International Free Trade and World Peace Essay

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International Free Trade and World Peace When analyzing trade’s effect on state behavior, it is not the mere existence of trade between countries that should be central, rather, the nature of trade that is crucial. This distinction will be explored by studying the arguments of key economic and political thinkers of both the 18th and 20th centuries. The general nature of trade, the role of national government regarding trade and security, trade's capacity to befriend belligerent nations, and finally, the influence of international economic institutions will be explored. In an attempt to present a fairly broad range of sources, this study features the ideas of four influential authors from two time periods and continents: from the 18th…show more content…
For example, which countries would one consider practitioners of "free trade?" The United States, the proverbial torch carrier of open markets and trade liberalization, maintains protectionist policies in several of its sectors such as agriculture. If we were to succeed in classifying each country according to its openness in trade, how would we tally their conflicts? Again, in the case of the United States, this is particularly problematic. Despite the active roles it has played in Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, and Kosovo, the United States has not officially declared war since entering W.W.II. The True Nature of Trade Trade's function in promoting peace or inciting conflict is an issue that exposes the fundamental antagonism between economic versus political thought. Until the mid-19th Century, the issue was addressed by the mercantilist school of thought, which focused on the political (defense-related) consequences of trade. Because wealth (or the accumulation of gold) was equated with power, international trade was regarded as a necessary evil, practiced only with the utmost attentiveness to one's partner's gains, lest they exceed one's own. In 1776, Adam Smith argued in The Wealth of Nations that the mercantilist system was futile and destructive to society as a whole. By redefining wealth and proclaiming that political influence on trade was detrimental, Smith revolutionized economic thought. For this
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