Uniting States: Voluntary Union in World Politics

Overview

What causes a state to unify voluntarily with another state? If realists are right, voluntary union should never happen. In their view, states value their sovereignty above all else and would never give it up without a fight. Yet the United States and Switzerland are glaring exceptions to this paradigm. If liberals and constructivists are right, voluntary unions should be much more common and actually increasing in frequency. After all, classic determinants of integration such as international trade and ...

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Overview

What causes a state to unify voluntarily with another state? If realists are right, voluntary union should never happen. In their view, states value their sovereignty above all else and would never give it up without a fight. Yet the United States and Switzerland are glaring exceptions to this paradigm. If liberals and constructivists are right, voluntary unions should be much more common and actually increasing in frequency. After all, classic determinants of integration such as international trade and communication are stronger than they have ever been. Yet the number of states in the world continues to climb, and the most favorable arena for unification, the European Union, seems to be hitting a glass ceiling. In Uniting States, Joseph Parent argues that unions are the balancing coalitions of last resort. Elites can weld separate states into a lasting union only when facing particularly serious threats. Drawing on five major historical cases of union—the United States, Switzerland, Sweden—Norway, Gran Colombia, and the European Union—Uniting States sheds new light on political polarization, state dissolution, federalism, and the possibility of uniting without fighting.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"How do little states become big ones? The question is rarely asked and never answered with the compelling logic and the wealth of cases that Joe Parent displays. A dazzling accomplishment and a joy to read."—Kenneth Waltz, Senior Research Scholar and Adjunct Professor of Political Science, Columbia University

"In this engagingly written and compellingly argued book, Joseph Parent shows us why states will sometimes voluntarily yield up their sovereignty to create a larger political union and why they may subsequently seize it back. Uniting States is a treat to read."—Robert Art, Professor of International Relations, Brandeis University

"Why do some states choose a more perfect union, while others jealously guard their sovereignty? Writing with theoretical clarity and impressive historical breadth, Joseph Parent's Uniting States shatters the myth that unity is born from common culture, increasing communication, and deep economic ties. Unity is instead a shotgun marriage-states come together, not for love or profit, but in fear of international threats. At a time when the globe appears ever more unified, Uniting States provides a cautionary and significant critique to our understanding of world politics."—Stacie Goddard, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Wellesley University

"Euroskeptics take note: history shows that the key to the viability of federal unions is a common threat. Joe Parent compellingly demonstrates the continuing vitality of realist analysis of the big questions in world politics."—Jack Snyder, Professor of International Relations, Columbia University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199782208
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/26/2011
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Joseph M. Parent is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Miami.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Explaining Political Union
3. Force, Fraud, and the Founding of the American Constitution
4. America's necessity
5. Switzerland, Staatenbund to Bundesstaat
6. The Liminal Union of Sweden and Norway
7. Bolívar's Dreams of Gran Colombia
8. Europe's American Idol
9. Conclusion
Appendix: Machiavelli and the Missing Romulus

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