Thursday, July 2. 2009
In Roland Emmerich's latest disaster movie 2012 the alignment of our solar system's planetary bodies during the winter solstice in three years will cause the Earth to topple from its axis. This leads to the end of the world.
And three years later it is likely to get even worse, because "there is a movement in the U.S. Congress to create a transatlantic free trade area by 2015." That's the impression I get from Rick Biondi's warning in The Examiner. Apparently the creation of such a free trade area will lead to a horrible "Europeanization of America:"
I find his choice of words hilarious ("Atlantica," ideological capitulation," "calculated agenda," and "conditioned to accept") and his concerns truly fascinating as they reveal such different values.
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
Don S - #1 - 2009-07-02 19:19 -
"cause the Earth to topple from its axis" Global Warming? Well, that certainly would end the Pax Americana. Among other things. Possibly a good thing after all, except for the side-effects! ;)
Don S - #2 - 2009-07-02 19:25 -
"And three years later it is likely to get even worse, because "there is a movement in the U.S. Congress to create a transatlantic free trade area by 2015."" Actually we have one now. It's called the WTO, and under the WTO US 'frankenfoods' are completely banned from Europe. I wonder whether the new transatlantic 'free trade' zone will allow frankenfoods into the EU? Or will it be a 'free trade' zone defined by a 500-page treaty detailing just what 'free trade' means in this case (i.e. the exclusions).
Pat Patterson - #3 - 2009-07-02 19:42 -
In re; Roland Emmerich has been making films about the either a radically altered world or the end of it since 1990. Maybe in a billion of years or so two things will happen. The first being that films are entertainments and that eventually everyone who predicts the end of the world is right. As to the FTA, which Thatcher and Reagan called for in the early 80's, it will entirely depend, as Don S (to paraphrase), on whether it is a treaty or a regulatory body. Americans surprisingly to Europeans do like and abide by treaties but the idea of a set of regulations overseen by French speaking bureaucrats in Brussels or Geneva will keep the ratings up very many of the commentators of the right.
Don S - #3.1 - 2009-07-02 20:45 -
Tis true, Pat. Actually the baning of US produce from the EU isn't the fault of the WTO, which has duely ruled against the exclusions, long since. Europe simply ignored the WTO's. But remember that Europe abides rigidly by International Law in all cases, it's the US which is the scofflaw. If Europe says something is International Law, it is. Conversely if Europe says something isn't International Law or makes a treaty into a dead letter by ignoring it, it remains binding. On everyone but Europe. Non?
Don S - #4 - 2009-07-03 16:10 -
I'm not at all afraid of a true free trade area with Europe, the Reagan/Thatcher vision Pat mentions. Equally, I'm not really afraid of the Biondi vision of an EU-driven Euro-wimpo version of such a trade bloc. I'm not afraid for several reasons: Obama has shown at times some impatience with sertain varieties of euro-nonsense. I don't believe this is part of his agenda. Even if he were willing - it might take a little time. Think about any big treaty concerning Europe, like the formation of a European army, the Lisbon treaty, etc. Generally it takes at least a decade to draw up the agenda (but only if it's fast-tracked). Then again, US ratification may not be neccessary. Bruxelles could draw up the 'treaty', ratify it, and it immediately becomes part of international law. No ratification necessary. Call this Kyoto-style negociation.....
Marie Claude - #5 - 2009-07-04 14:15 -
the idea of a transatlantic alliance isn't new, it already was Roosvelt and churchill 14/08/1941 : http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Atlantic_Charter
Don S - #6 - 2009-07-05 12:35 -
Marie - Of course the idea of transatlantic treaties aren't new - see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NATO. The latter does seem to be met in the breech, at least by a number of members, but it's not new., What I think some in the US are concerned about that in latter times a number of treaties have been propounded which seem to bind upon the US depite never having been ratified by the US Senate. See the following for examples: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyoto_Protocol http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Criminal_Court So it may seem posible that a Transatlantic 'Free' Trade 'agreement' might be 'negociated' and considered binding upon the US - without the consent of the Senate. Such a 'treaty' (not requiring the consent of the US) might be made with terms not favorable or acceptable to the US....
