National Foreign Trade Council to Ohio: drop HB151; IL struck down Sudan divestment law

This article from the Inter Press Service News Agency does an excellent job in describing precisely why state attempts such as Ohio’s HB151 to legislate foreign policy undermines the federal government’s attempts at protecting American citizen’s interests.

I strongly recommend reading the entire piece, however, I’ve excerpted below the part in which “…the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC), a business lobby created by many of the nation’s biggest corporations, which has long opposed both unilateral U.S. trade sanctions and state divestment initiatives” counsels Ohio legislators about the problems with pursuing HB 151, whose chief sponsors are State Reps. Josh Mandel and Shannon Jones. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns also testified against such state action three months ago in the U.S. Senate.

“We could not support modifications to (ISA)[the federal 1996 Iran Sanctions Act] now being circulated in Congress that would turn the full weight of sanctions not against Iran but against our allies that are instrumental in our coalition against Iran,” Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns told a Senate Committee in late March.

In this position, the administration has been strongly supported by the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC), a business lobby created by many of the nation’s biggest corporations, which has long opposed both unilateral U.S. trade sanctions and state divestment initiatives. [my emphasis]

“On one hand, we’re asking Europe, Russia, China and Japan to work together with us on this, and, on the other hand, we’re beating their companies over the head with a stick,” NFTC President William Reinsch told IPS.

In a letter to Ohio lawmakers considering divestment legislation, Reinsch made much the same argument, noting also that, in a case brought by the NFTC, a federal court judge recently struck down as unconstitutional a Sudan divestment law in Illinois on the grounds that it interfered with the federal government’s ability to conduct foreign policy and regulate foreign trade. [my emphasis]

In his weekly column in the Washington Times published shortly after Reinsch sent his letter, CSP’s president, Frank Gaffney, denounced Reinsch as “Terror’s lobbyist”, charging that the NFTC “favours doing business with America’s enemies and runs interference for those determined to do so”.

Do the research yourself before you decide which side you’re most likely to support or oppose:

William Reinsch
National Foreign Trade Council
Center for Security Policy
Frank Gaffney
Nicholas Burns

Article on NFTC win in Illinois court that struck down state dictate to divest from Sudan
Article on Terror-Free Investment movement

I haven’t studied if or how HB151 differs from the unconstitutional IL law to the extent that it would be less susceptible to an NTFC challenge, but if anyone knows, feel free to explain.

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