Friday, January 20, 2006

Death of Westphalia

The Treaty of Westphalia established the dominance of today's nation-states:

It is often said that the Peace of Westphalia initiated modern diplomacy, as it marked the beginning of the modern system of nation-states (or "Westphalian states"). This was caused by the first time mutual acknowledgement of each country's sovereignty. Subsequent European wars were not about issues of religion, but rather revolved around issues of state. This allowed Catholic and Protestant Powers to ally, leading to a number of major realignments. It also cemented Germany's internal divisions, keeping it from uniting into one nation-state. It is the Peace of Westphalia that is most often pointed to as the foundation for studying international relations.

Secretary Rice is revamping our State Department to actually reflect our current world and promote our interests in the actual world rather than in the lost world of imperial halls and heads of state meeting in conferences to decide the fates of continents:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday that she will shift hundreds of Foreign Service positions from Europe and Washington to difficult assignments in the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere as part of a broad restructuring of the diplomatic corps that she has dubbed "transformational diplomacy."

The State Department's culture of deployment and ideas about career advancement must alter now that the Cold War is over and the United States is battling transnational threats of terrorism, drug smuggling and disease, Rice said in a speech at Georgetown University. "The greatest threats now emerge more within states than between them," she said. "The fundamental character of regimes now matters more than the international distribution of power."

When nation-states no longer have the monopoly on the use of world-altering power and when states cannot control the threats from disease and terrorism that gestate inside their borders, we must not be hobbled by being chained to the capitals of the world.

The Treaty of Wesphalia has taken another and perhaps a decisive hit by our action. Not that national governments are irrelevant. They are still easily the major players. But when small groups can--possibly with the aid of nations--threaten to kill hundreds of thousands of us, national borders can no longer restrain our military or diplomatic actions.

We've already intervened militarily to save Bosnians, Kosovars, and Kurds from their national rulers. It is about time our diplomats could go where they are needed before the JDAMs fly.

Allies and enemies have already declared Wesphalia obsolete, and Rice is pulling the plug by this action.

What the heck. We weren't a signatory anyway. But that won't stop the Left from arguing President Bush has abrogated another international agreement.