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World Economic Expansion and National Security in Pre-World War I Europe

David M. Rowe
International Organization
Vol. 53, No. 2 (Spring, 1999), pp. 195-231
Published by: The MIT Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2601388
Page Count: 37
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World Economic Expansion and National Security in Pre-World War I Europe
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Abstract

I build on the Stolper-Samuelson theorem from international trade theory to argue that profound and rapid changes in the costs and risks of international economic exchange can significantly influence the security politics of states. Increasing exposure to the international economy will increase the state's difficulty of mobilizing locally abundant resources for security purposes and ease the difficulty of mobilizing locally scarce resources. Declining exposure reverses these effects. A preliminary survey of the five European great powers before World War I supports the pattern of shifting economic constraints predicted by the theory and further suggests that international economic expansion was an important cause of World War I. The theory thus challenges the conventional wisdom that trade promotes peace. It also has important implications for several other areas of international relations, including the relationship between trade and military power, the relative gains debate, and the dynamics of hegemonic theory.

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