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Deliberative institutional design and US defence and security agreements: comparing Canadian agreements to those with partners and competitors


What is the American strategy for developing non-treaty defence and security agreements with Canada and other partners? Kimball’s 2017 Canadian–US defence and security agreement (DSA) data tested a rationalist institutionalist model of agreement institutionalization. This research examines DSA diffusion comparing US DS cooperation with competitors and partners from 1955 to 2005. Non-treaty cooperation via exchanges of diplomatic notes/letters, memoranda of understanding, etc., require legislative notification but not approval. Those arrangements permit the flexibility, speed, and adaptation necessary in defence project management (i.e. NORAD, Eurofighter, F-35). For states with limited budgets, bilateral defence contracting with the USA is more efficient economically, than unilateral provision, but partnering incurs risks (entrapment, abandonment, burden-sharing, etc.). This research contributes to the literature on transatlantic relations by reflecting upon patterns of US cooperation with Canada, other partners as well as main competitors. It closes with recommendations based on anticipated changes to polarity and the defence cooperation status quo.

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Correspondence to Anessa L. Kimball.

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Appendix 1: Number

Appendix 1: Number

figure a

Source: Correlates of War, Militarized Interstate Dispute dataset, v. 4.3Footnote 91

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Kimball, A.L. Deliberative institutional design and US defence and security agreements: comparing Canadian agreements to those with partners and competitors. J Transatl Stud 20, 230–250 (2022).

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  • USA
  • Canada
  • Transatlantic
  • Defence cooperation
  • Rational institutionalism