Three years ago, as the co-author of "Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry," the book that launched the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign, Jerome Corsi was arguably one of the 2004 presidential election's single most influential people. Though Corsi denies that the book and the movement were specifically intended to aid the reelection efforts of President George W. Bush, and says the only intention was to oppose Kerry, there's little doubt that he played a significant role in winning Bush a second term. But now Corsi has turned against the administration, accusing it of being part of a conspiracy to destroy the sovereignty of the United States as we know it.
In his new book, "The Late Great USA: The Coming Merger With Mexico and Canada," Corsi weaves a sprawling theory in which multinational companies, the Bush administration, the Council on Foreign Relations, Democratic-leaning college professors and the governments of Mexico and Canada, among others, are all working -- not necessarily together, but in harmony -- to create a "North American Union." This NAU, Corsi says, will be similar to the European Union, breaking down national boundaries, establishing a single North American currency and potentially even leading to a rewriting of the Bill of Rights.
Already a controversial figure -- he's been accused of plagiarism, and the liberal press watchdog Media Matters has compiled a list of some of the inflammatory remarks he made while he was posting at FreeRepublic.com -- Corsi recycles some old boogeymen for "The Late Great USA." For example, he makes the Council on Foreign Relations, once a favorite target of the radical right-wing John Birch Society, a key player in his tale. But that doesn't mean his book won't find a huge audience; released July 10, as of this article's press time it had already reached as high as the No. 1 spot in Amazon.com's rankings of both nonfiction and politics books.
Salon spoke with Corsi the day before the book's release about his theory, the problems he sees in joining an EU-type organization and the split between the corporatist and anti-immigration wings of the Republican Party.
What's the book about?
It's about the coming merger with Mexico and Canada. I make the argument that just as in Europe, it was a 50-year stealth plan by the intellectual elites and government officials planning to create a European Union, to go from originally a trade agreement, the coal and steel agreement, the original agreement, step by step incrementally building an argument and getting the votes needed to end up with the European Union. They went through a European common market, a European customs union, European community, finally European Union with its own currency, the euro. I'm saying the plan here is the same. Multinational corporations and elites pushing to have NAFTA advance into what it is now, the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, ultimately a North American community, and if we don't stop it it will end up as a North American Union with its own currency, the "amero," the a-m-e-r-o, replacing the dollar and the other currencies in Canada and Mexico.
What you seem to foresee, however, is something that would go further than the European Union and actually dissolve the United States.
The United States could remain as a country in a North American Union the same way Italy, France and Germany remain as countries in the European Union, but there's a significant loss of sovereignty so that now the European Union dictates from the nameless bureaucrats in the working groups in Brussels, in Luxembourg, the laws which the legislatures in the various countries -- Germany, France, Italy, etc. -- can pass. And if it's not approved they can't pass the law. So you basically have a European Union regional government becoming supreme and the governments of the individual countries becoming secondary in sovereignty to the regional government's dictates and rulings.
So what's the motive on the part of the American government and American corporations in forming this North American Union? That wasn't much discussed in your book.
I pointed out very clearly that the motive here is a multinational corporate model, that our multinational corporations largely are beyond borders already. I pointed this out extensively when I discussed how the North American Competitiveness Council, which is an advisory group under the Security and Prosperity Partnership, was constituted almost entirely of multinational business groups that are constituted to advise SPP. The agenda there is that, you know, American labor is too expensive for the multinational corporations. Our manufacturing jobs are increasingly going to China and our high-skill jobs -- I mean take a look at Bill Gates and Microsoft: He's one of the top billionaires in the world, yet evidently he does not have enough billions. Rather than being thankful to U.S. citizens for buying Microsoft products over decades ... he's pushing for another billion dollars. He wants unlimited H-1B visas to get computer scientists in an unlimited capacity from India and he's threatening that if he can't get that here in the United States, he'll form a subsidiary in Canada and get his Indian computer scientists through Canada. As opposed to -- evidently the sons and daughters of American citizens graduating from colleges in computer science are too expensive for Bill Gates. And it's that type of an agenda that is already beyond borders, which is pushing for global profits at the expense of the U.S. manufacturing or the U.S. middle class.
