Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Score One For the Propagandists

The Washington Post has an editorial on recent trade agreement legislation that demonstrates that the Post has swallowed the standard line of the pro-trade lobbies hook, line, and sinker. Since the beginning of the popular movement against the WTO, proponents of the current trade system have tarred all opposition as being against trade in all forms and situations. I'll grant that there is a radical fringe that would support that position, and further that indeed, mobs of protesters don't do nuance well. But the position of trade reformers has always been more nuanced than the Post suggests. Their claim that "Oxfam, and more broadly the coalition of organizations that campaigned for Third World debt relief under the banner of the Jubilee movement, have largely abandoned their old skepticism about trade in favor of campaigns against egregious rich-world protectionism" demonstrates their ignorance of what Oxfam has been preaching on this subject for some time. They have always been asking for "fair trade", not "no trade". Oxfam first launched its Fair Trade program some 40 years ago. It should be noted that protests are generally focused at the IMF and the WTO, organizations which Oxfam persuasively argues have consistently promoted unfair trading systems. The clear misinterpretation on the part of the Post, a respected mainstream observer, of what this debate has been about signals a victory on the part of anti-reform lobby in their campaign to smear their opposition.

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