Militarization and The Trans-Pacific “Strategic Economic” Partnership
A Secret Deal Negotiated behind Closed Doors
By Arnie Saiki
November 10, 2013
At present, there are two little words left dangling off the title of a free-trade agreement that the U.S. has been involved with negotiating since 2009. The Trans-Pacific “Strategic Economic” Partnership Agreement, or what we generally call the TPP, has been mostly framed as a secret free-trade agreement that is being advised by 600 of the largest corporations undermining government regulations on the environment, labor, finance and other regulatory industries; a 21st-century neoliberal assault that aims to streamline the global supply chain and undermine the sovereign integrity of states.
What has received less attention is that this strategic economic partnership has in large part, taken the form of a policy initiative called the Pacific Pivot, a shifting of military resources into the Pacific.
The TPP was originally considered a pathfinder agreement for a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) which grew out of APEC, and was signed in 2005 between Singapore, NZ , Chile, and Brunei. Officially, the U.S. agreed to enter talks with the TPP countries on the liberalization of trade in the financial services sector in January 2008, and the following September, U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab announced that the U.S. would negotiate entry. In November 2009, Obama officially confirmed membership with the new expanded TPP partners and the U.S. launched negotiations “with the goal of shaping a regional agreement that will have broad-based membership and the high standards worthy of a 21st century trade agreement.”
In a November 2009 speech Obama gave while in Tokyo, he said, “the growth of multilateral organizations can advance the security and prosperity of this region. I know that the United States has been disengaged from many of these organizations in recent years. So let me be clear: Those days have passed. As a Asia Pacific nation, the United States expects to be involved in the discussions that shape the future of this region, and to participate fully in appropriate organizations as they are established and evolve.”
For context, agreements to enter TPP talks occurred before the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in mid-September of 2008 ignited the economic collapse of our financial sector. Within days, CEOs of many of the top U.S. corporations who lost their short-term investments with Lehman’s collapse threatened Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson of walking away from their posts unless the federal government bailed them out. A walk-out by the CEOs of the top fast-food and retail business chains would threaten the government of having to react to unprecedented unemployment. It was clear that if CEOs did not receive a bail out, a large percentage of the 99% who live off their service-sector jobs would suddenly stop receiving paychecks. On Oct. 1st, President Bush signed the $700 billion dollars Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). By March of 2009, within months of Obama’s presidency, the Federal Reserve committed $7.77 trillion dollars to rescue the financial system. When Obama won the presidency he not only inherited the financial collapse, but the TPP as well. Let that sink in for a minute.