Academic journal article Journal for the Study of Peace and Conflict

The North American Idea: A Vision of a Continental Future

Academic journal article Journal for the Study of Peace and Conflict

The North American Idea: A Vision of a Continental Future

Article excerpt

The North American Idea: A Vision of a Continental Future by Robert A. Pastor. Oxford University Press, 2011. Cloth, 202 pages, $24.95. ISBN: 978-0-19-978241-3

In The North American Idea: A Vision of a Continental Future, Robert Pastor returns to an argument he has made before-that Canada, Mexico, and the United States need to reinvigorate their trilateral cooperation. Pastor is very clear, and measured, about what he wants-a North American Community where three sovereign countries cooperate closely with each other on a wide range of issues. Pastor is equally clear that he is not advocating a North American Union with "pooled sovereignty" and supranational institutions that bear all the hallmarks of a continental government. Despite this, some of his critics have taken to calling Pastor the "father of the North American Union."

Pastor made this argument previously in a 2008 Foreign Affairs article ("The Future of North America") and in his current book he both updates and expands his argument. The most notable new wrinkle to his argument in that NAFTA has "run out of steam." While Pastor considers NAFTA a success, he thinks the "next step" in North American cooperation is needed. This provides the book with an extra sense of urgency.

With more space to work with in a book format, Pastor can add new elements to his argument. Foremost among the additions is a section on public opinion where he argues that a series of attitudinal surveys show significant shared values between the three countries. He argues that the three publics are willing but leaders, particularly in the United States, are timid. Less successful is a section on "The Genetic Code of North America" where he discusses things like the geographic development of the North American continent and prehistoric migration to it. This material almost seems like filler and takes Pastor away from the core of this argument. Pastor is perhaps at his most convincing when he is focused on the economic costs of the current situation. He estimates this to be $66 billion annually with the costs of "rule of origins" procedures, delays due to border restrictions, divergent regulations, and a handful of other things.

The blueprint Pastor provides for a North American Community has four parts to it. …

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