AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka will address the Council on Foreign Relations today, according to a release from the labor organization. Trumka will outline a new model of trade that simultaneously promotes domestic economic growth while building global economic security for workers; he will also call on President Obama to "put his stamp" on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The AFL-CIO released the following excerpt from Trumka's address:
"We are living at a time when young people all over the world are demanding good jobs, a voice at work and a voice in the decisions that impact their economies. It is no accident that newly triumphant young protestors in Egypt sent pizza to young union activists in Madison, Wisconsin, last month, just as U.S. union members had protested outside the Egyptian embassy days earlier.
These global cries for democracy challenge governments and international institutions to refound our global economic and political order on a more democratic, transparent - and equitable - basis.
Today President Obama has an opportunity to put his stamp on a major trade agreement--the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Here is a chance to make good on the President's commitment to craft a new trade policy for the twenty-first century that makes sense for working people and not just for multinational corporation.
The AFL-CIO is ready to work with the President and his team to make the TPP a new model for America's trade policy. But this will require new thinking on investment, services and government procurement, and the will to move forward on the labor and environment front -- by strengthening commitments, streamlining dispute settlement, building new institutions and improving enforcement.
Ultimately, we must change both the details of our trade policy and embed that policy in a coherent national economic strategy -- if we are going to close our current account deficit and quit borrowing hundreds of billions of dollars from the rest of the world every year."
Writing at Commentary, Council on Foreign Relations fellow Max Boot points out that the big story out of Israel yesterday was the IDF's Trophy active-protection system in action on the Gaza border. The system uses radar to detect a missile launch and fires projectiles to halt incoming rockets.
And while it didn't make the U.S. news, there's an obvious benefit to Americans, according to Boot.
This is a development that will also be of interest to the U.S. armed forces. So far, our forces have not confronted much of a missile threat in Afghanistan or Iraq; most of our vehicles have been lost to IEDs, not missiles. But given how cheap and plentiful various sorts of man-launched rockets are, it is inevitable that before long they will be used by our enemies. When that happens, we may find ourselves grateful once again for our alliance with Israel, which has developed technology — and not for the first time — that can be of such great benefit to the U.S. armed forces.
In a one week turnaround, new House Committee on Foreign Affairs chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen announced last week that the full committee would hold hearings on Egypt and Lebanon and U.S. policy toward them. The hearings, which took place yesterday and today, in part, relied on testimony from think tank experts Elliott Abrams of the Council on Foreign Relations and Rob Satloff of the Washington Institute on Near East Policy.
Abrams, a former official in the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations, unsurprisingly, upheld many of the Bush democracy promotion policies and seemingly justified the fear over the strength of the Muslim Brotherhood in his testimony.
But what's confusing is Abrams' claim that Mubarak had already installed his son, Gamal, as the next president of Egypt--and that the Obama administration had been warned (yet done nothing) about creating a second "President for Life."
And in fact Hosnia [sic] Mubarak will leave behind a Muslim Brotherhood that is stronger than ever because he viciously repressed moderates and centrists in his effort to stay in power. The Brotherhood thrived underground and in the mosques, while a moderate who had the audacity to run against President Mubarak in 2005, Ayman Nour, was then imprisoned for four years. This suggests that Egypt’s forthcoming transition to democracy will be extremely difficult and may falter, because the Mubarak regime did literally nothing in 30 years to prepare Egypt for it. The Administration was warned about all of this a year ago, and told that if Mubarak stole the November 2010 parliamentary elections and tried to install his son as his successor, Egypt was in for real turbulence. He did both— and now Egypt is reaping the whirlwind. Egyptians were not going to accept sixty years of Mubaraks, two consecutive Presidents for Life, and a continuation of the State of Emergency for another three decades. Unfortunately that advice to the Administration was not heeded—or not well enough anyway; the Administration was largely passive and hardly reacted when Mubarak stole yet another election last Fall.
Gamal Mubarak has been discussed as the successor to Hosni Mubarak for more than 10 years, but at no time has Mubarak installed his son as the successor. A recent WikiLeaks document suggests that the U.S. Embassy believed it would not be a wise move for Egypt if Gamal were to be put in place.
Max Boot is no fan of potential interim Egyptian leader, Mohamed El Baradei, but he says it's too late for the conservative commentary insisting that the U.S. find another option--the time was years ago to find an Egyptian moderate.
I am by no means trying to minimize the possible dangers ahead or to wish away the problems with ElBaradei. But the reality is that he has become the only realistic alternative to Mubarak, at least in the short-term. If he does the job right, he could preside over an interim government that would lift the state of emergency and allow the emergence of genuine political parties. Hopefully, we would see the emergence of popular leaders who would not be beholden to the Muslim Brotherhood. But for now, our options are severely limited.
As I’ve argued repeatedly, if we had wanted to avoid this dire situation, we should have been putting real pressure on Mubarak to reform in years past. But many of those who now decry ElBaradei also resisted attempts to force Mubarak to liberalize, because they were devoted to the mantra of “stability” above all. We are now seeing how deceptive the Mubarak mirage actually was.