Author: Werner Rügemer, Junge Welt
Translated by Susanne Schuster and Madeleine Evans, Edited by John Catalinotto
The TTIP, TTP and TiSA are instruments developed by the USA to achieve economic and military domination of the world. With ALBA, CELAC and the BRICS alliance, several countries are trying to fight this.
EU Trade commissioner, Karel de Gucht, has characterised the planned Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) as follows: “We are working on a geopolitically relevant agreement”. Geopolitics in this context signifies the enforced annexation of resources and territories outside one's own sphere of influence. The inevitable conflict with powers opposed to this strategy may be accompanied by military action. The concept of “free trade” was developed in the course of so-called “Manchester Capitalism” during the 19th century in Great Britain. Tariffs on raw materials vital to the production of goods, which had to be imported into the country, were lowered in Great Britain to enable domestic companies to produce their goods more cheaply. At the same time states that were less developed in terms of their industry and economies were required to lift their tariffs, thus allowing British products freer access to their markets. The military seizure of other countries rich in resources, which were turned into colonies, opened new markets in new territories. The market access for products from the predominant capitalist state at that time was guaranteed by the British war fleet. This gave rise to a virtual British monopoly, particularly in the colonies, for producers and merchants, for example in textiles. With this model of “free trade,” the state that has the greater economic, political and military power is “freer” than other states and has the clear advantage. This concept of free trade was to be overturned at the end of WW2. The establishment of the International Trade Organisation (ITO) introduced the new principle of a large number of states having equal power and access to trade. At the 1944 Bretton Woods conference, along with the important clarification of the new world monetary order, the ITO was conceived of as an institution of the UN. The UN-enshrined principles of human rights and international law formed the basis of this, as well as anti-dumping regulations (in relation to raw materials) and the generation of employment.
GATT and the Marshall Plan
But the US government blocked the ITO and championed a new free trade organisation – the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). With this initiative the US not only shut out the competitive social system of the Soviet Union but also China and some African states, which in the aftermath of WW2 were fighting for their independence from colonialism. The GATT was inaugurated on January 1, 1948 with a membership of 23 countries – namely the Western WW2 victors, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and some colonial states dependent on the USA and on their European colonial masters, such as South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, Taiwan, Cuba and Lebanon. The example of Cuba illustrates perfectly how free trade US-style has nothing to do with democracy or national self-determination. Instead it confirms the dominance of various forms of authoritarian regimes, rightist forces, involves deployment of the military and secret services. In 1948 GATT was forcibly “introduced” into Cuba by the USA with the active collaboration of its own Mafia and corporations aided by the Cuban dictator [Fulgencio Batista]. Following the overthrow of the dictatorship in 1961 the new government under Fidel Castro renationalized Cuban property. As a consequence the US government introduced a trade embargo. At the same time U.S. strategy aimed at the military overthrow of the new Castro government and the CIA attempted numerous times to assassinate Castro. To this day the US has a toehold on the island through its naval base at Guantánamo. In the meantime Cuba has become a member of the GATT successor, the WTO, but the US refuses to lift the trade embargo. The European Union supports the U.S. in this. The Marshall Plan was introduced by the US President Harry S. Truman in 1948. It aimed at forming a free trade zone to address the “world threat posed by Communism”. The plan basically assisted the re-building of industry and infrastructure in Western Europe, which had been destroyed during WW2. In essence the plan served to stimulate US industry by means of US credits. During the war US industry had experienced an unprecedented rise, but in the war’s aftermath was pushing for compensation for lost business. Washington viewed Western Europe as a free trade zone and demanded a “tariff union”, the removal of customs duties, a “payment union”, i.e. a common currency as well as a “single market”. Western Europe was to be made compatible with US regulations. Actual direct financial help under the Marshall Plan was therefore far less significant than the additional sales and investments that it allowed US corporations to make in Western Europe.1 The free trade criteria were adopted only partially during the short period of operation of the Marshall Plan (1948-1952) by the Western European powers and the European Economic Community (EEC) founded in 1957, though they have had a lasting influence on the European Union until today. Assistance under the Marshall Plan was only offered to capitalist states and even then only if they could demonstrate they had a US-style democracy. This gave rise to the broadest possible anti-communist “purging” of party-systems, trade unions, institutions and administrations. For example, Greece only received assistance under the plan after the US and British military eradicated the anti-fascist movement and put the monarchist elite back in power.
