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Feature 043012 ISN

Monday, April 30, 2012

Power Dynamics in North America: Regional Integration

An International Relations and Security Network (ISN) Series

We begin our Regional Perspectives on Power series by focusing on what remains the most significant geopolitical region of our world. Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has been the international system's sole bona fide superpower. Yet for more than 100 years, it has also been the undisputed regional colossus of North America. Since the advent of the Monroe Doctrine, Washington has sought to rally the region around US leadership, acted as a guarantor of security and, on occasion, intervened in the affairs of nations to safeguard its own national interests.

Yet in a structurally changing and dynamic international system should the United States remain the unencumbered leader of North America? Or should Washington promote a broad and deliberate process of regional integration that helps to minimize injustice and insecurity across the entire region?

Over the course of this week [April 23, 2012] we consider the prospects for and pitfalls of integration for a region stretching from the Bering Sea to the Panama Canal and the Caribbean. We begin asking how likely greater social, economic and political integration is between North American states. Do previous attempts at integration, or lessons learned from Europe, offer insights on the prospect for future integrative efforts?

An additional challenge is whether there is any real desire for greater North American integration. The various secessionist movements that punctuate the region suggest that a significant proportion of North America's population is opposed to the project. We also consider a further impediment to regional integration: a drug trade emanating from Central America and Mexico that supplies the domestic market of the United States and beyond.

We end the week by considering whether the United States actually needs to be at the forefront regional integration. Our specific focus on the Caribbean outlines how this region has attempted to better integrate social, economic and political processes, often with the help of external powers. And we conclude by determining how North America's security problems over the next decade may impact upon prospects for regional integration. This issue is important as the security dynamics of North America will determine the United States' future global trajectory.

Ties That Bind?

23 Apr 2012 / Podcast

Mexican Ambassador Andres Rozental discusses the prospects for further regional integration in North America.

North America's Restless Natives

24 Apr 2012 / Special Feature

One obstacle to further integration in North America is the region's localist, indigenous and separatist movements.

A Lethal Cocktail: Drugs, Guns and Corruption

25 Apr 2012 / Special Feature

In the case of North America, political localism and the pushback of indigenous movements are impediments to regional integration, as are the chronically weak governments which the drug trade helps create in Mexico and Central America.

Tackling Socio-Political Fragility in the Caribbean

26 Apr 2012 / Special Feature

The Caribbean is the Western Hemisphere´s most fragile and diverse region. Torn between the geostrategic and economic interests of the US and an emerging group of South American and Asian countries, the region has to assert itself through deeper and stronger intra-Caribbean cooperation and integration.

A Future Fit for Integration?

27 Apr 2012 / Podcast

Scott Stewart, STRATFOR's Vice President for Tactical Intelligence, discusses North America's future security challenges.

Additional Content


These commentary articles and podcasts, from ISN Dossiers and ISN Insights (starting Apr. 23, 2012), were originally published by the International Relations and Security Network.  The Zurich, Switzerland-based ISN is one of the world's leading open access information services for international relations and security professionals.  Established in 1994, the ISN mission is to facilitate security-related dialogue and cooperation within a high-quality network of international relations organizations, professionals and experts, and to provide open-source international relations and security-related tools and materials in accessible ways.  Reprinted with permission from ISN.

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