July 14, 2011
Canada and Mexico pose a quandary for
It’s easy to
make the case that Washington’s meddling in Europe,
Middle East, and East
Asia has had disastrous consequences. Adventurism far from home has wasted
countless taxpayer dollars and destroyed millions of American lives.
But when it
comes to the folks next door, pursuing a policy of benign neglect -- treating
them as if they were as irrelevant as Italy,
Israel, or Indonesia -- isn’t an option.
North American Idea: A Vision of a Continental Future, American
University’s Robert A. Pastor argues that few of us realize how cozy Canada, the U.S.,
reading of the newspapers in the last decade,” Pastor writes, “would lead one
to conclude that Iraq or Afghanistan were the most important countries [sic]
to U.S. national security, China was its dominant trading partner, and Saudi Arabia
was its main source of energy imports. All three propositions are false.”
In 2009, America exported more to Canada than it did to China,
Japan, and the United Kingdom
combined. (At $129 billion, exports to Mexico secured the #2 slot.) U.S.
Energy Information Administration data for 2010 show that Canada and Mexico supplied 32.4 percent of
Americans’ demand for petroleum imports -- not far behind OPEC’s total
national-security staffer during the Carter presidency, Pastor has long been
despised by paleoconservatives. In the 1990s, his nomination to be ambassador
to Panama was scuttled by Jesse Helms, due
to Pastor’s involvement in the transfer
of the Panama Canal. In 2006, kook-right
writer Jerome R. Corsi denounced the professor for his “history of viewing U.S.
national interests through the lens of an extreme leftist almost anti-American
indeed a liberal. Even worse, he’s a political hack whose book lionizes FDR,
bashes George W. Bush, and takes a subtle swipe at Sarah Palin. But it’s
difficult to dismiss the voluminous data and ample anecdotes Pastor offers to
demonstrate why Canada and Mexico matter to the U.S. much more than is commonly
growers once fought to keep Mexican competitors out of the market. Ultimately, Mexican
avocados were allowed to cross the border -- the value of imports rose from
$34.5 million in 1995 to $407.6 million in 2005. Was the domestic industry
destroyed? Nope. Cheap avocado imports, Pastor explains, “so enlarged the
market in the United States
producers also expanded production and profits significantly.”
integration is most widespread in automobiles. A quarter of the parts that
comprise the Big Three’s vehicles come from abroad, and of those imports, half
are from Canada and Mexico.
“Today,” Pastor writes, “there are no American, Canadian, or Mexican cars; they
are virtually all North American.”
The stats for
the greatest free-trade story never told -- i.e., foreign investment in the United States
-- should make protectionists squirm. NAFTA haters predicted that the trade
pact would drive investment in only one direction: out of the U.S. They were spectacularly wrong.
Between 1987 and 2008, Canadian investment in America ballooned to $221.9
billion. For Mexico,
the amount rose from nearly nothing to $8 billion.
after marshalling nearly 150 pages of persuasive arguments that there really is
such a place as a North America, Pastor closes
his book with a list of lousy policy prescriptions. He does not advocate an
EU-style “North American Union,” but supports a “North American Community”
founded on “interdependence not dependence; reciprocity not unilateralism; and
a negotiating style based on a community of interests not a quid pro quo.” To
“income gap,” economic-development officials will oversee a “North American
Investment Fund” (note the acronym, because the author doesn’t), a “plan for
North American Infrastructure and Transportation for the year 2020” will be
developed, and a regional “carbon tax or cap-and-trade system” imposed.
“Trilateral consultation” is the goal, “which over time, could lead to
coordination, and perhaps even unified policies.”
You don’t need
to be a WorldNetDaily
reader to find Pastor’s proposals objectionable. Central planning, “public
investments,” and junk science are undesirable within nations, and a
supranational entity would amplify their damage.
Red tape at
the border is atrocious. Harmonization of transportation and food-safety
regulations is needed. And a common
external tariff for the NAFTA zone is wise. But progress on these and other
issues (immigration, water, electricity, disaster relief) isn’t likely under
Pastor’s grand scheme.
proper role in securing a prosperous, peaceful North
America is small. Far more important are consumers, entrepreneurs,
investors, and charities.
D. Dowd Muska (www.dowdmuska.com) writes about government, economics, and technology. Follow him on Twitter @dowdmuska.
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