This week saw US President Barack Obama in the UK supporting the official British government view that that nation should vote to remain within the European Union. Readers of Sparrow Chat will be aware that the writer also supports that view, though perhaps for somewhat differing reasons from either the UK government, or Barack Obama.
President Obama has been one of the most glib and polished presidents of recent years. His popularity, particularly among young people, verges on legend. But a way with words, an ability to charm, does not necessarily prove the worth of the person behind the speeches and smiles.
In many ways Barack Obama oozes a similar charm to the once British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Blair was able to woo the British electorate sufficient to retain power for ten years, yet has become living proof of the corrupting effect such elevated status can bestow.
In a carefully worded speech to the British people, President Obama lithely spelled out the virtues of remaining ‘European’, while adding just a soupçon of warning. A ‘No’ vote could mean repercussions drastically affecting the “special relationship” between the two nations.
It was all said with a smile and much intermittent hand-shaking between the president and the UK Prime Minister, but the threat was sufficient for the BBC to carry this main headline on its website for two days:
The UK could take up to 10 years to negotiate trade deals with the US if it leaves the EU, Barack Obama has said.
In a BBC interview, the US president said: “It could be five years from now, 10 years from now before we were able to actually get something done.”
Britain would also have less influence globally if it left, he added.
Just what are the trade deals to which he refers, and how will they effect the UK and Europe?
Yesterday, Saturday April 23rd, in excess of 30,000 people marched through the streets of Hannover in Germany, to protest over the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). President Obama arrives in Germany today. He is to hold talks with Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, in an attempt to move forward discussions on that very Trade Agreement.
It’s the second part of Obama’s crusade to create a World View trade agreement between the US and the rest of the planet that will have serious repercussions for us all if it succeeds.
The first segment, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), has already been provisionally signed by twelve nations, including Australia and New Zealand, Canada, and of course, the United States, despite huge protests by the citizenry of these nations.
The TPP is being backed by Big Business, which stands to benefit enormously from the treaty. In a totally undemocratic and underhand manner, allowing no consultation with democratic watchdogs (or even the US Congress), the TTP is going ahead. It has Barack Obama’s full backing. On October 5th 2015, then Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, stated he expected:
…signatures on the finalized text and deal early in the new year, and ratification over the next two years.”
It seems that, at least for those nations on the Pacific rim, democracy is taking a back seat to corporate power. If European leaders are persuaded to act similarly, against the wishes of their citizens, a similar fate will await Europe.
The demise of democracy in America is plain (for all those who take note of such things) to see. Corporate power is king, and the US Congress bows the knee to its reign. US politicians are like a football team, long time holders of the title, but now relegated to the lower divisions.
Today we are seeing the first corporate to make a bid for the US Presidency. Donald Trump may cut a comic figure to many, he may well never make the final cut, but it can only be a matter of time before the Office of President of the United States is held by a Trump, or a Zukerberg, or a Koch.
One can only hope we Europeans are not sold off in a similar manner to the highest corporate bidder.
It is, perhaps, a forlorn hope.
 “Post-Brexit trade deal with US could take 10 years, Obama warns” BBC, April 23rd 2016
 “How Facebook plans to take over the world” Guardian, April 23rd 2016