Integration is a little-used term employed mainly by policy wonks. But while it may sound relatively harmless, it generally describes a very serious phenomenon when used in a geopolitical context – the gradual merging of separate countries under a regional authority.
Similar processes are already well underway in Europe, Africa, and South America. And according to critics, the results – essentially abolishing national sovereignty in favor of supranational, unaccountable governance – have been an unmitigated disaster. But the U.S. government doesn't think so.
In North America, integration has been proceeding rapidly for years. The New American magazine was among the first to report on the efforts to erect what critics have called a "North American Union," encompassing Canada, the United States, and Mexico. But more recently, the topic has received more attention.
After the creation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – similar in many ways to the European Common Market that preceded the political union in Europe – the integration scheme has only accelerated. And the bipartisan efforts have been going on for years.
Under President George W. Bush, integration occurred through the little-known "Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America." And with the Obama administration, the process, now virtually out in the open, is only accelerating.
Back in 2005, the cable released recently by WikiLeaks explained how it would be done. And looking back, the document was right on the mark.
The best way forward, according to the cable, is via gradual steps. "An incremental and pragmatic package of tasks for a new North American Initiative (NAI) will likely gain the most support among Canadian policymakers," the cable states in its summary.
"Our research leads us to conclude that such a package should tackle both 'security' and 'prosperity' goals," the document claims, using the two key words that have been emphasized at every step along the way. "This fits the recommendations of Canadian economists who have assessed the options for continental integration."
Toward the end, the cable offers more advice on how to advance the integration agenda by tailoring the narrative. "When advocating [the North American Initiative to integrate the three countries], it would be better to highlight specific gains to individual firms, industries or travelers, and especially consumers," the cable states, noting that it's harder to "estimate the benefits" on a national or continental scale.
In a section headlined "North American Integration: What We Know," the cable offers nothing but praise for the merging of the continent's once-sovereign nations that had already been achieved.
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