Skip to main content
Expand AU Menu

The North American Idea

Cover of The North American Idea by Robert Pastor

Click here to find out about the book launch event on Oct. 5.

From 1994-2001, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) tripled trade and quintupled foreign investment among the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, increasing its share of the world economy. In 2001, however, trade slowed among the three, manufacturing jobs shrunk, and illegal migration and drug-related violence soared. Europe caught up, and China leaped ahead.

In The North American Idea, eminent scholar and policy-maker Robert Pastor explains that NAFTA’s mandate was too limited to address the new North American agenda. To re-invigorate the continent, the leaders of NAFTA need to start with an idea based on a principle of interdependence. If one country fails, all three are harmed, and if one grows, they all benefit. Drawing on first?hand experience as a policy-maker and analyst, Pastor shows how this idea - once woven into the national consciousness of the three countries - could mobilize public support for continental solutions to problems that have confounded each nation working on its own.

Providing essential historical context and challenging readers to view the continent in a new way, Robert Pastor offers an expansive vision and a detailed blueprint for a more integrated, dynamic, and equitable North America.

For more information on The North American Idea, click here.

Dr. Robert Pastor

Robert A. Pastor is Professor of International Relations and Founder and Director of the Center for North American Studies at American University. He served on the National Security Council and as a Consultant to the State and Defense Departments. He is the author of numerous books, including Exiting the Whirlpool: U.S. Foreign Policy to Latin America and A Century's Journey: How the Great Powers Shape the World. Click here to read Dr. Pastor's profile.

Praise for The North American Idea

“A brilliant work offering a creative vision of North America's future. Buttressed by masterful scholarship, it is profoundly challenging and politically insightful."
- Zbigniew Brzezinski, U.S. National Security Advisor (1977-1981)

“A 'big idea' book that no one could have written as well as Robert Pastor. He knows the substance and the sensitivities better than anyone. The idea's time has not yet come, but the book's certainly has."
- Jorge Castañeda, Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs (2000-2003)

“The future of the United States is, in many ways, linked to the future of its North American neighbors on security, economic, and political issues. Robert Pastor has done a superb job of bringing these issues to the forefront and raising insightful questions about how far the United States, Canada, and Mexico should integrate themselves. How these questions are answered will help determine the competitiveness of all three countries in the global economy."
-James A. Baker III, 61st U.S. Secretary of State and 67th U.S. Secretary of the Treasury

"Business and boldness led Canada, Mexico, and the U.S.A. to come together in NAFTA ? for economic reasons. Robert Pastor argues that our continent is much more than just an economy. He spells out both the logic, and the logistics, of making much more of the enormous potential of the North American community, while respecting national sovereignty and identity. And he poses the critical question: are we bold enough?"
- The Right Honorable Joe Clark, 16th Prime Minister of Canada