Democratic Congress against Colombia

Colombia is close to winning the war against Marxist rebels.

Let’s see if the Democrats in Congress can put a stop to it.

The silence from the Democratic presidential candidates is understandable, but still disappointing. From Hillary Clinton the silence sounds like hypocrisy: her husband did so much to advance free trade during his years in the White House. From Barack Obama it seems like a continuation of a pattern: fitting the rhetoric against middle-classness that has agreed with his actions for the past two decades.

24 thoughts on “Democratic Congress against Colombia”

  1. Sherrod Brown claimed yesterday in the WSJ that this free trade deal was 1000 pages long and “chock full of giveaways and protections for drug companies, oil companies, and financial services companies, and incentives to outsource jobs now held by Americans.”
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120891223498936727.html?mod=opinion_main_commentaries

    Is this true? What is in the agreement that the White House is peddling?

    I’m all for rewarding Colombia’s friendship and giving them a free trade agreement with us. Its good for everybody. I disagree with criticism of the Uribe government from the Democrats.

    Yet….

    If there is a lot more in that agreement than just a standard free trade agreement, that needs to be debated. And if the Democrats had courage, they would draft legislation for a straight free trade agreement with no strings attached or earmarks.

  2. If Brown is claiming that the Colombian FTA is negotiated with Colombia, and hence accounts for stakeholder interests, then her point is trivially true. As the WTO is aggressive on reduces tarrifs, most barriers to trade are non-tarrif based (disparate protecetion of intellectual property, disparate investment rules, etc), and so these are the sort of things that generate 1000-page documents.

    If she’s believing this is any different from the processes that created the Canadian-US FTA, NAFTA, DR-CAFTA, the WTO, or for that matter the EU, etc, then she’s deluded.

  3. Never mind, I jumped the gun and didn’t catch the part about Bill and free trade. Either way, I will look forward to more articles of you equating opponents of free trade deals with racism and xenophobia. Why bother having a legitimate argument with those that are concerned about American further becoming a service economy when you can just stickman them.

  4. I’d love to see these agreements released to the public so we can read them.

    Again, I support the deal, but Sen. Brown is claiming alterior motives on the part of its proponents. I need proof of his claim, and that resides with the Congress and the White House.

    Above all else, the moral, strategic and political thing for John McCain & Barack Obama to agree to support is the elimination of most ag subsidies. Its time to make agriculture for all on a near-level playing field. Plus it might just pressure the Europeans to do the same, or at least win us support and respect from poor nations.

  5. Columbia close to winning? But Wiggum’s post that you link to does not say that:

    “This article was quite a surprise, as the likelihood of a Colombian “victory” in this ongoing civil war is problematic. History shows that “light at the end of the tunnel” scenarios can be ephemeral. Kaplan’s discussion of Colombia in Imperial Grunts didn’t suggest a resolution anytime soon.”

    Sherrod Brown is a male, btw.

  6. Jeffrey,

    Either way, I will look forward to more articles of you equating opponents of free trade deals with racism and xenophobia.

    Why would I?

    Why bother having a legitimate argument with those that are concerned about American further becoming a service economy when you can just stickman them.

    Someone is claiming that the share of America’s GDP from manufacturing is lower than previous years? Or that the deal with Colombia would accelerate that trend?

    Eddie,

    Here you go. [1]

    Adrian,

    Clearly the tail of any counter-insurgency is long. The reference was to FARC’s geographically viable state-within-a-state.

    [1] http://www.sice.oas.org/Trade/NAFTA/NAFTATCE.ASP

  7. I agree with Dan. The Democrats have their heads up their asses on this one. Colombia is shifting into COIN/5GW in Latin America just as we shift in the Middle East. In terms of security, this makes Colombia our most important partner in the hemisphere, period.

    I understand that the Democrats are worried about the killings of labor leaders by right-wing paramilitaries. So why not make use of all those American union leaders (who have nothing to do here since unions are in decline), and send them to support their Colombian brothers? Everyone looks good then, the bill gets passed, and we get even closer to Colombia. Instead of shutting Uribe out, we should draw in and make sure he knows that our closer partnership is conditional on confronting the paramilitaries. We should combine carrots and sticks instead of simply leaving him out in the cold.

    The Economist has done great reporting on this.

  8. Jeffrey,

    I’m still confused.

    Obviously Obama’s, Clinton’s, Pelosi’s and Reid’s stance comes from protectionism.

    And clearly this is a bad thing — on the level of a worthless war [1].

    But protectionism doesn’t come from racism and xenophobia — it comes from a desire to protect one’s position from competition.

