Union Now: A Proposal for a Federal Union of the Democracies of the North Atlantic

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Union Now: A Proposal for a Federal Union of the Democracies of the North Atlantic

By Clarence K. Streit
Harper and Brothers, 1938
315 pp.

Let us conclude, idiosyncratically, with a dreamer and visionary often dismissed, when remembered at all, as an eccentric. The inveterate propagandist of Atlantic union, Streit was undoubtedly wrong in thinking that a common government uniting the Atlantic democracies modeled on the federal Constitution of 1787 was either possible or desirable. But he was right in insisting in this best-selling work -- which went through several editions and variations in the 1940s -- that the challenge for American foreign policy was to lead in the construction of a federative system linking the Western democracies, that the division among the democracies had been a catastrophic blunder, and that Americans needed to see their contemporary purpose in the world in relation to the vital precedents and lessons of America's own experience in federal union. Streit applied the analogy literally, which led him astray, but he stated the problem correctly: How to ensure the effective cooperation of the democracies without a common government? How, in the face of the rancors and divisive forces inherent in confederacies, to share the burden equitably? What institutions and vows are necessary to give effect to common purposes without surrendering the autonomy and individuality promised by the federal bargain?

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