North American Model Parliament
The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America is dead, says Robert A. Pastor, the American University professor who for more than a decade has been a major proponent of building a North American Community.
“The new president will probably discard the SPP,” Pastor wrote in an article titled “The Future of North America,” published in the current July/August issue of the Council on Foreign Relations magazine Foreign Affairs.
The SPP, which critics contend is a step toward a North American Union, is an agreement to increase cooperation on security and economic issues signed by the leaders of the U.S., Mexico and Canada in 2005. Despite having no authorization from Congress, the Bush administration launched extensive working-group activity to implement the agreement. The working groups – ranging from e-commerce, to aviation policy, to borders and immigration – have counterparts in Mexico and Canada.
“The April summit meeting was probably the last hurrah for the SPP,” Pastor wrote, referring to the fourth annual SPP meeting held in April in New Orleans.
Pastor attributes the failure of SPP to its largely bureaucratic nature and the decision policy makers made to keep SPP largely below the radar of public opinion.
“The strategy of acting on technical issues in an incremental, bureaucratic way and keeping the issues away from public view has generated more suspicion than accomplishments,” Pastor admitted.
Pastor blames critics for the failure of the SPP, charging it has come under attack from both ends of the political spectrum.
“From the right have come attacks based on cultural anxieties of being overrun by Mexican immigrants and fears that cooperation with Canada and Mexico could lead down a slippery slope toward a North American Union,” he wrote. “From the left came attacks based on economic fears of jobs lost due to unfair trading practices.”
“These two sets of fears came together in a perfect storm that was pushed forward by a surplus of hot air from talk-show hosts on radio and television,” he continued. “In the face of this criticism, the Bush administration was silent, and the Democratic candidates competed for votes in the rust-belt states, where unions and many working people have come to see NAFTA and globalization much as (commentator Lou) Dobbs does.”
Pastor denied he had ever urged the creation of a North American Union.
“Dobbs, among others, viewed a report by a 2005 Council on Foreign Relations task force (which I chaired), ‘Building a North American Community,’ as the manifesto of a conspiracy to subvert American sovereignty,” he asserted. “Dobbs claimed that the CFR study proposed a North American Union, although it did not.”
Pastor has argued consistently for a “North American Community,” as suggested by the title of his 2001 book entitled “Toward a North American Community.”
In a commentary authored for WND, Pastor stressed, “I do not propose a North American Union; I propose a North American Community.”
Pastor argued the two were different in that North American Community would involve “three sovereign governments that seek to strengthen bonds of cooperation.”
Noting that the European Community was a transitional state between the European Common Market and the European Union, Pastor conceded to WND that, “I don’t think a political union of North America is an inherently bad idea, nor do I think it is a good idea for right now.”
Despite the SPP setback, Pastor remains determined to advise a different approach to his continued goal of integrating the U.S., Mexico and Canada into a North American Community.
“The three heads of state must also commit to building a new consciousness, a new way of thinking about one’s neighbors and about the continental agenda,” he said. “Americans, Canadians and Mexicans can be nationals and North Americans at the same time.”
To correct the defects of the SPP bureaucratic closed-door process, Pastor’s CFR article recommended creating new North American institutions, including a North American Investment Fund of at least $20 billion a year “to connect central and southern Mexico to the United States with roads, ports, and communications.”
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, dropped his support for Senate bill 3622 in the 109th Congress when WND reported the North American Investment Fund proposed by the legislation would enact a key proposal Pastor has frequently made for advancing his North American Community agenda.
In his CFR article, Pastor also called for the continuation of annual North American heads-of-state summits and the appointment in the next administration of a national adviser for North American affairs, who would chair a cabinet-level committee to formulate a comprehensive plan for North America.
Pastor also encouraged creating a dozen university centers for North American studies “to educate a new generation of students to think North American.”
WND reported on the fourth annual North American Model Parliament held this year in Montreal, Canada, for 100 university students from the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
The North American Model Parliament is sponsored by the North American Forum on Integration, on which Pastor serves as a board member.