You also allege, though, that the Bush administration is actively doing this. What's its motive to want to break down the United States?
Well, I say it's been bipartisan. It's both George H.W. Bush, who openly talked about a new world order; Bill Clinton, who advanced the NAFTA agenda by getting NAFTA passed; and George W. Bush, who's now advanced NAFTA into the Security and Prosperity Partnership. I'm saying that all three of these presidents and our Congress have been willing to erase borders to the extent that illegal immigration has been openly allowed and encouraged in a bipartisan effort. We got a Kennedy-McCain bill twice being jammed in the Senate, even though the American people overwhelmingly rejected it; it's a bipartisan effort. And the politicians of both parties are equally paid campaign contributions by the multinational corporations that advance this agenda.
But isn't it something of a large step from giving amnesty to illegal immigrants or not closing the borders to actually erasing the United States as a country?
The argument I make is that the loss of sovereignty occurs incrementally, just as it did in Europe. So as examples I point to, just take a look at the comprehensive immigration reform debate. There are 12 million illegal aliens in the United States today that the government admits to. The number is probably much larger than that in reality. About three-quarters of the illegal aliens have come here during George Bush's [presidency]. And what we then get presented with is an argument advanced by both parties in the Senate that we have to pass some kind of a law which will give legal status to the illegal aliens here. And the argument is, "Well what are you going to do, round them up and send them home? You can't do that."
Of course, that's a straw man argument. There's no one really arguing to round everybody up, the illegal aliens, and send them home. The argument is to close the borders, to enforce our employment laws, and through attrition many of the illegal aliens would return because the economic advantages to being here are significantly reduced. And by securing the borders, fewer will come to increase the numbers. But by advancing the straw man argument, and saying we have no alternative but to grant some kind of a legal status, what we have is one of every 10 people born in Mexico living in the United States today as a Mexican citizen, with that number projected to advance to one out of every five people born in Mexico living in the United States as a Mexican citizen by 2010 or 2015. So we already become a dual country, and we allow Mexico to establish 30 or 40 consular offices whose purpose is to protect the civil rights of their Mexican national citizens living in the United States. That's how we begin to lose sovereignty instead of enforcing our laws, securing our borders and demanding employment laws to be enforced, reducing the social welfare benefits that are given to illegal aliens, and demanding that those who are here come here to become U.S. citizens, not to retain their Mexican citizenship.
I'm not quite getting the connection yet between there being a substantial population of Mexican citizens here and actually erasing the United States as a country.
First of all, let's start with what you just said -- erasing the United States as a country. I'm not making the argument that the United States goes away as a country, no more than Italy goes away as a country. But what Italy is today, under the European Union, in terms of its sovereignty, is considerably less than what Italy was 50 years ago. Fifty years ago, Italy and the Italian legislature passed laws without consultation with the European Union's super-regional structure. Today the super-regional structure dictates the law that the European legislatures can pass. Fifty years ago, Europe did not have a regional currency and Italy was using the lira. So it is not that Italy's gone away, but Italy has fundamentally given up sovereignty -- not completely but in major ways -- to the super-regional government. I'm saying that the same thing is happening here as we allow one out of every five Mexicans born in Mexico to live in the United States as a Mexican citizen. That's a significant compromise to our sovereignty from where it was before that happened.
But the title of your book is "The Late Great USA: The Coming Merger With Mexico and Canada," and I'm also looking at a quote from you from 2006 where you say, "Why doesn't President Bush just tell the truth? His secret agenda is to dissolve the United States of American into the North American Union."
In both of those, dissolving the United States into the North American Union is the same way that I'm talking about dissolving Italy into the European Union. In other words, it's a loss of sovereignty issue that I'm concerned about, not that the United States would be not existing in some form, but a much reduced form when you consider the issue of sovereignty. And I'm pointing to, consistently, in the articles I've written that you quoted from and in the book, issues such as the NAFTA Chapter 11 tribunals, which can today overturn a U.S. law if it adversely affects a NAFTA investor. That's a loss of sovereignty. It's empowering a regional judicial structure to overturn a law passed by a U.S. state or the federal government because of a regional business interest in NAFTA.
