Domestic Politics as an Explanation for Voluntary Union

The Missing Case of the United Arab Republic


  • Joshua A. Schwartz



Arab nationalism, Nasser, political integration, realism, United Arab Republic, voluntary union


What are the causes of voluntary union in world politics? In other words, why would two states decide to freely surrender their individual autonomy and merge into one state? In a sweeping new study that emanates from the realist tradition, Joseph Parent claims to have examined all the relevant historical cases and found that the unmistakable cause of voluntary union between two states is “optimally intense, indefinite, and symmetrically shared” external security threats. However, this paper will demonstrate that Parent has mistakenly omitted valid historical cases of voluntary unions from his sample and, in the process, biased his findings. By examining one of these wrongly excluded cases in-depth, that of the United Arab Republic between Egypt and Syria, this paper will demonstrate that internal security threats and personal political incentives can also be causes of voluntary union.

Author Biography

Joshua A. Schwartz

Joshua Schwartz received his Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Political Science from The George Washington University in 2012. During that time, he interned with the United States Department of State and the United States Senate. He is currently a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania, and his research interests include international relations theory, drones, nuclear weapons, and terrorism. His work has been published in the Washington Post, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and the Cornell International Affairs Review.




How to Cite

Schwartz, J. A. (2019). Domestic Politics as an Explanation for Voluntary Union: The Missing Case of the United Arab Republic. Politikon: The IAPSS Journal of Political Science, 40, 61–75.



Research articles