North American Union
The North American Union (NAU) is a theoretical economic and 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. A union of the North American continent, sometimes extending to Central and South America, has been the subject of academic concepts for over a century, as well as becoming a common trope in science fiction. One reason for the difficulty in realizing the concept is that individual developments in each region have failed to prioritize a larger union.
Some form of union has been discussed or proposed in academic, business, and political circles for decades. However, government officials from all three nations say there are no plans to create a North American Union and that 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-19th 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. Following the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Maastricht Treaty going into effect there was speculation about the formation of a North American Union, similar to the European Union created by Maastricht, being a possible future step for the region. Several proposals for continental integration of North America advocated the creation of a union styled after the European Union, though many academic and business groups advocated less dramatic changes involving the formation of a customs union or common market.
While serving as a policy adviser to the presidential campaign of Vicente Fox during the 2000 general election in Mexico, Jorge Castañeda, influenced by academic Robert Pastor's ideas on deepening integration of NAFTA, encouraged Fox to include policies on integration as part of his campaign. Before and after the election Fox made appearances on several U.S. news programs advocating greater integration including a plan to open up the U.S.-Mexico border within ten years. Some in the United States saw this proposal for open borders as a call for or inevitable step towards a "North American Union" and received it with a mixture of praise and criticism, with critics like Pat Buchanan suggesting it would mean an end to U.S. sovereignty.
During an interview for Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy in 2001, after he was elected president, Fox said that 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". Fox cited the success he claimed countries like Ireland and Spain had in modernizing their economies and raising the standard of living for their citizens by joining what is now the European Union. Vicente Fox also proposed a plan to U.S. President George W. Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien that he said would move the North American continent towards an economic union based on the example of the European Union. Fox's proposal was rejected by President Bush, with Fox later alleging in his book Revolution of Hope that the White House wanted him to "stop raising hackles" by talking about a North American Union.
Later, amid a push for greater integration and concerns about the impact of heightened security on trade relations following the September 11 attacks in 2001, an effort was organized in 2003 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. 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.
A January 2005 diplomatic cable that was released by Wikileaks in 2011 includes discussion by U.S. government officials about the best approach to North American integration based on an assessment of Canadian views. The cable suggested a new "North American Initiative" that would address goals in the areas of "security" and "prosperity" through incremental measures, saying such a proposal would get the most support from Canadian policymakers. It notes many Canadian economists supported "ambitious" goals like a single market, with some supporting a monetary union, but that they believed the incremental approach was more appropriate at the time. Canada's central bank governor is quoted in the cable as having said that a monetary union is "an issue that should be considered once we have made more progress towards establishing a single market." The National Post's Robert Hiltz described the cable in June 2011 as discussing "the obstacles surrounding the merger of the economies of Canada, the United States and Mexico in a fashion similar to the European Union."
Two months later at the March meeting of North American leaders the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) was formed. 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.
In May 2005, the Task Force published a report praising the SPP initiative and pushing 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 common market and security perimeter, among other common goals.
The SPP initiative was officially ended on August 2009 though the North American Leaders' Summit and most of the working groups set up under the initiative remain active. Several advocates of integration saw the SPP as being insufficient. One criticism was that the governments lacked a "vision of what North America might become" and as such did not provide the proper context that would allow the initiative to deal with barriers to deeper integration.
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 left-wing nationalist groups 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. These beliefs are the latest example of a long line of erroneous conspiracy theories which suggest that the United States’ sovereignty is being eroded by a cabal of foreign and domestic players.
Phyllis Schlafly claimed 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.
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.
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
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.
- In Isaac Asimov's short story "The Evitable Conflict", Northern America is unified as the "Northern Region"; this also includes the culturally similar Anglo-Saxon nations of Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain and excludes Mexico. The capital of the Northern Region is Ottawa, while the capital city of the unified World Government is New York City.
- In The Devil's Advocate (1952) by Taylor Caldwell the totalitarian Democracy of America has conquered Canada and Mexico. They reclaim their independence when the U.S. is restored at the novel's climax.
