Flying largely under the radar, the first round of negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) took off July 8 through 12 in Washington, D.C. Although most Americans have barely heard of TTIP — if they’ve heard of it at all — this plan for economic and political merger of the United States and the European Union will assume ever greater urgency over the next year as the negotiation process concludes and we move closer and closer to a vote in Congress.
The divisive national debate over NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) a decade ago provides a preview of the tumult to come. But, as with NAFTA, before any national “debate” is allowed to occur on TTIP, its advocates want to be sure they have already built up an unstoppable momentum. This strategy succeeded with NAFTA, though barely; once the American public began to learn what was in the agreement, the Clinton White House and NAFTA proponents in Congress had to resort to all-out deception, bribery, and political arm-twisting and logrolling to push it through.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership could face even stiffer opposition, once knowledge of it gets out. Thus, its proponents have been busy creating what will appear to be widespread consensus in favor of TTIP — by lining up (and buying up) support from Big Business, Big Labor, Big Banking, Big Green, and Big Media — before average Americans even learn that this transatlantic freight train is about to run over them.
The first public notice most of us got that the TTIP Express was headed our way was President Obama’s televised State of the Union address on February 12, 2013, in which he stated:
And tonight, I’m announcing that we will launch talks on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union — because trade that is fair and free across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs.
The following day, on February 13, President Obama followed through on this commitment, joining European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso to announce the initiation of TTIP negotiations.
On June 17, at the G8 Summit in Lough Erne, Ireland, President Obama joined British Prime Minister David Cameron and Messrs. Barroso and Van Rompuy to again pitch the jobs-and-prosperity promise in a press conference to boost the TTIP.
Van Rompuy gave a hint as to the deeper nature of the proposed EU-U.S. partnership.
“The positive ramifications will even go beyond the economy as such,” he said. “We are making our economies all over the world more interdependent.” For those familiar with globospeak, “interdependent” and “interdependence” are instantly recognized as favorite terms of one-world activists who abhor national independence and sovereignty. It is the basis of “The Project” — which is how EU insiders refer to their burgeoning superstate. Although it was originally sold to the public of the six original member nations merely as a coal and steel collective, the architects had planned from the beginning to keep “widening” (adding more member states) and “deepening” (usurping more and more national powers). The deepening process involves “integration” and “harmonization,” which means completely intertwining the economies, political structures, policies, laws and regulations, and bringing them all under the authority of the EU institutions.
Barroso provided another hint, stating that the TTIP is “a powerful demonstration of our determination to shape an open and rules-based world.” Yes, but many observers would point out that if we are to go by the “rules-based” model imposed on the EU by Barroso and his confreres, we are talking about arbitrary international rules that will be fashioned by faceless, unaccountable international rule-makers, and enforced by international bureaucrats, regulators, and tribunals.
Václav Klaus, the Czech economist and president of the Czech Republic from 2003 to 2013, has repeatedly blasted the EU for fastening a new form of the Soviet system onto Europe. “Instead of dismantling socialism,” he said in a September 1, 2002 speech at Aix-en-Provence, France, “we have got … more sophisticated, more hidden and more intensive methods of government intervention and regulation, the ever-increasing size and scope of the welfare state, multiculturalism and political correctness. This is not a great victory.”
What was begun under the pretext of facilitating the free movement of goods and people, President Klaus noted, “has been — slowly but surely — convened into the formation of a supranational European state aiming at centralization of power in Brussels, at elimination of European nation states and at socializing Europe.”
Was President Klaus exaggerating? Not at all. Even former Soviet dictator Mikhail Gorbachev agrees, but, unlike Klaus, Gorbachev approves of the integration and socializing of Europe. In a speech in London in 2000, Gorbachev referred to the evolving EU as “the new European Soviet.”
An EU-U.S. “Rolling Collective”?
There is no question that the deepening integration of the European Union has brought about huge centralization of power in Brussels — and a corresponding diminution of the powers of national, state, and local governments over remits they once governed.