    Just because Obama says otherwise [2,3] doesn’t mean I adopt Obama’s clinging to God/guns/xenophobia line.

    [1] http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/2008/04/how_i_would_welcome_a_mccain_p.html
    [2] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/04/13/the-cnn-compassion-forum.html
    [3] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/04/14/at-least-willie-horton-didnt-question-why-you-confess-your-religion.html

  9. “But protectionism doesn’t come from racism and xenophobia — it comes from a desire to protect one’s position from competition.”

    You said immigration and free trade are two sides of the same coin, implying the same xenophobic motives that work themselves into opposition towards immigration also work themselves into trade protectionism.

    As far to protecting one’s self from competition, you are somewhat right. I think we should limit ourselves from having to compete with nations that have lower standards of labor laws while nations that have similar standards to us we should welcome with open arms. I am not anti-competition, I am anti-race to the bottom.

  10. Jeffrey,

    Please don’t confuse my views with those of Barack Obama.

    Protectionism doesn’t come from xenophobia, but from a desire to avoid competition based on cost when it comes to the labor market.

  11. I think what Jeffrey is getting at is that while protectionism isn’t driven by xenophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment is. So if protectionism and xenophobia are “two sides of the same coin” presumably they would have similar motivations. (Although I am unclear where tdaxp said that they are two sides of the same coin.)

    I agree with Jeffrey’s proposal to limit free trade to countries without slave labor, child labor, etc. Politically I think it would work as well, it means protectionist politicians could hang their hat on yelling at China, while at the same time we’d be giving huge incentives to countries in Latin America to reform their labor laws in order to get economic goodies. But it must be said, even to someone in the Midwest (Eddie, back me up) – a necessary component of any free trade agreement, especially with an agricultural country, must be the elimination of US agricultural subsidies!

  12. Adrian,

    I think what Jeffrey is getting at is that while protectionism isn’t driven by xenophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment is.

    I agree that’s Jeffrey’s claim. I just don’t buy it.

    Group-conflicts rarely tend to come from nowhere. Rather, they go along with resource competition. So many techncially educated whites are very vocal in their opposition to the H1-B program, but generally silent on other forms of immigration. Likewise, agitation against illegal immigrations is very strong among uneducated whites and blacks, because likewise those are immigrants who would take their jobs.

    It’s fun and politically expedient for a someone to argue that opponents of immigration are racist/xenophobic because they won’t to prevent those people from gaining employment, or that opponents of trade are, for the same reason. But loss of employment is a much stronger and more universal concern that xenophobia.

    So if protectionism and xenophobia are “two sides of the same coin” presumably they would have similar motivations.

    But the premise is false, so the conclusion is false.

    (Although I am unclear where tdaxp said that they are two sides of the same coin.)

    In the conclusion of my post of March 3, 2008:

    Globalization in capital and goods (”Free Trade”) and globalization in labor (”immigration”) are two sides of the same coin. Only John McCain has been “talking straight” and supporting both. This has real political consequences, as McCain has to break less campaign promises once he starts governing, and thus burns less political capital upon entering office.

    I agree with Jeffrey’s proposal to limit free trade to countries without slave labor, child labor, etc.

    You’re “etc” is very, very broad here, because Jeffry’s proposal was to “limit ourselves from having to compete with nations that have lower standards of labor laws.” Labor laws are a function of the wealth of the country, so (unless I misread him) Jeffrey’s opposing trade with less developed countries, countires that trade benefits the most, unless they abandon competition on the one thing they are already good at (cost of labor).

    But it must be said, even to someone in the Midwest (Eddie, back me up) – a necessary component of any free trade agreement, especially with an agricultural country, must be the elimination of US agricultural subsidies!

    I’ve argued for ending these subsidies before, but claiming they are a required first step is just as self-blinding as that total control of the border is a required first step for comprehensive immigration reform. It’s an idea that’s either foolish or else designed to sabotage any progress.

  13. re: ag subsidies – can’t be a first step, obviously. I’m pretty sure we agree on the whole issue of ag subsidies now that I remember a previous post you wrote on it.

    Regarding whether anti-immigrant sentiment is driven by resources or xenophobia, I think it’s a false choice. Resource competition can be expressed through xenophobia, and xenophobia can encourage resource competition by creating the in-group/out-group dynamics that define who ‘deserves’ primary access to jobs. It would be interesting to try and trace anti-immigrant sentiment to unemployment over time, and see if lowered unemployment actually leads to less anti-immigrant pressure (which would support the ‘resource’ idea) or if they are unrelated.