John in Michigan, US - #7 - 2009-07-06 01:54 -
Joerg finds Biondi's concerns "truly fascinating as they reveal such different values". Perhaps as a long-time observer of the American political scene, I can help decode what some of those values might be. Rick Biondi's article is a fairly typical example of a movement in American politics that might be called Libertarian-populism or paleo-Libertarianism. It certainly isn't a mainstream movement, but it has a long history and is nothing new or unusual. It shares my basic Libertarian philosophy, but it also makes certain judgments or analysis concerning recent history and current events with which Libertarian-pragmatists, such as myself, disagree. Movements like Biondi's can also be contrasted with what you might call neo-Libertarianism, or techno-Libertarianism. For example, the idea of Atlantica. There is ample evidence that, historically, there have been various impulses and movements to create some sort of Atlantic union. These impulses and movements continue today, even here on this very blog! But it is hardly a sinister conspiracy, as is implied by the tone of Biondi's article. Paleo-libertarians like Biondi will agree with generic statements that free trade is good, both morally and from a point of view of economic efficiency. Why then are they against Atlantica? As far as I can tell, there are two reasons. 1) They feel that today's free trade agreements are dishonest. They feel that these trade agreements are in fact attempts to create (or protect) cartels whose goal is to monopolize trade and inhibit competition, all under the banner of free trade. 2) They understand that historically, culture follows trade routes. But, instead of embracing this truth and hoping that the values, institutions, and culture of freedom will spread, along with goods and services, they instead react defensively. They feel that the concept of Atlantica is a threat to American sovereignty, by which they mean not just the physical borders but also the values and culture. Or, to put it another way: Biondi is a reminder that the anti-globalization movement has a great deal of appeal to anti-socialists; paradoxically, anti-globalization also has a great deal of appeal for many socialists. To me, this paradox shows that everybody has conservative tendencies, but some, who call themselves conservatives, or even, Conservatives, are comfortable acknowleding this, while others remain in various stages of denial. In a perfect world, free trade would be accomplished by simply repealing any and all trade agreements, leaving everyone free to make trade anything with anyone, subject only to the laws protecting private property and contracts. But, we don't live in a perfect world. Laws regarding private property and contracts have evolved differently in different cultures, resulting in contradictions and gaps in the law. Also, it is important to acknowledge that monopolies and cartels exist, and have a certain political power that cannot be ignored. So, we must have trade agreements, and we must struggle to form practical judgments as to whether individual agreements (existing or proposed) leave us, on balance, more free or less free.
Pat Patterson - #7.1 - 2009-07-06 06:44 -
Interesting take and one I mostly agree with. I have noticed that some people take the introduction of the European virus to the waves of highly educated immigrants fleeing retribution after the 1848 revolutions were mostly snuffed out. What many Americans saw as eqalitarianism in not recognizing social class now became one of the prime narratives of the left. Not that populist Americans didn't hate the wealthy but rarely thought of the possesion of that wealth immoral which many of the Europeans coming from a more rigid caste system did. I certainly cannot agree that America will somehow become less exceptional through trade treaties and I agree that it is the Europeans that should have more to fear from American ideas being imported. Biondi seems to speak for a group of Americans has holding on to a feather in a gale and are fearful of relaxing their grip for even a second.
Pamela - #7.1.1 - 2009-07-09 17:28 -
"Not that populist Americans didn't hate the wealthy but rarely thought of the possesion of that wealth immoral" Oh, I think viewing possession of wealth - especially inherited wealth (i.e., unearned) was and is considered immoral in many quarters and has been throughout our history. 'idle capitalists' vs. 'the producers' has been a cultural and politcal meme since since the French Revolution - which unfortunately did not confine the idea to France. Hell, even Warren Buffett wants to make sure the estate tax is as onerous as politcally feasible. Now, you might say, "Hey, if Buffett doesn't want to leave his children his wealth, he can just give it away." Which he has indeed done. That might leave one confused about why he would support the estate tax for the rest of us. Until you find out from farmers you work with that he is heavily invested in insurance companies that insure farming families against against foreclosure due to inability to pay the estate tax. /me, cynical?
