Northland Sheep Dairy
"Mother Nature never tries to farm without livestock" --Albert Howard
"Pueblo que canta no morira" --Cuban saying
--------- Begin forwarded message ----------
From: "Camilla M. Romund" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Karl S North <email@example.com>
Subject: Chomsky web site vis-a-vis StopMAI Letter to PM and OECD (fwd)
Date: Mon, 12 Oct 1998 13:04:41 -0500 (CDT)
Karl--Sorry you had problems. I bookmarked the site and the original
is as follows: http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Senate/3761
It came right up for me just now (the home page). So scroll down the
to the section entitled "Interviews with Chomsky" (below "Articles about
Chomsky) and you will see the first line: MAI -- May 1998 interview on
Multilateral Agreement on Investment from the Boulder Weekly.
Here is the text though, in case you continue to have problems. Also,
would you please broadcast this to the rest of the listserver in case
others ran into the same problem? I'm running out the door for a meeting
an hour's drive away. Thanks much, Camilla
Chomsky on the MAI
May 14, 1998
"The truth about trade: A conversation with Professor Noam Chomsky" from
the Boulder Weekly
by Nick Rosen
BW: What's your take on the Multilateral Agreement on Investment?
CHOMSKY: It's disastrous. It's a major attack on democracy, even on
markets and trade. It would
transfer decision-making, to an extraordinary extent, into the hands of
imperatives. And that's why the negotiations for it were conducted in
The MAI would eliminate virtually any democratic social and economic
planning. For example,
suppose Colorado decided to pass laws for consumer protection requiring
investors to look to
privilege depressed areas for economic development. Under the MAI, any
such laws would be
banned. Massachusetts, for example, has a law barring investment in Burma
-- that would be banned.
In fact, just about all the things that any community might do to try to
make investment worthwhile for
the community and not just for the investor (would be banned).
Furthermore, corporations would have
the right to sue governments, which has never been allowed in the past.
It's sort of allowed under
NAFTA. But they would be allowed to sue governments, from the federal on
down to the local level, if
there was any infringement on their right to do anything they feel like.
These suits would not be in court,
they're in private appeal panels which are made up of trade experts,
meaning basically representatives
of corporations. There's no rules of evidence, they are secret and there
is no appeal process. The
rulings are made by "trade experts" which are basically corporate
Of course these (litigation) rights are not reciprocal. All obligations
the MAI fall upon governments,
communities and so on. No obligations fall on corporations.
BW: What are the forces behind the MAI?
CHOMSKY: They involve the OECD (the Organization of Economic Cooperation
Development), representing the governments of the richest countries,
was trying to ram it
through. ... The groups behind it were the major power centers of the
world: the powerful
government-states, the transnational corporations, the international
corporate sector and the
international bureaucracies like the International Monetary Fund and so
forth. ... The international
organizations of U.S. business were involved directly. In fact, the U.S.
Council on International
Business already had a publication on it back in January 1996, which they
were circulating to their
corporate membership. The USCIB requested -- which amounts to a demand --
that the Clinton
Administration make the MAI a central part of fast track (the temporarily
failed bill endowing the
president with trade negotiating authority and limiting Congress to a
"yes" or "no" vote), even before
the legislation was produced. The White House backed off because they
afraid of the publicity.
BW: You've emphasized the involvement of national governments within this
process, but isn't that
ironic given the fact that the MAI severely undermines the sovereignty of
CHOMSKY: That's on purpose. The leaders of the national governments want
to undermine their
sovereignty. Remember what a government is. It's not a government of the
people. It's a government of
powerful interests. This was made dramatically clear in an interchange
between the White House and
Congress which the press refused to publish. Last November, 25
congressional representatives sent a
letter to the White House saying that "it has come to our attention --
to the efforts of activist
groups -- that this treaty (the MAI) has been under negotiations for
years," and they asked a
couple questions. One question was, how is it possible that the White
House is claiming that they need
fast track to be able to negotiate trade agreements, and here's a huge
trade agreement they've been
intensively negotiating for three years without fast track? Secondly, how
is it possible that, given that
under the constitution Congress has exclusive control over questions of
international commerce, the
Clinton Administration had been doing it without even notifying Congress?
