from the beats-transparency dept
We’ve been writing about the big US/EU “free trade” agreement negotiations (which aren’t really about free trade at all), variously named TAFTA or TTIP (negotiators prefer TTIP, to avoid comparisons to NAFTA) for quite some time now. If it were really about free trade, there might be some interesting elements to it, but it’s much more about the standard issues like providing corporate sovereignty over national sovereignty, and other things like ratcheting up copyright and patent laws in secret. All this “democracy” is all done very much behind closed doors that won’t be opened until many years after the agreement is already reached.
The key negotiators have long been complaining about “misinformation” being spread about this and other agreements — but it often appears that the misinformation is actually coming directly from the negotiators themselves. Besides, it’s pretty rich to complain about misinformation on a deal that you’re negotiating in secret. Want to end much of that supposed “misinformation”? Here’s a simple suggestion: open up, show some transparency and release the negotiating positions you’re taking, or even draft documents of the agreement to allow the public to comment.
But instead of transparency, it appears that the US State Department has settled on another option: paying for propaganda.
No joke, the US Embassy in Berlin has apparently been tweeting out offers to give out between $5,000 and $20,000 to organizations willing to produce pro-TAFTA/TTIP propaganda. The document doesn’t ask for proposals for unbiased analysis on the impact of any potential agreement, instead it starts out by simply declaring:
T-TIP will be a fair deal for Europeans and Americans that will build on an already existing strong friendship.
Now that’s an interesting claim, given that there is no agreement yet, and what’s been negotiated so far is (and will remain) entirely secret. So, uh, how does anyone know if it will be “a fair deal.” Wouldn’t it be more reasonable and, dare I say, objective, to ask for an analysis of what kinds of things might be useful in an agreement, and what kinds of things might cause harm? Or, better yet, how about a study on the pros and cons of certain proposals, so as to better weigh the benefits and dangers? Instead, the State Department just insists that this secretive, and nowhere near concluded, agreement will definitely be fair… and is offering cold hard cash to anyone who will cook up some argument for why that must be. Anything will do:
The activities funded with a Federal Assistance Award (Grant) ranging from $5000 to $20,000 might include the following innovative ideas:
- short documentaries on T-TIP
- Expert Speaker Tour with proposed names(s) for travel (including per diem and honoraria)
- creation of a Twitterfall wall during a conference
- digital posters in German with QR codes to inform about T-TIP objectives
- a T-TIP conference with a broad swath of stakeholders that can be live-streamed
- online discussion forums on T-TIP
- website devoted to T-TIP
Hmm. We run a site that has online discussions around the agreement. Perhaps we should apply… Somehow, I don’t think we’ll pass the “screening” process.