At one point in the book, you ask, "[W]ill the US Bill of Rights be among the laws that have to be 'integrated' and 'harmonized' with Mexico's and Canada's?" and I'm wondering: How does that question jibe with the Supreme Court decision in Reid v. Covert [which 50 years ago affirmed the supremacy of the U.S. Constitution to any treaty]?
Well, the whole issue is that what the Security and Prosperity Partnership is doing in our administrative law structure is to take laws and regulations that were U.S. in nature and change them. "Integrating and harmonizing" means changing so that they accord with the laws in Mexico and Canada. Now those changes, if you take a look at the 2005 and 2006 Report to the Leaders on the SPP.gov Web site, they mention something like 250 memorandums of understanding or other agreements that the bureaucrats have reached, our bureaucrats have reached with their counterparts in Mexico and Canada in these bureaucratic working group structures ... [T]hey create, for instance, a North American transportation policy, or North American border crossing policy, North American environmental policy, North American energy policy, North American steel policy.
OK, but you were specifically asking whether the Bill of Rights had to be harmonized and that Supreme Court decision I was referring to specifically says, "The Court has regularly and uniformly recognized the supremacy of the Constitution over a treaty." It also says, "It would be manifestly contrary to the objectives of those who created the Constitution ... to construe Article VI as permitting the United States to exercise power under an international agreement without observing constitutional prohibitions."
What I'm pointing out to you is that while that case says that, there are other cases, including the one that dealt with the Mexican trucks and the environmental standards, where our courts have increasingly reached to international considerations, here under NAFTA, to modify U.S. laws and their applicability ... I'm saying that that type of decision could increasingly become the trend or the standard as cases get brought up under these SPP guidelines and regulations, which will happen. As the agenda advances, it'll happen increasingly. We're now going to allow Mexican trucks to come across the border through this Department of Transportation demonstration project, and they're going to be able to go all through the United States. Inevitably, that's going to lead to a series of issues that involve litigation of one kind or another, either through trade issues or accidents or any number of other circumstances that could occur. When those cases get presented, either to our courts or to NAFTA-created tribunals, it's going to present the pressure to have either more NAFTA-created tribunals, which are under discussion, or our courts are going to have to examine whether the SPP-integrated and -harmonized laws apply as compared to a strict U.S. law that was passed by Congress, but now redefined under SPP.
On another subject entirely, you co-wrote the book that sort of launched the Swift boat movement and some would say led to the reelection of George W. Bush. Given what you've found out about Bush now, do you regret writing that book?
No, I don't regret writing ["Unfit for Command"]. The Swift boat book has nothing to do with what I'm currently doing. The Swift Boat Veterans don't endorse this. This is my own work entirely. That was a chapter in my life that preceded this. And the Swift Boat Veterans were not organized to reelect George W. Bush. Having been intimately involved with the group, I can tell you that the group was created to oppose John Kerry's run for the presidency. The only theme that unified the Swift Boat Vets was that John Kerry was unfit for command ... John O'Neill and I knew each other as young men. He debated at Annapolis; I debated at Case Western Reserve. We were friends some 38 or 40 years ago. And we reunited to do the book and tell the Swift boat story. And I'm honored by having worked with John O'Neill and the Swift Boat Veterans to tell that story in the book, and this effort has nothing to do with the Swift boats. It's an entirely separate subject and separate involvement.
By the time the book was released, John Kerry was essentially the Democratic nominee and there is a lot of thought that the book, the Swift Boat ads and questions about John Kerry's military service are what led to George Bush's reelection. In 2006, you said specifically that had President Bush been running openly on the North American Union stuff that you're talking about, he wouldn't have carried Ohio, let alone half of the red states he needed to win reelection. That sounds to me like you now oppose him.
