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The Lawfare Podcast: Treaties and Dysfunctional Diplomacy

The Constitution specifies only one process for making international agreements—Article II gives the president the power to make treaties provided that two-thirds of the senators present concur. The treaty process has been on a long, slow path to obsolescence, having been replaced by various forms of binding and non-binding executive agreements. 

To assess the causes and impact of the United States’ declining use of treaties, Jack Goldsmith sat down with Jeffrey Peake, a political scientist at Clemson University, who is the author of the book, “Dysfunctional Diplomacy: The Politics of International Agreements in an Era of Partisan Polarization.” They discussed how domestic politics explains the decline of the treaty power, the adverse impact this decline has on U.S. foreign relations, and why executive agreements of various sorts are not full substitutes for treaties on the international stage.