And there is little question that the European Parliament, the European Commission, the European Council, and other EU institutions are dominated by socialists, Greens, and other “progressives” — and have been from the start. The Socialist Group was one of the first political party groupings to form in 1953 in the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), which evolved into the European Economic Community (EEC), which evolved into the European Community (EC), which evolved into the European Union (EU). The Common Assembly evolved into the European Parliament. The Socialist Group, which has gone through multiple name changes, has been the largest bloc in the European Parliament throughout most of that history. It is currently the second largest; together with the Greens and collectivists in the other parties, they still represent the dominant ideology, regardless of the labels.
European Commission President Barroso is emblematic of the statist pedigree and mentality that is all too prevalent throughout the EU institutions. As a student leader, he was a militant Maoist, a radical in the mold of terrorist-cum-professor Bill Ayers (in words if not in deeds). As president of the EU Commission, he has continued the Soviet-style authoritarian and secretive rule of that institution, ignoring and defying the calls for transparency and representation that he claims to uphold and that the EU claims to revere.
This is a style of governance that fits President Obama perfectly, since, as evidenced by his words and actions, he clearly adheres to a communitarian/socialist ideology and believes he is entitled to ignore Congress and legislate by executive order. (Not that he is completely unique in this; his predecessors George W. Bush and Bill Clinton — and others before them — also shared this autocratic tendency.) All this being open knowledge, how plausible is it that Barroso’s EU deputation and Obama’s U.S. contingent will together craft a TTIP that is anything other than a socialist-tilted program that mimics the autocratic EU?
We have already seen the official categories of issues that this “trade” agreement purports to deal with, and to say that it is exceedingly broad is to sin by understatement. This list alone (which we will go over, forthwith) betokens the type of transnational meddling and intrusion in national and local matters that have been the cause of so much concern throughout the EU about the “Brussels dictatorship.”
Neither the American public, nor our elected representatives in Congress, have had access to the secretive negotiation process or the negotiated texts. As with NAFTA and ObamaCare, we will be handed a hopelessly complex and incomprehensible hodgepodge of hundreds (or thousands) of pages, with additional side agreements, amendments, understandings, clarifications, addendums, etc., and then we’ll be subjected to a high-pressure campaign to pass this concoction so as not to jeopardize our opportunities to participate in the supposed bonanzas it offers. Remember Nancy Pelosi’s infamous ObamaCare argument: “We have to pass it so we can find out what’s in it.” Expect more of the same when TTIP is finally unveiled.
Privileged “stakeholders” — representatives of business, labor, and environmental groups — have been given inside seats at the TTIP table. Despite all the talk of transparency, the proceedings have been completely opaque, with powerful insiders and special interest groups exercising immense influence over the outcomes, which is precisely the standard operating procedure that has exemplified the EU process.
What “Trade” Agreement?
Tariffs on trade between the United States and the EU now average a mere four percent, which is small compared to the double-digit tariffs that were applied into the 1940s. So, why is it now such a supposedly urgent necessity to put the TTIP on the fast track? The Obama administration and its TTIP allies tell us that it is not the tariffs but the differences in regulations, standards, and laws that are impeding EU-U.S. trade and the jobs and prosperity that an increase in transatlantic trade would bring.
Regulatory overload is widely recognized as a huge damper on the U.S. economy. A 2010 study for the federal Small Business Administration put the total annual compliance cost for all federal regulations at $1.7 trillion. Obviously, as we have pointed out in numerous articles in The New American, true regulatory reform should be a top political and economic priority, and should entail the elimination of destructive and unconstitutional federal regulations, as well as the abolition of unconstitutional regulatory agencies. However, no one who is even barely sentient can think that the dictocrats in Brussels and Washington have any such solution in mind.
In case the reader may be unaware, the unaccountable, unelected Brussels eurocracts have repeatedly stirred outrage with ludicrous mandates and prosecutions on the most trivial and arcane of matters, such as banning bent cucumbers (EU Regulation No 1677/88 specified that cucumbers must be “reasonably well shaped and practically straight” with a maximum height of the arc being “10 mm per 10 cm of the length of cucumber”) and bent bananas; mandating the size of cigarette packages (down to the millimeter); defining marmalades and jams and how they may be packaged; banning olive oil cruets on restaurant tables; ordering children to be restricted to car seats until age 12; prosecuting U.K. street vendors and grocers (the “Metric Martyrs”) for using traditional Imperial weights and measures instead of metric; regulating the width of tractor seats; and on and on.
