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Japanese Movement Against TPP Growing

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

This Real News Network video on resistance to the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Japan explains some implications of TPP for health care policy, but also gives a glimpse of how our post-national global elites would like the nature of the State to change. Of course, the TPP negotiations are secret, which cannot but give the impression that TPP’s advantages are not likely to be readily apparent to the citizens who putatively give sovereign states their legitimacy. So, although US discussions have focused mainly on content and intellectual property issues, it would seem that the powers that be have bigger fish to fry.


More at The Real News

On health care:

SUTO: It would destroy our health insurance system. This is not because America intends this result [oh?]. When the U.S. insurance companies enter our market, they will focus on profitable sectors. But Japanese health insurance depends on pooling together profitable and other sectors. The U.S. companies would go after cancer and other specialized medicine to make their profits, and this would leave out poor people who can’t pay and would destroy our insurance system.

~~~

PENN (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): Do you want American health insurance?

PROTESTER: No!

PENN: Why not?

PROTESTER: They are money-crazed! [see here for a fine example] We have the best system now. Japanese have universal insurance and the U.S. does not. That’s why it is no good. The U.S. system isn’t fair and favors the rich. We don’t need it here in Japan!

Heck, “we” don’t need it here in the U.S. Of course, we don’t know what the TPP’s clauses on health look like (and it sure would be nice if some whistleblower released the current text of the treaty). However, single payer advocates, and even some of good faith in the broader public policy space, have always thought that single payer could be next on “the table” after ObamaCare, perhaps under the rubric of “Medicare for All.”

So it would be nice to know whether Obama, right now, is secretly negotiating away single payer as a possible future with TPP (which would be par for the course with Obama, by the way). The Japanese certainly seem to think that’s a real possibility. It would also be interesting to know whether Obama will negotiate away even “progressive” milquetoast Trojan Horse-y policy alternatives like the so-called “public option,” or RJ Eskow’s “all payer.” Not that I’m foily.

On the nature of the State:

SUTO: What really surprises me about TPP, and I might add ISD as well, is that if TPP advances and is implemented it will destroy the American social system. Take as an example the United States’ federal system of government. Since its founding, the states had their power and formed “The United States of America.” But under the TPP regime the power of individual states would evaporate. Right now you have cases in which one state has the death penalty but the next doesn’t, or maybe this state here allows people to buy alcohol and the other doesn’t. TPP would take these kinds of powers out of the hands of state governments. You could have foreign liquor companies suing states that try to restrict sales of alcohol. Up until now, such a thing couldn’t happen, and quite naturally so. TPP would break down the United States’ own independent system.

So when it comes to TPP, I think you’ll see their own citizens’ groups rise up against it. And when the Americans themselves begin to figure out the strange things entailed by TPP, their own opposition will grow. And so, finally, I believe that it will not be enacted.

Or a trans-national (as opposed to “foreign”) oil corporation suing, say, Dryden, NY because under home rule, they decided to ban fracking.

Or trans-national food companies suing Brooksville, ME because of its food sovereignty ordinance.

But why stop there? Wouldn’t the same logic apply to the Federal government, as well as the states? For example, couldn’t German-based DHL sue the United States government because it subsidizes mail deliveries in small towns, an “unfair” competitive advantage for the USPS? What exactly happens to national sovereignty — heck, legitimacy — in a case like that?

We don’t really know, do we? Which, again, is why it would be nice if the government officials supposedly negotiating on our behalf would release the text of the treaty. Because one thing we do know: When the text is ready, they’ll try to rush it through, and if a Shock Doctrine crisis is needed, then one will be provided.

Not, again, that I’m foily.

NOTE Here, amazingly from the Sierra Club, is one good list of TPP resources. This quote is important:

Before President Obama can achieve his goal of finalizing and passing the TPP, he has indicated that he will work with Congress to pass Fast Track Authority (FTA). Fast Track eliminates Congress’ constitutional right to discuss and amend trade agreements in favor of Executive power that allows Congress only a yes-or-no vote…which would do much to ensure TPP’s passage.

Luckily, the Fast Track expired in 2007. Now it’s up to us to both educate and pressure Congress to vote against the Fast Track. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Help raise awareness of the secrecy and dangers of the TPP in Congress by writing your representative requesting a copy of the TPP draft text. You can do this by taking action at http://tpp2012.com/. Find your Congress Member and Senators at http://gjae.org/lookup.
  2. Even more important, we need to actually visit our representatives’ offices and urge them to vote against Fast Track. Emphasize that their job’s constitutionally endowed power to debate and amend trade agreements will be sidelined by Fast Track, and point out all the ways TPP could destroy the fabric of our lives.

So there are concrete actions to take, which is good.

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67 comments

    1. Richard Kline

      While the process and intent of the TPP is too complex for any easy summary (as well as deliberately too opaque to gather what the bloody hell they’re up to), one undiscussed aspect of the scheme which strikes me strongly is the strategic _weakness_ the program implies. This has the look of a retrenchment program, not an expansionary one, and if that observation holds true it is significant.

      Consider: The US has broadly failed in SE Asia over the last twenty years. We are also rans there at best, with less direct leverage on the governments in many places than at any time in the last 60 years. The American program of free-steal agreements, ah free ‘trade’ agreements [sic] in Latin America has stalled, being only ‘asked’ for in areas of _direct_ MILITARY US intervention. The rest of Latin America is increasingly knit up in a regional trade bloc explicitly opposed to rampant American economic penetration. The US has never had much political leverage in India, and certainly isn’t doing any better there than any other world power. Phoney attempts at a US-Russian partnership have never gone anywhere, neither party having use for more than detente. Repeated attempts by the US to bully, bribe, bamboozle, and, yes, beg, some strategic bedding down with China have flopped totally. Yes, there is SW Asia, stapled to American power interests by bombs and scar tissue, but with simmering insurgency pimpling up time and again from cultural antipathies and the rejection of gun-to-the-head occupations. The EU remains a real geopolitical partner, while at the same time routinely suing into local submission American corporated parasites and gross malefactors which the US refuses to regulate, in effect pulling up an economic drawbrdige as much as is feasible in the global economy. My point is that the US has run low on actual areas to legitimagely partner and dominate. The world is a smaller place, and quite a lot of of it isn’t buying American, either material or BS.

