Nobel-Prize Economist Condemns Obama’s ‘Trade’ Deals

Eric Zuesse

The Nobel-Prize-winning former chief economist of the World Bank, and Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to the U.S. President, Joseph Stiglitz, went to England to warn the British public, and Parliament, that “no democracy” can support U.S. President Barack Obama’s proposed trade-deals, because all of these have a feature built into them, called Investor State Dispute Resolution, or ISDS, which will establish a supra-national authority that gives international corporations the power to sue any signatory nation that introduces new or increased economic regulations regarding product-safety, the environment, workers’ rights, or anything else that the corporation alleges lowers the corporation’s profits; and because these cases will be tried not in courts that are subject to the given nation’s constitution and laws, but instead by private three-person panels of mainly corporate lawyers, and their rulings will not be subject to being appealed within the given nation’s court system — the panel’s decison will be final. There will be no democratic accountability at all, regarding regulations and laws that are designed to protect the public: environmental, product-safety, and workers’ rights. The existing regulations will be, in effect, locked in stone, or else decreased — never increased, no matter how much the latest scientific findings might indicate they ought to be. That’s because the international corporations’ panels will have powers above and beyond any signatory nation’s constitution and laws. ISDS gives international corporations the right to sue taxpayers; it does not give any government the right to sue an international corporation (and that also means no right to sue such a corporation for having filed a frivolous lawsuit against the taspayers). It’s a new profit-center for international corporations, in which those profits are coming from the taxpayers of nations that lose these lawsuits — and these cases will explode in volume if Obama’s deals get passed.

Stiglitz was speaking specifically about the TTIP, which is Obama’s proposed trade-deal with Europe,  and he based his analysis upon the published proposed TPP, which is its companion trade-deal for virtually all nations that are in or on the Pacific. (Wikileaked texts indicate that the TTIP is basically similar to TPP.)

In the article by Huffington Post that reports on Stiglitze’s comments was this, from Stiglitz:

“There’s nothing to stop you, in TTIP, from passing regulations. You can keep the regulations. You would just have to keep writing a cheque to [cigarette firm] Phillip Morris every year for the profits they lost from what they would have been if they had been able to kill people in the way they had in the past,” he said. “Every year you would have to write them another billion dollar cheque.” …

He said it would mean “any government that passes a regulation that has an adverse effect on the profits of a company can be sued” by that company.

Stiglitz said the lawyers who drafted TPP designed it to be so strict that if governments passed regulations “trying to prevent polonium in baby cereal” companies would sue. “This is not a joke,” he added.

Previously, on the basis of a legal analysis of Obama’s trade-deals, a leading legal expert at the United Nations, explained why (as my headline summarized it) “UN Lawyer Calls TTP & TTIP ‘a dystopian future in which corporations and not democratically elected governments call the shots’.” That lawyer was saying essentially the same thing as Stiglitz, but from a legal not an economic standpoint.

For information specifically about the motivation behind Obama’s trade-deals, see this.

Obama’s proposed ‘trade’ deals have not yet been passed into law in the United States. Here are the positions of leading U.S. Presidential candidates regarding whether they will favor or oppose them if they become the next U.S. President on 20 January 2017:

Hillary Clinton supports and was actively involved in producing Obama’s proposed trade-deals, but they became too unpopular among Democratic primary voters and so during her Democratic Party primary campaign for the White House she reversed her previous verbal position on the matter, just as she did in 2008 when she condemned her husband’s more-limited model, the NAFTA, after her having actually helped him to win approval for it in the U.S. Senate.

Bernie Sanders has condemned and voted against Obama’s trade-deals consistently. His actions have matched his words.

Donald Trump also condemns Obama’s proposed trade-deals, but his opposition, like Hillary’s, is merely verbal while he’s running for President, and though he (unlike Clinton) has no active record of having helped to produce these deals, he (like Clinton) does have a record of switching his positions in order to win votes. He’s not like Sanders; he can’t be trusted (or, at least, not intelligently  trusted).

More details about these deals, and their origins, can be found here, which provides the deeper historical context, going all the way back to the U.S. Constitution. 

