After five years of negotiations to reduce barriers to international trade, global trade talks broke down today when the United States and the European Union failed to agree to reduce farm subsidies and protective tariffs.
Negotiators from the United States, the European Union, Japan, Brazil, India and Australia were deadlocked after meeting for 14 hours at the World Trade Organization’s headquarters here on Sunday, prompting the director general of the organization, Pascal Lamy, to suspend further discussions.
The general idea behind creating a global economy was to create an economic model in which armed conflict would ebb because it would disrupt trade that contributed to the prosperity of all parties involved. As you might expect, the main point of contention was over America's tariff protection and subsidizing of its farmers, which gives you the big picture of where the Bush administration's warfare-centric neoconservative policies have led us. We can't even hold talks on global trade without turning them in to a worldwide food fight.
Digging Our Way to China
America's standing as an honest broker and an agent of "good" has never been lower. Young Mister Bush has squandered the moral heroism banked by predecessors like Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and his father, George H.W. Bush. The country of big shoulders that the rest of the world could lean on has become the bully nation. Domestically, the government "of the people, by the people, for the people" has become the official sponsor of special interests, big business, big energy and the military industrial complex.
Commentator Bob Higgins has written a wonderful two-part column titled "Class Warfare at Big Flo's Diner." Bob chronicles the plight of Jane, a middle aged divorcee who works for less than minimum wage as a waitress in a large chain diner type restaurant. Jane works overtime for tips only because her diner chain's bean counting corporate gurus won't allow overtime pay.
Can someone explain to me how a nation that can spend more than a half trillion dollars annually on counterproductive foreign wars and the machinery that supports them let this sort of thing go on within its own borders?
Part of the answer may lie in the reality that on a subsistence of $2.36 per hour plus tips, Jane can't afford to pay the likes of Bob Dole to lobby Congress on her behalf.
Guess who else can't afford Bob Dole class lobbyists. Start with the more than 600 thousand Lebanese refugees created by the ongoing Israel-Hezbollah crisis. And between the Israelis and the Lebanese refugees, guess who can afford lobbyists like Bob Dole.
And guess further who's really driving the policy by which Condi Rice stares at her shiny Italian boots while refusing to push for an immediate ceasefire that might avoid making even more Lebanese refugees, a significant portion of whom are lining up right now in front of Hezbollah recruiting offices.
And we wonder why "home grown" terrorists are popping up lately.
There is no front on which the Bush administration has not squandered the gains of previous American foreign and domestic efforts. How much deeper will they dig us?
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at ePluribus Media and Pen and Sword.