      So what to do? ‘Frack’ the dependents economically to extract enough rents for US corporations to make up for shrinking opportunities in the rest of the World. To me, _that_ is the appearance of TPP, finding a way to rip off monies and commericial opportunities from our remaining dependents. Think about that objection to US health insurance providers making a boarding party in Japan. There’s nothing in this for the Japanese, it’s all about extracting rents for Americans. Would Russia, China, Vietnam, the EU, Australia, CANADA accept that under any circumstances. Of course not! They are sovereign states, understand their sovereign interests, understand those are directly antipathetic to American corporate rapacity, and would never accept this kind of crap, either at the government or the citizen level. Only governments or populations effectively dependent upon the US can be smacked up and armtwisted into ridiculous stealathons such as implied by smokesignals driftig over the TPP.

      America is reduced to overt vampirism of our helpless dependents. It’s sick to watch really. But telling of the economic and geo-political _weakness_ of the US at this conjuncture. This scheme is signature of the strategic vapidity of the ‘minds’ amongst the Obamites, if nothing else. We’re witnessing an act of ruthless desperation being spinmeistered up to a putative grand strategy. If such, it’s one correlating with the end stage of empire. Deservedly so: we’re a pissant empire as such things go, and nobody out there needs our business nearly as much as we think they do at this point.

      1. AbyNormal

        3rd it Richard…spot on analysis

        at what point, in our ‘leader of nations’ history, did ‘we the people’ figure TPTB wouldn’t do to us what they succeed in doing to the rest of the world?

        1. Beerdignado

          I have exactly the same feeling about what the EU is doing to its population. It’s like all the ugly policies, of the IMF for example, have come home to roost.

          Here we are in a crisis entirely of neoliberal making, and the “solutions” forced on countries in Europe read like the neoliberal manifesto of deregulation, privatisation and cuts to welfare.

          It’s becoming a bit obvious now.

      2. Lune

        Richard-

        While I agree with your insightful analysis, I don’t think it means that the TPP won’t pass. It may be the death throes of a vampire empire but such things tend to have staying power far beyond what people expect.

        The protesters in Japan are average citizens. They likely have as little say over their government’s policies as American citizens. If the TPP cements corporate rights over national sovereignty (something I’m willing to consider isn’t true since no one has actually seen the language of the agreement), then it will help Japanese MNCs as much as American MNCs, which means the impetus to pass it will be as strong in Japan as it will be in America.

        As for American power in the pacific rim, I somewhat disagree with your assertions. Yes, America has botched things in the past 20 years. But it is still the regional hegemon. And as China grows more powerful and insists on flexing its muscle, America’s role as the anti-China bulwark only tightens our regional alliances regardless of whether we manage those alliances poorly or not.

        1. Yves Smith

          Maybe not. I’m not as in touch with Japan as I once was, but in Japan, the leaders feel an acute responsibility for the welfare of society. For instance, the reason the authorities pricked the joint stock/real estate bubbles of the late 1980s was that rising income disparity was becoming divisive socially. Similarly, during the lost decades, there was tremendous wage compression. The already-not-large by US standards gap between entry level worker and executive wages was squeezed super tight in order to preserve employment.

          And we have two other things going on:

          1. The Japanese are sick of being a military protectorate of the US, which allows the US to push them around. And since as Richard Kline indicates, the US is way over committed, the Japanese may also recognize that the US security shield doesn’t help them as much as it once did.

          2. The financial crisis was the direct result of the Japanese bowing to the US on deregulation in the 1980s. The Japanese banks were heavily regulated and stunningly unsophisticated. They went immediately into the deep end of the pool and did a lot of remarkably stupid stuff (I was there and can give lots of horror stories from what I saw when consulting and later saw at a remove in terms of the loans being made. And Sumitomo was widely seen as the most sophisticated, best run bank in Japan, so I shudder to think what was happening at other Japanese banks).

          So having had the US blow up Japan once in its efforts to open up Japan to US financial firms, I doubt they will be keen to repeat that experiment.

        2. Calgacus

          Would Russia, China, Vietnam, the EU, Australia, CANADA accept that under any circumstances. Of course not! They are sovereign states, understand their sovereign interests, understand those are directly antipathetic to American corporate rapacity, and would never accept this kind of crap, either at the government or the citizen level. Only governments or populations effectively dependent upon the US can be smacked up and armtwisted into ridiculous stealathons such as implied by smokesignals drifting over the TPP.

          Might be right about the extremely important particular – health care, but more generally? The first three – you have a point. The next 3? The EU has done worse to itself with the Euro, after decades of enforced austerity, worse than the USA’s. Read John Pilger on the Australian desire to have a foreign master. Canada – they usually fall in line to be part of “North America”. Not much sign of independence recently.

          While I hope Richard & Yves are right, I fear Lune might be.

        3. Richard Kline

          So Lune, the fact that the implications of TPP seem bad policy in no way implies that the noose won’t be cinched and hauled up, agreed. Indeed, the desperation of Japan and the US both at the top strongly implies that indeed the steal will go down.

          Japan’s TBF corporations have been functionally involvent for over _20 years_ but staged their own soft coup back in the day to get government policy in place which has suffocated the economy of the many there to keep the corporations of the few propped up. Yes, policymakers in Japan have a stronger residual committment to their public than in the US, but that hasn’t stopped anyone there from enforcing an oligarch favoring, public harming economic policy for decades. Facing the abyss, the oligarchs in teh US ‘went Nihonjin’ and copied the Japanese Way exactly: free money for the incompetant crooks at the top, and economic suffocation for the rest on the best day. The latest ‘print to prosperity’ program in Japan is the most desparate strategem imaginable, and surely pursued with American connivance: in effect, the TPP is ALREADY in effect, it’s only the payoffs which are being dickered over right now. So yes, the corporate fascist oligarchies in place in both the USA and Japan are, in effect, seeking to erect institutional scaffolding to support their present situational policy extremes. That is part of what I mean by ‘a policy of weakness’ and ‘end-stage imperial extraction.’ But yes, an end-stage can last a generation. Or even two. I don’t mean to imply that things will bleed out quickly. If only that were so . . . .

