North American Union
From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_american_union
The North American Union (NAU) is a theoretical economic union, in some instances also a political union, of Canada, Mexico, and the United States. The concept is loosely based on the European Union, occasionally including a common currency called the Amero or the North American Dollar.
While the idea for some form of union has been discussed or proposed in academic, business and political circles for many decades, there are no plans to create such a union and no agreement to do so has been signed. The formation of a North American Union has been the subject of various conspiracy theories.
Since at least the mid-18th century, numerous concepts for a union among Canada, Mexico and the United States, some including Caribbean, Central American and South American countries, have been proposed, such as the North American Technate. In 2003, amid a push for greater integration and concerns in the fallout of the September 11 attacks about the impact of heightened security on trade relations, an effort organized by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, and the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations called the Independent Task Force on North America was initiated. Several weeks before a meeting of North American leaders on March 23, 2005 the Task Force issued a press release and a statement from the Task Force's chairmen calling for deeper integration of NAFTA to form a North American Economic and Security Community by 2010.
The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) was formed at the meeting of North American leaders. It was described by the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the United States as a dialogue to provide greater cooperation on security and economic issues. In response to later concerns, a section was put up on the initiative's site clarifying the SPP was not a legal agreement, that the initiative "does not seek to rewrite or renegotiate NAFTA", and that the partnership itself "creates no NAFTA-plus legal status." A number of academics and government officials at the time viewed the SPP as moving North America towards greater integration.
The Task Force published a report in May 2005 which praised the SPP initiative and pushed for greater economic integration by 2010. They repeated their call for the "establishment by 2010 of a North American economic and security community, the boundaries of which would be defined by a common external tariff and an outer security perimeter." In the report the Task Force said that a North American Community, which would be similar to the European Community which preceded the EU, should not rely on "grand schemes of confederation or union" and did not suggest a supranational government or a common currency. The Task Force’s recommendations included developing a North American customs union, common market, investment fund, energy strategy, set of regulatory standards, security perimeter, border pass, and advisory council, among other common goals.
Former Mexican president Vicente Fox is the only leader involved in the SPP process who has expressed a desire for a North American Union-style body. He noted the success countries like Ireland and Spain had in modernizing their economies and bringing higher standards of living for their citizens by joining what is now the European Union and expressed the hope that Mexico could have a similar experience in a trade body of comparable scope in North America. Fox has, however, expressed frustration with the lack of progress on measures such as immigration reform, which proved to be contentious within the United States.
Claims of implementation
In 2005, claims emerged from critics of North American integration that a "North American Union" was not only being planned, but was being implemented by the governments of Canada, Mexico, and the United States. These critics cited the formation of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America and claimed it was an attempt to dramatically alter the economic and political status quo between the countries outside of the scrutiny of the respective national legislatures, a critique heightened by the subsequent publication of the Independent Task Force on North America report which praised the SPP initiative and called for greater economic integration by 2010.
While a broad spectrum of observers criticize the secrecy of the SPP and its dominance by business groups, the specific claim that its true aim was to expand NAFTA into a North American Union analogous to the European Union (EU), with open borders and a common currency among other features, was being made by the fall of 2006, when conservative commentators Phyllis Schlafly, Jerome Corsi and Howard Phillips started a website dedicated to quashing what they perceived as the coming North American "Socialist mega-state."
The belief that a North American Union was being planned and implemented in secret became widespread, so much so that the NAU was a topic of debate during the 2008 American presidential campaigns and the subject of various U.S. Congressional resolutions designed to thwart its implementation. Prominent critics such as CNN’s Lou Dobbs and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul denounced the concept, joined by a nationalist group in Canada, Internet blogs, and widely viewed videos and films such as "Zeitgeist". Corsi’s 2007 book "The Late Great USA: The Coming Merger with Mexico and Canada" also helped bring the NAU discussion into the mainstream. Others who dismiss these beliefs maintain they are the latest example of a long line of erroneous conspiracy theories which suggest that the United States’ sovereignty is being eroded by a secret cabal of foreign and domestic players.
Some of these NAU skeptics, while expressing concern about the lack of transparency of the SPP, note that this is not evidence of a plot to create a North American Union:
The idea of a regional union that effaces U.S. sovereignty is light-years away from George W. Bush's foreign policy of unilateral action and disdain for international law and institutions.—
Some NAU critics claim the actual goals of the SPP were confirmed by the Task Force, and by the Task Force’s co-chair American University professor Robert Pastor.  Critics often cite Pastor as being the “father” of the NAU and his 2001 book "Towards a North American Community: Lessons from the Old World for the New" has been called a blueprint for the plan, and includes a suggestion to adopt a common North American currency called the amero. Professor Robert Pastor is a Vice Chair of the Independent Task Force on the Future of North America who has suggested forming a North American Commission similar to the European Commission and other governing institutions for North America.
