Sovereignty, huh, yeah. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.
September 28, 2010 8:19 PM   Subscribe

The history of sovereignty can be understood through two broad movements, manifested in both practical institutions and political thought. The first is the development of a system of sovereign states, culminating at the Peace of Westphalia(check out the cool maps) in 1648. The second movement is the circumscription of the sovereign state, which began in practice after World War II and has since continued through European integration and the growth and strengthening of laws and practices to protect human rights. via

The history of the concept is fascinating. The codification of the legal precedent of sovereignty in the Peace of Westphalia was a result of this.

The United States Military has gotten into the habit of violating other states sovereignty. These incursions have been carried out under the Bush doctrine and continued under President Obama's Af-Pak offensive and escalation of covert operations in southwest Asia and Africa. Robert Kagan approves. Apparently Blackwater is also getting in on the action. (previously)

Where do ideas like these come from? How do those ideas coexist with these other ideas in the same political worldview?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar (28 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
The military-industrial complex are a bunch of dicks and own the executive branch, a fair amount of the legislative branch, and mostly don't give a damn about the judicial branch. We all know this already.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:34 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The United States Military has gotten into the habit of violating other states sovereignty. These incursions have been carried out under the Bush doctrine

I'm no fan of Bush II, but I don't think you can pin the USA's habit of ignoring others' sovereignty on him. (With a father like he had, I expect the concept of sovereignty has never really made any sense to him at all...)
posted by pompomtom at 8:58 PM on September 28, 2010


With a father like he had, I expect the concept of sovereignty has never really made any sense to him at all...

Indeed.
posted by Jawn at 9:11 PM on September 28, 2010


let me tell you about soverigns...do you have any?

At least 73 nations violate U.S. sovereignty on a 24/7 basis.
your pointing out the obvious aspects of covert war which sounds funny.

the degree or intensity is really the objective of the comparison.

In the 21st century, sovereign rights need to be earned.

refer to my first statement.

personally, I blame Calvinism.
posted by clavdivs at 9:12 PM on September 28, 2010


Say what? The Treaty of Westphalia? I hear that Hitler and the Communists hated it and al-Qaeda wants to destroy it, so it must be good.
posted by carsonb at 9:21 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


heh
posted by clavdivs at 9:30 PM on September 28, 2010


oh, the good times we've had with the Treaty of Westphalia. Just the other day, I was trying to find my copy in order to review a few passages.
posted by mwhybark at 9:37 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, here's some! I knew I left it around here someplace.

Did I say "Treaty?" My bad. Mea culpa. I meant "Peace," of course.
posted by mwhybark at 9:41 PM on September 28, 2010


All sovereignty arises from violence, present (for a dictatorship) or historical (for a democracy). All countries will ignore sovereignty where possible, whenever it is judged to be expedient. Powerful countries will impose themselves more frequently. Due to its constitutional structure, America is actually far more respectful of foreign sovereignty than the previous superpowers of Britain and the Soviet Union were.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:52 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


All that link padding without a single Lady Sovereign video? For shame.
posted by gwint at 9:56 PM on September 28, 2010


To be fair, the nation-state concept is kind of dated anyway. It's a Renaissance/Industrial revolution concept, and modern-day corporations all but got rid of it. Nowadays the nation-state is just the chump who provides education and social security and such...
posted by qvantamon at 10:01 PM on September 28, 2010


First 5 links, 3=wikipedia? Really? This can be formatted better.
posted by lalochezia at 10:07 PM on September 28, 2010


i sure as the fuck cant
posted by clavdivs at 11:14 PM on September 28, 2010


I have to agree with pompomtom. Back during Bush The Elder's administration, my friends & I played the "George Bush Annual Mystery Invasion Contest". Four years, 3 invasions. "Hey guys, fall's getting on. Who's Bush gonna invade for Christmas?"