          Regarding the US in SE Asia, I think you are mistaken, Lune. Find me a government other than the Philippines, Singapore, Guam, and Japan wholly in the US pocket; Korea maybe. The rest, not so much. That’s not much of a hegemon. US deathtrap capital ships boating around look great, but Chinese economic penetration buys a good deal of common interest. Everyone always looks at military means, but it’s economic ties which show the change in things first. More than that, these notions of ‘China’s flexing it’s muscle’ are the purest crap of a right-wing media meme. It won’t serve your analysis at all to buy that garbage, far less to tote it yourself, even (few) the parts of it which are _true_. There is zero (0) evidence of any Chinese military expansionist activity. There is a great deal of dispute over whose sovereign territory ends where or how; not the same thing. Of course, the US puts its boot on the scale in every way and instance to disfavor the Chinese there, hardly an impartial policy, which brings exactly the response from China one would anticipate—or from any _other_ sovereign state so discriminated against. The US has been a consistent agressor in SE and E Asia, backed tyrannies in every quarter, pushed coups, killed millions—and for all that has less influence than EVER before. . . . And yet “China is the problem” is supposed to be the spin? What bogusness. The Chinese are no angels’s but the US rides at the devil’s right cheek in practically all we’ve done since long. But I’ve been over this all before in remarks here at NC, so I’m not going long-form on that today.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorHAL

            Agree, The Chinese use of soft power is much stronger than America’s battleship and violent movie imports will ever be. The influence of the overseas Chinese throughout the region, and now down to Australia, is massive. Guns, battleships, and one-sided trade deals, not so much.

          2. Nathanael

            “But yes, an end-stage can last a generation. Or even two. ”

            Longer during the fall of the Roman Empire. But communications were slower then.

            This particular end-stage in the decline and fall of the American Empire started in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

            We’ve already gone through an entire generation. We’re starting in on the second generation. I give the current situation less than 20 years. After that, the US Empire will be gone, and the US government will be unrecognizable, if not completely replaced.

        4. Nathanael

          Lune: We will probably be able to kill the TPP.

          But if we don’t… it’s worth remembering the fate of other Major World Treaties which attempted to fight against the tide.

          One which comes to mind is the Treaty of Sèvres, which was the settlement for the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War One. Soon afterwards it was a dead letter, the Ottoman Empire itself having been replaced.

          Treaties can be abrogated. And when nobody in any of the countries involved likes them, they WILL be abrogated and will become dead letters. This is likely to be the way the “war on drugs” treaties die.

      3. Working Class Nero

        The US getting the “nationalist” leader from Japan to do their version of an Obama on Social Security by sitting down to free trade talks about opening their health care industry to parasitical US corporations is not a sign of weakness in my book. I wish the bottom 60% had enough “weakness” in 2016 for example to get Paul Ryan elected and then have him increase social spending by 20%.

        If we look at the big picture, strategically, the US has been moving towards establishing a global empire since the end of the Cold War. One only has to imagine a world map with enemy states colored red and friendly states in blue. Over the past twenty years the world has become much more blue with only Syria, Iran, Cuba and North Korea still colored red. Syria will fall in the coming months; Cuba is relatively isolated and unimportant. North Korea is looking shaky and will come under increasing pressure from China to get with the program. Iran will probably not make it past the Obama Administration in its current form. The whole “Arab Spring” exercise was heavily influenced by the US imperial initiative to replace autocratic dictators with Islamic tyrants. It is true some Latin American countries are attempting to slowly tip toe away from the US global project. You can be certain once Iran and North Korea are dealt with these minor rebellions in the US back garden will be swiftly dealt with.

        Empires traditionally fall from overextension of their frontiers which corresponds to an increase in enemy borders to protect against. The US has found a unique solution to this age old problem, conquer the entire globe and then there are no frontiers to defend at all!

        So the details of the TPP are irrelevant; the important element is that this treaty is a continuation of the American-led neoliberal globalization. Globalization is the America Empire’s nationalism. Nationalism throughout the rest of the world is America’s enemy. The day it is finally signed, TPP will significantly erode of the sovereignty of the participating nation states and in doing so will increase US global power.

        Economically, with the Federal Reserve Bank, the World Bank, the IMF, and all the free trade organizations, the US has the ability to dominate capital flows within the world economy. Also through constant innovation, for example the digital revolution launched from Silicon Valley, the US sets the global economic rhythm. And through its world class research universities the US acts as a brain magnet, which helps compensate for the declining academic performance of its native population.

        Sure, US economic performance in terms of the standard of living for the bottom 60% is a disaster and could be seen as a sign of weakness. But this all depends on the traditional military pendulum that throughout history swings from mass, low-cost armies, to elite, expensive armies. If mass armies are required, elites must provide a higher standard of living for the masses than if elite and expensive equipment is required. For example the shift from expensive bronze weapons to cheap mass produced iron arms, the move from expensive chariots to mass phalanx armies, the fall of expensive feudal horse-mounted knights to massed city-state pike infantry all corresponded to democratization and a relative increase in the standard of living of the masses. WW2 was decided by mass armies backed by mass industrial output. But in the last 70 years we have quickly transitioned to super expensive and elite high tech drone backed armies. Seen within this context US power is not dependant on their masses but instead on being able to produce a small cognizant elite that is able to design and produce the complicated weaponry required for modern warfare.

        Over the past 20 years, Japan has been something of a hold-out in adapting to US-led globalization. One of its key tenets, mass immigration in wealthy countries, serves the purpose of breaking down any local ethnic cohesion that could one day congeal into a power base to resist US power. Once the TPP treaty is signed I wouldn’t be all that surprised if their “nationalist” prime minister announces an initiative to increase immigration into Japan.

        1. Richard Kline

          So Working Class Nero . . . I’ve considered the possibility that you’re completely mad. Well-informed; completely mad. I don’t see that consideration proven; yet. (No ones pinned that on me either, though some have tried.)

          There are interesting points which you raise that, to me, would be worth debating. Then again, those most often come cloaked in an hyperbole which invalidates the initially supportable premises within them, to my reading. And then further, there are the ‘aliens riding loons raining down foolscap to control our pure bodily essence’ kind of notions which you slip in there, too. Hmm.

          I don’t have the interest to sort through all that on this issue on this night. Maybe another time . . . .

