As the events in the East side of the Atlantic show no sign of recovery from the crisis in the short-term, Obama recalls his Hawaiian roots and a rediscovered Pacific vocation.
So, he gathered some of the countries with shores in the great ocean for a conference in his natal island, and then started the usual “good neighbor” trip. Preceded -as is usual too- with a “sound” article by his Secretary of State, stating the rationale for a Free Trade regional association .
Obama was hosted with the usual diplomatic courtesy. The problem is, a Free Trade pact with the United States hasn’t much advantages to offer for the Asian most dynamic economies which benefit from a trade surplus yet and has dubious ones for the others, as the NAFTA experience of Mexico shows.
Moreover, the strategic intentions of the initiative became transparent with the announced increase in American troops to be stationed when contrasted against some quotes from Clinton’s piece like:
Just as Asia is critical to America’s future, an engaged America is vital to Asia’s future. The region is eager for our leadership and our business — perhaps more so than at any time in modern history.
Then, it’s China we are talking about, right? We are talking of counterbalance the Asiatic giant (and creditor of US debt) natural expansion of influence towards its immediate vicinity.
The use of the word “leadership” is the key. It brought a response of discomfort (hardly concealed in this Asian Times article) from people who think of themselves grown enough to share “partnership” with the United States, but seek no “leadership” from it. Certainly, it was so after the War, but the time of MacArthur is over as well is the time for these kind of multilateral treatises which were the norm during the Corporative Capitalism Era, whose end the present crisis is just but a symptom.
The first sign of the end was the fail of the Initiative for a Free Trade Area of the Americas at the Presidents summit in Mar del Plata (Argentina) in 2005, which marked a humiliating defeat for George W Bush and the start of increased regional institutional and financial relationship between the South American countries, with more fruitful results for them.
The second sign is the European mess, with its announced end for the Euro and the return to national independent policies according to the necessities of each one. Bi-lateral or restricted multi-lateral accords between equals lie in the future.
The third sign will be the failure of this ill-conceived Trans-Pacific dream. Let’s hope that the dream will not turn into a nightmare if a new Conservative gang succeed in return into power and try to do in South Asia the disaster they did in the Middle East before.