Related or contrasting ideas may be found in the following sections: Nuclear Weapons, Peace, Rights, Rule of Law, and the Social Contract




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The concept of national sovereignty is withering away


Westphalian sovereignty described

Luis Cabrera (assistant professor of political science, Arizona State University West), “The Cosmopolitan Imperative: Global Justice Through Accountable Integration,” The Journal of Ethics, March 2005, p. 176

“I do not presume that state sovereignty is or ever has been indivisible or absolute. I do presume, however, that states generally observe and especially claim sovereign rights, and that states’ leaders retain considerable latitude to act domestically. ‘Westphalia’ refers to the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, which ended the 30 Years’ War and marked the transition to a system in which state borders were viewed as impermeable and individual rulers as the final arbiters on matters within their own borders. Most commentators on the Westphalian system note two key features: internal and external sovereignty. To say a state is internally sovereign is to say its executive, judicial and legislative institutions have final authority over its own people. A Native American reservation in the US would be an example of a political entity that does not exercise supreme jurisdiction in its own territory, as would be the remaining colonies and overseas territories of the colonial states, and increasingly the member states of the EU in certain aspects. ‘External sovereignty’ refers to the independence of the state itself in the global system. Sovereign states are considered equal in the system, and they are the direct subjects of international law. An externally sovereign state can enter a treaty as an equal with other state signatories. It can press claims in the International Court of Justice or join an international organization such as the UN Embedded in sovereign equality are principles holding that each state’s territorial integrity and political independence are inviolable, and that each state has a duty to respect the legal personalities of other states.”


Modern trends are eroding national sovereignty

Robert Kagan (senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund), “The End of the End of History,” The New Republic, April 23, 2008, p. 42

“In the post-Cold War era, a triumphant liberalism has sought to expand its triumph by establishing as an international principle the right of the ‘international community’ to intervene against sovereign states that abuse the rights of their people. International NGOs interfere in domestic politics; international organizations like the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe monitor and pass judgment on elections; international legal experts talk about modifying international law to include such novel concepts as ‘the responsibility to protect’ or a ‘voluntary sovereignty waiver.’ In theory, these innovations apply to everyone. In practice, they chiefly provide democratic nations the right to intervene in the affairs of non-democratic nations.”


Even today, state sovereignty is not universally accepted

Eric A. Posner (Kirkland and Ellis Professor of Law, Univ. of Chicago Law School), “The Limits of Limits,” The New Republic, May 27, 2010, p. 37

“The Westphalian principle reflected the hard-won insight that, in the long run, states do better by leaving each other alone than by trying to control each other. The principle is hardly as uncontroversial as it sounds. In the seventeenth century, leaving other states alone meant allowing the inhabitants of those foreign states to go to hell if they did not practice the true religion. Today it means allowing them to suffer a secular hell of abuse and despotism if they do not happen to live in a liberal democracy. In both eras, it has meant leaving states alone even if they are violent and unstable, and are accumulating weapons, and seem likely one day to threaten other states’ security. The Westphalian principle has therefore been hard to live up to, but it remains central to international relations.”


The U.S. court system does not compel respect for other nations’ sovereignty

Eric A. Posner (Kirkland and Ellis Professor of Law, Univ. of Chicago Law School), “The Limits of Limits,” The New Republic, May 27, 2010, p. 37

“American courts have never compelled the American government to respect the sovereignty of foreign states. Courts have played only a limited role involving vaguely worded statutes.”


Nations have surrendered sovereignty to faceless trade bureaucrats

Daryll E. Ray (Professor and Blasingame Chair of Excellence in Agricultural Policy, Institute of Agriculture, University of Tennessee; director of University of Tennessee’s Agricultural Policy Analysis Center), “World government fears now missing, but seems ironic,” Western Farm Press, April 2, 2005, p. n/a

“Once upon a time it took an invading army to deny a country its sovereign right to make decisions in the interests of its citizens. No longer is that true. Today it appears a government, a group of producers, a group of investors or a corporation, through the workings of an international trade dispute panel, can override those sovereign decisions, forcing the country to rescind a duly passed law or regulation it believes is in the best interests of its citizens or pay a substantial penalty.”


Non-state forces will challenge the era of Great Power and coalition dominance

Charles S. Maier (Leverett Saltonstall Professor of History at Harvard Univ.; former Director of the Center for European Studies), “Dark power: globalization, inequality, and conflict,” Harvard International Review, Spring 2007, p. 60

“Indeed, the notion of a balance of power, no matter how tough-minded and realistic it may seem, will come to make much less sense for mid-21st century international politics. The important issue will not be whether some international association such as the European Union or some new powerful contender such as China will rise to constrain current US dominance. The issue will be whether states, or associations of states, will be effective international actors in the face of such forces as religious militance, mass migration, nuclear proliferation, global warming, and the new economic inequalities emerging from market-driven globalization.”