- In the alternate history novel The Probability Broach (1980) by L. Neil Smith in which the United States becomes a Libertarian state after a successful Whiskey Rebellion and the overthrow and execution of George Washington in 1794, the US eventually controls all of North America under a nation called the North American Confederacy.
- Clive Cussler's novel, Night Probe (1981) revolves around fictional character Dirk Pitt and his mission to recover the lost and forgotten "North American Treaty," a treaty from World War I signing Canada over to the United States.
- 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.
- Harry Turtledove's novel The Two Georges (1995) is set in an alternate history where a peace is reached in 1775 which leads to the NAU being created as a Canada-esque self-ruling nation within the British Empire. Its flag is the Continental Colors. The NAU in this timeline takes up all of the United States (minus Alaska, which is still owned by Russia, and Hawaii, which is a separate British protectorate), Canada, and the Baja California peninsula of Mexico.
- Infinite Jest (1996) 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 Ted Rall's 2024 (2000), a takeoff of the George Orwell novel "1984", North America is united as the "Canamexicusan trade corridor."
- 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 Hunger Games trilogy (2008–10) by Suzanne Collins is set in the far future when what remains of the North American continent is united under the nation of Panem.
- 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 Mobile Suit Gundam Seed and its sequel both have an economic power called the "Atlantic Federation".
- In the USA Series White Collar, Mozzie is tricked into meeting Neil after a falling out by a meeting to "expose the leader of the North American Union."
- The aggressive world power in 1977's Ogre is the North American Combine which consisted of Canada, the United States, Mexico and most of Central America.
- 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.
- In the Fallout universe the United States annexes Canada in 2072 due to the emerging energy crisis and the US war with China. During the war, Canada serves as part of the North American front-line against Chinese invasion and as a staging point for the liberation of Anchorage, Alaska. Additionally, in 2051, the United States invades Mexico in order to stabilize the country, which was having severe difficulties solving its various political, environmental and economic problems. It is unknown what came of the invasion.
- In the Front Mission series, the United States of the New Continent (USN) is formed in 2020 in response to other supranational unions.
- In the Halo series, Sergeant Major Avery Johnson was born in Chicago, United Republic of North America (URNA), part of the UEG (Unified Earth Government) under the control of the United Nations Space Command.
- Building a North American Community - Council on Foreign Relations (PDF)
- Pastor, Robert A.; Hills, Carla A.; Jones, James R.; Manley, John P.; Niles, Thomas M.T.; Cunningham, Nelson W.; Weld, William F.; Yzaguirre, Raul H. (May 2005). Building a North American Community (Task Force Report #53). Council on Foreign Relations Press. ISBN 0-87609-348-9. Retrieved 2009-02-07.
- Hiltz, Robert (2 June 2011). "Leaked U.S. cable lays out North American ‘integration’ strategy". National Post. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
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- "Commanding Heights: Vicente Fox". PBS. 2001-04-04. Retrieved 2008-02-26.
- "Open U.S.-Mexican Border". The Brookings Institution. 2000-07-28. Retrieved 2010-04-19.
- "Open Nafta Borders? Why Not?". The Wall Street Journal. 2001-07-02. Retrieved 2010-04-21.
- "July Fourth in Post-America". The National Review. 2001-07-03. Retrieved 2010-04-21.
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- Fox, Vicente (2007). Revolution of hope: the life, faith, and dreams of a Mexican president. Viking. p. 101. ISBN 0-670-01839-2.
- "The Task Of Today's CCCE: Moving Multilateral Trade Forward". The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel. 2009-10-04. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
- "Trinational Call for a North American Economic and Security Community by 2010" (Press release). Council on Foreign Relations. 2005-03-14. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
- Joint Statement by President Bush, President Fox, and Prime Minister Martin at www.whitehouse.gov
- "SPP Myths vs Facts". Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America. Archived from the original on 2007-12-03. Retrieved 2007-12-07.
- "The Current Debate Regarding the SPP: Security and the Integration of North America" (PDF). Center for North American Studies. 2009-12-24. Retrieved 2009-12-24.
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- "SPP and the Way Forward for North American Integration" (PDF). Lubin School of Business. March 2006. Retrieved 2010-04-24.
