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Monday, January 08, 2007
Debunking Dr. Corsi Part 1: The North American Union

Dr. Jerome Corsi did the Republican Party and President Bush a huge favor in 2004 when he collaborated with John O'Neill and researchers from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth on the New York Times' bestseller Unfit for Command, which exposed John Kerry's fraudulent record in Vietnam. It was a terrific book, one that I wholeheartedly endorsed at the time.

However, Dr Corsi is now working on a new theme, which will not be as helpful to Republicans and President Bush. He has published several articles at Human Events, claiming that there is a secret plan by President Bush to combine the United States, Canada and Mexico into one entity, the North American Union, "erasing our borders with both Mexico and Canada." The new political union would have a common currency, the Amero, and would be criss-crossed with "NAFTA Superhighways".

It is safe to say that many conservatives do not agree with Dr. Corsi on this conspiracy theory. Michael Medved wrote a scathing column in late December on the topic.
This paranoid and groundless frenzy has been fomented and promoted by a shameless collection of lunatics and losers; crooks, cranks, demagogues and opportunists, who claim the existence of a top secret master plan to join the U.S., Canada and Mexico in one big super-state and to replace the good old Yankee dollar with a worthless new currency called “The Amero.” Another delusion usually associated with these fears involves the construction of a “Monster Highway” some sixteen lanes wide through Texas and the Great Plains, connecting the two nations on either side of the border for some nefarious but never-explained purpose.

John Hawkins has also scorned Dr. Corsi's theory. In a ranking of the 21 most annoying people on the Right in 2006, Hawkins placed Corsi as #3, between page molester Mark Foley and convicted bribe-taker Duke Cunningham. Hawkins said of Corsi:
Nobody has worked harder to convince people that the completely moronic North American conspiracy theory is real than the right's version of Dylan Avery, kooky Jerome Corsi.

Much of the criticism of Dr. Corsi's claim has been ad hominem in nature; indeed Medved's column contains little else. To a certain extent, these ad hominem attacks are valid. For example, few conservatives will waste a lot of time on the 9-11 conspiracy theorists, dismissing them as "kooks" and "nutbars". But these types of personal attacks are never convincing to those who believe in the conspiracy theory, and may not be effective even with fence sitters.

So I have decided to take a long, hard look at Dr. Corsi's claims, without engaging in the invective that has marked some of the previous debate. This analysis will be broken down into four separate blog posts:

1. The North American Union (analyzed in this post)
2. NAFTA Superhighways (forthcoming)
3. The Amero (forthcoming)
4. Similarities Between Dr. Corsi's Theory and Other Conspiracy Theories

Dr. Corsi made his opening salvo in a May 19, 2006 article for Human Events entitled, "North American Union to Replace USA?"

The first three paragraphs state the thesis rather concisely:
President Bush is pursuing a globalist agenda to create a North American Union, effectively erasing our borders with both Mexico and Canada. This was the hidden agenda behind the Bush administration's true open borders policy.

Secretly, the Bush administration is pursuing a policy to expand NAFTA politically, setting the stage for a North American Union designed to encompass the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. What the Bush administration truly wants is the free, unimpeded movement of people across open borders with Mexico and Canada.

President Bush intends to abrogate U.S. sovereignty to the North American Union, a new economic and political entity which the President is quietly forming, much as the European Union has formed.

We can all agree that's a rather extraordinary claim. Is there anybody in the USA who thinks things would be better if the United States, Mexico, and Canada were all combined into one economic and political entity?

So let's look at the proof that Dr. Corsi presents of this theory:
The blueprint President Bush is following was laid out in a 2005 report entitled "Building a North American Community" published by the left-of-center Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). The CFR report connects the dots between the Bush administration's actual policy on illegal immigration and the drive to create the North American Union:

At their meeting in Waco, Texas, at the end of March 2005, U.S. President George W. Bush, Mexican President Vicente Fox, and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin committed their governments to a path of cooperation and joint action. We welcome this important development and offer this report to add urgency and specific recommendations to strengthen their efforts.

What is the plan? Simple, erase the borders. The plan is contained in a "Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America" little noticed when President Bush and President Fox created it in March 2005:

In March 2005, the leaders of Canada, Mexico, and the United States adopted a Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP), establishing ministerial-level working groups to address key security and economic issues facing North America and setting a short deadline for reporting progress back to their governments. President Bush described the significance of the SPP as putting forward a common commitment "to markets and democracy, freedom and trade, and mutual prosperity and security." The policy framework articulated by the three leaders is a significant commitment that will benefit from broad discussion and advice. The Task Force is pleased to provide specific advice on how the partnership can be pursued and realized.