          1. Working Class Nero

            The “insanity” that you are getting from my post results from your inability to place it into an “us vs. them”, progressive vs. conservative ideological box. In your world not conforming to one of the two allowed ideological cages must equate to madness. In my world it equates to intellectual freedom. I don’t have to worry about making sure “my team” and its policies don’t look bad and therefore I am free to see the world as it really is.

            This is a freedom your ideological cage cannot permit you to have. Your Progressive team has supported several planks of Neoliberal globalisation. Specifically you support Open Borders, “Free” Trade that allows good Western jobs to go to Third World countries, and are strongly against Nationalism, the very thing Neoliberals find so threatening.

            Confronted with the results of these policies, where for example the “nationalist” Japanese government is now sitting down at a negotiating table against the wishes of many of its population, you have two choices. You can downplay the significance of it (the US is weak so all this doesn’t really matter) or you can recognize that your team has been wrong on many fronts and perhaps you should re-examine your positions.

            The ideological cage you inhabit is comforting and sure and your mind has become adapt at effortlessly resolving the many internal contradictions living in that cage present. Outside the cage there is only doubt and uncertainty. Indeed to someone whose mind has become totally ideologically domesticated, actual freedom of thought cannot amount to much more than: “aliens riding loons raining down foolscap to control our pure bodily essence”

  1. EenAnderGeluid

    And now there is the talk about a free trade agreement between de EU and US – for the neoliberals this is THE exit strategy out of the crisis.But it is much more then that.
    The EU already functions as a supranational regime breaking down the welfare states in the name of Big Business, but a Free Trade agreement would be completely destructive and make politics meaningless.

    1. Beerdignado

      It’s a litlle bit more than “talking about it”, as I guess you’re aware, but maybe others aren’t. Negotiations have started, and Karel De Gucht was on belgian radio this morning saying he would like it finished before his term is up (which is in 1,5 years).

      I try to follow the transatlantic free trade agreement (shall I name it TAFTA?) as good as possible, but details are far and few between. I find the secrecy grossly unbecoming of a supposed democracy.

      As far as I can tell, the TAFTA is meant to be very similar to the TPP. And especially investor-state resolution I do NOT want to see in there.

      1. Nathanael

        It’s DOA. The neoliberal mismanagement of the EU economy means that the EU may well be DOA; there’s no way in hell they’ll be able to pass a larger transnational “free trade” treaty.

  2. Clive

    Great feature on The RNN as usual ! The translations from the original Japanese are pretty good… but they do inevitably loose some nuances. “They are money-crazed!” (the “they” being the US health insurers) is more-or-less what the guy being interviewed said but I’d have translated it (“o-kane baka” in Japanese) as being “idots for money” or, and this is what the spirit of what he was saying was, “prepared to do stupid, ridiculous things just for money”.

    What an astute gentleman he is !

    1. Doug Terpstra

      The TPP is rigged-trade spawned in hell; under fast-track secrecy with Obama in a pivotal role, it feels like a runaway train. The piece doesn’t say much about the size of resistance in Japan, but even with majority popular opposition, it looks like an easy domino to topple considering its debt-throttled economy, non-reserve currency, and powerful banks — the US too, of course, given the loss of democracy and heavily propagandized and/or powerless populace.

      It may sound Alex Jonsesian, but this looks like a Shock Doctrine push toward a decidedly undemocratic one-world government. Synchronous post-911 machinations (planned and/or exploited) impose that doctrine perfectly: witness the multi-front global war on terror, criminal drone, extrajudicial killing of American citizens, the NDAA, Homeland Security, the global financial crisis, the destruction of social democracy in Europe, the austerity express and destruction of the safety net here, the war on whistleblowers, the selling of the commons, gold manipulation (?), and so on. And finally, there’s Obama, the plutocrats’ dream Trojan horse, his meteoric rise followed by brilliantly-played wholesale betrayal. The TPP would be it a critical linchpin toward a totalitarian global empire and if any Caesar can do it, it’s Barack.

      1. Clive

        Sometimes, a certain amount of paranoia is actually quite justifiable. I think we do indeed live in those sorts of times.

          1. Clive

            Do you think that Obama can spell h-y-p-o-c-r-I-t-e (hmm… yes, he probably can, all too well)

          2. Doug Terpstra

            Hey, Obama sounds really tough on trade. Maybe he hasn’t been gelded after all, as is often implied by the liberal media. As with extended wars, drone killings and austerity, this TPP thing certainly has Obama hanging low. It’s too bad even though on other issues like Social Security, Medicare, adn progressive taxation he suffers chronic shrinkage.

            Your link puts Japan in the bag for TPP, which is undoubtedly accurate. Contrary to the optimism on the video, Obama is in full court press on this, as with Obamacare, taking hapless Dennis for a ride (flight). I think Japan is simply too precarious to say no.

            “‘Currency manipulation needs to be addressed in ongoing trade negotiations, especially the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks,” [Senator Levin] said in a statement, referring to an 11-nation Asia-Pacific free trade agreement that Japan is moving toward joining.

            Japan’s aversion to imperialism could spark blowback and a currency skirmish, causing this spawn from hell to unravel — a huge win for humankind and the planet, but I’m too skeptical to hold my breath.

          3. Nathanael

            It’s not clear how long Japan will last before revolution. Nuking themselves was bad. Really bad. How many years was it from Chernobyl to the fall of the Soviet Union?

          4. Nathanael

            Answering my own question: 5 years.

            Come 2016, if Japanese government looks anything like the current government, I will be VERY surprised.

      2. Nathanael

        “It may sound Alex Jonsesian, but this looks like a Shock Doctrine push toward a decidedly undemocratic one-world government. ”

        Quite likely this is the intention. It is doomed to fail. In order to run an undemocratic one-world government, you have to know what the hell you’re doing — provide the bread, provide the circuses, provide the jobs.

        These lunatics don’t know what they’re doing. My only question is who will rise up to execute and replace them. It could be much smarter warlords. Or it could be a populist, democratic organization. I prefer the latter, personally, but it could easily go to the warlords.

  3. Dr. Brian Oblivion

    Michael Hudson has pointed out quite astutely that austerity is being used in the EU to achieve that which used to be accomplished through warfare.