The economic arm of NATO
The geopolitical aims of the TTIP are exactly the same. Nothing less than world domination is at stake. The German government responded to a question by the left party Die Linke thus: “A transatlantic trade deal opens the door for the two biggest trade areas, Europe and the USA, to set a blueprint for the whole world. The power of the treaty to establish standards can act as a lever to determine the political direction of economic globalisation.” While EU representatives are rather coy about the military dimension, those in Washington are more explicit. When negotiations began, the then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described TTIP as “Economic NATO”. This term was also used by Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the then General Secretary of NATO. The connection arises from the fact that the USA as well as those EU member states pushing TTIP are also NATO members. NATO is not only a military alliance; it also has a civilian and economic branch. The civilian branch, which reaches far into the parliamentary system of the member states, includes ministerial meetings and various working groups. According to paragraph 2 of the NATO treaty the members promote “economic cooperation”. To this end member countries maintain a special “Economic Committee”. The foundation of NATO and the Marshall Plan were agreed around the same time and with the same aim: the consolidation and expansion of Western, US-led capitalism. At the same time as the TTIP the United States initiated another equally important agreement: the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) with 11 South American and Asian states, including Chile, Mexico, Canada, Vietnam and Japan. Moreover, there is the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), which is being pushed by the “Coalition of Service Industries” and negotiated with the 50 states making up the two agreements TTIP and TiSA. On the one hand these three treaties should strengthen Western capitalism as a power bloc, on the other hand they are directed against the resource-rich and rising economies, particularly against China and Russia. Free trade proponents treat these states not only as competitors, but as enemies. When the first post socialist government of Russia under the corrupt president Boris Yeltsin (1991-1999) relinquished the collapsed Soviet Union's state owned enterprises to domestic oligarchs and Western investors, Russia was seen as a friend of the West, open for free trade and showered with loans. Under Yeltsin's successor Vladimir Putin, who imposes limits on the oligarchs and uses resources to benefit the national economy, Russia is treated as an enemy. To get access to the country once again, NATO has accepted most of the former socialist states as members – in the wake of the “Eastern enlargement of the EU” – thus encircling Russia with military and secret services. This policy is driven by the USA, which at the same time is arming the Pacific region against China. Washington is provoking China militarily using its vassal Japan. In Hong Kong U.S.-financed NGOs back a protest movement that demands „democracy“. But democracy is exactly what the USA wants to limit by means of TTIP, TPP and TiSA. According to the current concept being negotiated, free trade means not only the political, and if necessary military, protection of politically well connected global private property. It also aims to weaken or destroy democratic governments that are oriented towards national self-determination, not to mention socialist and communist parties as well as trade unions. Free trade since GATT means collaborating with undemocratic political forces and building a power structure, controlled by investors, which either sits outside of parliamentary democracy or forces it into submission. The Western free trade model now also entails the US claim to leadership, with relative privileges for important vassals and accomplices like the EU and Germany. However, these privileges are never completely assured.
Ukraine – an example of US hegemony
This is becoming apparent in Ukraine. With the inclusion of former socialist states the European Union has rapidly advanced its enlargement toward the East. Along with NATO's expansion in Eastern Europe, the EU wanted to include the Ukraine in its free trade zone. At the same time the USA had been preparing a regime change via its secret services, media agencies and the Open Ukraine Foundation, whose chairman is Arseniy Yatsenyuk. His foundation is sponsored by NATO, the Renaissance Foundation of US multi billionaire George Soros, the Polish government, the private equity fund Horizon Capital and the Swedish bank Swedbank. NATO brought in its contacts in the media. Soros' foundation had previously prepared the “Orange Revolution” with Julia Tymoshenko. Like a swarm of locusts, Horizon Capital is gobbling up medium sized enterprises in Ukraine, Belarus and Moldavia. Swedbank got a foothold after the fall of socialism in the Baltic states and is planning to expand in Eastern Europe. The oligarch Victor Pinchuk is another sponsor of Yatsenyuk's foundation. The US foundation National Endowment for Democracy (NED) also contributed to opening up Ukraine, for example with scholarships and building up media organisations. The boxing world champion Vitali Klitschko – who was hyped by the German Adenauer foundation (which is close to the conservative party CDU) and the German corporate media as the future Ukrainian president – was useful for mobilising certain foot soldiers on Maidan Square, but did not stand a chance in the power game. The US State Department took over the enthronement of Yatsenyuk, assisted by various nationalistic and right-wing extremist forces, in competition with the EU – as the assistant US Secretary of State for Europe, Victoria Nuland, made drastically clear with her comment “Fuck the EU”. In Ukraine, free trade and military strategy form a close, if contradictory connection. While the German government under chancellor Merkel and others in the EU grumbled that an expression like “Fuck the EU” was “unacceptable”, they subserviently accepted the method and result of the putsch. They put up with the damage for German and other European companies and the loss of jobs – which actually runs counter to the aims of free trade. The otherwise rather assertive German corporations bowed to the overarching US strategy to encircle Russia militarily and ultimately, if need be, integrate it into Western capitalism by means of war.
