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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

WHAT OF WESTPHALIA?

"All of a sudden, almost without anyone noticing it, the entire world is experiencing a 'democratic deficit'."

At the the Washington Post, Henry Kissinger brought up a piece of history I knew only a little about and made it make more sense in the setting. It was one of those events that changed the world but probably nobody truly understood it at the time. It was the Treaty of Westphalia.
The modern concept of world order arose in 1648 from the Treaty of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years’ War. In that conflict, competing dynasties sent armies across political borders to impose their conflicting religious norms. This 17th-century version of regime change killed perhaps a third of the population of Central Europe.

To prevent a repetition of this carnage, the Treaty of Westphalia separated international from domestic politics. States, built on national and cultural units, were deemed sovereign within their borders; international politics was confined to their interaction across established boundaries. For the founders, the new concepts of national interest and balance of power amounted to a limitation, not an expansion, of the role of force; it substituted the preservation of equilibrium for the forced conversion of populations.
Basically, the Treaty of Westphalia created nations as we now understand them. Instead of just being a kingdom or an area dominated by tribes, boundaries and borders were created where inside them they were sovereign and could decide their own destiny, and outside it was none of your business.

This is interesting because it helps make sense of how nations formed and the understanding of international politics and countries we now take for grated came to be. But it also helps understand something else. The reason the treaty had to happen was that the Protestant Reformation created a genuine, powerful opposition to the primary dogma of the day with the Roman Catholic Church. In truth they weren't so very far apart, but they were opposed in enough basic concepts that war actually broke out across Europe.

And the reason this war took place is because nations didn't consider what they did within their borders to be sacred and sovereign. If someone committed heresy on a wide scale in the nearby nation, then it was the job of your army to punish them and stop it. Religion didn't drive this so much as the idea that faith transcended national boundaries, that countries were not permitted to disagree with your dogma, and should be stopped with force if need be.

The critical thing here is the idea that what you do in your own country isn't your own business, especially when it comes to ideology. That if you are sufficiently wrong in your thinking and faith, then it is my duty to fix that. It was considered perfectly reasonable and proper to take an army into a nearby kingdom and stomp on them until they worshiped properly - for both Protestants and Roman Catholics.

Henry Kissinger points out that this all changed with the Treaty of Westphalia, that everyone agreed that what you did in your own borders was your own business, unless it became a direct threat to another nation. From then on, if you invaded someone else, you were likely to be attacked by all the other countries as a potential threat to them unless you could demonstrate a pretty good reason.

Its why even Hitler gave lip service to excuses to invade Poland and France. Even he pretended to follow this treaty, centuries later. And now, its changing back. Kissinger goes on:
The diplomacy generated by the Arab Spring replaces Westphalian principles of equilibrium with a generalized doctrine of humanitarian intervention. In this context, civil conflicts are viewed internationally through prisms of democratic or sectarian concerns. Outside powers demand that the incumbent government negotiate with its opponents for the purpose of transferring power. But because, for both sides, the issue is generally survival, these appeals usually fall on deaf ears. Where the parties are of comparable strength, some degree of outside intervention, including military force, is then invoked to break the deadlock.
As Richard Fernandez at Belmont Club (where I saw the Kissinger piece) puts it, "Nations — and those who formerly controlled them through the vote in countries where they voted — ain’t what they used to be. They’re in the way now." Fernandez points out that the EU cannot survive without what people are calling "political union," or a single powerful government to control policy between the various states. Its sort of like having the United States without the federal government, it just doesn't work to pretend this is one body.

The argument makes sense; the Euro, and in fact the entire EU, is dragged down to oblivion by states such as Spain, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, and so on whose profligate spending, short work days and careers, heavy welfare system, and lack of productivity are being propped up by nations such as Germany. They're playing three card monte with debt in the EU, bailing out nations in an endless circular pattern. Spain bails out Greece, then has to be bailed out by France, who'll need bailing out soon. Behaviors, policies, and spending have to be controlled to have this even hope to succeed, and that simply will not happen without being forced on these countries.

But if you force nations to take certain policies to fit how you think they should... you're violating their sovereignty and detonating the entire principle of the Treaty of Westphalia. No longer is a nation state its own entity to live and die by its ideals. No longer are countries to stay out of the business of others unless its a matter of survival and threat.

Oh, but it goes much deeper than just Europe's failing struggles to save the Euro and the EU. Fernandez writes:
To those who say matters pertaining to America’s involvement in foreign wars are limited by a Congressional Declaration of War should note two things. First, the President didn’t think it was necessary to even ask Congress about the Libya operation, nor was it in the loop with the regard to the Arab Spring. Second, the President has in general been disinclined to require anything from Congress if his executive action, the reasons for which are protected by executive privilege, will do. For more on this subject, refer alas, to Pravda.