    The United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and a plutonium bomb on Nagasaki in order to see what the impact would be on as yet unbombed cities. Despite these atrocities the Japanese and American people went on to become good friends and allies.

    Yet now it seems the United States government is eager to radically transform if not destroy Japan’s economy under the guise of a “Partnership” and without hesitation or introspection. It’s very difficult to accept.

    This is with my consent? Is evil too strong a word to use here? I am outraged.

    —————–

    I highly recommend Hiroshima by John Hershey to get some idea of what it was like on the ground after Little Boy was delivered by Enola Gay. It’s one of the most heartbreaking books I’ve ever read.

    http://archive.org/details/hiroshima035082mbp

    1. Susan the other

      Haven’t we all lived in this mercantilist world long enough? Trade is just a modern euphemism for mercantilism. We (no country) do not need to trade at all except for a very few commodities. All countries can be self sufficient now for almost all of their own economics. Using MMT and good governance that only competes with other countries by satisfying their own societies needs. Not the needs of their greedy corporations.

      TPP might be the best ruse the US has for giving US corporations free rein in the good ole USA. Manufacture it elsewhere and puke it up on our docks where we are forced to accept it. Without restrictions. What unmitigated political garbage.

      Right. Let’s pass this with a Fast Track Authority Bill. Are you kidding me? Why isn’t there ever a fast track for responsible social legislation? So… no wonder the corporations and banksters hate MMT and good governance. Is it any surprise to anyone that it has come to this? And that those idiots are still keeping a straight face. No. That’s how stupid they are. But ruthless.

  4. Mario

    I can well understand why Yves had Lambert post this one. After the debacle of defending the numerous factual errors of her previous post on the subject of TPP – sensitives exposed not least because Yves was about to (and did)cross-post on “Occupy’s” Website too. Oops! No criticism allowed.

    It’s not difficult to understand the motives of the of the protests by venerable rice farmers (mainly from the revered Northern rice regions of Tohoku, Hokuriku and Hokkaido) where the movement is a mélange of the so called ‘hand-crafted rice movement’ (‘tezukuri no undō’), the Japanese Consumers’ Cooperative Union (Seikyō) as well as the Seikatsusha Network (Japan’s organic movement). Their “art” in growing rise is protected by statue and virtually guarantees income through the state purchase (as last resort) of rice grown in these areas. They see TPP (Vietnam’s, Malaysia’s, and S. Korea’s rice) as a direct threat to the status quo.
    As for the politician reciting all kinds of nonsense about US states right being affected by the TPP it’s, well, just nonsense.

    Still, the single biggest misstatements in this debate is that that the TPP is a US creation – it is not. If Japan joins the discussions it will not even be the biggest trading block in the TPP discussions.

    The second error is the conflagration of the TPP and the ‘investors rights. The TPP has no reference to Investors Rights or the correlated International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). However, NAFTA does, and it has been the noxious corruption of this process (primarily through its inclusion of capital investment to include IP) that has clouded the issue.
    Concerns of TPP in relation to Investors Rights and the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) will only be an issue if the TPP partners allow the US to append these clauses to their respective chapters. Which is unlikely.

    1. jerry denim

      So a Troll and two Red Herrings walk into a bar, stop me if you’ve heard this one before…

      1. Mario

        I haven’t. But, if you are able attempt a coherent response that’s even marginally better than your attempt at humor, we might have something to laugh at. Or is that your fear; that your serious attempt might prove too funny?

        1. JCC

          Try reading the U.S. Constitution. It’s not necesary to mention “Investor Rights”, it is inherent to the treaty itself. Shareholder, or Investor, Rights will become the law of the land. It’s that simple.

          1. Mario

            It’s not as simple as that….

            Though, I have no idea what you mean by “It’s not necessary to mention “Investor Rights”, it is inherent to the treaty itself”. … just gobbledygook. If “Investor Rights” are not part of the agreement it’s de facto not “inherently part of the agreement”.

            As for the Constitution, ‘Article VI’ of the United States Constitution declares “all treaties” the “supreme Law of the Land,” and American judges have long had the potential power, under the Constitution, to enforce treaties just like statutes. But judges don’t enforce treaties that way. Instead, judicial treaty enforcement is widely seen as unpredictable, erratic, and confusing.

            As a result, the question of treaty enforcement has become a leading question in both American jurisprudence and the study of international law. In recent years, given difficult questions surrounding the enforcement of the Vienna and Geneva Conventions, treaty enforcement has also become a regular part of the Supreme Court’s docket.

            Today’s dominant theory of treaty enforcement is the doctrine of “self-execution,” which suggests that judicial enforcement of treaties is deduced from the nature of the treaties signed.

    2. Hugh

      So Mario, I notice that while criticizing opponents of the TPP, you yourself give no reason to support it.

      1. Mario

        Hugh,
        I’m not arguing against folks who are against the TPP. I’m just for them having the correct facts on which to best argue against the TPP. Let’s understand the actual facts first and the truth will, probably, present itself. From that point I might have a better idea as to whether it’s something I can support or not.

    3. Yves Smith

      Mario,

      Public Citizen, which has been very active on the trade beat for years, disagrees with you on the state’s right issue. Based on obtaining leaked sections of the draft agreement, it reads TPP as gutting NATIONAL regulation, so the impact on states level regs would be a natural corollary.

      So your basic assertion is simply inaccurate.

      Who, might I ask, are you trolling for?

      After more than two years of negotiations under conditions of extreme secrecy, on June 12, 2012, a leaked copy of the investment chapter for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement was posted at http://tinyurl.com/tppinvestment. Public Citizen has verified that the text is authentic.

      The leaked text provides stark warnings about the dangers of “trade” negotiations occurring without press, public or policymaker oversight. It reveals that negotiators already have agreed to many radical terms granting expansive new rights and privileges for foreign investors and their private corporate enforcement through extra-judicial “investor-state” tribunals.

      Although TPP has been branded as a “trade” agreement, the leaked text shows that TPP would limit how signatory countries may regulate foreign firms operating within their boundaries, with requirements to provide them greater rights than domestic firms. The leaked text reveals a two-track legal system, with foreign firms empowered to skirt domestic courts and laws to directly sue TPP governments in foreign tribunals. There they can demand compensation for domestic financial, health, environmental, land use laws and other laws they claim undermine their new TPP privileges.

