NAFTA and North American Security   [open pdf - 26KB]

"Historically, the negative consequences of sharing a border with the United States have been roughly comparable for its two neighbors, the major distinction being that Mexico has suffered much more deeply and more recently. During the 1800s, both nations had ample reason to fear intervention and loss of territory due to U.S. expansionism. But during the 20th century, security relations have advanced to the point that peace is now regarded as a permanent condition between these neighbors. Mexico and Canada share a fundamental asymmetry of power in comparison to the United States, a situation which has historically created a preference for diversification in their approach to diplomatic and economic relations. However, since the mid-1980's the absence of suitable options for sustained economic progress has motivated both countries to bind their economies more closely to the United States via NAFTA. When it comes to regional diplomatic matters both Mexico and Canada have an intrinsic wariness regarding the exercise of U.S military power in the Americas. Neither nation harbors any enthusiasm for the Rio Pact or the Inter-American Defense Board. The post-Cold War period has been marked by an array of non-traditional security concerns that affect all three North American states in one way or another, including the cross-border flow of illicit drugs, contraband weapons, and illegal immigrants. These 'security' concerns are distinctive because the non-state actors associated with them have tentacles that stretch across national boundaries. Consequently, the three states can address these problems effectively only via coordinated, multilateral action. Making the security relationship trilateral might be attractive for both Mexico and Canada because it could attenuate the fundamental disparity in power they both confront when dealing individually with the 'Colossus' of North America. Perhaps the dawning of an era of expanded economic integration, growing interdependence, and shared transnational concerns will be conducive to reexamining the basis for future security cooperation."

Report Number:
Strategic Forum No. 18
Public Domain
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