Monday, August 20, 2007

Security and Prosperity Partnership, or, the more mainstream web progressives miss the story behind "NAFTA Superhighway"

* on edit: here's a progressives criticism of the Security and Prosperity Partnership from the Council of Canadians, the group that activist Maude Barlow is a part of.

Say that there was a pact that was underway between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, that would lead to greater integration through harmonization of customs duties, laws regarding subsidies, and that would offer cooperation on things like security as well. The agreement is discussed in legitimate circles but is arcane, dealing with stuff that the regular TV news thinks people aren't interested in. However, there's a populist movement opposing it, some of which admittedly is composed of right wing people who see a big conspiracy behind it linking the agreement to the UN and invasions of U.S. sovereignty. But a fringe candidate for President speaks out against it and is lampooned in the press for supporting conspiracy theories.

Are we talking about the NAFTA Superhighway, the Security and Prosperity Partnership between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada---which is meeting this week in Ottawa and is being protested, and Ron Paul?

Nope. The agreement was NAFTA, the conspiracy people were right wingers associated with the "Patriot" Militia movement, and the fringe Presidential candidate was Ross Perot. The year was 1992.

There was also a progressive opposition to NAFTA, linking in with labor opposition, but that was ignored.

Ross Perot, who bought TV time in order to run what were essentially informercials outlining what NAFTA could do to the U.S. economy, was looked at as an alarmist who didn't know the facts. Perot's "Giant Sucking Sound" coming from the U.S.-Mexican border, which was the sound of jobs being lost, was laughed at and repeated ad nauseum because, hee hee hee, "Giant Sucking Sound" that sounds like oral sex!!!

Well look at where we are now. Canada has lost big time, the U.S. has lost a hell of a lot, and Mexico in turn hasn't gained much, with the promised jobs and prosperity turning into sweatshops where unionization and resistance to bad working conditions are met with force.

Which brings me to the NAFTA Superhighway. The rational kernel within the resistance to this thing, which beyond a stretch of road in Texas is non-existent either in plan or execution, is that there's a real entity behind it encouraging further lowering of economic trade barriers between the three countries, and it's called the Security and Prosperity Partnership...something that sounds a little to close to the "East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere", which is what the Japanese called their empire in Asia. It's been in existence for three years. Ominously it has incorporated Security cooperation between the three countries into its mandate because of the of course changed conditions in a post-9/11 world.

But instead of pointing out that at the bottom of this thing is an issue that people should be concerned about, all the attention has been placed on exposing just how stupid people are for believing in a "NAFTA Superhighway" and how, thank god, there isn't such a thing!

Here's a link to a blog entry from the Huffington Post on the subject of people's total stupidity about that NAFTA Superhighway.

From Katharine Jose: "Between then and now, Google Alerts for "nafta superhighway" went from one or two a day to more like six or eight: more editorials in local papers opposing the highway, more blogs from more or less anonymous bloggers. This month, the dam burst. Corsi reported an official denial from Dick Cheney. A piece on The New York Times' Caucus blog reported that constituents in Iowa were posing questions about the highway to Republican candidates. A segment on the Colbert Report poked fun at an author convinced not only that the highway will be built, but that it will destroy the American way. Finally, just as I sat down to write this blog, the final word. Christopher Hayes' article for The Nation appeared online last week, putting to rest the rumors, the whispers, and the doubts. The left-leaning media agrees that the highway doesn't exist, which is not entirely a surprise since the right has long taken ownership over this particular conspiracy theory. Townhall.com, a conservative website whose contributors have repeatedly declared opposition to the NAFTA Superhighway, this week published an editorial that outed the Superhighway as a conspiracy -- one that right wingers were orating about but failing to address as a decoy."

and "he [writer for Human Events Jerome Corsi] said it was part of a broader plan to merge the three nations into a North American Union; he also said a certain planned highway -- the Tran Texas Corridor -- was only the beginning."

North American Union? That wouldn't sound anything like the Security and Prosperity Partnership, now would it?

But Jose says that people aren't completely stupid in believing in this: "Most significantly, it isn't going away, and it won't go away, because the highway has never been the point. For every journalist, blogger, politician, constituent and lonely heart that has raged about this highway, the anger has never been about the highway itself as much as about fear for the future of America and anger at what has happened to the country under this administration."

That's the kind of positive reinforcement that you'd give in a polite assessment of a very bad piece of work by a child.

The truth is that there's a lot of people who believe in the NAFTA Superhighway that are concerned about it for xenophobic reasons dealing with illegal immigration, but a few years down the road when the Security and Prosperity Partnership has eroded away yet more jobs, and forced the standard of living in the U.S. down further, smug pats on the head like this one will reveal themselves for what they are: five second responses by people so concerned about the immediate daily political situation relating to President Bush and the administration that they miss the forest for the trees.

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