More revelations re the extent of UD diplomatic involvement in pushing the commercial ambitions of Monsanto, in Europe and elsewhere. Quotes: ".........the Bush administration appears to have used diplomats as sales agents for Monsanto and other major corporations." "..........the American government using diplomats to engage in flagrantly corrupt behavior on the part of for-profit interests is startling."
3 January 2011
One of the diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks shows George W. Bush’s ambassador to France advised the White House to launch a military-style trade war against any EU nation that opposed the implementation of genetically modified seeds. Despite widespread, credible scientific concern about the possible harm to human health or to the environment or food supply from the use of genetically engineered crops, the Bush administration appears to have used diplomats as sales agents for Monsanto and other major corporations.
According to the Guardian newspaper:
WikiLeaks: US targets EU over GM crops US embassy cable recommends drawing up list of countries for 'retaliation' over opposition to genetic modification • John Vidal, environment editor • guardian.co.uk, Monday 3 January 2011 13.44 GM http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/03/wikileaks-us-eu-gm-crops
In response to moves by France to ban a Monsanto GM corn variety in late 2007, the ambassador, Craig Stapleton, a friend and business partner of former US president George Bush, asked Washington to penalise the EU and particularly countries which did not support the use of GM crops.
“Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the worst culprits.
Stapleton’s suggestion to create what amounts to a hit list for nations not willing to do business with a specific American commercial interest suggests a wholesale degradation of the diplomatic process. While nations often treat foreign diplomats with suspicion, because diplomatic immunity laws have been used in the past to give cover to spies, the American government using diplomats to engage in flagrantly corrupt behavior on the part of for-profit interests is startling.
The content of the cable also suggests that some of the well-known deterioration that occurred in US foreign relations with close allies during the Bush years may be better explained by such coordinated attacks and corrupt activities than by fundamental disagreements over security policy.
In the US, many thoughtful and informed people were shocked to hear some of the bluster about whether France was an ally or a friend to terrorists (after all, Le Monde ran the historic headline “We are all Americans now” on 12 September 2001). The intense frustration of the Bush administration over its dealings with France and other European governments might stem from the misguided and ill-fated refocusing of diplomatic resources to petty commercial manipulation and salesmanship, which now appears to have put the US government in the position of treating allies like enemies over seed contracts.
The depth of diplomatic shortsightedness is stunning, and deeply concerning, and would seem to show the value of a process that makes possible the release of this kind of information. The release of such cables will almost certainly motivate journalists to be far more inquisitive and aggressive about finding out the content of diplomatic communications. But that is not so much the legacy of WikiLeaks as the direct result of incredible abuses carried out for narrow private interests.
The potential danger of such diplomatic abuses is, of course, the long- term degradation of vital economic and security alliances. Democratic societies are organized, in theory, to allow a sovereign people to prevent such abuses by replacing the corrupt officials in question. Secrecy interferes with that basic democratic right, and the service of democratic liberties cannot be used as a justification for unwarranted cover that helps to erode those liberties.
The Guardian report goes on to detail how extensively the US diplomatic corps in Europe was tasked with lobbying for Monsanto’s seed-sale interests:
Cables from the US embassy in the Vatican show that the US believes the pope is broadly supportive of the crops after sustained lobbying of senior Holy See advisers, but regrets that he has not yet stated his support. The US state department special adviser on biotechnology as well as government biotech advisers based in Kenya lobbied Vatican insiders to persuade the pope to declare his backing. “… met with [US monsignor] Fr Michael Osborn of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, offering a chance to push the Vatican on biotech issues, and an opportunity for post to analyse the current state of play on biotech in the Vatican generally,” says one cable in 2008.
“Opportunities exist to press the issue with the Vatican, and in turn to influence a wide segment of the population in Europe and the developing world,” says another.
The use of diplomats to lobby for economic policies beneficial to their nation’s economy may not be new, but the use of diplomats to not only discuss economic policy and trade priorities, but to coordinate attacks against allies who refuse to buy from a specific entity is dangerous and an egregious violation of the public servants’ oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and to serve and protect the people.