Yesterday, former Mexican President Vicente Fox donned his Moses robes in San Antonio, and did his best Charlton Heston impression.
A remake of The Ten Commandments? Nope. But it may as well have been.
He was in Texas to share one of his fondest dreams -- a European Union-style union of Canada, the United States, and Mexico, and eventually the rest of Latin America.
He has touted the idea before. As a concept, it is the very thing that sets the hearts of Foreign Affairs readers all atwitter.
The whole argument proceeds from the premise that the European Union has been a great success. Of course, the premise is flawed. The European Union has been, at best, a mixed bag.
The original idea was brilliant. Following the end of World War Two, European leaders desperately sought a method to stop the centuries-old cycle of wars on the continent. They knew that the various cultures and political systems could not be united, but they looked at history and concluded that nations with integrated trade systems could not afford to kill one another.
Thus was born the notion of an economic community. It started small: with coal and steel. Within decades, it had grown to a full European Economic Community.
At that point, Europeans realized that economies are not a separate mechanism of nations. Economies are affected by social laws. And along came the European Union with its restrictions on what each nation could impose on its own people.
Several member nations opted out of certain parts of the union. Britain, for instance, had a history that certain social conditions must exist from the bottom up, and not be imposed by a central authority -- lessons hard earned in a civil war and a Glorious Revolution.
In its haste to take advantage of the recently-freed eastern Europeans, the Union then took in nations that differed greatly in their social and economic structures from the original members. The result is the faltering European Union we see today.
Not all centralizing attempts are failures. After all, when the states sent representatives to Philadelphia in 1787, the purpose was to solve trade issues between the states. Instead of fixing the Articles of Confederation, the convention proposed a completely new political model in the Constitution. The advantage that the states had was that their basic social and political concepts were united -- with one terrible exception: slavery.
Former President Fox admitted, like Moses, he knew that the Chosen People would just as soon return to the Egypt of pre-NAFTA days. But he does not seem rady yet to admit that a step toward a North American Union will either lead to a political federation or a faltering failure.
If we are to have the debate, though, we need to start with the premise that who says A also says B. The debate is worth having.
Of course, there is a big difference in each Moses. The original had God; Vicente Fox simply has the Council on Foreign Relations.