Sovereignty of the state has been eroding worldwide

Michael H. Shuman (vice president for enterprise development, Training & Development Corporation, Bucksport, Maine) and Hal Harvey (founder and president, The Energy Foundation; former member of the President’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology), Security Without War: A Post Cold-War Foreign Policy, 1993, p. 13; Westview Press edition, online: www.rmi.org/images/PDFs/Security/S93-23_SecurityWoutWar.pdf, accessed May 1, 2008

“To some extent, of course, every nation — including the United States — has been losing its sovereignty, and this has not been all bad. The growing interpenetration of global problems and the growing power of international institutions means that nations must surrender some freedom of action to protect the common good of the planet.”


National power is no longer always usable, and international politics is failing

Charles S. Maier (Leverett Saltonstall Professor of History at Harvard Univ.; former Director of the Center for European Studies), “Dark power: globalization, inequality, and conflict,” Harvard International Review, Spring 2007, p. 64

“The United States clearly possesses a preponderance of military power on sea, in the air, and in space, as well as in terms of technological assets. But it is becoming more and more dubious as to how effective such resources really will be. Even for such political tasks as bringing peace to Baghdad or dissuading reckless North Korean or Iranian leaders from nuclear gambles, these sorts of power mechanisms have clear limits. And for assuaging the growing malaise about global capitalism, they seem totally irrelevant. Indeed, the issue is not the balance of power, but the usability of power. This does not mean that patient and forceful use of military assets cannot overcome the challenge of insurrections, resistance movements, and ambitious dictators. But it does mean that old-fashioned international politics seems less relevant for determining our collective future.”


The State is dying: national affiliations are withering as transnational interdependence grows

Philip G. Cerny (prof. of global political economy, Rutgers Univ.), “Terrorism and the new security dilemma,” Naval War College Review, Winter 2005, p. 16

“In the New Security Dilemma, a new range of incentives is emerging for players — especially nonstate actors but some state actors too — to opt out of the states system itself, unless restrained from doing so by the as yet embryonic constraints of complex, especially economic, interdependence. The costs to remaining states are rising dramatically, as globalization increasingly enmeshes actors — and states — in complex, crosscutting webs of wealth, power, and social relationships. Indeed, to hijack the language of neorealist international relations theory, states are not concerned primarily with “relative gains,” their place as states in the international pecking order vis-a-vis other states, but increasingly (thanks to the revolution of rising expectations linked with globalization) with “absolute gains” — better standards of living, individual security, human dignity, and the ability to participate freely in social life.”


Both positive and negative trends are undermining the power of national governments

Marrack Goulding (warden of St.. Antony’s College, Oxford; former under-secretary-general at the United Nations), “The UN will work if we let it,” New Statesman, May 8, 1998, p. 20

“However, as everyone knows, new forces unleashed by technology are undermining the power of governments. Some of these are beneficent forces that permit the freer flow, of information, people and goods. But others have malignant effects — the dissemination of drugs, crime, terrorism, pollution and disease, and the overwhelming of fragile cultures and ecosystems. This is not a problem that affects only poor and weak states. It cannot be escaped even by a country as rich and powerful as the United States, spread majestically “from sea to shining sea” with only one troublesome land border. Recent surveys suggest that the surprisingly favourable attitude that most ordinary Americans have towards the UN is mainly due to the belief that it can help protect them from these new transnational dangers.”


There is ample justification for nations to intervene in suppressing wrongs in other nations

Henry Sidgwick (1838-1900; British moral philosopher and prof. of philosophy at Cambridge) in Morals and Values, ed. by Marcus G. Singer, 1977, p. 325-326

“Still, when the assailant is clearly in the wrong, it would seem to be the ultimate interest, on the whole, as well as the duty, of any powerful neighboring State — even if its own more obvious interests are not directly threatened — to manifest a general readiness to cooperate in forcible suppression of the wrong. Indeed, unless we suppose that the mere exercise of superior force is kept under some check by the fear of the intervention of other States against palpable injustice, war between States decidedly unequal in strength will hardly retain its moral character at all; to treat it, even so far as I have done, as a sanction against the breach of international duty would be a solemn trifling. And I think that cooperation to prevent wanton breaches of international peace is the best mode of preparing the way for the ultimate federation of civilized States, to which I look forward.”


The West leads the drive to end national sovereignty as a defense against human rights claims

Robert Kagan (senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund), “The End of the End of History,” The New Republic, April 23, 2008, p. 42

“The United States, though traditionally jealous of its own sovereignty, has always been ready to interfere in the internal affairs of other nations. The nations of Europe, once the great proponents (in theory) of the Westphalian order of inviolable state sovereignty, have now reversed course and produced a system, as Robert Cooper has observed, of constant ‘mutual interference in each other’s domestic affairs, right down to beer and sausages.’ This has become one of the great schisms in the international system dividing the democratic world and the autocracies. For three centuries, international law, with its strictures against interference in the internal affairs of nations, has tended to protect autocracies. Now the democratic world is in the process of removing that protection, while the autocrats rush to defend the principle of sovereign inviolability.”