To that end, the Task Force proposes the creation by 2010 of a North American community to enhance security, prosperity, and opportunity. We propose a community based on the principle affirmed in the March 2005 Joint Statement of the three leaders that "our security and prosperity are mutually dependent and complementary." Its boundaries will be defined by a common external tariff and an outer security perimeter within which the movement of people, products, and capital will be legal, orderly and safe. Its goal will be to guarantee a free, secure, just, and prosperous North America.

Dr. Corsi does a little sleight of hand here. It may appear from the way he writes that the last two paragraphs, which contain the part about the "outer security perimeter", come from the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, but in fact they are taken from the Council on Foreign Relations document that Corsi cited earlier.

So how does Dr. Corsi tie the CFR document to the Bush Administration? The answer is that he doesn't. Instead he claims:
The CFR report connects the dots between the Bush administration's actual policy on illegal immigration and the drive to create the North American Union....

Now anybody who has dealt with conspiracy theorists as I have on the 9-11 madness will recognize the exhortations to "connect the dots" as a rhetorical effort by the writer to avoid actually making the connection himself. "Bush administration actual policy on illegal immigration." Dot. "Drive to create the North American Union." Dot. Connect the dots!

Okay, now I think we can all agree that the administration's actual policy on illegal immigration can probably be described as laissez-faire. But to say that you can immediately connect that to a document created by a "left of center" group like the CFR raises an obvious question: What is the connection?

Basically what Corsi's saying is "I don't like Bush's policy on illegal immigration, and looky, here's something somebody else wrote talking about merging the US with Mexico, and that must be what Bush is trying to do." He admits as much in his debate with Hawkins:
Then what is Hawkins’ explanation for why Bush won’t secure the border?

Hawkins answers this quite sensibly in my view:
I think Bush has been soft on illegal immigration largely because of pressure from businesses that want cheap illegal labor and because he believes, incorrectly, that the only way the GOP can compete for Hispanic votes is to cater to illegal immigrants.

But Corsi prefers to believe that it's because Bush is secretly trying to unite the country with Canada and Mexico. Or is it so secret? Corsi jumps back and forth on this issue:
I have argued that the plan to establish the North American Union as a regional government is being advanced by the U.S. government through internal executive branch administrative action in order to keep the plan below the radar of U.S. public scrutiny. In accordance with this plan, I would argue that President Bush has intentionally avoided revealing his true plans to the American people.

Get it? It's a stealth plan. Or maybe not:
Again, I have never argued for a conspiracy theory. Quite the contrary, I have consistently argued that the evidence for my arguments is in the open, often published on government websites. True conspiracies are not hidden in plain view.

John Hawkins pointed out that the CFR report does not have official administration backing in July in a debate with Dr. Corsi on Human Events in July:
The "Building a North American Community" report, which was produced by a Council of Foreign Relations-sponsored task force, not the US government. Let me make sure everyone is getting this. The "Building a North American Community" report is not US government policy, it's just a report produced by a think tank-sponsored task force.

Corsi replied:
Clearly, the Council on Foreign Relations is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that has no binding control on U.S. governmental policy-making. We are equally sure that Mr. Hawkins is fully aware of the influence NGO’s such as the CFR have exerted on U.S. governmental policy-making for decades.... We next turn to the Department of Commerce’s website devoted to the Security and Prosperity Partnership. Under the first bar to the left, we find the June 2005, “Report to Leaders,” submitted on the exact timetable specified in the CFR report. Reading this document, we find a close correspondence between the cabinet level working groups already set up by the Bush administration under the auspices of this Department of Commerce office and the working agenda specified by the CFR report (note especially pages 24-26).

Essentially what Corsi is arguing here is that the administration is following the suggestions made in the CFR report, so therefore we can look at the CFR Report as a blueprint for the administration's plans.

So let's look at the CFR document which Corsi apparently believes calls for "effectively erasing our borders with both Mexico and Canada."

On page 30 of the PDF file, the CFR report calls for the three countries to work together to:
"Develop a North American Border Pass. The three countries should develop a secure North American Border Pass… [which] would allow its bearers expedited passage through customs, immigration and airport security throughout the region.".

Now wait a minute! Why would we need a North American Border Pass for expedited customs and immigration if we're going to erase the borders? How does this "dot" connect?

Answer: It doesn't. And this is where Corsi's conspiracy theory really breaks down. Not only can't he connect the CFR report to the Bush administration, but the CFR report doesn't even call for erasing the borders.

Update: Geoff from Please Make It Clear has also been looking into this, and Dr Corsi will be appearing on CPR Radio this afternoon at 4:05 Eastern to discuss his theory.
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