And third, they went into
some of the wording of the treaty and pointed out that it grants
corporations rights which are far
beyond what U.S. law grants them, and that in fact undermines U.S.
sovereignty. A couple of months
later they got an answer, which is the kind of answer that you would get
if you wrote a letter to the
White House -- "Thank you for your letter," and it said nothing. In fact
they did issue a formal
statement last February, and it was a very interesting statement. It
didn't say much but it did say that
"we are being very careful to insure that all of our domestic
constituencies are actively involved in the
process." And that's a very interesting phrase. Who are the "domestic
constituencies" that are
involved? Well it's not Congress, they had never heard of it. It's not
public, they've been kept out
of it totally. The "domestic constituencies" that they're referring to
the U.S. Council on International
Business. That's what the White House is telling us in a very crude form.
Who are they the government
of? People ought to pay attention. Their power rarely reveals its
position. That's why I would describe
it not as ironic, but rather perfectly natural. ...
If we go back to the Bretton Woods system again, back to 1944, one of the
reasons that they gave for
requiring regulation on capital flows was what is sometimes called the
"incompatibility thesis" by
international economists. That thesis states that liberalization of
capital tends to undermine free trade,
because capital flows make very volatile markets, and makes it much
for trade to take place. In
fact, the natural reaction to freeing up capital is increased
protectionism, and incidentally that's what has
happened since the early 1970s. So this is not a period of free trade,
it's a period of greater regulation
of trade. The United States is extreme in this regard. The Reagan
Administration broke all records in
closing off the U.S. markets to foreign exports. They doubled the
protectionist barriers in comparison
to any post-war administration. That was a global phenomenon and it's
known among economists.
And that is undoubtedly an illustration of the truth: As capital is
liberalized, trade growth slows.
BW: What was the nature of the grass roots effort opposing the MAI?
CHOMSKY: It actually started in Canada. There the activism was so strong
that it broke into the
national media. So for about a year in Canada it's been all over national
television, the main-stream
press and so on. And it never crossed the border, which is interesting.
In January 1997, someone (at the OECD) -- they won't say who -- in Paris
leaked a draft treaty
which the OECD wanted to keep secret, to grass-roots organizations. It
immediately put up on
the Internet and at that point a number of organizations started getting
actively involved in trying to
circulate it. ... In the United States, there was first a little public
interest foundation in Washington called
the Preamble Foundation, and I got my copy of the treaty from them
initially. Then Public Citizen got
involved, and there's an international forum on globalization which is
involved, as well as a lot of the
environmental organizations -- Friends of the Earth, the Greens. Pretty
soon it just sort of spread its
way through this whole network of organizations. A lot of
opposed, and they were able to compel the OECD to let them have a say at
the OECD meetings last
October. They had a press conference afterwards which none of the press
covered. But at that point
even the United States (representatives) didn't want it signed. It was
just getting to be too hot an issue.
They don't want people to know what they are doing, that's why it is in
secret. That's why the major
press wouldn't cover it. But it was just breaking out.
The point is that activism got so strong that the OECD sort of backed
That's a pretty impressive
achievement. ... Keep in mind that (in the U.S.) fast track was defeated.
And that's another important
popular victory. Because, as the government pointed out, fast track
authority is conventional-just about
every other president had it. And the reason was (because there) wasn't
enough popular opposition.
Now there is. What the press ought to have on the front pages is that
failure of MAI and fast
track) are tremendous victories for popular activism against
odds. Those are hopeful
signs, and that's why they're not being reported. They don't want to
BW: Was popular activism the prime factor in stopping the MAI push?
CHOMSKY: There were other issues, I should say. A lot of different
countries introduced what they
call "reservations" to protect something that they wanted to protect. We
can't really know in detail
what (the reservations were) because it was secret. But there is no doubt
that France and Canada
introduced reservations to try to protect their cultural industries. The
U.S. has different laws that would
be threatened. For example, foreign ownership of the U.S. press is
Also the Helms-Burton Act
is in radical violation of the WTO rules, and has been condemned by just
about everybody. It's been
declared illegal by the Organization of American States. And
(Helms-Burton) would be totally
inconsistent with the MAI, so the U.S. was trying to introduce
reservations to permit it to continue
these illegal activities.
BW: But still, it's big news, so why isn't the mainstream press covering
CHOMSKY: Because it's big news. I mean, they knew perfectly well that the
public is going to hate it.
