"This past month may be remembered as the moment the United States lost its role as the underwriter of the global economic system," Obama adviser and former Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence Summers claimed, following a chorus of high-level economists and diplomats criticizing America's badgering our friends and allies for joining China's new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Madeleine Albright, secretary of State under President Clinton, joined in: "The bottom line is I think we screwed up. We should not have done it this way."
But this was more than a simple "screw up." The consequences could be historic, so it hardly seems likely that the march of 57 founding members to follow Britain's lead to a fundamentally new relationship with China was random and unconsidered. This was not a random event. It was an intentional move by the world's leading nations to divorce themselves from American leadership in foreign policy in the Pacific; policy formed and advanced by former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonComet Ping Pong shooter pleads guilty Time for 'J. Edgar' Comey to take his leave Corruption trial could roil NJ Senate race MORE.
"As few as 15 House Democrats might vote to give the president fast-track authority, according to dozens of Democratic lawmakers, business group representatives and activists on both sides of the trade fight interviewed by The Hill," Vicki Needham reported Tuesday in The Hill.
That is very good news indeed, as it could well prevent the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), elementary to Obama's "Pivot to Asia." It could well be that Europe and the others left us behind because these initiatives are seen globally as a template for war against China. A number of commentators made the connection in wake of the exodus to the AIIB, some in blunt terms.
The progressive journal Common Dreams reported last April:
As President Barack Obama prepares to embark on his fifth visit to the Asia-Pacific region, grassroots protests against U.S. efforts to ram through the Trans-Pacific trade deal and the U.S. military pivot to Asia are mounting on both sides of the Pacific.
"People are saying we don't want more U.S. militarization in our countries," said Rhonda Ramiro, Vice Chair of BAYAN-USA — an alliance of Filipino organizations in the U.S. — in an interview with Common Dreams. "This is about U.S. military power and economic domination."
And as Megan R. Wilson wrote in The Hill last August:
"As secretary of State, [Clinton] was a chief advocate as talks commenced surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership ... one of the largest worldwide deals in recent history.
Many proponents of the agreements argue that negotiations need to take place in secret in order to protect the fragile interests of participating countries. This has not sat well with public interest groups and more liberal members of the Democratic Party, including [Sen. Elizabeth] Warren [D-Mass.].
Last year, she went to far as to vote against Obama's then-nominee for the head of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Michael Froman, because of that lack of transparency as the 10 countries involved in the TPP discuss terms.
"I have heard the argument that transparency would undermine the Trade Representative's policy to complete the trade agreement because public opposition would be significant," Warren said in a floor speech. "In other words, if people knew what was going on, they would stop it. This argument is exactly backwards. If transparency would lead to widespread public opposition to a trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not be the policy of the United States."
Sixty-four House lawmakers and 28 senators today follow Clinton's "Scooby Doo" bus to Iowa. It could well be the road to perdition. Warren should be the one on the road to Iowa and the Oval Office and as the banalities ensue, I expect she will be.
Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.