans-Pacific Partnership – What’s at Stake for the Western Hemisphere?” in which the Democratic congressman, Gregory Meeks, a Co-Chair of the Friends of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Caucus, states the core of the Administration’s case on its proposed trade-deals. The article reports:

According to Congressman Meeks, ‘TPP is a force for positive change across the board for all countries, whether or not they belong to TPP,’ although this transformation will require rigorous action. Countries in Central and South America understand that economic reforms and harmonized trade rules are only one side of the coin. On the reverse side, they are committed to addressing socio-political demands, inequality issues, violence, and the informal sector in the economy.

He’s referring there to the uniform standardization that these deals would impose upon all participating countries regarding regulations of food-safety, product-safety, drug-safety, environmental standards, workers’ rights, protections against the defrauding of investors, etc. He is saying that this international uniformity will bring “positive change across the board for all countries.”

What it will actually do is to raise the standards in some countries and lower the standards in others, in order to achieve uniformity across international borders.

So: let us assume, for the purpose of argument, that, for the most part, the net average result will indeed be to raise standards. This is what he is implying (even though it’s false). But there is a deeper problem than whether environmental and other standards within various nations are set higher; and it is that they are, in effect, to be set in stone by these agreements.

Just as it is vastly more difficult to update a provision in the U.S. Constitution by means of its Amendment-process than it is to enact a new mere law that updates an old mere law; so, too, it is vastly more difficult to change an international treaty-provision than it is to change a mere single nation’s regulatory standards and laws.

Whereas to change a law or regulation requires only intra-national, or inside-the-nation, process, changing a treaty-provision requires a vastly more difficult international process, which demands the unanimous consent of all member-nations of the given treaty or international agreement.

These ’trade’ deals are set up, far more fundamentally, to transfer the power over the decisions concerning such matters, away from democratically accountable national governments, to, instead, panels of ‘arbitrators’ consisting of three lawyers, each one of whom is appointed by international corporations – i.e, by the very same parties whose interest is to lower workers’ wages and rights, to lower environmental standards, to lower protections against defrauding stockholders, to lower protections against global warming, to lower protections against toxics in foods, etc.

The system in these ’trade’ deals does not allow nations to sue international corporations, but it does allow international corporations to sue any signatory nation that, a given suing international corporation alleges, has violated the treaty’s international standard – in other words, that has applied or instituted a standard higher than the international treaty allows.

If subsequent scientific research indicates that a given global-warming matter requires a higher standard than was formerly thought, or that a given product-safety or food-safety standard was actually dangerously low and must be raised, then, that’s just too bad, because there won’t be any realistic way in which the given standard, in any participating country, will be able to be raised. The international corporations that have lobbied so successfully for Obama’s ‘trade’ deals to get them as far as they already have, will easily be able to block at least one of the participating countries from going along with a treaty-change to enable increasing the then-established set-in-stone international standard.

So: what’s really at issue here is a transfer from national democratic sovereignty to, instead, international-corporate sovereignty, in which international coporations will have locked-in an international dictatorial control over a large portion of what it is that national governments do, and necessarily must do, in order to serve the public good.

The whole thing is a corrupt con-job.

What is at stake here is nothing less than whether the future of the world will be national democratic governments, or instead an international fascist government. Regardless of whether the old ideal of an international democratic world-federalist government (the old idea of a world government) was a good one, the bringing-about of an international corporate dictatorship is a monstrosity: the very opposite of an international democracy.

Barack Obama wants to bring the world into international fascist control more than has ever yet existed on this planet. If he succeeds, he will thus be the most harmful political leader in world history. His deals must be stopped. They are horrendous.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity, and of  Feudalism, Fascism, Libertarianism and Economics.