The Beijing Consensus
Western crisis capitalism is stagnating economically. At the same time the unelected elites are enriching themselves brazenly, while the elected ones allow themselves to be blackmailed by the “markets” und are regularly entangled with them in political corruption. The less “democracy”, “transparency” and the “free market” are practiced, the more they are evoked as values. For decades the populations’ support for this system has been dwindling. The International Trade Organisation (ITO) was an attempt after WW2 to organise free trade between equal partners and without wars. This is used as a model today by the BRICS and ALBA states. They could develop a fundamentally different type of capitalism and mixed economy, because they have gone through a revolution or a vital political change supported by the majority of the population. Their development principles differ from those of Western capitalism. Firstly: While the USA has agreements to operate 860 military bases in 93 countries with the number of bases increasing in Eastern Europe and Asia, Russia is the only BRICS country with more than 25 military bases in former Soviet republics and one longstanding base in Syria. No other BRICS or ALBA state has such military facilities. Secondly: China is setting up joint ventures around the world and is pushing for barter deals (for example machines for oil), instead of repatriating profits from loans and investments as quickly as possible or imposing adjustment standards. Thirdly, there are no conditions attached to bilateral agreements. Since China is leading this practice, this is being termed the Beijing Consensus, as an alternative to the Washington Consensus. The BRICS states – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – have been building up their collaboration since 2009. They have higher growth rates – including labour incomes – than the capitalist West and lower national debt. In 2014 they set up their own currency and finance structure, the New Development Bank (NDB) and the currency fund Contingent Reserve Arrangement, capitalised initially with US$ 100 billion, as alternatives to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). In 2001 the then Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez proposed the foundation of the “Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America (ALBA)”. The members are Bolivia, Ecuador, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and four small Caribbean states. Six Latin American states have observer status and contacts exist with China, Russia and Iran. Again, in ALBA there are no provisions for military enforcement of its organisational aims. Like China, ALBA uses the barter principle as far as possible: exchanging goods and services instead of the financialisation of trade, for example exchanging oil for goods. The ALBA states no longer submit to the investment dispute arbitration procedure of the World Bank in Washington; they have also set up their own development bank and their own currency, the SUCRE. This dynamic is being continued with the foundation of the “Community of Latin American and Caribbean states (CELAC)” in 2011. Prompted by the US sponsored coup in Honduras in 2009 all the states of the Americas newly came together – with the exclusion of the USA and Canada. Hence the Washington based Organisation of American States (OAS) founded in 1948 has become irrelevant. The Eurasian Economic Union, agreed to in 2014 between Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, is built on similar principles. Its predecessor has existed for ten years in the form of a customs union and economic community and is to become a free trade zone. Negotiations are ongoing with several candidate countries, e.g., Uzbekistan. Armenia will join the community on January 1, 2015. A multipolar world has emerged in the face of the blind arrogance of Western capitalism. Especially its fundamentalist leading power in “God’s own Country”, but also the EU refuses to acknowledge this fact. The future of humanity will be co-determined by which of the two visions of a globalising economy and international relations prevails.
1 Already in the first year US investments were eight times higher than Marshall Plan aid. Contrary to myths being bandied about until today, this was recognised by some early on. Cf. J. Schopp (d. i. Josef Schleifstein): What is the Marshall Plan? Dortmund 1948, P. 33. Republished by: www.zeitschrift-marxistische-erneuerung.de/article/452.was-ist-der-marshall-plan.html 
2 Bundestagsdrucksache 18/432, P. 3
3 Cf. Werner Rügemer: Jazenjuk made in USA, in: Ossietzky, Heft 9/2104
4 Ronald Thoden/Sabine Schiffer: Ukraine im Visier. Frankfurt am Main 2014, P. 314
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