TPP, Korea, and US Militarism in Asia

TPP, Korea, and US Militarism in Asia

By Arnie Saiki. August 21, 2015

It should not be a surprise to anyone who is actively following the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) and Asia Pivot that we should find a regional military conflict at the point when TPP negotiations have stalled, particularly one that will pit the US-backed Park regime against not only North Korea, but potentially provoke China/Russia as well, as they are in the midst of their naval games near Vladivostok in the East Sea (just above North Korea).

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is not simply an FTA. It is an economic and security partnership that seeks to push forward a plan for global corporate governance at all costs– and by doing so, has to divide the world as it did with the 1948 Economic Cooperation, the cooperation/partnership that launched the Cold War.

Reference to a new Cold War with the US/OECD countries on one side, and the BRICS alignment on the other may sound oh so terribly contrived, convoluted and conspiratorial, but consider that the US debt is astronomically high ($18 trillion dollars, 106% of GDP). US debt has never been so high, and it has been on life support since 2009 with the first Quantitative Easing, aka debt relief program. Now, well past QE3, lenders are looking for returns– not high-margin returns, but simply a percentage of their investments. Bail-Ins (opposed to bail-outs) require that lenders commit to buying bonds with the understanding that they will only receive a percentage of their investment returned). The bail-in program has been in effect in the US since 2012, and now three-years later, the US has to have something to show for it.

If the TPP had concluded favorably, corporations, investors and industries would be confident that their investments would be covered and this hiccup in the economy would adjust back to the old money-laundering shell-game, and resource theft that kept this debt-driven economy to continue unabated without end for so long. If the TPP failed (as it did on Maui), the proverbial Plan B would kick in: military escalation and regional destabilization.

This is like a proverb of some bully that tried to play nice in the school yard by making up the rules to some game, but nobody wanted those bully rules because they would all lose, so he threw the rules out and asserted what bullies do best– bully.

The South China Seas and North Korea were the two areas most likely to destabilize, but North Korea is probably the easier scapegoat at this time, particularly since the Russia-China naval games are taking place so close by.

South Korea, having accused the North of planting mines, despite North Korea’s denial, and without any proof from the international investigators, has the backing of the US. The naval base on Jeju Island that international peace activists have been protesting for years now, is almost open for business. Sixty percent of the base is going to house US personnel. I should note that the naval base began construction the very same year that the Korea-US FTA was signed in 2007, and that although Korea is not officially a part of the TPP, Korea’s membership is only a matter of time, despite already having a US FTA.

President Park Geun-hye, daughter of right-wing military strongman president Park Chung-hee (who was assassinated in 1979), is already held with great suspicion over her very strange “negligence” with the sinking of the Sewal ferry that collapsed killing 304 people, many of them students. Additionally, she continually accuses North Korea for sinking the ROK Cheonan, despite a dearth of evidence. Park would use any incident to provoke North Korea and advancing this conflict without evidence and inspection from the international community puts the onus of this conflict on her. She has already proved herself a tyrant.

Speaking of tyrants– equally engaged is Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe, who like President Park, is from a right wing political family (his grandfather Kan Abe is considered a Class-A war criminal during WW2), and Japan and the US have a Mutual Defense Treaty signed by his maternal grandfather Nobusuke Kishi.

In the event of regional escalation, I should also point out that the recent constitutional revision of Article 9, now allows for Japan to have a standing army and Japan and the US have an unbreakable military and investment partnership. This investment partnership includes Japan’s debt, which is nearly $10.5 trillion, 240% of it’s GDP. For perspective, Greek debt is a 177% of its GDP which is a mere $425 billion. Like the US, Japan’s debt was tied to overseas development and financing through the ADB (Asian Development Bank), but with the new China-led AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank), resource-rich countries have been moving towards China because unlike the ADB, the AIIB does not carry the kind of neoliberal privatization debt and procurement rules that the US, World Bank, and ADB enforce.

A condition of Obama’s TPA– the corporate governance wish list found in the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act– provide demands that address State-owned enterprises, currency manipulation, market access, policies which TPP countries are losing against the new international BRICS proposals like the AIIB; proposals whose stated objective is to “obtain more open, equitable and reciprocal market access…enhance the global economy… while optimizing the use of the world’s resources…” In other words, perpetuate US rules for trade and investment against BRICS led rules that are critical of neoliberalism.

This new affront at the DMZ could be the very thing the US needs to wrap up the TPP favorably, and turn the ASEAN+3 (which includes Japan and Korea) attention away from the China-led RCEP (aka ASEAN+6 which includes Australia, NZ and India) from concluding favorably, which it is anticipated to do before 2016, unless support can be undermined.

But I would say this. Russia and China have continually outsmarted the US as they have done with Syria and the Ukraine. We should hope that BRICS can bring an the end to global corporate governance. I hate being blackmailed by the neoliberal neocons.