The End of the Nation-State

Why ‘Liberal Hawkery” is Oxymoronic’,” by “Ben P,” MyDD,, 18 January 2005.

nonsense,” by “josheylon,” MyDD,, 18 January 2005.

MyDD hosts a fascinating thread that makes one wonder: are sovereign nation-states anachonistic?

Now one may argue that Iraq (at least under Saddam Hussein) was not a freely self-constituted body like the ones I describe above, but this is a thin reed. The point isn’t ultimately Saddam, but the integrity of Iraq as a freely self-constituted nation-state. Unless the idea of the nation-state no longer has meaning, and that we are all citizens of some kind of pan-global community, this justification does not pass muster, because at this point, under such a theory, no nation (the United States included) has a right to its own internal politics. At which point, either we live in some utopian UN-style global superstate or international relations are simply anarchistic. And this is a philosophical situation I don’t think to many here – liberal, “liberal hawk,” conservative, whatever – would find tenable and/or realistic.

I believe there is still a purpose for nation-states, but it is less in the past. It is too dangerous for us and the world to allow any country to do whatever it wants to itself whenever it wants. Fortunately with globalization we can peacefully tie the states of the world together in a common system for common prosperity. But for the nonglobalized, war is still an option.

Dr. Barnett has written on how tiring the “He’s got a gun!” rationale for the Iraq War is. He’s right. Whether or not the thug is armed is besides the point. He’s a danger to his community and the entire town. Let’s get him.

Josheylon makes a similar point

If I round up five million people into a concentration camp, and call my concentration camp a “country” because it’s so large, are you going to say, “oh, it’s a country, and a country has a right to its own internal politics?”

What is comes down to is this: do you care about the rights of “Iraq,” or do you care about the rights of Iraqis? As far as I’m concerned, the rights of Iraqis trump the rights of Iraq, because Iraqis are real human beings and Iraq is just an abstraction. I don’t care about “Iraq” being free to do what it wants. I only care about Iraqis being free.

Now don’t take any of that as an endorsement of the Republican plan to replace “rule by dictator” with “rule by roving packs of teenage punks with machine guns.” I don’t think that’s a particularly good swap.


Let Peace and Freedom Reign!

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