Cooperation Among States: Political, Military & Economic Alliances

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Whittemore

Jessica has taught junior high history and college seminar courses. She has an M.A in instructional education.

Cooperation among states is formed as governments of different nations agree to work together towards a common goal. Learn more about cooperation among states in terms of political, military, and economic factions, as well as NAFTA and the European Union. Updated: 10/28/2021

Definition of a State

Throughout time, states have switched alliances. For instance, the American Revolution saw the American colonies fighting against Britain. However, both World Wars saw the US and Britain joining forces to take on Germany, while modern-day times have seen all three of these states stand together against the Eastern Block of the former Soviet Union.

Putting things simply, when it's in their best interest, states will choose to cooperate with one another. Today's lesson will explore this concept of political cooperation, specifically in the form of military and economic alliances.

However, before we get to these alliances, we should probably take a few steps back and define what we mean by a 'state'. A state is an autonomous political unit, including many communities within its territories, over which it has legitimate centralized power. Breaking this definition down, a state is a sovereign entity holding supreme rule over its territory. For this reason, the world's modern nations fall under the broad umbrella of being states. With this in mind, let's get moving on to political cooperation.

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  • 0:08 Definition of a State
  • 1:16 Political Cooperation
  • 2:13 Military Alliance
  • 3:22 Economic Alliance
  • 4:18 Lesson Summary
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Political Cooperation

Being more of a concept than a term, political cooperation broadly denotes the governments of differing states working together toward a common goal. This cooperation can occur in areas like military alliances, economic affairs, and the deciding of territorial boundaries.

Probably one of the most famous examples of political cooperation is the United Nations. Formed after World War II, the United Nations is an intergovernmental organization tasked with the job of promoting and maintaining political cooperation among the world's nations.

When speaking of political cooperation, it often comes by way of treaties. Again, speaking rather broadly, a treaty is formally approved agreement between two states. One of the world's most famous modern day treaties was the Treaty of Versailles, which signaled the end of World War I. Speaking of war, let's move into the idea of military alliances between states.

Military Alliance

Again, being more of a concept than a clear term, military alliances can be loosely described as collaborations between the armed forces of two states. Adding to this, it can also denote agreements between states surrounding the use of sanctioned force. Probably one of the best examples of military alliance occurred during World War II, as countries like the US, Britain, and France stood together fighting side by side against Nazi Germany.

Interestingly, military alliances don't just take place during times of war. Many times, military cooperation exists almost as a promise to come to the aid of another country should the need arise, sort of a 'we've got your back' kind of situation. One of the world's strongest examples of this can be found in US and British relations. Almost sounding like high-schoolers dating, the term for this close alliance is actually termed the special relationship, or the exceptionally close political, military, and economic relations that exists between nations. Historically, this terminology is used in reference to the US and the United Kingdom.

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