So they wanted to keep it secret, and keep it to what they call the
"domestic constituencies" -- the
international business community. The mainstream press is simply part of
the corporate sector, that's
not a secret, after all. I mean what is the New York Times? It's a huge
corporation. The press is just
one arm of the corporate sector. Well, the whole corporate sector doesn't
want the public to know
about it. They sometimes tell you why. For example, when fast track was
running into trouble, the Wall
Street Journal ran an article saying this is terrible, we've got to get
through, and they said the critics
(of fast track) have what they call the "ultimate weapon," which is that
the public is opposed to it.
They've got to keep the "ultimate weapon" silent. And the best way to
them silent is not to tell
them anything. Why does the IMF operate in secrecy? Well, that's why.
BW: Is the MAI dead in the water?
CHOMSKY: No, it's not. In fact it's been interesting to read the wrap-ups
in the international financial
press. And they say "look, we lost at the OECD, but we'll sneak it in
other way." Right now
there's a fight going on in Congress because the Clinton Administration
trying to get the IMF to
change its charter, and there is opposition to that. Gephardt and some of
the Democrats have
proposed a resolution just in the last few days to try to bar this. But
that is part of the effort to get
around the OECD.
Back to Bad News
Go to The Noam Chomsky Archive
Karl--I went in to the web site to snag this article and it says it is
just as I sent you address-wise. Can't guess what's going on here.
On Fri, 9 Oct 1998, Karl S North wrote:
> Camilla in Arkansas,
> Geocities said they had no page entitled
> on their website. If the Chomsky piece cannot be accessed that way,
> maybe you would send me the text? Thanks, Karl
> Karl North
> Northland Sheep Dairy
> "Mother Nature never tries to farm without livestock" --Albert Howard
> "Pueblo que canta no morira" --Cuban saying
> On Fri, 9 Oct 1998 09:32:46 -0500 (CDT) "Camilla M. Romund"
> <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes:
> >An excellent companion piece for your efforts (one that would quickly
> >a rich history and current status of the MAI to those not familiar
> >with it
> >plus the reasons WHY most members of the public are not familiar with
> >it!) is the below superb interview with the great Noam Chomsky. I'm
> >including the website address in an e-mail I sent to a friend
> >since Chomsky's interview with the Boulder Weekly is quite lengthy and
> >really shouldn't be reproducing and broadcasting it in cyberspace
> >The news headline article I refer to that I found the next day focused
> >comments by Robert Rubin about his concerns over unregulated capital
> >world wide, yet he sounds so milk-toast after Chomsky's roaring truth
> >Rubin making comments like, "The IMF should be more transparent."
> >is telling the truth about the dismantling of the Bretton Woods system
> >Republican administrations which has led to the current global
> >crisis...and Rubin is mincing words about...well check it out for
> >if you'd like...here's the reference:
> >>Friday October 2 6:43 AM EDT
> >>U.S. Treasury Chief Proposes Global Financial Reforms
> >>By Isabelle Clary
> >>NEW YORK (Reuters)
> >Anyone who wants to read a rock 'em-sock 'em commentary on the MAI by
> >of this century's most brilliant social critics may check out this web
> >>This is the Noam Chomsky interview I found on Oct. 1st. I'll
> >>follow this with the news headline article I found the next day.
> >>Hope you enjoy this...Camilla
> >>This is the website where I found the Chomsky interview:
> >>Chomsky has some other very lively and pointed commentaries on this
> >>Chomsky on the MAI
> >Regards, Camilla in Arkansas
> >P.S. Can I, as an American citizen, participate in the below letter
> >On Sat, 8 Oct 1988, Victor Guest wrote:
> >> To: "Multiple WA contacts Stop MAI" <email@example.com>
> >> Subject: StopMAI Letter to PM and OECD
> >> Friends,
> >> We seek your endorsement of this communique to get truth in
> >> understanding of what is happening in our world.
> >> For me the connection between the MAI and the privitisation of
> >> is undeniable and a disgrace. The threat to our environment and
> >> is also observable and undeniable.
> >> Thank you
> >> Vic Guest
> >> ***PLEASE REPOST TO RELEVANT NETWORKS ***
> >> This is an Australian letter for sending to Paris on Friday, 16
> >> in time for delivery to the OECD before the MAI negotiations
> >recommence on
> >> Tues 20 October.
> >> If there is enough financial support, we can also publish it in the
> >> national and/or State press.
