Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Why Secrecy in Trade (and Other) Diplomacy is Necessary and Not So Evil

Geoffrey Allen Pigman, economonitor.com

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As with all diplomacy, ultimately some interests have to be sacrificed for others.  Diplomatic agreements are the product of many interlocking tradeoffs.  To allow Congress or the public to sign off on each potential tradeoff as it is negotiated is the best way to ensure that an overall agreement can never be reached.  Once a trade agreement such as TPP or TTIP is negotiated, the job of members of Congress then is to use their judgement to evaluate the overall agreement, weighing its impact upon competing interests, both within their districts and in consideration of the national interest, and to cast a vote accordingly, under Fast Track in the case of trade deals.  Ultimately, that perceptions of secrecy in trade and other diplomatic negotiations have become so problematic with the public is illustrative of how almost all diplomacy has now become ‘public diplomacy’.  Public expectations that they be kept informed and granted input at all stages of a negotiation, aggravated by organizations such as Wikileaks, has made the work of professional diplomats much more difficult.  Helping the public to understand that they are likely to obtain more of their overall objectives if they are willing to allow diplomats to put a deal together, and then delegate to their elected representatives the responsibility of reviewing and passing judgement upon a final agreement, is time well spent. 

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