Specifically regarding the corporate panels that will, in a sense, become an international-corporate world government if these deals become law, the details of that can be found here.

Essentially, what both Stiglitz and the UN’s lawyer are saying is that, if these deals become law, then workers’ rights laws, and product-safety laws, and environmental laws, won’t be able to be increased — not even, for example, in order to meet the verbal commitments that were recently made at the Paris conference on climate change. (Those ‘commitments’ to reduce global-warming gases would automatically become not merely unenforceable — which they already are — but they would become outright impossible to fulfill, because any effort to put them into place would produce crippling corporate-lawsuit-imposed fines against taxpayers.)

When Stiglitz said, “This is not a joke,” he was saying, essentially, the same thing as the UN lawyer did: “We don’t want a dystopian future in which corporations and not democratically elected governments call the shots. We don’t want an international order akin to post-democracy or post-law.” He was saying: Don’t assume that the future won’t be an international-corporate dictatorship, because that now is actually quite likely. If both of these agreements become law, then even the publics in non-member nations will almost certainly become crushed, because they’ll be essentially boycotted by international corporations: both employment and consumption will collapse there. The interntional corporations would still come out way ahead, no matter how impoverished those people might become.

President Obama has specifically targeted the BRICS nations for that type of crushing treatment. He says this within a moralistic context in which he also says “the United States is and remains the one indispensable nation.” He said that on 28 May 2014, when he told graduating cadets at West Point this too:

“Russia’s aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors.  From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us.”

None of the five BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa — is included in either of these two ‘trade’-pacts: Obama was telling America’s future military leaders that those are enemy nations, which those future U.S. military officers might be fighting against in their careers, and he was placing that prospect into a broader economic  (not merely military) context. Obama’s ‘trade’ deals are about lots more than merely  ‘trade.’

It’s widely expected that at least the TPP, if not also the TTIP, will become passed into law in the United States at some time between the November 8th U.S. Presidential election and the start of the new Presidency on 20 January 2017.

Both of these ‘trade’ deals are being rammed through Congress in direct violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Treaty Clause. Apparently, the U.S. Constitution no longer rules in the United States. The U.S. Supreme Court has never considered the matter (even though it would entail overthrowing a large portion of the U.S. Constitution if it becomes passed into law and sticks). However, if Obama’s ‘trade’ deals become passed into law, and remain, then what Stiglitz said, “This is not a joke,” will also mean that no intelligent and decent person will want to have children, unless that person wants them to live in a downward-spiralling dictatorship — which is what that would mean (and which would hardly qualify as being ‘decent’).

The vote that the American people will be making on November 8th could thus turn out to be the most important vote in the entire history of the world: the stakes are so large — for the entire world. And that’s no joke, either. If these proposed deals are not already too late to stop, this could well be the last chance. And to say that isn’t ‘apocalyptic,’ either: there’s nothing at all of ‘Scripture’ referred-to here. There’s nothing that’s at all ‘supernatural’ about this. It’s pure reality: very hard, very cold, and very real (and very profitable for the international billionaires whose agents have been pushing for this ever since at least 1954).


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.

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  • kimyo

    has sanders stated his position if elected with the ttp already in place? his usual deal is ‘my hands were tied’, i’d love to hear different. something like ‘from my first day forward my first and only priority will be to kill the tpp’.

    • cettel

      I don’t think he’s that sincere. His office, like that of every one of the 36 other (all 36 Democratic) Senators who voted against Fast Track, have rejected my proposal to each one of them that they bring a Constitutional challenge to the Supreme Court regarding the Fast Track feature that was introduced in the Trade Act of 1974. Each of them possesses the requisite legal standing to do that; each chooses not to do it. Sanders’s office says that they don’t have the estimated $50,000 to pay a lawyer for it. All labor unions and environmental and consumer organizations likewise refuse. All of the official ‘progressives’ are fakes, I suppose.

  • He-Man

    It’s amazing this POS has not be jailed for this bullshit yet. What a sad, pathetic little man.