Various positive comments about a North American Union concept and an eventual common currency for the Americas by Vicente Fox, in particular some made during a promotional tour for a book in 2007, have been cited by critics as evidence that the body is in fact being enacted or planned.
Features of the NAU
Concepts of a North American Union share a number of common elements between them. NASCO and the SPP have both denied that there are any plans to establish a common currency, a "NAFTA Superhighway", or a North American Union in "Myths vs Facts" pages on their websites.
The "amero" is the appellation given to what would be the North American Union's counterpart to the euro. It was first proposed in 1999 by Canadian economist Herbert G. Grubel. A senior fellow of the Fraser Institute think-tank, he published a book entitled The Case for the Amero in September 1999, the year that the euro became a virtual currency. Robert Pastor, vice-chairman of the Independent Task Force on North America, supported Grubel's conclusions in his 2001 book Toward a North American Community, stating that: "In the long term, the amero is in the best interests of all three countries." Another Canadian think-tank, the conservative C.D. Howe Institute, advocates the creation of a shared currency between Canada and the United States. Although then-Mexican President Vicente Fox had expressed support for the idea, when Grubel brought up the idea to American officials, they said they were not interested, citing lack of benefits for the U.S.
The Director of International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, Benn Steil, has called monetary nationalism and globalization a dangerous combination. Furthermore, he's recommended that, in order to safely globalize, the world must "abandon unwanted currencies, replacing them with dollars, euros, and multinational currencies as yet unborn." Lending support for the end of national currencies, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Eric van Wincoop, coauthored a journal article that argued the economical prudence of a common currency between nations, "The use of different moneys across borders can form a barrier as there are costs in exchanging currencies in spot and forward markets and traders face uncertainty about currency movements that cannot always be hedged. A common currency also leads to greater transparency of price differentials." Cross border trade costs are likened to that of a tariff roughly equivalent to 170%. Forty-four percent of that "tariff" is attributed to "border related trade barriers" which breaks down as follows, "a 8% policy barrier, a 7% language barrier, a 14% currency barrier (from the use of different currencies), a 6% information cost barrier, and a 3% security barrier."
On August 31, 2007, Internet broadcaster and conspiracy theorists Hal Turner and Ace Sabau claimed to have arranged for a United States government minted amero coin to be smuggled out of the U.S. Treasury Department by an employee of that organization. Snopes has assessed both Turner's story and the existence of the amero as false.
The Trans-Texas Corridor was first proposed by Texas Governor Rick Perry in 2002. It consists of a 1,200 foot (366 m) wide highway that also carries utilities such as electricity, petroleum, and water, as well as railway track and fiber-optic cables. In July 2007, U.S. Representative and candidate for the Republican nomination in the 2008 presidential election Duncan Hunter successfully offered an amendment to H.R. 3074, the Department of Transportation Appropriations Act, 2008, prohibiting the use of federal funds for U.S. Department of Transportation participation in the activities of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP). Hunter stated that:
Unfortunately, very little is known about the NAFTA Super Highway. This amendment will provide Congress the opportunity to exercise oversight of the highway, which remains a subject of question and uncertainty, and ensure that our safety and security will not be compromised in order to promote the business interests of our neighbors.—
Fellow Republican Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul brought the issue to mainstream prominence during the December 2007 CNN-YouTube GOP debate, where he rejected the concept and also called it "the NAFTA Superhighway" and, like Hunter, framed it within "the ultimate goal" of creating a North American Union.
In 2001, President of Mexico Vicente Fox said in an interview for Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy that in the long term he sought with the United States a "convergence of our two economies, convergence on the basic and fundamental variables of the economy, convergence on rates of interest, convergence on income of people, convergence on salaries." He suggested this might take as long as 20 years to be realized, but the ultimate "convergence" he saw between the United States and Mexico would allow them to "erase that border, open up that border for [the] free flow of products, merchandises, [and] capital as well as people". After leaving office, he continued to support the concept, while expressing his disappointment with the changed American political situation which made it seem more difficult to come to fruition. In an online discussion of his book Revolution of Hope: The Life, Faith, and Dreams of A Mexican President Fox cited the process of European integration and asked a question, "Why can't we be not only partners in the long term, but a North American Union?"
