Sunday, 11 May 2008

Partners Across the Pond

Written by  John F. McManus

SPPApproximately 50 persons gathered in a plush conference room at the State Department on March 10. They were there for a meeting of the Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy (ACIEP), a fairly new group that serves as an advisory body to the U.S. government. They champion the Security and Prosperity Partnership and related organizations steering the United States toward more regional and international integration.

Washington lawyer and Council on Foreign Relations member Ted Kassinger, a former Deputy Secretary and General Counsel at the Department of Commerce, chaired the two-hour session. He was assisted by Assistant Secretary of State Daniel S. Sullivan.

All in attendance were immediately instructed that the meeting would be conducted according to “Chatham House rules,” meaning that no person should be identified with any comments given during the proceedings. It would be permissible to mention what was discussed but no attribution is allowed. (Chatham House is another name for Britain’s Royal Institute of International Affairs, the internationalist equivalent in that nation of the Council on Foreign Relations in America.)

The words “convergence,” “harmonization,” and “integration” were used frequently at the meeting, and each was characterized as the overall goal. Every dictionary I consulted states that “integration” means creating a single entity.

Beyond frequent mention of NAFTA and the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) for North America, the participants delighted in discussing the Framework for Advancing Transatlantic Economic Integration created in April 2007 by President Bush, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. According to information distributed at the meeting, this “Framework has put the United States and the European Union on a joint path toward further transatlantic economic integration.” Claiming it possesses a “political commitment,” the framework has led to “a new Cabinet-level Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC).”

About the TEC, the participants at the meeting stated, “We are in close contact with the EU.” “We have great hopes for more US-EU discussions.” “We want to reduce and harmonize regulatory burdens.” Referring to a previous meeting of the TEC: “It was simply wonderful to have this meeting [TEC] with our EU friends, and six [U.S.] cabinet leaders were in attendance along with the heads of two regulatory agencies [EPA and FDA].” Obviously, this TEC is paving the way for the integration of North America and the EU.

One speaker said it would be wise not to refer to what they were doing as “NAFTA Plus.” These globalists are obviously aware of growing public opposition to NAFTA. Another noted that “SPP builds on NAFTA,” which of course it does. Still another offered, “The security aspect of SPP is being directed by the Department of Homeland Security, and the prosperity aspect is being directed by the Department of Commerce.”

There were numerous references to progress already achieved (both within SPP and TEC) regarding standardization of some accounting procedures and regulatory controls. New areas where further progress is being sought include harmonization in the areas of biofuels, health, IT products, and RFID technology.

One participant noted, “Together, the North America and the EU nations add up to 11 percent of the world’s population and 58 percent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product.” He seemed unhappy about this disparity.

Another stated, “It was great progress when the North American Competitiveness Council was launched at the Montebello SPP meeting.” “The NACC’s input from the private sector helps to harmonize what we are doing.” There are more than a dozen major U.S. corporations in the NACC, each profiting in the drive toward globalization. The firms weren’t named during the meeting, but they are Campbell Soup, Chevron, Ford, FedEx, General Electric, General Motors, K.C. Southern Railroad, Lockheed Martin, Merck, Mittal Steel, New York Life Insurance, Procter & Gamble, UPS, Wal-Mart, and Whirlpool.

One speaker dwelled on a program designed to defuse potential terrorism by creating jobs for young people who might become terrorists. He specifically mentioned programs already being planned for the Pakistan/Iraq border and the Philippines, and added that he would be going to Pakistan soon to work on this project. While jobs are fading fast in the United States, he and others in attendance are working to create jobs elsewhere.

This prominent Washington-based internationalist, a retired U.S. Army general who is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, promotes the flawed notion that terrorism springs from poor, unemployed and disadvantaged young people. The truth, however, is that leading terrorists like Osama bin Laden (a wealthy businessman) and Ayman al-Zawahiri (a medical doctor) are the highly educated and well-to-do types who generate the killing and destructiveness. Terrorism is not the product of the downtrodden. But it is the downtrodden who are used by terrorism’s master planners to kill and maim.

Toward the very end of the two-hour program, I raised my hand and was given a chance to speak. I said:

I’m John McManus from THE NEW AMERICAN magazine. I want to note that several million American jobs have been lost since NAFTA, which many feel is somewhat responsible for these losses. And I note that no one from the Congress is in attendance at this meeting. I have two questions. One: do the SPP and TEC derive authorization from NAFTA to move ahead and tie the U.S. to more rules and regulations? And two: some Europeans (former German President Mr. Herzog, for one) note that as much as 80 percent of the laws being enacted in their countries stem from the EU in Brussels. Does this committee intend to duplicate for the U.S. what is occurring in Europe?

Kassinger immediately reminded me that Chatham Rules were in effect, and told me that I could address my questions to one of the State Department officials in attendance after the meeting. He quickly moved on to something else and the meeting ended soon. I was effectively quieted.

I waited around to speak to Assistant Secretary of State Sullivan after the meeting ended. A junior State Department employee immediately appeared at my side, asked if I intended to question Sullivan, and stood by me for a good 10 minutes while others finished their comments to Sullivan. This was a bit unsettling. He remained at my side when I finally got a chance to talk to Sullivan.

To Daniel Sullivan, I repeated my question about NAFTA being the source of their authorization to proceed. He never answered. I asked how they could move ahead without any input from Congress and he danced around that too. I said, “Look, the SPP has 20 working groups at the Department of Commerce and they’re putting out reports and working on convergence and no one in Congress is involved.” At this point, the junior State Department official reminded me about the Chatham Rules, but Sullivan said he didn’t mind being quoted. When he sought to defend what they were advocating by discounting the fact that “some towels were being made” in a faraway land, I told him that there were many U.S. textile plants that had closed or downsized because of NAFTA. He didn’t like that, but didn’t respond.

I could see I wasn’t getting anywhere with Sullivan, so I handed him a copy of the “Merger in the Making” issue of THE NEW AMERICAN and told him that there are many Americans who are determined to protect the independence of the United States and don’t like what SPP and its related groups are doing. He looked intently at the cover of the magazine and said nothing.

I left. The junior State Department official carefully watched me as I walked down the corridor toward the door where I exited the building.