Am I personally disappointed by George W. Bush in the second term? Yes. I've also openly stated I voted for George Bush twice, and I'm deeply disappointed, especially by the second term. And I think that had he campaigned openly on the Security and Prosperity Partnership, which he didn't declare until after he was reelected, I think it would have hurt his reelection chances. But that's still distinguished from the fact that the Swift boat movement was not aimed at reelecting George W. Bush. Regardless of how I voted personally, the group did not endorse George W. Bush and was not organized to support him. It was organized to oppose John Kerry, and I suspect would have been organized regardless of who Kerry's opponent was and was not influenced by George W. Bush's campaign. George W. Bush's campaign renounced the Swift Boat Vets, if you recall.
Your book did have an impact.
I don't regret writing the book. I would continue to oppose Kerry. It's separate issues for me. And I'm deeply disappointed in what George W. Bush has done.
The biggest funder of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth was Texas homebuilder Bob Perry. He has come out in favor of the kind of immigration reforms that President Bush and the Senate have been talking about. How do you feel about that?
I don't have any feelings about it. I haven't discussed it with Mr. Perry. He's entitled to his own views, and I see no reason why I would discuss it with him because he's entitled to his own opinions.
Do you see a split in the kind of coalition that elected George W. Bush in 2004 and the Republican Party generally over this?
I think that the immigration issue as a whole, especially in George Bush's second term, has deeply divided the Republican Party. You know I'm not a Republican and I'm not a Democrat. I don't believe I've ever been registered with either party ... George W. Bush in the second term has clearly alienated a large segment of the conservative Moral Majority that has elected Republican presidents back to Ronald Regan ... The conservative coalition within the Republican Party wants, typically, border security as a first objective. And that George W. Bush has continued to push this comprehensive immigration reform agenda, many conservatives have come out and said that this is tantamount to amnesty and that's been an issue that's caused a severe split within the Republican Party and significantly damaged the Republican Party's conservative base in terms of its support. No question about it.
What do you think his motive is?
Well I, again, I have never met George Bush, let alone discussed it with him, and it's hard to know what another person's motive is, which implies their psychological reality. All I can judge is what he's doing. George W. Bush -- and it's been bipartisan by the way, both Democrats and Republicans, because you've got Bill Clinton who pushed the NAFTA agenda as strongly as George W. Bush has advanced the NAFTA agenda with the Security and Prosperity Partnership, and the winners seem to be the multinational corporations that increasingly want our borders with Mexico and Canada erased or opened and want a world global economy in which China has increasing access to the manufacturing that was traditionally done in the United States. And I argue both in the book and in the articles I've written that the clear winners in this agenda are the multinational corporations and China. Even Mexico -- Mexican labor has not had any of the promises fulfilled from NAFTA that Mexicans would benefit in terms of reducing poverty or expanding wealth in Mexico. Mexico today remains just as drug cartel-controlled and corrupt a country, with a massive split between the few very wealthy and the mass that are tremendously poor and what Mexico's strategy seems to be is to be demanding increasingly open borders so that they can transfer their impoverished masses to the U.S.
What would be so bad about being in an EU-style confederation?
A loss of sovereignty is a major consideration, I think it should be, to millions of Americans. I think that our institutions of government, our declaration of rights, are unique, and you know our declaration of rights, our rights are declared to be inalienable, that means given from God, not declared by a North American Union. Our institutions, the founding fathers believed, were a form of government that derived from natural right, from a set of principles that were needed, given human nature, to form a limited constitutional republic in which the various branches of government balanced each other and competed for power. That structure of government, I think, is unique in preserving the liberties it was created to preserve. And if we compromise it, or move away from its sovereignty, I believe that we threaten the liberties it was intended to protect and we compromise a unique form of government created in human history that seems to have worked and to have fulfilled the promise the Founding Fathers articulated.
Haven't the countries of the EU done fairly well for themselves? You were talking about Italy. Its monetary system was in shambles before Italy picked up the euro.
You seem to imply that doing well means economically only. If that's your only criterion, I'm not even sure I'd agree there. But that's not the only criterion. Other criteria are sovereignty, which I'm trying to convey to you is an important and independently important consideration from economics and worth preserving. You know, I think we have thousands of men and women buried in Arlington who did not die for a North American Union or NAFTA; they died for the United States of America.