Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Doha goes south - WTO failure is a good thing

So the World Trade Organization, who radicalized me another step in Seattle in 1999, is failing.

Doha trade talks collapse
Five years of talks aimed at making global trade freer were on the brink of collapse last night after a make-or-break meeting between six of the leading players ended in acrimonious failure.

With the hardline stance adopted by the United States being blamed for the breakdown, the head of the World Trade Organisation said he had no choice but to suspend the talks, with no immediate prospect of them being resumed.

"Some say" (OK, the Guardian) that this might mean bad things for the poor, since they were counting on rich nations stopping their evil ag policies. Yeah, right. That may have been the official frame of the negotiations, which, since Seattle, have been paying lip service to the poor, but that's it.

So the idea is that little nations will get pushed around by local trade policies; since it's easier for the US to push around Costa Rica, and it's easier for the EU to push around Cameroon, then the little guys will get screwed.

Like this isn't what happens anyway.

The WTO is the vehicle of global capitalism. It's supported by the Western industrial powers, with the US having a lion's share of the power, and it has been screwing the global poor since neoliberalism took over.

So instead of mass global capital screwing the poor, chunks of big capital will screw the poor. Furthermore, some of the poor will be in countries where the governments don't allow mass screwing. (Like the Venezuela-Brazil-Argentina-Equador constellation.) I can't see this as a bad thing.

It also shows how the US has fucked up the situation in the global capital sense, probably by being imperialist creeps and refusing to play nice. I mean, John Bolton at the UN??? So the EU is done with the WTO, now: earlier, in the Mexican round (whatever that's called) the enforced consensus of the rich West was foiled by China, India, Venezuela and the rest of left South America, and Africa.

The WTO is becoming less relevant; the supposed consensus is being enforced. I'm sure that the secret trade court is still operating - the next target, perhaps? - but times have changed. The decision by the neocons to make America's Army a frequently used tool of power diplomacy threatens the international system. Putin turns on Bush's mike at the G8. Israel's invasion of Lebanon isn't being supported.

I think the WTO was killed in the streets of Seattle. We Win.

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