— This article is reprinted in part with the permission of The New American magazine —
After voting for “Fast Track” for NAFTA and then for NAFTA itself, then-Senator John Kerry (shown in pink tie) professed total surprise when a NAFTA court trampled U.S. state laws and overruled U.S. courts — precisely as this magazine had warned would happen. “We didn’t know” this would happen, he said. “We didn’t know,” he pleaded, that the provision for establishing NAFTA courts to attack and undermine our national sovereignty was hidden in Chapter 11 of the hundreds of pages of the NAFTA pact — which he had helped rush through Congress on Fast Track.
Republican leaders are now helping President Obama push Fast Track and hope to win approval by Congress in the coming weeks. If they are successful with that vote, the next step will be to press for hurried passage of the massive, still-secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. If they succeed with that, we can expect even more disastrous results for America than has already been wrought by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
According to various news accounts, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who serves as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is hoping to bring up Trade Promotion Authority (TPA, otherwise known as Fast Track) as soon as possible following the Senate’s Easter recess, which ends on April 12.
For those too young, too old, or too numb to remember the 1992-93 battles over NAFTA and NAFTA Fast Track, we are about to see a repeat of those epic conflicts. And if the American people permit President Obama and his GOP allies in Congress to railroad these measures through, we will face an even greater betrayal than we did when President Clinton and his Republican allies in Congress rammed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) through.
While the NAFTA battle was being fought, The New American warned that among the many dangers posed by the pact would be the creation of NAFTA tribunals (in Chapter 11 of the agreement) that would override our domestic laws and, even, our Constitution. That didn’t happen immediately, of course; it took a few years for the tribunals to be established and lawsuits to be filed. But as was to be expected, when that process kicked into gear and the NAFTA tribunals started making outrageous decisions, the NAFTA promoters expressed shock that such a predictable outcome could have happened. When the highest court in Massachusetts ruled against a Canadian real estate company’s claim, the company, Mondev International, appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court declined to hear Mondev’s appeal. Normally that would be the end of the matter. At least that’s the way it was pre-NAFTA. But Mondev decided to take their case to a NAFTA court, which, in 2004, ruled in favor of the Canadians, overruling the highest courts of the State of Massachusetts and the United States.
John Kerry, who was then a U.S. Senator for Massachussetts attempted to absolve himself from any culpability (he had voted for NAFTA) by claiming ignorance. “When we debated NAFTA,” Kerry told the New York Times, “not a single word was uttered in discussing Chapter 11. Why? Because we didn’t know how this provision would play out. No one really knew just how high the stakes would get.”
And just how high are those stakes?