America's history is a non-stop cavalcade of invading, interfering, & otherwise obstructing other countries and peoples. From grabbing land off of sovereign Native American nations (with guns and some scammy treaties) to staking a claim to exclusive imperialism in the Western Hemisphere to taking Spain's global colonial possessions (because some terrorista blew up a US skyscraper ship) to occupying several Central American countries to destabilizing many Third World countries (via supporting, and sometimes even creating, rebel groups) to propping up some rather nasty despots just because they will go along with our international power games to blowing the living fuck out of the countries whose despots no longer are of use to us. Yeah, I know most countries don't go around blowing the living fuck out of other countries, but I bet most of history's superpowers haven't had much problem with the concept. And yet, if the U.S. is more restrained than the old British or Soviet empires, that's only because we practice "never send a bullet where a dollar will do." It's still neocolonialism.

All countries have violated sovereignty throughout history; some more than others. But America tells its people that they are a different country. One founded on principles of freedom, happiness pursuin' and stuff like that. You know... the good guys. That means we're supposed to act like Superman in the world, not like the Punisher. That also means our conflicts are supposed to be "good" versus "bad". Unfortunately, in reality they are merely "us" versus "them" situations, which I find just so damn depressing. Because that not only means the U.S. is just another bully superpower country, but also quite a hypocritical one whose populace is trying desperately to cling to an increasingly obvious lie.
posted by frodisaur at 11:29 PM on September 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


All countries will ignore sovereignty where possible, whenever it is judged to be expedient. Powerful countries will impose themselves more frequently. Due to its constitutional structure, America is actually far more respectful of foreign sovereignty than the previous superpowers of Britain and the Soviet Union were.

Back when the Reagan administration was trying to justify its unconstitutional violations of Nicaraguan sovereignty, it put together a list of more than 200 US military violations of sovereignty ("from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli"). And that was only prior to WWII, before the US really started going on a global scale. And it leaves out all the coups, covert operations, assassinations, economic coercion, threats, etc., the unmatched plethora of violations of sovereignty upon which US "constitutional structure" in reality has almost no discernible impact.

As an aside, I find this comment to be almost a perfect melding of Zizek's conception of ideology as cynicism and the classical marxist conception of ideology as the delusion of the epoch. Everybody does bad things, but we're still better.
posted by williampratt at 3:18 AM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, that was surreal. Just yesterday I looked up the Wikipedia article on sovereignty (directly, for a particular purpose, not through a wiki-walk) - and just now I checked MetaFilter, saw a new post about that specific topic, with the "visited link" color on the first link, and had a brief but intense moment of doubt about causality and my sanity.

It seems that I reflexively interpret a visited-colored link as "I have clicked this link", not "I have been to this page recently".
posted by NMcCoy at 4:23 AM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


can the nation-state adapt?

i'm not so sure; it's all we have so far...

altho i do have this theory that when the internet blankets the earth (and inhabits our minds), like a neocortex -- a literal noosphere -- it/we will wake up :P

cheers!
posted by kliuless at 6:00 AM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'll tell YOU about sovereignty.
posted by mkb at 6:10 AM on September 29, 2010


kliuless if you like the ideas from the E.O. Wilson link you should read this book.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:40 AM on September 29, 2010


Uh, the pakistanis are allowing us to do this, you're aware of this, right? We blow up their Taliban, they let us blow up ours. Its a quid-pro-quo and since it has the blessing of the pakistani government, then it isn't a violation of soverignty, but a joint operation. As for Afghanistan? They earned their violation in 2001. Even I supported that.

But Nicaragua? Yes, violation of sovereignty. Iraq? Big time. In terms of Somolia, no sovereignty exists. Not sure about whether E. African govts are consenting, other than Ethiopia, who wants to destroy the Somali Islamic Courts Union for sure and is asking us for help.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:45 AM on September 29, 2010


Uh, the pakistanis are allowing us to do this, you're aware of this, right?