Pamela - #8 - 2009-07-10 15:14 -
Apropos of nothing: There is a new blogger around, "Helian". I met him years ago on medienkritik. He has not asked me to drum up any publicity for him but he is so challenging - to me anyway - that I thought people here might enjoy him. http://helian.net/blog/
Rick Biondi - #9 - 2009-09-04 17:13 -
"Atlantica," a term used by Atlantic federalists to describe the nucleus of an Atlantic Union, is not a threat to freedom. The exact opposite is true - it represents the foundation of freedom's frontier as described by the late Clarence K. Streit. As an Atlantic federalist, I simply do not care for the functionalist approach as it devalues the fundamental principles of American federalism. Rick Biondi
John in Michigan, US - #9.1 - 2009-09-04 22:09 -
Hi Rick, If I understand correctly, your phrase "economic functionalism", for the purposes of the current discussion, means meeting the Europeans half-way; and you are against it. Whereas, you are in favor of exporting American institutions of freedom, particularly our Constitution and our particular interpretation view of individual liberty, to Europe. The mechanism for accomplishing this export would be what you and others call an "Atlantic Union Movement". Now, such a Movement obviously would include a number of non-government initiatives, such as private educational/cultural exchange programs, and other civil society initiatives, etc. But you also mention NATO, and you list a number of US politicians who support this movement, which leads me to think that you also envision some sort of government-to-government diplomacy as part of this Movement. If the goal is a unilateral export of American institutions, without importing any European collectivist institutions, what exactly is the basis for diplomatic negotiations? If they already believed that adopting American institutions was in their interest, they would have done so already, without the need for a diplomatic initiative from our side. So, what do you propose to offer them, to get them to change their minds? Furthermore, Europe (particularly, Western Europe) already enjoys a high degree of freedom. Maybe it isn't free in exactly the same way as America is free, nevertheless, it qualifies as very free as compared to just about any other large nation or collection of nations currently existing. Even if they finally consummate the elitist and technocratic EU, which seems increasingly unlikely, they will still enjoy a great deal of freedom for the forseeable future. Therefore, additional efforts to export our idea of freedom to Western Europe are likely to suffer from the rule of diminishing returns. Whereas, if we join forces with the Europeans in order to increase freedom elsewhere in the globe, we will benefit from the opposite rule. Even a modest success will result in significant increases in freedom in areas of the globe where freedom is still tentative (for example, Eastern Europe) or is sorely lacking. Wouldn't it it make more sense to forget our differences with the Europeans, and form a common alliance to export freedom around the globe?
Rick Biondi - #9.1.1 - 2009-09-05 02:21 -
I use the term "functionalism" in a traditional IR context, as described by Mitrany & Haas and applied by Jean Monnet, Robert Schuman et al. They pursued a "functional" approach to uniting Europe through economic integration. Their goal was a federal Europe. Their approach led to the European Union, a still incomplete collection of sovereign states. In terms of exporting American institutions of liberty, you are correct. I view federalism as the best means of uniting a population because of its ability to decentralize power. Whereas the foundation of the European Union is the state, the foundation of the American union is the individual. The political vehicle for advancing this approach is the very one used by our Founding Fathers in 1787. However, I have to admit that the Atlantic Convention of 1962 failed to yield significant results. Government-to-government diplomacy is what we have now, and it has led to releatively favorable results with unintended consequences. I am not talking about exporting American institutions in a unilateral context or vice versa. As an Atlantic community, we would simply be extending democratic institutions to the areas already governed collectively through international treaties and agreements. Together we would create a system of international governance based on the notion of equal and exact justice under law, politically and economically. Power would be checked and balanced accordingly. Alliances are based on states, world organization, I believe, should be based on the individual. The Atlantic Alliance has been around for a long time. As long as we continue to pit freedom against itself by remaining in our separate, yet unequal, nations, politicans will use force and fraud to advance the institutions of liberty. Federal union is one of the strongest and safest means for organizing free people.
Google the Site