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A long-time professor of international relations and the director of the Center for North American Studies, Pastor died Jan 8 at the age of 66 after a three-year battle with cancer.
On Oct. 31, a little more than two months before he died, Pastor chaired a conference at the Center for American Studies at American University titled “The NAFTA Promise and the North American Reality: The Gap and How to Narrow It.”
Pastor organized the conference to fulfill a request made by Vice President Joe Biden a month earlier.
At the U.S.-Mexico high-level, economic dialogue Sept. 20, 2013, at the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Mexico City, Biden gave a speech in which he urged further North American integration.
Biden said “you take a look at the United States, Mexico and Canada, you’d sit there and say, ‘Why? Why isn’t there even more cooperation?”
“It’s just so natural geographically, politically, economically,” Biden said.
The day before his last international conference started, Oct. 30, American University posted on the university’s website Pastor’s vision of NAFTA at a crossroads nearly 20 years after being implemented.
“I decided that I was going to step down as the director of the center, and I wanted to do one last conference,” Pastor said. “There’s a concern about the state of the economy, the state of immigration reform, and a North American strategy is a good way of dealing with both of these issues.”
‘Father of the North American Union’
In 2006, I wrote an article, “Meet Robert Pastor: Father of the North American Union,” in which I charged that Pastor’s view of North American integration risked giving away U.S. sovereignty in a stealth fashion to a newly forming North American Union. It follows, I argued, the stealth model globalists in Europe used to move from a free-trade agreement under the auspices of the European Common Market to what today is the full-fledged regional government of the European Union.
Pastor almost immediately objected, arguing his vision of North American integration did not include the creation of a regional government. While he was willing to champion what he called a “North American Community,” Pastor always denied his intent was to form a North American Union as a regional government.
Since 2006, WND covered Pastor’s various speeches and conferences related to his “North American project.”
WND gave Pastor the opportunity to publish a commentary in his name without editorial changes or comment.
In the May 9, 2007, article, Pastor labeled as “false” all accusations that he was promoting a North American Union, advocating the creation of a North American community called the amero or seeking to erase U.S. borders and discard the Constitution.
“I do not propose a North American Union; I propose a North American Community,” Pastor wrote. “They are very different. A Union – like the United States – is a merger of states into a unified central government. A Community is composed of three sovereign governments that seek to strengthen bonds of cooperation.”
Many times, Pastor agreed to be interviewed by WND, and while we disagreed over policy, I always found him to be a gentleman who knew how to frame his arguments in a challenging and engaging fashion.
Interestingly, Pastor got his Ph.D. from the same school I attended, Harvard University’s Department of Political Science. Pastor receiving his degree in 1977, five years after I received my degree in 1972.
Where Pastor specialized in foreign policy studies, my specialty was political philosophy.
Never in our various published exchanges and comments did I find personal exception to comments or to the substance of his analysis. I am honored he always kept our disagreements on the type of elevated level the professors who taught us at Harvard demanded.
Distinguished career in government, academics
Pastor’s early professional career included a working association with the Institute for Policy Studies.
There he participated on the Ad Hoc Working Group on Latin America, which produced a 1977 report, “The Southern Connection: Recommendations for a New Approach to Inter-American Relations.” The report argued for the U.S. to adopt a policy of “ideological pluralism,” a code phrase widely interpreted by conservatives at the time as demanding sympathy for the revolutionary socialist forces taking hold in Latin America. The forces included the communist Sandanistas and other left-leaning revolutionary groups in countries such as El Salvador.
From February 1975 to January 1977, Pastor was executive director of the Linowitz Commission on U.S./Latin American Relations.
The Linowitz Commission supported President Carter’s decision to negotiate a treaty to turn over the Panama Canal to Panama.
Pastor left the Linowitz Commission to become director of the Office of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs in the National Security Council in the Carter White House.
There Pastor served as Carter’s “point man” in getting the Senate to narrowly vote for the Carter-Torrijos Treaty on April 18, 1978, despite strong opposition from conservative politicians, including Ronald Reagan.
In December 1993, President Bill Clinton nominated Pastor to be U.S. ambassador to Panama.
Pastor’s nomination was approved by a 16-3 vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and his confirmation looked virtually certain.
The nomination failed, however, and was withdrawn by the administration in February 1995 after Sen. Jesse Helms, R.-N.C., swore to prevent a Senate vote. Helms objected to Pastor’s nomination in part because he saw Pastor as a key figure in the behind-the-scenes politics that “gave away” the Panama Canal.
As WND has previously reported, Robert Pastor’s 2001 book, “Toward a North American Community,” argued that North American integration should advance through the development of a “North American consciousness” by creating various institutions, including a North American customs union and a North American development fund for the economic development of Mexico.
Pastor also was vice chairman of the May 2005 Council on Foreign Relations task force report, “Building a North American Community.” The report presents itself as a blueprint for using bureaucratic action though trilateral “working groups” constituted within the executive branches of the United States, Mexico and Canada to advance the North American integration agenda.