There is a moral case that Americans must allow foreigners a say in our policies

Eric A. Posner (Kirkland and Ellis Professor of Law, Univ. of Chicago Law School), “The Limits of Limits,” The New Republic, May 27, 2010, p. 40

“A handful of philosophers and political scientists have suggested that the United States should be forced by institutional means to take into account the values and the interests of foreigners. Some imagine a kind of world government to which people around the globe send representatives. Their schemes are wildly impracticable, but their logic is impeccable. The United States is founded on an ideology that emphasizes self-government as a natural right. It was the violation of that right by the British that justified the secession of the American colonies. This logic implies that the United States must either allow foreigners affected by American policies to vote in American elections or refrain from exercising power abroad.”


Recent incursions against sovereignty have ignored precedents of international law

Robert Kagan (senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund), “The End of the End of History,” The New Republic, April 23, 2008, p. 43

“As Chinese officials asked at the time of Tiananmen Square and have continued to ask, ‘What right does the U. S. government have to ... flagrantly interfere in China’s internal affairs?’ What right, indeed? Only the liberal creed grants the right — the belief that all men are created equal and have certain inalienable rights that must not be abridged by governments; that governments derive their power and legitimacy only from the consent of the governed and have a duty to protect their citizens’ right to life, liberty, and property. To those who share this liberal faith, foreign policies and even wars that defend these principles, as in Kosovo, can be right even if established international law says they are wrong.”

[Ellipsis in original text]


Failing states — which are increasingly common — lack sovereignty

Vladislav Inozemtsev (chairman of the advisory board for the journal Russia in Global Affairs) and Sergei Karaganov (chairman of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy; editorial board chairman, Russia in Global Affairs), “Imperialism of the fittest,” The National Interest, Summer 2005, p. 74

“Many states today are not truly sovereign — not in the accepted Westphalian definition of a government possessing a monopoly of force and in firm control of the territory under its titular jurisdiction. As many political scientists and policymakers have recently discovered, failing and failed states make up the bulk of the Third World, as well as a large part of the former Soviet bloc. Not only are these countries increasingly unable to develop independently, they can pose a serious threat to international stability. Failed and failing states provide havens for terrorists and organized crime networks, and they can destabilize their larger region when internal chaos and conflicts spill over their borders to affect neighboring states — as the experience of West Africa during the 1990s aptly demonstrates.”


SOVEREIGNTY BAD

Effective cooperative action will require relaxing national sovereignty

Carl Coon (vice president of the American Humanist Association; former ambassador to Nepal), “Toward a humanist foreign policy,” The Humanist, March-April 2008, p. 21

“Above all, we need to recognize that we have to sacrifice some of our national sovereignty if we are to cooperate effectively on global problems with the rest of the world. This last point is critical and is least understood, not only by Bush and his accomplices, but by many, if not most, Americans. The fact of the matter is that we can’t have it both ways. We can’t insist on total security for us and us alone, and expect full cooperation from everyone else. Cooperation requires some sacrifices, some concessions, from each of the partners.”


The current system of national sovereignty thwarts distributive justice across national boundaries

Luis Cabrera (assistant professor of political science, Arizona State University West), “The Cosmopolitan Imperative: Global Justice Through Accountable Integration,” The Journal of Ethics, March 2005, p. 173

:The current system of competitive, ‘separate but equal’ states discourages cosmopolitan distributions, and it does so at the deepest level. Observed norms of internal and external sovereignty give rise in each state to powerful, mutually reinforcing biases against full acknowledgment of the moral claims of non-compatriots. Exhortation to charity in such a system is highly unlikely to generate distributions sufficient to satisfy the demands of moral cosmopolitanism.”


A more-integrated global governance would better assure justice across national lines

Luis Cabrera (assistant professor of political science, Arizona State University West), “The Cosmopolitan Imperative: Global Justice Through Accountable Integration,” The Journal of Ethics, March 2005, p. 173-174

“The gradual creation of a more integrated global system should help to encourage the view that much larger sets of persons have interests in common that should be protected and promoted in common. It should work to transform the perceived zero-sum character of trans-state distributions, and it should help to discourage defection from distributive schemes by individual states, whose citizens would have strong incentive to maintain privileged access to markets, low tariffs and the other benefits of economic integration. Ultimately, we should want to see all states embedded in networks of regional organizations broadly similar to — though more democratically accountable than — the EU, where routine, tax-financed distributions are made to less-affluent states or sub-state regions, and where individuals are able to move across political boundaries in pursuit of life opportunities. We also should want to see, in the longer term, such regional organizations embedded in larger networks of similar institutions, up to the global level, in service of extending distributions over ever-broader geographic areas.”


Unlimited sovereignty is anarchic and destructive

Walter Cronkite (retired American broadcast journalist; 1968 recipient of Carr Van Anda award for enduring contributions to journalism), “The Case for Democratic World Government,” Earth Island Journal, Summer 2000, p. 45

“Today, the notion of unlimited national sovereignty means international anarchy. We must replace the anarchic law of force with a civilized force of law. We must develop federal structures on a global level. We need a system of enforceable world law — a democratic federal world government. Ours will be neither a perfect world nor a world without disagreement and occasional violence. But it will be a world where national leaders will consistently abide by the rule of world law, and those who won’t will be dealt with effectively and with due process by that same world law.”


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