  14. Ag subsidies should be the first step because we’ve arguably benefited more than anyone from free trade and the greed of a few Americans is harming millions of Africans, Asians & Latin Americans.

    Further, eliminating the ag subsidies would not harm Americans, except for Big Ag, which has been stealing from the American people for decades thanks to their influence in Congress getting them all the handouts their hearts desire (this is a conservative complaint first and foremost, no more GD! handouts to corporations, let alone citizens).

    If Obama or McCain were serious about changing the culture of Washington, taking on Big Ag and their buddies in Congress would be a start. Further it would show they are serious about restoring America’s frayed ties with much of the world and trumping the Europeans who have been sniping at us for this while having even more ag subsidies than we do.

  15. Adrian,

    Glad we agree on ag subisides. 🙂

    Onto trade and xenophobia, my point was criticizing Jeffry’s odd comment.

    Eddie,

    Ag subsidies should be the first step because we’ve arguably benefited more than anyone from free trade and the greed of a few Americans is harming millions of Africans, Asians & Latin Americans.

    It would be more useful if you advocated beliefs based on how much they would accomplish or how readily they can be implemented, rather than a backwards-looking policy of blame.

    Further, eliminating the ag subsidies would not harm Americans, except for Big Ag, which has been stealing from the American people for decades thanks to their influence in Congress getting them all the handouts their hearts desire (this is a conservative complaint first and foremost, no more GD! handouts to corporations, let alone citizens).

    Your point is absurd. The electoral support for ag subsides does not come from “Big Ag,” nor those who are particularly sympathetic to “Big Ag.” “Americans” who are not part of “Big Ag” that would be harmed by ending subsidies include small landowners, hunters, environmentalists, and farmers. Certainly these groups might not have the best interests of the country at heart. But your comment is still a puzzling oversimplification.

    If Obama or McCain were serious about changing the culture of Washington, taking on Big Ag and their buddies in Congress would be a start. Further it would show they are serious about restoring America’s frayed ties with much of the world and trumping the Europeans who have been sniping at us for this while having even more ag subsidies than we do.

    Your point is that McCain has an incorrect position on ethanol subsides? Or that world food prices are too low?

  16. Where’s the beef Dan?

    I see no evidence that agricultural subsidies benefit Americans, let alone small farmers, being as there are so few of them that it would be rather pointless to give away taxpayer money to people who can’t deal with the free market.

    I do see evidence that Big Ag is the biggest lobby in Washington, given its donations to political parties, campaigns and political institutions over the years. As well as how much money this country continues to give Big Ag in the form of corporate welfare.

    How is it a backward policy of blame if people are suffering because of it now and will continue to in the future? That’s patently absurd. Its an ongoing travesty from a country that is as Janus-faced on this tragedy as it is with democracy and authoritarianism in the MENA & Central Asia.

    My point would be that once again, politicians promise real change and fail to deliver. That’s not a partisan charge but a political reality.

    I supported McCain’s opposition to ethanol subsidies. And I fully understood in the context of electoral politics his subsequent flip-flop on the issue in this campaign.

    http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2006/11/13/8393132/index.htm

    http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2007/12/12/512797.aspx

  17. Eddie,

    To list just one, next time you’re in South Dakota, remind to show you some CRP land [1]. It’s only “To date, CRP has arguably been the most successful conservation program in the U. S. in terms of improving water quality, soil quality and building wildlife populations.”

    Will you abandon your position, and merely claim that “Big Ag” is a political lobby group? Or do you maintain your contention that it is the “only” beneficiary of ag subsidies?

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservation_Reserve_Program

  18. Dan,
    Fair is fair. I will moderate this to ridding us of the evidential corporate welfare programs and subsidies, as well as the unfair astronomical tariffs slapped on things like Brazilian sugarcane biofuels and food products grown in places like Senegal and Bangladesh.

    In essence, those programs, funding and corporate welfare projects that are widely and rightly derided by responsible conservatives and liberals alike, as discussed briefly in this post on the Corner.

    The ag subsidies that benefit them, as well as those which are anthema to a free market and harmful to our national interests and national security (like helping to keep millions of people around the world in debt and in poverty by denying them a fair, free market) should be eliminated.
    http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=MzUzNmMwOTI5NWMxNzU3ODljODVlOWQ0MGUxMTYwMTk=

    As usual, I was guilty here of overgeneralization. Apologies, but I hope you can see where I am getting at here and why. Big AG, like the airlines and the major sports associations, represent to me an undeserving recipient of corporate welfare from local, state and federal governments. That does not mean they don’t do any good, but it does mean that the corporate welfare and handouts needs to be shut down, something that responsible conservatives can join with others in working towards achieving.

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