    • cettel

      Your comment was so stupid that it failed even to identify the particular person whom you call a “POS,” nor what the “bullshit” is, nor why for either of those things (such as why you hate that particular person). I am not asking you to make your hateful and incoherent repulsive outburst of ugliness here meaningful and clear, just that you never again post a comment at this site. Please understand at least this much (although I expect that you can’t): comments like that, from people like you, are despised by all decent and intelligent people, even by ones who disagree strongly with each other about the particular issue that such a ranter happens to be ranting.

      • He-Man

        Okay, I will admit that used poor wording for this, and I should have been more coherent about why I despise this man and this deal. I have my reasons, for sure. No, it’s not because he’s black. I really don’t care. To be fair, here are the reasons why I do not like Obama:
        1. He lied and continues to lie about using the NSA to expand spying. The day that the Patriot Act was supposed to expire, he ordered a secret court order to continue it, even though he promised that he would not do so.
        2. He secretly supported the NDAA after being against it. In fact, he promised to veto it, and then it was later discovered that he was the one who ordered the detention clause to be put in there in the first place, despite his so-called opposition against it. 3. He has supported illegal regime change in places such as Ukraine and Syria. In fact, in 2012, Assad offered a conditional surrender and Obama refused. 4. Obama has continually made threats against journalists, ordering government workers to report on anyone that tries to leak classified information to the public.
        4, He has expanded the continuing police state by providing federal funding for police, and even though he has cut back the program, his administration continues to provide paramilitary equipment.
        5. His administration has threatened Senators and Congressmen with arrest if they release the contents of the TPP before the “supposed” negotiations where over, even though a Congressmen said that there was “no national security reason for keeping this legislation secret.”
        6. He has continually backhanded main street while handing out more benefits to Wall Street. For instance, his administration included a clause in the FHA amendments that would prevent prosecution of mortgage fraud.
        7. He has continually lied about the state of the economy for his own political gain. In Tim Geithner’s book, he claims that the President ordered him to downplay the deficit at all costs.
        8. He has expanded George Bush’s drone program, which has put him responsible for the deaths of 5,000 civilians, even though he was warned by top advisers that this strategy for fighting terrorism was not successful.
        9. He has knowingly provided weapons to terrorist groups. In 2013, Obama lifted a ban on weapons to terrorists in Syria.
        10. He has continued the ongoing and crushing debt burdens on future Americans. Obama has increased the national debt more than any President before him.
        11. He has launched attacks on the media and whistle blowers. Under his administration, more journalists have been charged with the espionage act than any before him, and his administration had a hand in the no fly zone imposed on Ferguson with the specific intention to block the media.
        12. He has neglected Army veterans since his first days in office.
        13. He promised no more lobbyists, but proceeded to hire lobbyists for Wall Street, Military Contractors, and others when he took office.
        14. He has continually violated international law, especially when he launched airstrikes on Syria without the approval of the government of Syria or the UN.
        15. Obama has made it easier for Congress to gain access to lobbying money.
        16. He has allowed an influx of illegal citizens into the country, even going as far as to have border guards release illegals that they catch.
        17. While a Military veteran was having a wedding, Obama ordered them to move so that he could play golf.
        18. He has continually made foreign relations with the United States worse, leading to countries dropping the petrodollar.

        I could list 100 reasons why I despise the man, but I think I proved my point. Sorry if I sounded unreasonable before, but America desperately needs something different.

        • cettel

          Thanks for making your meaning clear to people who aren’t mind-readers, because now we can read via a coherent and indeed admirably expressed and excruciatingly accurate verbal description of Barack Obama (not as your original statement seemed to refer to, Stiglitz or Trump) the reasons why that specific person is perhaps even more contemptible than his immediate predecessor was/is. How sad that Republicans hate him for false reasons, while Democrats admire him while ignoring the true reasons — as if the reasons that the Republicans put forth (including ‘death panels’ and the Muslim-communist Kenyan-born Obama who never was) constitute the only reasons why anyone detests him. Democrats’ continuing acceptance of Obama caused me to abandon the Democratic Party. Progressives have been abandoned by the Party — including by almost all its black voters in the Dixie states (people who perceive political issues only on a racial basis and who can’t even recognize that Bernie Sanders would be ten times better for them than Hillary Clinton would be).

