Sorry to be so long in replying.
The “hopeful wish or goal” idea is expressed, as you say, in Article II of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. The 13 rebellious colonies claimed that they were free, independent and sovereign. Claiming it did not make it true. Only victory in the Revolution could make it true.
When the Continental Congress drafted the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union and sent them to the States for ratification (1777), the States were not sovereign or independent in the eyes of anyone but themselves. That would make them what is called in modern usage "unrecognized states".
This appears to be true no matter which of the two main schools of thought on statehood (Constitutive or Declarative) you wish to apply. The Declarative Theory was not really around in the Eighteenth Century (really not defined until the Montevideo Convention of 1933), but even that would not exactly apply to the States during the American Revolution. The Constitutive Theory is probably a bit different then (before the Congress of Vienna in 1815 where the big boys got rid of some 300 sovereign "states" by agreement among themselves -- leaving only 39 "recognized states" in the world). Still, there is no way at all that the "United States of America" is a recognized state under the Constitutive Theory in 1777.
In the eyes of International Law, the 13 rebellious colonies are part of the realm of King George III of Britain. As a result, the claimed sovereignty and independence of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union is clearly not a fact when written. In order to make their claim to sovereignty and independence real, the 13 rebellious colonies are binding themselves together in the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. That document defines the bargain they made.
The first indication that the "United States of America" is/are being recognized by another sovereign state would be the military alliance signed with France in February 1778. On the day that was signed, only 3 of the 13 colonies/states had actually ratified the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union and only the first of those (Virginia on December 16, 1777) could have been known in Paris. The last colony/state to ratify was Maryland in February 1781 -- three years after the alliance with France is signed. When Maryland wants aid from France against British incursions in 1780, France refuses and the French ambassador tells Maryland to ratify the Articles if they want aid.
The defining moment for US sovereignty and independence, though, is the end of the American Revolution. The peace treaty with Britain gives them definite recognition, independence and sovereignty. It ends the British claim to the colonies. US law claims they were sovereign and independent from July 4, 1776; British law used the 1783 date. The Supreme Court actually waffles in between the two based on geographic location and who occupied what when.
If the British had prevailed and re-established control over the 13 rebellious colonies, International Law would say they never were sovereign, never were independent. Without victory in the Revolution, the bold claims of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union would be seen as useless posturing.
In the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union the States do limit their sovereignty and independence. They do it willfully and voluntarily. They do it in exchange for something of value -- the strength to make their goal a reality. Those are the necessary components of the bargain they made.
Those same States then decided they wanted to make the government of their country, the United States of America, stronger. What we call the Constitution was the means of doing that. The adoption of the Constitution as the new rules of government was done in complete accord with the method outlined in the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. (There is a quibble that can be made about the Constitution itself before it is adopted, but once all 13 States ratify the Constitution it is a moot point.) The government of the Articles is actually responsible for running the transition to the government of the Constitution.
It was possible for a State to leave the Union under the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. None of the 13 States attempted to do so. It is possible for a State to leave the Union under the Constitution. It is not possible to leave the Union unilaterally under either agreement.
So, let me see if I have this right. When I contend that the individual states remained fully sovereign as per Art. II of the AoCs (“Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence...”), your “The 13 rebellious colonies claimed that they were free, independent and sovereign. Claiming it did not make it true. Only victory in the Revolution could make it true” theory pops up and cancels out the sovereignty of the states. And then, suddenly, when you want to contend “In the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union the States do limit their sovereignty and independence,” the sovereignty of the states suddenly reappears only to make a hasty exit via a “bargain” that, STILL, “specifically and directly” says “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence...”?????
WOW! I have never seen such a self-serving theory applied in such a self-serving manner.
Of course, IF your 'no sovereignty until victory' theory were true, it could not simply erradicate Art. II and leave the remainder of the AoCs untouched. in fact, that theory would nullify EVERYTHING the states did as independent sovereign states 1776-1783. You are saying there were no states, only "13 rebellious colonies," until 1783. However, your theory is of course not valid. NONE of those acts were declared ‘effective if and when we win,' and NONE of them had to be done over after the states officially won the Revolution in 1783. The idea that the Americans dealt with their sovereignty, claimed or otherwise, tentatively, is bazaar to say the least. NO rebels do that. Via the DoI, they declared to the powers of the world that they were assuming an equal place among them, not ‘if and when we win our rebellion,’ but right then and there, on July 4, 1776. The sovereignty they claimed was theirs to do with as they wished, and under the Confederation they decided “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence...”
True, IF they had lost, they would revert back to colonies, and in fact would have never been states at all. But, if rebels win, they are sovereign from the moment they declared independence. The interim period belongs to the victor. This year, we celebrated 243 years of independence, on July 4. I don't know about you, but I have no plans to celebrate 236 years of independence on September 3.
In addition, as I said before (I wonder if you even read my posts), even if we accepted your argument, everything the states did would then become effective in 1783, including Art. II.