…tpp, ttip, torpor, and wikileaks…Posted: 2014-01-17
…the obvious remains, or should remain, obvious. the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) or the Trans-atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), of the corporation, by the corporation and for the corporation. Multi-National Corporation (MNC), that is. And, as the immortal Alfred E. Neuman would say, ‘What, me worry?’…
And yes, Dean Baker over at beat the press has been ever diligently rebutting ‘curious’ editorials and reports from the corporate US MSM, and doing so with the same frequency that the drivel is trundled out as ‘truth’ to much of a populace seemingly lost in an unshakeable torpor. Similar efforts at informing the public, not just of the US, have been ongoing at other blogs such as common dreams, naked capitalism and firedoglake The UK newspaper, the Independent did look at the thing, with activists seeing advantages only to the MNCs. [The disadvantage of the other non-Five-Eyes group is that the members of the Five Eyes Benevolent Society already have access to their corporate and other information, naïvely thought to be confidential.]…
Then along comes WikiLeaks with its latest revelation, adding to its earlier leak of the two draft chapters on Intellectual Property (IP) rights of the TPP. This time the chapter is on the environment, and the pervasiveness of corporate influence and its disregard for the environment is made abundantly clear.
Jacob Chamberlain over at common dreams heads the observations with, ‘Worse than Bush’: Green Groups Sound Alarm Over Obama’s Trade Deal. He quotes the Executive Director of the Sierra Club,
“If the environment chapter is finalized as written in this leaked document, President Obama’s environmental trade record would be worse than George W. Bush’s,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “This draft chapter falls flat on every single one of our issues – oceans, fish, wildlife, and forest protections – and in fact, rolls back on the progress made in past free trade pacts.”
Of course, such criticism of the US President will not undermine his access to substantial corporate funding after demitting office. Reward for performance, with a bonus. Surely, actions like the repeal of Glass-Steagal should have had its pay out? And funding for that ‘Presidential Library’, just like George W. Bush’s. Yes, George W. – only in the US.
Kevin Gosztola over at fdl weighs in with, ‘A Public Relations Exercise’: TPP Agreement Chapter for Environment Released by WikiLeaks. He observes,
The environmental chapter lacks any enforcement mechanisms for whatever might be agreed upon between countries currently finalizing the agreement: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.
The drive to protect the interests of corporations over the world’s environment has fueled dysfunction in the process. Indeed, after talks in Salt Lake City, Utah, on the agreement in November 2013, the countries were unable to advance discussion on the environment because they could not agree on a definition of “environmental law.”
Over at naked capitalism, Yves Smith is a tad caustic in her take on things, with her post, Wikileaks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Environment Chapter: “Toothless Public Relations Exercise”.
Couple excerpts should be sufficient for a more detailed reading. She remarks on the NYT’s ‘strange’ editorial that has long since been ridiculed and rebutted. The other remark deals with Prof Krugman’s strange absence from and eerie silence on his very type of economic issue in which his expertise and analysis would have been extensively applied – which leaves the unfortunate impression of tacit political support for the present administration and its dubious agenda.
And this concern isn’t theoretical. Public Citizen has done extensive data collection on and analysis of past trade deals, as well as what could be discerned about the TPP and its sister, the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The TPP and TTIP have stronger foreign investor protections than existing trade pacts, which heretofore (post NAFTA) have broadly similar provisions. The results can hardly be characterized as pro-health, pro-environment, or pro-regulation. I’m reproducing this section from a November post because it’s hard to believe how bad these agreements are unless you see the details:
Sadly, even as the evidence against this deal mounts, I wouldn’t bet on an retreat by the Times’ editorial board, nor by Paul Krugman, who has gone silent after saying he’d do “some homework” on TPP. But for once, Congress appears to be out ahead of the lapdog media. Even before the latest release, fast track authority was in trouble in the House, with Boehner saying he didn’t have the votes.
However, in all of this we do admire her optimism that the US Congress – of two corporate parties barely indistinguishable, aside ‘hot button’ issues – will overcome its propensity to comply with the agenda of the corporate class, even if there are a few brave discordant voices. Yet, there is that thing called ‘playing to the camera’, mock ‘outrage’ and all, in a democracy that is less so than that of many ‘third world’ countries.
Assuming passage, one can only imagine events like another ‘Bhopal’ or new lakes of petroleum created in another ‘Ecuador’, where the victims would then have to compensate the corporations responsible for their fate; or, at best, just have to ‘look forward, not backward’. Clearly, in these ‘partnerships’ those most disadvantaged will be of the ‘south’. Those of the ‘north’, especially the US, will experience a mere smidgeon of the indignities that have been inflicted on those of the Great Unwashed, and for centuries. They will finally realise they are becoming ‘disposable’, no different from the life style they had allowed themselves to be duped into living.
…If only Chile were to prove the Deus ex Machina for one, the TPP…
…a quick note: since the mid-1960s the World Bank has had its ICSID (International Centre for Settlement of Disputes), something its borrowing members have been more than familiar with. And here one can only speculate on the career path of some of those who negotiate such deals or pass judgement in disputes, something Yves Smith sort of alludes to in that interesting chart in her blogpost…