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 remains strong


Sovereignty is rightful legal authority

Jeremy Rabkin (professor of law, George Mason University School of Law), “The Constitution and American Sovereignty,” Imprimis, July-August 2009, p. 1

“’Would we be far wrong,’ President Lincoln asked in a special message to Congress in 1861, ‘if we defined [sovereignty] as a political community without a political superior?’ Maybe that’s not exhaustive, but it comes on good authority. And notice that for Lincoln, sovereignty is a political or legal concept. It’s not about power. Lincoln didn’t say that the sovereign is the one with the most troops. He was making a point about rightful authority.” [brackets in original text]


Sovereignty has long been a key element of the modern state system

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

“For Raustiala, there are two starting points for understanding this story. The first is the principle of Westphalian sovereignty. This principle, which holds that governments can regulate only their territories and not the territories of foreign nations, has its origin in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, which ended the Thirty Years’ War and established the modern state system.”


Sovereign nations are a feature of global politics for the foreseeable future

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

“Like it or not, national governments are here to stay. The sovereign state will remain the building block of the world’s political structures.”


Foreign policy serves the interests of the dominant governing model

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 age of monarchy, foreign policy served the interests of the monarch. In the age of religious conflict, it served the interests of the church. In the modern era, democracies have pursued foreign policies to make the world safer for democracy. Today the autocrats pursue foreign policies aimed at making the world safe, if not for all autocracies, then at least for their own.”


There is no global authority

Carl Coon (vice president of the American Humanist Association; former ambassador to Nepal), “Toward a humanist foreign policy,” The Humanist, March-April 2008, p. 21-22

“Until now, there has been no such thing as a global society. The most complex societies have been nation-states. There is a global authority, the United Nations, but it has no teeth. On the most important issues, a sovereign nation can ignore any UN attempt to constrain or control its behavior. It’s true that many international and regional organizations, buttressed by treaties and conventions, bring a modicum of law and order into specific areas of international relations. They are useful and respond to real needs. But on the most important issues, any member of the UN can defy its authority, and the only recourse the UN has is to try to persuade other nations to put pressure on the miscreant. This sometimes works with small and powerless countries, but the big ones can behave as they please. When the chips are down, the current global society resembles Dodge City from the mythology of the cowboy movie, where victory goes to the fastest draw.”


SOVEREIGNTY GOOD

Any trend away from national sovereignty risks national disintegration

Jeremy Rabkin (professor of law, George Mason University School of Law), “The Constitution and American Sovereignty,” Imprimis, July-August 2009, p. 5

“Where does this trend away from the sovereignty of national constitutions lead? I do not think the danger is a world tyranny. I think that idea is fantastical. Rather what it will lead to, I think, is an undermining of the idea that national governments can protect people, with the result that people will start looking for defense elsewhere. We saw this in an extreme way in Iraq when it collapsed into chaos before the surge, and people looked for protection to various ethnic or sectarian militias. A similar phenomenon can be seen today in Europe with the formation of various separatist movements. We’re even hearing loud claims for Scottish independence. And it’s not surprising, because to the extent that Britain has surrendered its sovereignty, Britain doesn’t count for as much as it used to. So why not have your own Scotland? Why not have your own Wales? Why not have your own Catalonia in Spain? And of course the greatest example of this devolution in Europe is the movement toward Muslim separatism. While this is certainly driven to a large extent by trends in Islam, it also reflects the fact that it doesn’t mean as much to be British or to be French any more. These governments are cheerfully giving away their authority to the EU. So why should immigrants or children of immigrants take them seriously?”


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