One year ago, President Obama told West Point graduates what made America special. “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being,” Obama said. “But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law; it is our willingness to affirm them through our actions.”
The peculiar notion that American exceptionalism requires America to bow before non-American norms finds its apotheosis in the Obama administration’s current foreign policy. Whether at the G7 or in the federal courts, whether in international trade agreements or State Department internet policy, the Obama administration wishes to use chosen “international norms” to trump traditionally American concerns.
At the G7 this week, for example, President Obama allegedly told members of the G7 that America’s strong dollar poses a threat to the world economy. Obama feared that the strong dollar would force Greece to inflate its currency in order to pay off its international debt, or prevent it from solving its fiscal crisis altogether. The White House later denied Obama’s comments, but given Obama’s stated belief in more even global income distribution, his original comment makes perfect sense.
Meanwhile, President Obama’s trade agreement, kept largely secret from the American public, places international priorities at its center while marginalizing American ones. This is not because international trade somehow hurts the United States — generally speaking, Americans live significantly more prosperous lives thanks to free trade. Instead, the problem with the various trade agreements more commonly known as Obamatrade lie in their attempts to curb America’s bargaining power in the international community, changing regulations here at home.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership opens the door to widespread regulation here at home on issues ranging from energy to immigration. Curtis Ellis of the American Jobs Alliance explains that the agreement “includes an entire chapter on immigration. It is a Trojan horse for Obama’s immigration agenda.” More specifically, the TPP makes “temporary entry” guest worker visas a centerpiece of American trade policy — and given that half of America’s illegal immigrants came to the United States legally and then overstayed their visas, this should prompt American wariness.
The TPP also creates a body called the Trans-Pacific Partnership Commission, which would, according to Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), submerge America’s trade authority in an international body. The TPP also calls itself a “living agreement,” meaning that it could also be opened to other countries, which means that those countries would also be involved in shaping America’s economic future. Sessions wrote:
Reviewing the secret text, plus the secret guidance document that accompanies it, reveals that this new transnational commission – chartered with a ‘Living Agreement’ clause – would have the authority to amend the agreement after its adoption, to add new members, and to issue regulations impacting labor, immigration, environmental, and commercial policy.
Similarly, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) establishes a Joint Regulatory Cooperation Body, comprised of senior U.S. and European Union representatives. While this body would not be able to adopt law, it would develop the regulations then rammed through Congress by friendly lobbyists and businesses. Factually speaking, few Americans pay attention to the vagaries of individual trade regulations. Where those regulations are developed actually matters; having them developed by consensus within the international community could end in adoption of internationally-oriented laws.
That’s just authority the Obama administration wants to grant foreign bodies. Closer to home, the Obama administration is moving quickly to implement international law standards domestically. Attorney General Loretta Lynch has focused her attention on prosecuting international crime, from the FIFA soccer scandal to the prosecution of international terrorists with tenuous connections to the United States. But by the same token, the Obama administration is now using regulatory authority to crack down on Americans’ domestic rights in the name of stopping international terrorism. This week, the State Department updated the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), as authorized under the Arms Export Control Act. The new regulations would prevent gun experts from distributing information about technical specs on firearms without government approval. Those who disobey face a penalty of up to $1 million and 20 years in prison.
President Obama has never been shy about his intentions to radically transform the United States, and to do so in the image of the international community. With his last election over, he now feels the freedom to do so — and Republicans should not trust that his sudden enthusiasm for free trade and prosecution of international criminality comes without a price.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.