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Christopher Hayes on the NAFTA Superhighway: The Nation Tilts to the Right

In the cover story of the August 27 edition of The Nation, Christopher Hayes declares categorically, “There’s no such thing as a proposed NAFTA Superhighway,” and thereby places himself squarely in the service of the neoconservative forces that are globalizing North America.

As a progressive writer, Hayes turns to surprising sources for evidence to support his argument.

Ask NASCO

First, Hayes cites an agency funded and operated by the globalist North American SuperCorridor Organization (NASCO) that was praised as such by a prominent neocon politician from the Bush administration.  Puzzlingly, Hayes quotes the official kudos verbatim in his article.  He clinches his presentation of this “evidence” by citing the NASCO denials presented as answers to FAQs on the organization’s Website.

Hayes also defends the NASCO claim that the map of the I-35 supercorridor that appeared on their Website is not really a map.  In Hayes’s words it is merely a “colorful, cartoonlike image.”   However, the sections of the NAFTA supercorridor already visible in satellite images posted on Google Earth and corresponding to the NASCO map are real enough.  In a radio debate with this writer, the President of NASCO insisted that we were looking at “big gravel pits.”

Hayes also asserts that paranoid conspiracy theorists who embrace the NAFTA superhighway “myth” are also needlessly worried about the trilateral Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) or “NAFTA Plus,” as it has been dubbed by pundits in the mainstream press.  Not to worry, says Hayes, ask a NEOCON.

Ask a NEOCON

To debunk the “myth” that the SPP is an extension of NAFTA through privileged executive action and has designs on the NAFTA supercorridors, Hayes asked the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance (a neocon by job description) who, in addition to assuring Hayes that “there is no NAFTA Superhighway,” further informed him that “the SPP is a relatively mundane formal bureaucratic dialogue.  Working groups, staffed by midlevel officials from all three countries, figure out how to better synchronize customs enforcement, security protocols and regulatory frameworks among countries.  ‘Simple stuff like, for instance, in the US we sell baby food in several different sizes; in Canada, it’s just two.'”

This testimony settles the matter for Hayes.  He seems not to have noticed that the Heads of the Trilateral States have met annually for the last three years and have another closed summit scheduled.

To talk about serving sizes? 

*     *     *

Hayes does, in his article, concede the existence of the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC) because neither NASCO nor any NEOCON can deny it.  NASCO officially maintains that the TTC is strictly a Texas project to deal with regional traffic problems.  The question then arises, “Is the TTC the first section of the new NAFTA Superhighway?”  Apparently oblivious to the rather elementary observation that changing the name does not change the thing, Hayes traveled to Texas to get an answer to the question.

Gone to Texas

Hayes’s trip took him to Austin, the seat of state government and the original NEOCON Field Office.  Ironically, he would have passed right over sections of the 1,200 foot-wide Southern leg of the I-35 NAFTA corridor that are nearly complete (and visible from outer space) to land at either of the city’s two airports.

In Austin, Hayes tricked the Commissioner of the Texas Department of Transportation, Ric Williamson (who was appointed by the reining Governor of Texas, who was anointed by the former Governor of Texas, who now directs neocon operations from the Oval Office), into granting him an audience and put the question of the TTC directly to him.  The answer: the TTC is strictly a Texas project to deal with regional traffic problems.  Hayes bought the official cover story and parrots it in his article; “Williamson’s case is straightforward. . . .”

Ask a NEOCON field officer.

Governments and political action groups lie, so what?  Hayes’s misadventure as a gullible investigative reporter would be laughable if it weren’t so damaging.  His intent was to debunk the right-wing nationalist myth of a sinister super-national North American Union that has grown up around the construction of the NAFTA superhighway and other current issues.  The fact that he fails even at that task is totally unimportant.  What he does accomplish is lamentable.

Ask Labor, But Don’t Listen

In a central paragraph of this article, Hayes attempts to discount both the nationalist right wing, which simply cannot understand what is happening in the USA, and the center-left, which he identifies as labor.  Once again, Hayes cites a truth that he cannot handle when he quotes Teamster President James Hoffa:

“Bush is quietly moving forward with plans . . . for what’s known as a NAFTA superhighway — a combination of existing and new roads that will create a north-south corridor from Mexico to Canada . . . It will allow global conglomerates to capitalize by exploiting cheap labor and nonexistent work rules and avoiding potential security enhancements at U.S. ports.”

Say what you will about Hoffa, in this case his political-economic analysis is right on.

Ask labor, but don’t listen to the answer.

*     *     *

Hayes glosses over both truth and falsehood in his article in The Nation, obscuring the issues and providing a convenient smokescreen behind which “Bush [Commander and Chief of the Neocons] is quietly moving forward with plans. . . .”

As an obscurantist, Christopher Hayes undermines the very principles we assume that he, as a progressive writer, should be defending.  Among enemies like Hayes, the neocons find convenient, if unwitting, allies.

(For more information on the NAFTA corridors from a labor point of view, see: “The NAFTA Corridors: Offshoring U.S. Transportation Jobs to Mexico”; “The NAFTA Corridors and Canada: Sharing the Plunder of the South”; “NAFTA Corridors: Dividing America to Multiply Profits”; “NAFTA Corridor Update”; “Lies, Facts, and the Pursuit of Profit: A NAFTA Supercorridor Progress Report.”)


Richard D. Vogel is a political reporter who monitors the effects of globalization on working people and their communities.  Other works include: “Transient Servitude: The U.S. Guest Worker Program for Exploiting Mexican and Central American Workers”; and “The Fight of Our Lives: The War of Attrition against U.S. Labor.”  Contact: irvogel@aim.com.



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