These untold thousands of EU regulations on minutiae are complemented by Brussels’ usurpation of authority over national fisheries, energy policy, taxation, and many other “big ticket” items — items such as freedom of speech. The EU’s Monitoring Centre for Racism and Xenophobia infamously has defined opposition to the European single currency as “monetary xenophobia.” An even more notorious attack on freedom of expression came from the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) Advocate General Dámaso Ruiz-Jarabo Colomer, who charged, in 2001, that British economist Bernard Connolly’s critique of the euro and the EU’s monetary integration was akin to “blasphemy,” and therefore not protected speech. The ECJ ruled in the Connolly case that the European Commission could restrict dissent and punish individuals who “damaged the institution’s image and reputation.” The European Court of Human Rights has, among other outrages, overturned the British ban on homosexuals in the armed forces and ordered crucifixes removed from all public school classrooms in Italy.
With the above small sampling in mind, imagine the gleeful havoc that the minions of Barroso and Obama might wreak with a TTIP that includes EU-style intervention in virtually all areas of public and private life. Here is a list of the areas that are being negotiated in the current round of TTIP talks, as listed by the U.S. trade representative’s website:
Agricultural Market Access, Competition, Cross-Border Services, Customs and Trade Facilitation, Electronic Commerce and Telecommunications, Energy and Raw Materials, Environment Financial Services, Government Procurement, Intellectual Property Rights, Investment, Labor, ... Rules of Origin, Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures, Sectoral Annexes/Regulatory Cooperation, Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises, State-Owned Enterprises, Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), Textiles, Trade Remedies
Socialists and Corporatists Together
Although “we, the people” haven’t been allowed in on the TTIP “process,” nor have we been allowed to have a copy of the working draft of the TTIP, we can nevertheless surmise quite a bit about what to expect in the final product by studying the folks who are crafting this new transatlantic “relationship.” In addition to government officials (led by the U.S. trade representative and the State, Treasury, and Commerce Departments for the United States), an assortment of corporate, industry, trade association, and NGO activist “stakeholders” have been assigned special rights at the negotiating table. These include the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, AFL-CIO, Consumer Federation of America, Public Citizen’s Global Access to Medicines Program, and Center for Science in the Public Interest. These Left/Progressive activist groups are heavily funded by grants from governments, corporations, and the major tax-exempt foundations, such as Rockefeller, Ford, Soros, Gates, and Carnegie.
These left-tilting groups are supposedly balanced at the TTIP table by organizations that are usually described as “pro-market,” such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Manufacturing Association, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, Grocery Manufacturers Association, and the American Association of Exporters & Importers. However, as the history of the EU, NAFTA, and other so-called free trade agreements (FTAs) demonstrates, many of these so-called pro-market groupings are actually more concerned about carving out special arrangements for themselves and initiating “public-private partnerships” (PPPs) that provide them with subsidies and tax benefits.
While many of the players in this supposedly diverse cast will hold clashing opinions on a multitude of issues, they tend to agree on the fundamental issue of EU-U.S. integration, and the follow-up step of global integration and global governance, which is merely a euphemism for global government. The one side wants to see a global regime that would enforce global environmental and social policy, while the other seeks the alleged benefits of a global regime that would make regulations uniform and easier for business to navigate. Both are willing to sacrifice national sovereignty and all that goes with it — the Bill of Rights, the U.S. Constitution, checks and balances, states’ rights — to obtain their goals.
The real powers behind the push for the TTIP are not the civil society stakeholders at the negotiation table; they are merely a façade, a sideshow. The real force for the TTIP comes from a coterie of think tanks and their associated multi-national banking and corporate cohorts, such as the Transatlantic Business Council, Business Coalition for Transatlantic Trade, Business Alliance for TTIP, Transatlantic Policy Network, Center for Transatlantic Relations, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Brookings Institution, Atlantic Council, Centre for Economic and Policy Research, and Peterson Institute for International Economics.