      http://www.citizen.org/documents/Leaked-TPP-Investment-Analysis.pdf

      1. Mario

        Yves,

        You again continue to conflagrate two distinct issues:
        1.) The TPP in and of itself as a trade agreement
        And
        2.) The concerns of TPP in relation to Investors Rights and the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID; the nasty extra-judicial, extra-national, corporatism blurb).

        The latter will only be an issue if the TPP partners allow the US to append these US specific clauses (which, presently, exist in NAFTA and other TPAs) to their respective TPP chapters. This is unlikely.

        Why is it unlikely?
        Because the original TPP agreement (TPSEP – P4) did not contain any such language. None! The TPSEP became the ‘accession agreement’ by which any other country could join TPP talks. Something that the US agreed to do (and by the way Canada did not do, so was not allowed to join on its first attempt).

        Do not misunderstand. I am not arguing for the ICSID and the extra-national legal process it promotes.

        What I am saying is that it is highly unlikely that it exits in the TPP agreement as it stands. Guatemala. Chile and Mexico provide ample evidence of its corporatist bent and none of the TPP countries would want it, least of all Singapore and Australia.

        Does the US want the Investors Rights and the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) clause embedded in the TPP? Yes. Is it likely to happen? No!

        As for the States’ Rights issues, you maybe out of your comfort zone a little. In short it’s the Supreme Court opinion versus Public Citizen opinion. Hmmm. As mentioned above: ‘Today’s dominant theory of treaty enforcement is the doctrine of “self-execution,” which suggests that judicial enforcement of treaties is deduced from the nature of the treaties signed’. I advise you to read up on the “self-execution,” versus none“self-execution,” opinions of the Supremes, etc and how the TPP fit’s into the argument.

        1. skippy

          @Mario… with all due respect.

          What part of the last 40 years did you miss, for all the minutia one could quibble over, what has been the dominate feature observed thought act.

          Skippy… Hillary Clinton was quite clear about the intent… GOING… FORWARD.

          1. skippy

            -observed throughout act[s.-

            skippy... i have sexdaily... i mean, dyslexia!...fcuk[!!!]

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorHAL

            I’ll just jump in with a thread-jack, on topic though. The Australian perspective: TPP will dictate what kind of labor laws a country is allowed to have; what (maximum) minimum wage it can pay; what benefit schemes it is allowed to offer. So having exiled myself from America after Bush was reappointed, I now get America destroying some of the excellent workable societal benefits I’ve come to enjoy in Australia? I call the doctor, he says come right on in, does a great job, and I don’t go bankrupt paying for it? My employer puts aside real dollars for me to own and spend, in a retirement scheme that has made Australians some of the wealthiest on Earth? Thanks, America. Shame.

          2. OpenThePodBayDoorHAL

            All because corporations need a few more drops of turnip blood profit? Warren Buffet famously said in 1999 that “corporate profits at 6% of GDP is completely unsustainable”, and today we’re at more than double that level.

        2. Richard Kline

          [Do I really want to get my hands dirty on this one?? Oh well, actual substance to the argument here might confuse those without a scorecard . . . ] So Mario, you are obviously a lawyer, or tied to one. By your arguments, I’ll take you as a flack working in the bowels of the Executive, tasked with deflecting public sentiment on this issue by those actually presently negotiating it. Yeah, you’re pretending to be a disinterested public citizen, but not really.

          Supposing, however and merely for the sake of argument, that whatever treaty is being stuffed in sausage casing actually has language and thinking in it as you present here, what of it? You seem to take the position that ‘the actual language of the treaty matters.’ That’s all very nice if you’re on the payroll of the trade negotiator’s office or in a university think tank tasked with moulding a white paper to push all this. Maybe even you, personally, believe that the exact terms do matter, regardless of whose knee you’re sitting at. The problem with that reasoning is that the exact details really DON’T matter. JippyMo, Chase, Cargill, Monsanto: they don’t give a rats ass for the legalese. What they need is a legal premise—a figleaf in the common parlance—to pursue a program very much NOT spelled out in the boilerplate of any treaty.

          This is the real bone of dispute here, to me. You think ‘the treaty will matter’ while those of us opposed to the present global economic regime understand very well _from facts on the ground_ that any such treaty language is designed as a chock in the door to let the corporate pirates in. Deliberately designed, and so understood . . . by everyone one but the rubes and the true believer spinmeisters. Which are you? You seem too well attuned to the particulars for the former.

          And btw, you’re determination to ‘take down’ the poster without, however, substantively engaging in the perspective behind the criticism is, while energetic, boorish at best. Make an argument for how such a treaty might work, about who gains and who loses, about how that fits or not with the pernicious trade policy we have seen from the top of the food chain in the US (or elsewhere) over the last thirty years, and there might be a cogent debate there. Your intent seems more to throw enough muck to tarnish the content’s point: that’s a troll’s pursuit. Or a shill’s. Separate yourself from those stances, if you can. Because sans a change in tone, we know who you are, so your employeres silver is ill-spent at this point.

          1. Mario

            All of what you say with regards to my personal profile is wrong.

            I do, really believe that what is written in the Agreement does matter. But, I will be happy to have an honest difference of opinion on that topic.

            As for “taking down the poster”, that is not my intent. It really isn’t. What I do contest is the misstatement of opinion and conjecture for facts. And, I honestly believe I see such a misstatement when the poster conflates two issues as one established fact ( The TPP in and of itself as a trade agreement And 2.) The concerns of TPP in relation to Investors Rights and the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

          2. skippy

            @Mario,

            Until the final draft, no one knows, yet, the point observed is… what has happened in the last 40ish years and what makes anyone think TTP would be a departure from that ideological perspective.

            Including the process its self, is a form of ideological grooming, as all treaty’s are largely a top down affair.

            Hell wiki is more fact filled than your obtuse statements.

