Leaked memo: Obama administration backing international court that would have the right to override national laws in favor of corporations


I'd like to get feedback from President Obama's staunchest defenders on this one.

Your Daily Dose of BuzzFlash at Truthout, via Mark Karlin:

What is news is that the Obama administration is backing an international court that would have the right to override national laws in favor of corporations.  The implications are staggering for the environment, financial oversight and unions, according to the Huffington Post. Even life-saving medicine could be monopolized and raised to a level that would make some vital medications unaffordable to all but those with wealth or top insurance policies. According to The HP, the Obama administration has been pursuing:

…efforts in other international negotiations to establish controversial medical patents that grant companies long-term monopolies on life-saving medications. Those monopolies increase drug prices, which impede access to medications, particularly in developing nations. The World Health Organization and dozens of nonprofit public health groups have objected to the standards sought by the Obama administration. Two United Nations groups recently urged global governments not to agree to trade terms currently being advocated by the Obama administration, on the grounds that such rules would hurt public health.

As I noted in a BuzzFlash at Truthout commentary on June 11, I have come to see the nations of the world more and more at the mercy of an international global corporate and financial elite – and this leaked memo provides more fodder for that theory.  Americans, if the agreement is reached, won't even have the right to hold foreign corporations accountable in US courts for many egregious violations:

The irony is that the right-wing of America has long despised the United Nations, but the current reality of economic management of the earth is falling into the hands of a few elite institutions, developed regions (call them nations if you will), and international financial firms and corporations.  Call it the United Global Elite instead of the United Nations.

Members of the global elite, as BuzzFlash at Truthout has mentioned before, are more at home with each other than with the other 99% of their own countries. The G-8, the G-20, call them what you will, but the economic fate of nations is decided to a great degree at international meetings of the haves.

This is not a conspiracy theory. It is the result of a world of global trade, finances, and marketing that is not confined to national boundaries. Yes, nations have distinct legal systems, but their financial fates and corporate legal disputes with local, state and federal governments are more and more determined by decisions made at a global level by individuals at a great distance from working people - or the person trying to survive on subsistence living.

The HP states bluntly:

A critical document from President Barack Obama's free trade negotiations with eight Pacific nations was leaked online early Wednesday morning, revealing that the administration intends to bestow radical new political powers upon multinational corporations, contradicting prior promises….

Trans-Pacific negotiations have been taking place throughout the Obama presidency. The deal is strongly supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the top lobbying group for American corporations. Obama's Republican opponent in the 2012 presidential elections, Mitt Romney, has urged the U.S. to finalize the deal as soon as possible.

So the same group of people who have viciously derided the notion of the United Nations encroaching on US unilateral power are now eager to give up chunks of our local, state and national legal recourse to an international tribunal, so as to benefit corporations?

Please read the rest here.

  • Chernynkaya

    There's no question that it is troubling, and to be honest, I'm not really qualified on international trade agreements to give an informed opinion on either the validity of the dire warnings from HuffPo or of the WH responses. However, I just can't help but be (reflexively?) skeptical about the claim by the author that this trade agreement language is the worst ever, or worse than Bush. Also, that it is already in Issa's crosshairs makes me doubly skeptical that it is unusually pro-corporate. For all I know, international trade agreements are routinely written in way which, to the layman, seems ridiculously protective of US industry.

    One last question: What is the motivation of the person releasing these leaks--mere months before an election riddled with dirty tricks? How do we even know this memo is the final agreement? It probably is, but the very existence of such a potentially damaging leak makes me think there is much more to this than I know.

  • Clancy

    The critics of the administration's positions re: multilateral trade agreements could be 100% correct (and are likely not far off bass even if wrong), but don't help themselves by engaging in needlessly inflammatory rhetoric like this. Seriously, whenever I read "worse than Bush," I immediately tell myself it's okay to ignore this person. Not because they're obviously wrong, it's just that the author has obviously made the decision to push buttons rather than address substantive policy. There's a lot to criticize about how trade agreements limit personal and national sovereignty, hurt workers, and encourage environmental degradation; overblown polemics aren't really necessary or helpful in proving one's point.

  • Gracias!

  • Clancy

    Question: You know how it's easy to tell if something is a complete load of crap? Answer: The author didn't even try hard enough to keep out a "worse than Bush" quote from the spokesperson of an activist organization. Seriously, multilateral trade agreements aren't getting any worse under Obama than they have been since the Clinton and Bush administrations, they still suck just as bad.

    Multilateral trade agreements are extremely complicated affairs that, during the negotiation stage, include all kinds of elements whose implications are difficult to determine. Not saying they're good or bad, just saying this article screams hysteria more than anything else. For example, the original Huff Post piece claims that a similar trade agreement "could overturn the nation's domestic laws at the behest of a foreign corporation." Which is a complete over-simplification of the legal case cited in the article. The "foreign corporation" is not only licensed to operate in El Salvador utilizing a Salvadoran subsidiary, but the claimants in the case in question similarly argue that El Salvador violated several of its own laws in limiting the corporation from operating a mine in the country. So, not as cut and dried as the author(s) make it seem.

  • HarborGuy

    In my lowly opinion...it's sh!t like this, that will turn off some Dems/Progressives/Liberals...and, if, IF he loses, it will be part of the reason.

    I'm looking for honesty and fairness. THIS garbage is neither.

  • I saw that and I'm looking for an answer too.  Let me know if you see something.