Ted Yarbrough is studying law, and blogs as Texan Tory. He has written a thesis on Thatcherism’s effect on British culture.
As ConservativeHome readers know, the United States is about to hold a referendum on whether to stay in or to leave the Americas Union (usually known as the “AU”). Mitt Romney, the country’s President, undertook a “renegotiation” through the capitals of the western hemisphere – and is now “letting the American people decide”.
How did the AU come about in the first place? To cut a long story short, the US, along with Canada and Mexico, formed NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Association) several decades ago, when America was suffering from economic difficulties.
Free trade proved to be a boon for the US and for Latin American countries, too. So then NAFTA combined with CAFTA (the Central American Free Trade Association)…which then combined with CARIFTA (the Caribbean Free Trade Association)…which then combined with Southern Cone Common Market (MERCOSUR)…and so eventually the Americas Union came into being. The US economy prospered within it at first, but the relationship has since run into trouble.
For over time, the AU has evolved into much more than a free trade organisation. And the Americans are an awkward people for other members of the AU to deal with. They have a constitution and a tradition of liberty that keeps getting in the way of the AU’s stated treaty aim – the treaty of Panama City to be specific – of a united hemisphere.
America has been giving the AU a lot of trouble for a long while now. For example, President Reagan fought for and gained a crucial exemption for the US from the borderless “Belmopan Area”, and got a “US rebate” back from AU funds. Most crucially of all, under President George W.Bush, the US decided not to enter the Amero – the hemisphere-wide currency which only the US and a handful of Caribbean nations have never joined.
Currently, both the Amero-zone and Belmopan-area are undergoing some very serious problems. Recently, a migration crisis begun by Brazil opening its doors to migrants from war-torn areas of the Middle East and Africa has caused strains so severe that borders are starting to go up again.
Many of these countries – especially Costa Rica, with its population of only 4.5 million – are struggling to cope with the seemingly never-ending stream of people. Unlike the US, which has had strong growth ever since Romney defeated Obama in 2012, the Amero-zone has failed to recover from the “Amero-crisis” (as its financial crisis is known). In some AU countries, youth unemployment stands at over 50 per cent. The Dominican Republic has had a couple of bailouts – and even had its government overthrown in effect by the AU.
AU treaties have made it very clear that AU law is supreme within the US. AU courts have thrown out US Supreme Court’s decisions – especially those upholding America’s traditional view of free speech, with its common law judicial system precedents.
Furthermore, the AU has forced the US not only to let suspected terrorists reside within it, but has made the US taxpayer pay for housing them too. And ACCHR (the Americas Convention and Charter on Human Rights) has allowed people the world over to sue US troops in American courts for their conduct in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, resulting in millions of dollars (or Ameros) in payouts, and many frivolous claims.
In addition, the freedom of movement of people is an absolute right within the AU, which has caused a backlash in the United States, especially because people from El Salvador – a country of low wages, over 50 per cent youth unemployment and highly organised crime (such as the infamous MS-13 gang) – have been moving to the US in very large numbers in recent years.
Yes, Wall Street is exempt from AU financial regulations, and the AU has had a hard time imposing metrification on the US, but AU regulations affect almost every aspect of American life. From the Common Agricultural Policy to the Common Fisheries Program to regulations on consumer products and employment law, AU bureaucrats have almost made Congress redundant – to say nothing of the state legislators. So it is that the US and AU relationship has become strained as of late.
No wonder that, in 2014, Romney gave what has become known as his “Baton Rouge speech”, outlining key areas in which he wanted to restore American sovereignty. In it, he promised he would offer the American people a referendum on concessions that he would be able to force on the AU.
Partly because of this speech and partly because of his referendum promise, Romney was able to beat back the insurgent Tea Party led by Sarah Palin and – shockingly – not only defeat Hillary Clinton in the Presidential election but empower the Republicans to sweep both houses of Congress in 2016.
In the wake of this victory, Romney undertook a whirlwind tour of western hemisphere capitals to negotiate America’s new deal – before going face to face with Cristina Kirchner, the AU Council’s President, in the final round of negotiations. However, the results of this showdown were widely regarded in America as a defeat, and he achieved very few of his “Baton Rouge” aims.
Despite the timidity of the deal, most of Romney’s cabinet, (with some notable exceptions such as Nikki Haley, his Secretary of Commerce, and Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor) are backing Romney’s renegotiation – as are virtually all Democrats.
Although polls are showing a dead-heat, divisions within the Leave camp are giving Romney hope of victory. On the one side of this internal divide is a cross-party “Leave” group, headed up by Condoleezza Rice, the former Secretary of State; on the other, the “Make America Leave” organisation led by Donald Trump.
The divide between the Washington establishment, with its corporate and big bank allies who enjoy knowing the “rules of the game” of the heavily regulated AU (despite being bailed out by the US and not the AU taxpayer in 2008), and the people and small businesses appears to be so great that Bill O’Reilly, the Fox News cable host, has asked: “Who will speak for America?”
Romnet believes that there will be an inrush of migrants into America this summer, and thus brought forward the date of the poll for that reason. The outcome may be too close to call. How lucky the United Kingdom is to have escaped entrapment in any comparable union! And how fortunate it is to have a Prime Minister who – like any American President imaginable – never voices a view on other counties’ internal affairs!