A More Perfect Union

All North Americans would profit from a formal agreement on â'community'

Editor's Corner

by Barry Henderson

Discussion of the formation of a North American community to increase cooperation among the governments of the United States, Canada and Mexico on economic and security issues has been going on for years.

It's gotten relatively little attention in the mainstream media. But the fear that it has generated among many Americans who are aware of it is that it would be a step toward the end of U.S. sovereignty. It's been called a conspiracy to eliminate national borders and abrogate the Constitution by those who are terrified of the concept of a New World Order.

Well, the new world order is with us. It has been germinating since the end of the Cold War, and it has been growing into geo-political and economic adolescence through the creation of the European Union and the emergence of major economic forces in the Arab world, China and, more recently, India, among other developments with global implications.

The U.S. response has been awkward, with our leadership decrying international change over which it has no dominion and lunging about militarily, instituting a war on terror, for instance, without sufficient regard to our overall relationship with the world's nations, their economies and their peoples. Folly is what we've been engaged in.

If, in real terms, our national security and our influential place among the world's economies were to be our prime considerations, the idea of cooperation with Canada and Mexico would have progressed much farther than it has under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Such increased cooperation, however, has to be considered rationally.

The advent of the so-called Trans-Texas Corridor, and the proposals to extend that superhighway in toll road form from Mexico to Canada through the U.S. heartland is being viewed irrationally as some sort of capitulation to the interests of others, rather than â“true Americans.â” It is being seen as a precursor to the establishment of a North American Union, similar in style to the European Union, but its detractors see it as a threat to U.S. independence, to the rule of U.S. law and to the very existence of our nation itself.

I'm not here to suggest that such notions are silly, but to say flatly that the concept of a united North American community would be of benefit to every American who hopes to live well into the 21st century.

In a competitive world economy, the United States needs more clout than it can muster and sustain on its own. Witness the growth of the European Union's economic impact in the world and the health of its common currency, the Euro, versus the dollar. That doesn't mean that a North American Union would have to adopt a common currency to insure that its member-nations' currencies would increase in relative value. The simple unification of our strategies in world commerce and trade would almost certainly do that, at least in the short run.

Security is another matter. The national security of the United States, with its virtually open northern and southern bordersâ"attempts to seal the Mexican border notwithstandingâ"could not help but be enhanced by furthering our cooperation with Canada and Mexico on security issues.

The concept of North American community ought to be discussed more openly and rationally. It's the only way that the fear of loss of sovereignty can be alleviated and the advantages of an economic and security union can be demonstrated to a skeptical public.

Any comprehensive union on the European model would very likely have to be submitted to the voters of the United States through national referendum. No referendum would be called until the numbers of voters surveyed showed that it had a chance for passage. And education to all the nuances such a union would engender would necessarily have to precede such an election.

I say get on with the process of discussion, negotiation and education. A broad economic and security agreement with treaty status would do nothing to damage U.S. interests and status in the larger global community, and it would not take away the freedoms we enjoy at home.

The United States, Canada and Mexico would still each celebrate separately their national Independence Day holidays, just as U.S. citizens recently celebrated the Fourth of July.

What I'd hope to be able to see, and expect my children and grandchildren to see, is the celebration of the first Interdependence Day sometime in the coming years. Interdependence is already a fact of life and its impact on all our lives is growing daily. Denying it or running from it won't make it go away. May as well celebrate it.

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