Tuesday, April 13, 2010

North America needs a flag!

In a multi-polar world, regionalism may become the key to global governance and prosperity. For all of its current troubles, the European Union and the Euro are here to stay. The Chiang Mai Initiative is the latest in overlapping institutions in East Asia. South America already has a customs union in Mercosur, and there is talk of their own new Banco del Sur. For the United States, our best hope for a regional future is making NAFTA better and building fair cooperation with our neighbors to the north and south.

I like the idea of closer ties to Mexico and Canada. As improbable as unity may seem for us three today, our prospects are certainly brighter than one would have imagined for France and Germany in the first half of the last century. War torn and bitter for decades, look at them now - united under one flag of Europe. A united North America is our future - perhaps distant - and it's never too early to start dreaming of greater unity and prosperity together under one North American flag.

So that's where I decided to Google-image "NAFTA flag"... YIKES! The image I found - a blending of the US, Mexican, and Canadian flags - looks like somebody's nightmare. I am, of course, teasing - I appreciate the effort. And it is perhaps reflective of the fact that NAFTA has a long way to go before it brings about any unity to our region. But to forge a new North American regional identity, we need a new flag, not a blending of our current national flags.

If we are going to dream of a future together, we need a new symbol of North American unity - one that reflects our past, present, and future as a new unified region. We can all keep our old national flags, of course, but for the region, we need an original design.

So, I've decided to try my hand at a flag for all of North America. Here's my proposal:

The triangle symbolizes:
  1. The greatness of the pyramids built by the native people of the Americas in Mexico long before the days of colonization
  2. The three sides represent the three core members of our regional cooperation, beginning with NAFTA: Canada, Mexico, and the United States
  3. Most importantly, a resemblance to the North American geographical territory, which is narrow in the southern tip of Mexico, and wide across north of Alaska and Canada

The color recalls the gold of the past and the prosperity of the region’s future

The blue background:
  1. Complements the map interpretation of the triangle: recalls the Atlantic and Pacific oceans which surround and unify us
  2. Blue signifies trust, unity, and loyalty

Some final thoughts - while I justify the blue and gold in terms of our own North American past, present, and future, any similarity to the European flag is not a coincidence. I think that Europe has led the way on regional integration and serves as a model for the world. Personally, I do think 12 stars is overdoing it a bit. I like the simplicity of design on a flag. The one I propose here reminds me of the minimalism of the Japanese flag. This simple design is still distinctively ours: the use of the triangle is original and fitting for our three countries and for our North American land mass. Using a symbol that represents our geography is inspired by the flag of the Gambia. Note that there's room for Central America and the Caribbean to join some day - but we're not adding more sides or more stars - let's keep the design simple: the triangle represents North American unity.

So there it is. Let me know what you think. And if you like it, please forward this to others who might be interested...


  1. Symbolically it makes sense, but it looks like an elevator's "down" button...

  2. It does look like it's pointing down. Is that to symbolize the massive, southward transfer of wealth that would occur in such a union?

  3. The flag also seems to suggest that St. Lucia will be a charter member...

  4. North American integration will be just a dream as long as there is no tragedy that makes governments aware of the need to work together. In the case of Europe, this tragedy was WWII; in Asia, the 1997-98 financial crisis. One of the reasons why South American and Arab integrations are a joke is because nothing dramatic has happened there. Although, in the case of the Arab countries, the only thing they agree on is to hate Israel, which is a tragedy from their perspective.
    Anyway, if the US is serios about integration, it should have bailed Iceland out and make it part of NAFTA.

  5. Not a bad flag, but it looks too European. It makes it seem like we'd import the NAU from across the pond--which in many ways we would be, but that shouldn't be reflected in the symbolism.

    Personally I favor the flag with three stars on the blue background. I like the asymmetry and the simplicity, and to me it invokes a feeling of North American identity.

    I love that you are talking about North American unity in a serious, constructive way. For too long has this been the sole territory of conspiracy theorists. More of this please. My thoughts on the subject here.

    1. Trust me: there's nothing more American than flags with dark blue backgrounds.

  6. Or rather, here: http://riggabyte.wordpress.com/2010/04/09/whos-afraid-of-the-nau-or-we-are-north-american-scum/

  7. My first thought re. the flag: "that is one of the gay community's symbols, placed on car bumpers and erected in various locations around the world."

    As for a unified region, I am all for it. I am now brainstorming for the world flag. Maybe an earth?

  8. I saw this flag idea posted on the monkey cage, and I thought Jim was trying to say that all of the jobs and money in the US will go into Mexico if we stay in NAFTA, just as Fred did. But if you make the arrow point up, I might like it (or will people think this means all the money and jobs will go to Canada?). We could also slap the "eye of providence" on there, like we have on our dollar bills.