Paul Poast on the Art of Agreement in Military-Pact Negotiations

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While the physical #ISA2020 Annual Conference has been canceled, we’ve created this new online portal so you can take advantage of the book deals normally only given to conference attendees. Our featured International Studies books are now available to everyone with our special virtual booth forty percent discount—use the promo code 09EXP40 to save. Enjoy!

We asked author Paul Poast three questions about his new book Arguing about Alliances: The Art of Agreement in Military-Pact Negotiations, and his research on European alliance treaties between 1815 and 1945.

1. What’s your favorite anecdote from your research for this book?

France was so difficult during the North Atlantic Treaty negotiations. For instance, they criticized the American and British desire to include Norway in the pact, claiming it would create an “Arctic Treaty” not an “Atlantic Treaty”. At the same time, the French officials insisted that not including Algeria under the treaty’s protection would be equivalent to leaving out Florida.

2. What do you wish you had known when you started writing your book, that you know now?

How to read German! I had to read a lot of German documents for my case on the 1901 Anglo-German negotiations. I now can “muscle” my way through a text written in German, but it’s VERY slow going. But that’s an improvement over where I was a few years ago!

3. How do you wish you could change the field of International Studies?

I still see a number of scholars, especially graduate students, who feel that they must fall into either the “qualitative” or “quantitative” camp. I think both approaches are important for evaluating the types of arguments put forward by most IR theories. I hope this book can be a model of work that offers both serious case-study work and large-n analysis.

Paul Poast is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago. He is author of The Economics of War and co-author of Organizing Democracy. Follow him on Twitter @ProfPaulPoast.

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