> >> Please forward this text and seek endorsement by as many groups and
> >> individuals as possible, including representatives of churches,
> >> and other civil organisations, lawyers, academics, sympathetic
> >> parliamentarians, etc.
> >> There is a voluntary option of donating a small sum toward the cost
> >> advertising the letter in newspapers.
> >> Please send to your contacts and request that they do likewise as
> >> as possible. To endorse the letter they need only email to
> >> firstname.lastname@example.org with Subject: ENDORSE and the name(s) and
> >> designation of signatories in the body of the message.
> >Alternatively, fax
> >> a signed copy or authorising message to Stop MAI (WA) at 08 9335
> >7646, or
> >> mail to the undersigned. (These instructions are repeated at the
> >> This action is initiated by Stop MAI (WA) Campaign Coalition, an
> >> public-interest group, independent of political parties, supported
> >> unions, Community Aid Abroad, the Rural Action Movement, environment
> >> human rights groups, etc.
> >> Brian Jenkins
> >> for Stop MAI (WA)
> >> 14 Crowcombe Way
> >> Karrinyup 6018
> >> Western Australia
> >> Phone +61 (0)8 9246 3882
> >> Email email@example.com
> >> - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
> >> Letter for endorsement by individuals and organisations,
> >> for urgent return by 16 October, 1998
> >> - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
> >> The Chairman, MAI Negotiating Group, OECD
> >> Paris, France
> >> through
> >> The Hon John W Howard, Prime Minister of Australia
> >> Parliament House, Canberra.
> >> Dear Sir,
> >> We consider the draft Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) to
> >> damaging to Australians' sovereignty and parliamentary independence.
> >> urge that it not be proceeded with.
> >> The purpose of the MAI is to regulate governments as a means of
> >> liberalising investment. The draft MAI treaty unacceptably elevates
> >> rights of transnational corporations above those of elected
> >> communities, citizens, workers and the environment. This is totally
> >> unacceptable.
> >> MAI negotiations have been conducted by governments representing the
> >> OECD countries, which are the richest countries in the world.
> >> Participation of non-OECD countries and organisations representing
> >> interests of workers, consumers, farmers, the environment, social
> >> and human rights has been minimal.
> >> WE CALL ON THE OECD AND THE GOVERNMENT OF AUSTRALIA TO:
> >> * Undertake an independent and comprehensive assessment of the
> >> environmental and developmental impact of the MAI with full public
> >> participation. The negotiations should be suspended during this
> >> assessment;
> >> * Require multinational investors to observe established standards
> >> environmental protection, labour, health, safety and human rights;
> >> * Put into place open dispute-resolution mechanisms for
> >determination in
> >> Australian courts of law;
> >> * Give the community effective new powers to hold investors to
> >> * Ensure that governments do not have to pay for the right to set
> >> environmental, labour, health and safety standards, even if
> >> with such regulations imposes financial obligations and losses on
> >> investors;
> >> * Reject any terms which restrict the right of elected governments
> >> improve standards and/or to effect withdrawal from the MAI under
> >> reasonable notice, e.g., six months.
> >> In sincerity and trust
> >> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> >> (Signed and Dated)
> >> Add designation, organisation name, etc,
> >> and details of (optional) advertising donation
> >> - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
> >> The Stop MAI coalition seeks endorsement by as many significant
> >> as possible, including representatives of churches, unions and other
> >> organisations, lawyers, academics, sympathetic parliamentarians,
> >> Individual signatories are invited also to consider forwarding a
> >> (voluntary) donation of $10 or $20 toward the cost of advertising
> >> letter in newspapers. Non-donor participation is equally welcome.
> >> Please paste or forward this message to your contacts and request
> >> they do likewise as quickly as possible. To endorse the letter, you
> >> only email to firstname.lastname@example.org with Subject: ENDORSE and the
> >> name(s) and designation of signatories in the body of the message.
> >> Alternatively, fax a signed copy or authorising message to Stop MAI
> >> at 08 9335 7646, or mail to the undersigned.
> >> Brian Jenkins
> >> For Stop MAI (WA)
> >> 14 Crowcombe Way
> >> Karrinyup 6018
> >> Western Australia
> >> Phone +61 (0)8 9246 3882
> >> Email email@example.com
> You don't need to buy Internet access to use free Internet e-mail.
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