          So, I entirely misunderstood the intended meaning of your original (incoherent) statement.

          • He-Man

            I’m sorry that I came out rash before. I understand that perhaps saying incendiary things like “POS” and “bull shit” is not a coherent way to get a point across. I’m just tired of Obama going on TV telling us how great everything will be once this monstrosity passes when all other indicators tell us that it will be the exact opposite. It’s the same thing he does with the economy. He keeps gloating about how great everyone is doing under his administration yet continues to neglect the poverty rate, which is reaching a peak not surpassed since the 1960s, the record low wage growth, growing number of teenagers and college students living in poverty, the near record number of Americans on food stamps…etc.

            To tell you the truth, I am just plain sick and tired of liars and sycophants. “Don’t tell me that it’s raining when you’re pissing on my back”, as the saying goes. The only conclusion I can come to is how a former Congressman who rallied against NAFTA could possibly think that another trade agreement would benefit Americans. He is either a bought and paid for sell-out or extremely stupid. I don’t really know anymore. All I know is that we simply can’t afford to have another President like him, not now, not ever.

  • Brockland A.T.

    Excellent article, of which more are needed.

    The TPP girds the Anglo-Zionist west for economic war against Eurasia. Like conventional war, economic war naturally entails such suspension of liberty that it must be opposed. The TPP must not come to pass.

    Trump opposes the TPP, and said as much in a widely broadcast debate. The Trump phenomena is interesting, and not just in his popular appeal. He’s a super popular rich guy when just yesterday being rich was teh evil.

    However unclear his reasoning on the surface – Trump took a nasty barb from Rand Paul, who pointed out that China was not part of the TPP; In fact, China’s economic back yard is a prime TPP target. However, Trump’s detractors mostly take the opportunity to ignore the domestic threat.

    On the other hand, Donald Trump is a very successful capitalist; doing deals are his lifeblood. He may see (and act) more in the abstract than he can articulate consciously.

    In the long run, all that will really happen under the TPP, is that the Anglo-Zionist elite will abuse economic power to consolidate its own. This is the end of not only the middle class, but class mobility. Western society will polarize into a medieval-esque 1% of 1% super rich aristocracy versus 99% dirt-poor, information-lobotomized neo-peasantry. This has been the general trend since the 1990s.

    Its interesting to note that Trump is among the 99% of the 1% that is very rich, but not oligarchic. Call them the ($)99%.

    There is some dispute as to what qualifies as ‘oligarchy’, as a serious claim that America is an oligarchy can and was made in 2014, although a subsequent claim (directly concerning Trump) asserted that America is not an oligarchy.

    To simplify things, the main qualifier for being an oligarch, is not just to be rich, but to have significant political power. Donald Trump is not so much an oligarch, as a rich American who’s bypassed those who would rule from the shadows.

    Trump’s money does not appear to have come from the MIC, but the civilian economy the MIC actively competes with.

    America has a lot of rich people. Politicians may woo them for their money, but most have have a limited say on policy. Their political power is irrelevant compared to say, the Koch brothers or the regular attendees to the Davos and Bilderberg meetings, and the paid intellectual hit men in neocon Anglo-Zionist think tanks.

    Much is said about the 1% of the 1%. This means, there 99% of rich people are technically in the same boat as the peasant 99%, facing encroachment at the top of an economic pyramid that increasingly has no room for them. The ‘hate the rich’ movement is well along;

    Kind of makes you wonder, who profits from the winnowing of the ‘rich’. ‘Rich people’ still covers a lot of people, many justifiably worthy of the harshest criticism, but not all of whom are as parasitically psychopathic as the super elite.

    Trump’s wealth appears based upon the civilian economy, not the MIC. He may be representative of an uncoordinated, growing sentiment of resistance among the better informed 99% rich against the 1% super-rich, hardball-influential Anglo-Zionists.

    The TPP is deadly to liberty. As in fatal-dead-end-there-is-no-way-out deadly that would put Westerners right back to the economic and political serfdom the way they were prior to 1491.