Presidents, Members of Congress and the Pundit Class that are unable intellectually or unwilling politically to confront the real inequality-enhancing impact of NAFTA-style trade deals have often said that "we must do NAFTA-style trade deals because we have to reward our friends and allies abroad," or that, "Didn't some German dude say trade causes peace and democracy, man?"
There's a growing consensus that this line of argument is bunk. Barry Lynn at New America Foundation wrote an excellent book in 2005 that showed how there is no link between democratization and increased trade flows, with China being Example Numero Uno. And we wrote a short brief with the Washington Office on Latin America and others showing that, if anything, NAFTA-style trade deals INCREASE instability in sensitive regions.
These general arguments have been given confirmation by two events coming out of Colombia in the last few days. First, Colombia's second largest rebel group announced that it would agree to a cease fire if only the government would not sign and implement the FTA. According to Reuters,
A cease-fire is the major stumbling block in the peace talks, which began 17 months ago in Havana in a bid to end the Cuban-inspired guerrilla insurgency begun in 1964 by radical students and Catholic priests.
The 5,000-strong ELN said it was ready to stop its armed attacks, kidnappings and sabotage activities if the Colombian government suspended what it called unpopular measures such as free trade with the United States.
"It is necessary to freeze the approval of the FTA because it hurts the sovereignty and future of our nation, and the interests of a majority of Colombians," the ELN said in a statement issued in Havana, referring to the trade agreement.
Second exhibit are the ever-more-frequent statements by Colombia's leading politicians that the Colombian government will pull out of the U.S. government-led War on Drugs if Congress rejects the FTA. While this is ostensibly a threat meant to cow members of Congress, I can't think of a better reason to reject the FTA. Plan Colombia and the U.S. War on Drugs have increased suffering in Colombia, and been ineffectual at reducing the supply of drugs.
So, much to the contrary of the notion that an FTA is needed to guarantee peace and stability, it seems that rejection of the FTA would be much more likely to guarantee those goals.