Don’t Buy the Hype -- The TPP Won’t Secure America

As President Obama prepares to make his big lame-duck push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, he's narrowed his sales pitch for the deal down to two basic arguments, and he made both of them during an interview this weekend with CNN.

The first argument the president is making in favor of the TPP is, of course, the idea that it's going to be great for the American economy.

According to him, the TPP will help us write the rules of the Asia-Pacific marketplace for decades to come.

This is the standard argument for the TPP, and it's the most obviously flawed.

Sure, the TPP "rewrites" the rules, but it only does so in favor of the same multinational corporations that have gotten rich off every so-called trade deal that's been forced on us over the past few decades.

Workers, small businesses, and everyone else who isn't a pharmaceutical executive, fossil fuel baron, or a bankster will be worse off if the TPP is signed into law.

Which is exactly why supporters of the TPP don't just rely on economics arguments to push their case.

They also make a geopolitical argument for the TPP.

According to these supporters, passing this massive 12-nation deal is necessary because it boxes out a resurgent China and preserves American supremacy in the western Pacific, therefore keeping Americans safe at home and abroad.

President Obama made a version of this argument during his interview with Fareed Zakaria this weekend.

Because Americans have been conditioned by decades of Cold War propaganda about Red China, there are probably a lot of people out there who think this is true.

But don't believe the hype -- the TPP won't keep any America safer.

Whether you support a more aggressive foreign policy or not -- and I don't -- the reality is that we have more than enough military might and diplomatic leverage in the Asia-Pacific region to keep China at bay for a long, long time.

Bill Clinton's former Asian trade and investment chief Clyde Preskowitz explained why in a brilliant piece for The New York Times this weekend.

"The Seventh Fleet has been patrolling the waters of East and Southeast Asia since World War II," Preskowitz noted, "and America has had at least 100,000 troops based in Asia for just as long... [T]rade deals or not, America had enormous, chronic trade deficits with most countries in the region, guaranteeing economic and political engagement for decades to come. If the combination of the American military presence and their trade surpluses with the United States weren't enough to mollify Asian leaders, no free trade deal would significantly change the situation."

In other words, there is no "there" there.

The geopolitical benefits of the TPP, like its economic benefits, are pure fantasy.

All this talk about "confronting China" and "preserving American hegemony" is doublespeak aimed at keeping the American people in the dark about the corporate grab bag the TPP really is.

When it comes down to it, the TPP is just another neoliberal corporate plan to reduce national sovereignty and strengthen the role corporations play in running the world.

it's as simple as that.


Kend's picture
Kend 6 years 28 weeks ago

America buys about half of the worlds products. America doesn't need the world, the world needs America. I hate to admit this but Trump is the guy I would want doing the negotiations. He understands Americas position. Trump will bring a 2X4 to a toothpick fight with all the countries with devalued currency and bring manufacturing back to America. That's why all the traditional Republication big business fat cats are not donating any money to him They are scared of the new rules that will come

dtodd560's picture
dtodd560 6 years 28 weeks ago

Thom, I almost always agree with your positions, and I probably do now as well, especially when I hear how many multination corporations were involved in writing the rules. However, why do I keep hearing from President Obama and others, that we seem to be giving up much less than we are gaining in terms of reduction of tariffs? Ours are already so low, that there is little barrier to imports from these nations, but the agreement should substantially reduce the Pacific nations tariffs?

timallard's picture
timallard 6 years 28 weeks ago

American Austerity killed the middle class so we don't buy the world's products anymore in volume that matters to wealth-hoarders, other richer-per-capita countries buy goods.

We're down in 3rd-world land with quality-of-life but how would you know anything? ... incarceration-for-profit being the base ethic of the oligarchs and their feudal trade deals crossing borders to avoid taxes, environmental regulations and score big time cheaper labor why it's just so confusing ....

So, that's the reason there's no middle class, we shipped that class of people to China where there it's is a fast-growing middle class not a dead one, after all, their pollution per capita is only about where the USA was in 1910, they have a ways to catch up to our pollution density and the money to do it now thanks to the ship-jobs-offshore push, eh?

ikeberltersen's picture
ikeberltersen 6 years 28 weeks ago

I've tried to understand just what hypothetical advantage the US gets from the TPP and it seems rooted in a sort of cold war mentality that if can just draw a ring around China and claim the Pacific with trade then we will have made a bulwark against China's steady ascent to the world's most powerful economy. TPP boosters seem to believe that if the US just gives multinational corporations whatever they want, to the point of treating our own workforce like another third world nation, then we will succeed somehow in limiting China's economic power and that we won't end up like Great Britain when the United States assumed dominance a century ago. My sense is that this simply won't work, and American workers will lose even more.

It won't work because China and Eurasia are already developing a vast overland system of transportation and commerce going through China, Russia, Iran, the Stans and Eastern Europe. Our navy in the Pacific won't mean squat, and many of the potential TPP nations can also get in on this. It can't be stopped, and the TPP is mostly a 'hail mary' pass that will miss the mark. It's time this country moved away from mindless consumerism and started to make things here again, even if it means having less 'things.'

ikeberltersen's picture
ikeberltersen 6 years 28 weeks ago

Donald is the best negotiator. Just look how he got Mexico's president to agree to pay for his wall.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 6 years 28 weeks ago

A full half of our population can't come up with an emergency $400 for a car repair right now. If Obama and the Teapublic Party think more free trade will ease the tension building within a disaffected population like that, they're sadly mistaken. Trump exists because the media offered him to bewildered victims of free trade, just as ISIS exists because DICK and George's war for profit cost them their jobs. ISIS gives us a glimpse of what disaffected citizens are capable of.

The term Barbarian Hordes might even be on the light side for what is coming if we're unable to stop the multinationals and their fascism right now.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 6 years 28 weeks ago

Kend: wow...what the hell are you thinking? Trump won't even bring his own manufacturing back to this country.... I have some cheap ocean front for sale in Kansas if you're interested.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 6 years 28 weeks ago

I agree that T-rump will do nothing good for trade.

I just wonder why he is the only one say that zero or near-zero tariffs are bad.

The people who think very low tariffs are good include Bill Maher and John Oliver.

Kend's picture
Kend 6 years 28 weeks ago

10 k. Trump has a business to run. It is much more profitable to manufacture over seas so that is what he has to do. I sincerely believe Trump will change the rules to bring those jobs back to America. Clinton won't. She is in bed with big corporations.

ckrob's picture
ckrob 6 years 28 weeks ago

On-airAlex: your guest is not a stage prop. Ask a question an stop so that she can speak.She is there because she knows stuff. Find out what she knows that you don't.

EvilRichGuy's picture
EvilRichGuy 6 years 28 weeks ago

Thom and Trump are right about the TPP. Hillary and Obama are wrong.

EvilRichGuy's picture
EvilRichGuy 6 years 28 weeks ago

Ileberlterson .. By focusing on 'who pays' he has everyone, including mexico's president acknowledging that the days of a highly porous (if not completely open) border are numbered. Trump always asks for the moon and then fights like heck for it, and then settles where he can. He will not win all battles, and he will not be able to do everything he says, but by setting the bar high he will accomplish more than otherwise. Who would have though that a Mexican President would ever accept that a wall and stiffer enforcement is inevitable, and that all there is to quibble about is, 'who pays?'

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