In September 2006, U.S. Representative Virgil Goode proposed with six co-sponsors non-binding House Concurrent Resolution 487, which specifically outlined opposition to a North American Union or a NAFTA Superhighway as a threat to U.S. sovereignty. The bill never left committee. The same resolution was reintroduced by Goode in January 2007 for the 110th Congress as House Concurrent Resolution 40, this time with forty-three cosponsors, including 2008 Republican presidential candidates Duncan Hunter, Ron Paul and Tom Tancredo, who have all expressed opposition to a North American Union during their campaigns.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez stated in 2007: "There is no secret plan to create a North American union, or a common currency, or to intrude on the sovereignty of any of the partner nations".
Regarding the NAFTA superhighway, officials from the Federal Highway Administration have denied such a scheme. Also, the NASCO denies a new proposal for a "NAFTA superhighway" saying, "it exists today as I-35."
In an August 2007 press conference in Montebello, Quebec, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated that he didn't believe that the NAU was a "generally expressed concern", while U.S. President George W. Bush called concerns of a North American Union "political scare tactics" and described as "comical" the "difference between reality and what some people are talking on TV about."
In popular culture
Some form of North American Union is a common trope in science fiction literature. Examples include:
- In the space opera the Lensman series by E.E. Smith, in Volume Two of the series, the 1950 book First Lensman, one of the heroes, Roderick Kinnison (a member of the Galactic Patrol), wins election as President of North America on the "Cosmocratic Party" ticket against the corrupt Witherspoon, who ran on the "Nationalist Party" ticket. North America still uses the electoral college system. The President of North America has a five year term. North America is a republic composed of the former nations of Canada, the United States, and Mexico. Its constituent states are the former provinces of Canada, states of the United States, and states of Mexico. (This would make a total of 91 states, assuming the Canadian territories had not yet become states by that time.) The novel takes place several hundred years in the future after Earth has recovered from the late 20th century World War III and has developed interstellar travel using the inertialess drive.
- Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace takes place in the near future with a common North American currency, and a strong US-led North American confederation.
- In Alexis A. Gilliland's Rosinante Trilogy (1981–82), a North American Union of Canada, the U.S., Mexico, and Cuba forms in 2004 following a limited nuclear war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact.
- Montezuma Strip and The Mocking Program, both by Alan Dean Foster, take place along the U.S.-Mexican border in a North American Union. The Union police are called Federales.
- The CBC miniseries The Trojan Horse, sequel to H2O: The Last Prime Minister, has as its setting a referendum on Canada merging into the United States. It passes, and the last Prime Minister of Canada eventually runs for President of the United States.
- The Sci Fi Channel series FTL Newsfeed, set in the future world of the 22nd century, featured a number of world economic combines, one of which is the North American Union. Its flag is a variant of the United States flag, with the Canadian maple leaf in place of the stars. Unlike most modern concepts of such a union, this version only consists of the USA and Canada. Its system of government is basically the same as the USA's current system, albeit without the Electoral College.
- In the Mass Effect universe Canada, Mexico, and the United States merge to become the United North American States. The merger occurs sometime in the 2090s and results in both the destruction of the Statue of Liberty (in protest of the merger) and the Second American Civil War. A notable after-effect of the merger is that at least two of the Presidents since the merger, Enrique Aguilar and "Zombie" Huerta, have names suggesting Mexican origin.
- In the Fallout 3 universe the United States annexes Canada in the late 2070's as its 51st state due to the emerging energy crisis and the US war with China. During the war Canada serves as part of the North American frontline against Chinese invasion and as a staging point for the liberation of Anchorage, Alaska.
- Annexation.ca is a political discussion forum dedicated to the exploration of the potentialities for a democratic annexation of Canada to the USA.
- American University's Center for North American Studies (CNAS) educates and promotes policy debates between governments on the North American Region.
- Arizona State University's North American Center for Transborder Studies (NACTS) is a center for scholars regarding the trilateral issues in North America.
- H. Con. Res. 40: Expressing the sense of Congress that the United States should not engage in the construction of a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Superhighway System or enter into a North American Union with Mexico and Canada.
- The North American Union Farce by Laura Carlsen, March 3, 2008.
- SPP in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
- The Trojan Horse, (Official website, IMDb profile). On 30 March 2008, CBC Television aired this two-part science fiction miniseries portraying the merger of Canada and the United States.
- United North America is a non-profit organization that advocates the admittance of Canadian provinces into the United States as new states of the Union, however rejects the idea of Mexico being part of the union.