Do they have a choice? From what I understand they have the blessing of certain elements of the military, but the civilian government isn't playing ball. Maybe that's why the military is trying to oust Zadari. So if the people don't want their sovereignty violated and the elected government doesn't want their sovereignty violated I would say that yes their sovereignty is being violated. If not then what is the point of having an elected government; they might as well go back to a military dictatorship. I will grant you that the situation is a complex one. The military is consenting because of all of the military aid and also because of a rumored deal for drone technology.

Another interesting thing to consider is where does the ISI stand in all this as according to the recently leaked military files from wikileaks the ISI is funding and supporting elements of the militants we are fighting. It's all very confusing.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:29 AM on September 29, 2010


Let's talk about sovereignty
Let's talk about you and me
and all the good things
and the bad things
that could be
posted by Eideteker at 8:50 AM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]




I've been reading, but not finished, C.V. Wedgwood's The Thirty Year War. So I don't know how it ends but it is clear how it is going to promote the idea of a supreme authority within a territory. This war is crazy, if Shakespeare wasn't dead by the time of the Thirty Year War we'd have an awesome play.
posted by bdc34 at 9:59 AM on September 29, 2010


So if the people don't want their sovereignty violated and the elected government doesn't want their sovereignty violated I would say that yes their sovereignty is being violated. If not then what is the point of having an elected government; they might as well go back to a military dictatorship. I will grant you that the situation is a complex one.

I'd prefer that Pakistan remain under civilian rule; but if it goes back to a military government for a while, one reason will be the horrendous ineptitude of the civilian government in handling the recent flooding. The military has been doing most of the heavy lifting, though of course that's part of their job description, and they don't mind getting credit for it.

But given that the Prime Minister didn't see fit to cut short his vacation on the English riviera, and that most (though not all, thankfully) regional administrators have shown no inclination leave their offices and risk spoiling their nice shoes, it would not be very surprising if the people of Pakistan decided to let the competent go back to running the country for a while. I doubt they're very exercised about the US carrying out actions in places like Swat, Waziristan etc., given that the local Taliban have proved every bit as willing to blow up or shoot their fellow Pakistanis as they have America's or other nations' soldiers. The west and northwest provinces of Pakistan are something of a law unto themselves, where tribal alliances matter a lot more than official boundary demarcations.
posted by anigbrowl at 10:03 AM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


This war is crazy, if Shakespeare wasn't dead by the time of the Thirty Year War we'd have an awesome play.

After reading Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle I've always had this secret fantasy about him writing a similar series of books set during the Thirty Years War. I guess it's not a secret anymore...come on Stephen if your reading DOOOOO IIIIIT.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:46 PM on September 29, 2010


But America tells its people that they are a different country. One founded on principles of freedom, happiness pursuin' and stuff like that. You know... the good guys. That means we're supposed to act like Superman in the world, not like the Punisher. That also means our conflicts are supposed to be "good" versus "bad". Unfortunately, in reality they are merely "us" versus "them" situations, which I find just so damn depressing. Because that not only means the U.S. is just another bully superpower country, but also quite a hypocritical one whose populace is trying desperately to cling to an increasingly obvious lie.

That's nothing new to the rest of the world either. Other countries certainly don't go around stealing land, starting wars, twirling their mustaches, and backing it all up with "Hey, we're being douches, but at least we're not hypocrites" any more than the U.S. does. Other countries have made their excuses -- "It's our promised land!" or "We're bringing them civilization!" or "They might attack us at any moment!" or "They killed our Archduke!" and so on, ad nauseam -- since the dawn of history.

Everyone always thinks they're the good guy; it ain't just the U.S. of A. To think that the U.S. really is different is still a form of exceptionalism.
posted by Amanojaku at 1:18 PM on September 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


if Shakespeare wasn't dead by the time of the Thirty Year War we'd have an awesome play.

We do. It's called Wallenstein. Friedrich Schiller had to write it, though, because Shakespeare was dead.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:54 PM on October 2, 2010


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