            “In May 2012, a group of 30 legal scholars, critical of the Office of the United States Trade Representative’s “biased and closed” TPP negotiation process and proposed intellectual property-related provisions, publicly called upon Ambassador Kirk to uphold democratic ideals by reversing the “dialing back” of stakeholder participation and to release negotiating texts for public scrutiny. The law professors claimed that leaked documents show that the USTR is “pushing numerous standards that [...] could require changes in current U.S. statutory law” and that the proposal is “manifestly unbalanced—it predominantly proposes increases in proprietor rights, with no effort to expand the limitations and exceptions to such rights that are needed in the U.S. and abroad to serve the public interest.”

            The group claimed that the negotiations excluded stakeholders such as “consumers, libraries, students, health advocacy or patient groups, or others users of intellectual property” and that it only offered “minimal representation of other affected businesses, such as generic drug manufacturers or Internet service providers.”[72]

            Kirk initially responded that he was “strongly offended by the assertion that our process has been non-transparent and lacked public participation” and that it was actually far more transparent than the negotiations for prior free trade agreements.[73]

            This prompted further criticism from the academic group that free-trade agreement negotiations, notorious for their secrecy, are “the wrong standard for assessing the legitimacy of the TPP intellectual property chapter negotiations. This is because the IP chapter in the TPP, like ACTA, is not a trade agreement. It does not adjust tariffs and quotas—it sets new international limits on domestic regulation, regardless of whether such regulation discriminates against, or even affects, trade.”[73] The group further reiterated its claim that the secretive process is antithetical to the ideals of democracy, and is “no way to engender trust and faith in international law making with such a broad impact.”[73] One critic pointed out that despite’s Kirk’s claim of transparency in the process, public-interest stakeholders have been completely excluded.[74] Another accused Kirk of sidestepping the issue of transparency, and pointed out that transparency is less about the degree of public input, and more about “the flow of information the other way—information about the workings of government being visible to the people it is supposed to represent.”[75]

            In a subsequent interview with Reuters, Kirk defended the secrecy, saying he believes the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has conducted “the most engaged and transparent process as we possibly could,” but that “some measure of discretion and confidentiality” are needed “to preserve negotiating strength and to encourage our partners to be willing to put issues on the table they may not otherwise.”[27] He dismissed the “tension” as natural and noted that when the Free Trade Area of the Americas drafts were released, negotiators were subsequently unable to reach a final agreement.[27]

            On 23 May 2012, United States Senator Ron Wyden introduced S. 3225, proposed legislation that would require the Office of the United States Trade Representative to disclose its TPP documents to all members of Congress.[76] Wyden said the bill clarifies the intent of the 2002 legislation which was supposed to increase Congressional access to information about USTR activity, but which, according to Wyden, is being incorrectly interpreted by the USTR as justification to excessively limit such access.[77] Wyden asserted:

            “The majority of Congress is being kept in the dark as to the substance of the TPP negotiations, while representatives of U.S. corporations—like Halliburton, Chevron, PHRMA, Comcast, and the Motion Picture Association of America—are being consulted and made privy to details of the agreement. [...] More than two months after receiving the proper security credentials, my staff is still barred from viewing the details of the proposals that USTR is advancing. We hear that the process by which TPP is being negotiated has been a model of transparency. I disagree with that statement.[77]” – snip

            “Investor–state arbitration [edit]
            The leaked draft treaty also contains Investor-state dispute settlement, which permits foreign investors who made an investment in the territory of a Party in accordance with its laws to submit a claim to arbitration under the arbitral rules of either International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes or United Nations Commission on International Trade Law. Tribunals are composed of three arbitrators. One is appointed by the investor, one by the state, and the third is usually chosen by agreement between the parties or their appointed arbitrators or selected by the appointing authority, depending on the procedural rules applicable to the dispute. The tribunal shall subject to the consent of the disputing parties, conduct hearings open to the public. The tribunal will make available to the public documents relating to the dispute such as the notice of intent, the notice of arbitrationn, pleadings, memorials, minutes or transcripts of the hearings of the tribunal, where available; orders, awards and decisions of the tribunal.

            Substantive standards of protection include regulation of direct and indirect expropriation, minimum standard of treatment, national treatment, most favoured nation treatment. Non-discriminatory regulatory actions by a Party that are designed and applied to achieve legitimate public welfare objectives, such as the protection of public health, safety, and the environment do not constitute violation of the treaty.

            Critics of the investment protection regime argue that traditional investment treaty standards are incompatible with environmental law, human rights protection, and public welfare regulation, meaning that TPP will be used to force states to lower standards for e.g., environmental and workers protection, or be sued for damages.[78]” – snip

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Pacific_Strategic_Economic_Partnership

            Skip here… Like I said before, Hillary Clinton (backed by the .001)%, in public, made it quite clear. So picking out word objects to lend a wafer thin slice of creeping doubt, in a sideways approach, does absolutely nothing to redress the major concerns and concerns this project bares.

            Skippy… For the road…

            “Last month, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk defended the unprecedented secrecy of TPP negotiations by noting that when the draft of a major regional trade pact was released previously, it became impossible to finish the deal as then proposed.

            “The top U.S. trade official effectively has said that the administration must keep TPP secret because otherwise it won’t be able to shove this deal past the public and Congress,” said Wallach. “The airing of this one TPP chapter, which greatly favors foreign corporations over domestic businesses and the public interest and exposes us to significant financial liabilities, shows that the whole draft text must be released immediately so it can be reviewed and debated. Absent that, these negotiations must be ended now.” – public citizen blog

            http://www.citizen.org/pressroom/pressroomredirect.cfm?ID=3630

            BTW… who did Obama select for commerce secretary again?

      1. Mario

        Lambert, I appreciate your efforts to understudy this particular cuckoo’s nest – you play nurse Ratched to Yves Dr. Spivey quite well. But, we don’t all have to “speak to the group”. Allow a little dissention, now an again, it’s good for morale. Never hesitate to comment, though. Your comments always provide valuable insight.

  5. sleepy

    As part of a much longer essay slamming the support by the American “left” of Obama’s Syrian misadventure, an interesting take on economic nationalism as perhaps the only force capable of standing up to globalism:

    “At the present juncture, the only force strong enough to resist this shock doctrine globalism-at-gunpoint crisis methodology is economic nationalism. Sure, nationalism is a drag, outmoded, and overly narrow in perspective. Many historical complaints can be legitimately set against it. In the long run, it is not the way to go for the planet or its inhabitants. But right now it is the only force strong enough to stand up to neo-liberal globalism. At the moment, as that wicked witch Maggie famously said, “There is no alternative.” A movement of a few naive students have not been able to stand up to globalism, and neither have 1 million people occupying a nation’s central square. Effective resistance to this global process — an intentional run-down to the lowest common denominator of wealth, health, security, etc., and a run-up to the highest common denominator of pollution and ecological destruction, all in favor of corporate rights owned by a few people and enforced at the end of a gun — without an effective global strategy and sustained global support, is merely wishful thinking, i.e., hope.”

