Why would states ever give up their independence to join
federations? While federation can provide more wealth or security
than self-sufficiency, states can in principle get those benefits
more easily by cooperating through international organizations such
as alliances or customs unions.
Chad Rector develops a new theory that states federate when
their leaders expect benefits from closer military or economic
cooperation but also expect that cooperation via an international
organization would put some of the states in a vulnerable position,
open to extortion from their erstwhile partners. The potentially
vulnerable states hold out, refusing to join alliances or customs
unions, and only agreeing to military and economic cooperation
under a federal constitution.
Rector examines several historical cases: the making of a
federal Australia and the eventual exclusion of New Zealand from
the union, the decisions made within Buenos Aires and Prussia to
build Argentina and Germany largely through federal contracts
rather than conquests, and the failures of postindependence unions
in East Africa and the Caribbean.
Subjects: Political Science
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