Above these high-powered academic and corporate lobbies is yet another brain trust and guiding hand that has been leading the movement for the EU since the founding days of the ECSC in the 1950s, while also leading the movement for global government for much of the past century: the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and its sister affiliates, most especially the Royal Institute of International Affairs (RIIA), the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), and the CFR’s recent creation, the Council of Councils (CoC), which coordinates its affiliates in two dozen key countries.
The CFR’s importance in the creation of the EU, the EU’s progressive integration and expansion, and the current campaign to bring the United States into this “widening and deepening” process, can hardly be exaggerated. In fact, the EU would not even exist without the machinations of CFR members, operating both in capacities as government officials and private individuals. The same holds true today with regard to the TTIP.
Heading up Team Obama’s official TTIP effort is U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman (CFR), who is described in his official USTR bio as “President Obama’s principal advisor, negotiator and spokesperson on international trade and investment issues.” Froman’s chief deputy at USTR is Miriam Sapiro (CFR). Leading the effort with Froman is Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment (and longtime Washington insider) Robert D. Hormats (CFR). Froman and Hormats have been busy for months lining up top-level support for TTIP in speeches before business, banking, and industry groups. They are both Wall Street insiders. Froman was a managing director at Citigroup, and also served as president and chief executive officer of CitiInsurance before joining the Obama administration. Hormats was vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International. Both men were principals in massive corruption scandals (Froman in the bailout of Citigroup, Hormats in PetroChina’s takeover of Sudan’s oil).
The late Admiral Chester Ward was a longtime CFR member who became one of its most notable critics. According to Adm. Ward, the goal of the CFR’s leaders is the “submergence of U.S. sovereignty and national independence into an all-powerful one-world government.” James Perloff’s definitive book on the CFR, The Shadows of Power: The Council on Foreign Relations and the American Decline, together with numerous articles in this magazine over the years, has shown Admiral Ward’s evaluation of the organization to be spot-on.
The CFR leadership is currently engaged in further validating the Ward-Perloff thesis with its all-out push for TTIP. The CFR’s highly influential journal Foreign Affairs has been busy for years lobbying for TTIP support among public policy and business elites. One of its most recent offerings in this regard is a July 10 article, “Getting to Yes on Transatlantic Trade.”
The CFR hands in the TTIP lobby are everywhere. Serving as co-chairman of the Transatlantic Business Council is Stuart Eizenstat (CFR), President Jimmy Carter’s chief domestic policy advisor and President Clinton’s ambassador to the EU. Chairman of the Atlantic Council’s International Advisory Board is Brent Scowcroft (CFR), former national security advisor to Presidents Gerald Ford (CFR) and George H.W. Bush (CFR). Frederick S. Kempe (CFR) is president and CEO of the Atlantic Council.
At the Center for Transatlantic Relations, Daniel Hamilton (CFR) serves as executive director. Over at Brookings, former Clinton advisor Strobe Talbott (CFR) is president and John L. Thornton (CFR) is chairman of the Board of Trustees. The chairman of the Board of the Peterson Institute is Peter G. Peterson (CFR director and former CFR chairman), and many of the institute’s scholars and directors are also CFR members. The president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is Thomas J. Donohue (CFR). Bruce Stokes (CFR) is director of Global Economic Attitudes at the Pew Research Center and a transatlantic fellow for economics at the German Marshall Fund.
The list goes on and on, ad nauseam. Clearly, Americans are in for an escalating, non-stop propaganda deluge over the next year, with the objective being to build sufficient support and momentum to ram the TTIP through Congress in 2014 or 2015.
The above article is part of our special report “How the Free Trade Agenda Is Knocking Down America.” This report warns that the free trade agenda is a dangerous and deceptive bait and switch. The intent is not to create genuine free trade but to transfer economic and political power to regional arrangements on the road to global governance. Because of what is at stake, we encourage you to read the entire special report (click here for the PDF) and to become involved.