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The Politics of World Federation

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This book is a history of the practical, political efforts to establish a constitutionally limited, democratically representative, federal world government in order to effectively abolish war. Historically, during the coming, waging, and aftermath of World War II, a number of people in and out of government in America and in the eventually 51 allied countries in the wartime “United Nations” urged that the failed League of Nations not be simply revived, even with U.S. membership, but be transformed into the beginnings of a representative world government. In principle, they argued that the moment had come to guide international organization through a transition like that when the United States under the Articles of Confederation (1781) passed to a more perfect union under the federal Constitution (1787). Europeans, too, looked to federation as an end to endemic wars, and in time the European Union would be the practical realization of such dreams [p. 1].

The closest the United States has ever come to support for a world federation was in the State Department during deliberations about the shape of the U.N. organization in 1942–43, and again, after first use of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, during negotiations over the Baruch plan for the international control of atomic energy in 1946. There were hearings on world federation in Congress in 1948–50, but amity among the victorious allies of World War II could not be maintained, and the Cold War emerged as the reality of international life for 40 years [1].

The Baruch plan was the nearest approach to a world government proposal offered by the United States; such a proposal could have been more “fair” to the Russians, who in the circumstances of 1946 probably would still have rejected it but would at least not have been alarmed by the deceptiveness of the plan actually offered; and the story of the failure to make the plan a complete world government proposal casts a sidelight on the origins of the Cold War and offers some guidance for a way out of the present arms race [179].

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2007

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