    http://www.moonofalabama.org/2013/05/syria-the-feckless-left-.html#more

    1. Nathanael

      Some leftists are very confused.

      Supporting the Syrian revolution would have been a smart geopolitical move. Assad had gone dangerously nuts, and he is not going to be able to remain in power, period. Turkey was already supporting the revolution.

      However, Obama is NOT supporting the Syrian revolution. Why? Because Russia is supporting Assad, and everyone is afraid to offend Russia. (FWIW, I think Putin is making a very bad geopolitical move in supporting Assad.)

      There’s still more than one superpower in the world. At the moment, I count at least three. Perhaps five.

  6. JCC

    And our own Court will back all of TPP over the American People.

    I think Article 6 Paragraph 2 of the U.S. Constitution pretty much lays out the roots of Globalism, our Corporate Rule, and our present predicament regarding Corporate takeover of almost all parts of our economic and social lives:

    “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

    And Obama wants to spread this as far as possible… because that is what he is paid to do.

  7. villageidiot

    The concept of non-tariff barriers, as described by Citigroup’s Johnston “has a lot to do with regulatory control by host government.”
    “It has a lot to do with conditions – once you’re invested, you then find it very difficult to take advantage of the capital you put into the country,” he stated, adding that the TPP can be useful for “not totally removing, of course, but reducing the behind-the-border barriers.”
    Publicly owned enterprises, for example, are being targeted by negotiators. One such entity in the United States that has been the subject of considerable interest in recent years is the Bank of North Dakota (BND) – the only fully publicly owned financial institution in the country. The BND, which is only allowed to lend wholesale, was a stabilizing force that helped keep the already energy-rich state insulated from the shock of the financial crisis (Alaska, for example, didn’t fare as well). It has also brought a small fortune to the state’s treasury – $340 million in net tax gain between 1997 and 2009. Legislators in at least 13 different states have proposed studying or emulating the North Dakota model – state-owned development of central-bank style institutions guaranteed by tax revenue. But if the TPP is passed, that option might not be available. Weisel said that State Owned Enterprises (SOE) are routinely “competing directly with private enterprises, and often in a way that is considered unfair.”
    “Some of the advantages that can be conferred on State Owned Enterprises are things like preferential financing,” Weisel said. “Those are things that wouldn’t be provided to private companies – preferential provision of goods and services provided by a government.”
    She said that “State Owned Enterprises – which in some cases can comprise a significant percentage of an economy – can be used to undermine what we’re otherwise trying to gain from this free trade agreement.”
    A spokesperson for the BND declined to comment on whether or not this outlook was perceived by the bank to be an institutional threat. But, depending on the report’s language, foreign bankers could claim that the BND stops them from lending to commercial banks throughout the state.
    Citigroup’s Johnston, in response to another question from the audience, said that corporations weren’t exactly enamored of competition with publicly owned enterprises – and that they are prodding TPP delegates into doing something about it.
    “The companies that are running up against the problem and the challenges of the state-owned enterprises, they obviously feel strongly enough about it that the problem is being addressed within the negotiations,” he said.
    “How it’s going to ultimately flesh out in my mind is one of the big question marks in the TPP negotiations,” he opined, “because you’ve got such a diverse array of economies at the table.”
    Weisel added that she didn’t think SOEs should be barred by the treaty, commenting that they “are created for a lot of purposes.”
    “We have SOEs to address market failure, or to cover certain public services that wouldn’t otherwise be covered by the private sector,” she pointed out.
    But in a day and age in which public institutions are commonly used as a dumping ground for private failures, when every commodity under the sun – from water utilities to public education, from security to space exploration – is targeted by free-marketeers, there can be no guarantee, until the draft is finally released, that the TPP will protect entities like the BND, especially when considering, as critics have contended, that the deal’s boosters are pushing an agreement that more firmly entrenches capital flow as a form of trade.
    “When you hear the word ‘trade’ in today’s business world, it doesn’t just mean goods moving across borders,” Johnston said. “It doesn’t even mean just services moving across borders. It also means investment. And that’s something where the TPP is really gonna make a big difference.”
    Trade, according to Black’s Law dictionary, is defined as “Traffic; commerce, exchange of goods for other goods, or for money.” Yet this trade pact could usher in a rash of reforms, with minimal oversight and virtually no public hearings, treating investment rules as a trade issue, even though they haven’t traditionally been dealt with as such.

    If I were an ostrich, I’d stick my head in the sand.

    1. lolcar

      The Japanese are of course the past masters of using non-tariff barriers to control trade. “The Japanese physiolgy is different so naturally we must thoroughly test your product before it can be approved for sale here” – that kind of thing. Should the Japanese sign this thing, I have no doubt that somehow foreign companies will still mysteriously struggle to gain market share.

  8. JGordon

    I support the TPP and the Obama regime, even if they have been insufferably boring and overtly obvious with their fumbling and predictable attempts at implementing Fascist totalitarianism. After all, the current system isn’t much worth caring about anyway, and the quicker things go down the rathole the sooner we’ll be able to move forward with salvaging what’s left of the planet and humanity.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      I heartily concur, JGordon! It looks like rigged-market cannibalism is compulsively intent on devoring everything, including its own rat kind. We should all support that.

      1. Nathanael

        This is the “heighten the contradictions of capitalism” argument. It is tempting and I sometimes agree with it, but I think it’s psychologically wrong, which is why it was a bad argument for the communists to use and is a bad argument for us to use.

  9. Andrew Watts

    I have to wonder what Washington traded away to get the Japanese on board. Whether it was an economic or political concession. They have that vaguely ‘undemocratic’ constitution revision coming up for a vote in July. The draft constitution removes major references to human rights in favor of such articles as the duty to be submissive to the public interest. The enforcement mechanism for this will be provided by the military…….

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