- Pam Woolridge. "Behind Closed Doors: What they're not telling us about the Security and Prosperity Partnership". Canadians.org. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
- "North American Union?". CNN. 2006-06-21. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
- A North American United Nations? at www.house.gov
- Call for a Referendum on the SPP at www.canadianactionparty.ca
- "The Plan to Integrate the U.S., Mexico and Canada - July 2005 Phyllis Schlafly Report". Eagleforum.org. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
- "North American Union: Conspiracy or Coverup?". Eagleforum.org. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
- "Michael Medved Loses His Cool Over North America Union". Human Events. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
- "Meet Robert Pastor: Father of the North American Union". Human Events. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
- "North American Union leader says merger just crisis away". Worldnetdaily.com. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
- "Trans America - Are an international super highway and a North American Union on the horizon?A proposed multi-modal transportation system could leave Oklahoma stuck in the middle - Cover Story - Urban Tulsa Weekly". Urbantulsa.com. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
- Herbert G. Grubel (1999). "The Case for the Amero: The Economics and Politics of a North American Monetary Union" (PDF). The Fraser Institute. Retrieved 2009-02-02.
- Herbert G. Grubel (1999). "The Case for the Amero: The Economics and Politics of a North American Monetary Union". The Fraser Institute. Retrieved 2009-02-02.
- Pastor, Robert. "North America's Second Decade". Foreign Affairs. January/February 2004. Retrieved 2008-02-26.
- "Ex-Mexican prez: 'Amero' on the way". Worldnetdaily.com. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
- "NASCO Congressional - Myths vs Facts December 2007" (PDF). North American SuperCorridor Coalition. Retrieved 2007-12-06.[dead link]
- Pastor, Robert (2001). Toward a North American Community: Lessons from the Old World for the New. Washington, D.C.: Peterson Institute. p. 115. ISBN 0-88132-328-4.
- "Canada Should Pursue North American Currency Union" (PDF). C. D. Howe Institute. June 22, 1999. Retrieved 2007-09-25.
- Anderson, James E.; Van Wincoop, Eric (September 2004). "Trade Costs" (PDF). Journal of Economic Literature (Nashville: American Economic Association) 42 (3): 691–751. doi:10.1257/0022051042177649. Retrieved 2009-02-02.
- "Amero Uproar". Snopes.com. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
- Congressman Duncan Hunter - Proudly Serving the 52nd District of California : Press Release/Statement[dead link]
- Government of Alberta: NAFTA Trade Corridors & State Truck Standards Accessed 2008-07-16
- "Texas Legislature Online - 82(R) History for HB 1201". Texas Legislature. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
- "Texas Legislature Online - 82(R) Text for HB 1201" (PDF). Texas Legislature. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
- Fox, Vicente (guest) Stewart, Jon (host). The Daily Show . Comedy Central.
- "Book World: Vicente Fox's 'Revolution of Hope'". Washington Post. 2007-11-06. Retrieved 2008-02-26.
- "H. Con. Res. 487". Legislation of the 109th United States Congress. GovTrack.us. 2006-09-28. Retrieved 2007-12-27.
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.
- "H. Con. Res. 40". Legislation of the 110th United States Congress. GovTrack.us. 2007-12-09. Retrieved 2007-12-27.
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 Official Site of Duncan Hunter for US President in 2008 | Core Principles
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- President Bush Participates in Joint Press Availability with Prime Minister Harper of Canada, and President Calderón of Mexico. White House.gov. 2007-08-21. Retrieved 2007-12-06.
- Ellik, Ron and Evans, Bill (Illustrations by Bjo Trimble). The Universes of E.E. Smith Chicago: Advent Publishers, 1966. Page 138.
- Smith, E.E. First Lensman. Reading, Pennsylvania: Fantasy Press, 1950. Chapter 13 "Candidate Kinnison", pages 182–200 and chapter 20 "The Election", pages 292–302.
- Asimov, Isaac (1950). I, Robot. New York: Doubleday & Co.
- 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.
- 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.
- tvtropes - Expanded States Of The Americas