The next and obvious question is why anyone would need Congress any more than one needs a government in Madrid? Remember, it’s for the children.
All the structures and systems in place to sustain democracy, peace, and maintain order between nations are falling to pieces because they get in the way of ideology. And that's why the Treaty of Westphalia came about to begin with: chaos, death, and misery brought about by enforcing ideology at all costs. Instead of Roman Catholicism facing what it considered heresy, now we have Politically Correct leftists desiring to enforce their ideology on everyone, whatever the cost.

Socialism is failing in Europe? Then its time we had more power to make it work. President Obama wants to get democracy in Libya? Then he simply orders the attack, directly and specifically violating exactly what he condemned President Bush for doing - and worse, he didn't even try to go before congress.

This didn't start with Obma, though. President Bush the elder sent troops into Somalia to rebuild the place and stop the violence. It was an awful place that was going to hell but it didn't have a thing to do with American or NATO interests. Going into Somalia was a violation of the Treaty of Westphalia, in the name of humanitarian interests. Then President Clinton did the same thing in the former Yugoslavian republics, in the name of doing good. Its the same pattern the old wars were about: this is wrong and we must intervene to stop it, even if we have to kill people to do it.

Some argued that the invasion of Iraq was the same kind of thing for President Bush, and condemned his violation of the basic principles of war. You don't invade another nation unless it constitutes a direct threat to you. And while President Bush went to great pains to try to convince people that there was a threat, the mood stayed and grew: you just did it because you didn't like how they treated your daddy. You just hate brown people. You hate Muslims. You're a warmonger. Its about oil.

The invasion wasn't about any of that, it was finishing off the business started in the first Desert Storm, responding to over a decade of nearly continuous violation of a cease fire agreement and dealing with a terrorist-creating nation. Yet there was that element of ideology involved. Humanitarian reasons were brought up - enough for leftists to support previous military action, but not this one. And there was that element of imposing Democracy on the region so that it would calm down and stop being a hotbed of terrorism.

President Obama just took that a step further. This time instead of going to the UN and congress as previous presidents had, he just did it. He simply ordered it to take place because he wanted it to happen. Libya's dictator had to go, and so off went the troops.

Not long ago, memos were revealed proving that the labor government in England was deliberately and systematically encouraging increased immigration, particularly from certain areas, in order to build a voting bloc of dependent and supportive people to help them retain power. It really was that direct, crass, and manipulative. I'm not making this up. But at least this was within their own nation, within their borders.

And recently, the European Union's "Migration Chief" Peter Sutherland stated that the EU should "undermine national homogeneity" through immigration. You read that right, he specifically wants nations to be changed by EU policy regarding immigration, to stop Sweden from being so disgustingly Swedish. To stop France from being French. Multiculturalism isn't just considered a virtue, its the law if this guy gets his way. He frames it as a matter of survival because these countries aren't breeding enough to replace their population but either way, its a direct call to violate national sovereignty and indeed national identity.

And this attack on basic Democratic structures isn't just overseas or in foreign policy. President Obama is ignoring congress, the constitution, and over two centuries of established structure and law because it gets in the way of how he thinks things ought to be. Just weeks after telling Hispanics he cannot simply apply the Dream act without going through congress, he does so. Hispanics were slipping away, partly thanks to his instant knee-jerk response to George Zimmerman's shooting of a black man. Turns out Zimmerman might have a Jewish name but he looks and is Hispanic as tacos and that hurt President Obama's reelection chances.

Fernandez is right, this is a corrosion of democracy and all that has held civilization together, building an unprecedented, inconceivable level of peace, prosperity, and progress over 400 years of history. Anyone who has played a 'god game' such as Civilization series knows that war demolishes progress and advancement in technology. Instead of developing literacy, now you have to focus on developing superior weaponry. Now instead of spending money on power plants and sewer systems you have to buy walls and bullets.

In the name of imposing an ideology - no less so than religious wars over Justification by Faith and Transubstantiation - the entire principle of national sovereignty is being attacked. And that idea has long been despised by the left. Nationalism, they argue, is evil and the cause of war and destruction when it has actually been the existence of the nation state which has created peace and construction. But these stupid nations who want to do their own thing get in the way of the utopian ideal of the left. So it must go.

Who cares if you destroy democracy and the successful pillars of civilization that have created our incredible world today? You have to break a few eggs, and all that. And we're so smart, so right, and so enlightened that we can fix it all. You won't need democracy where we're going, they say.

Some say democracy is suicidal, that inevitably the very system of freedom and input that make it work leads to its own destruction. That peace, comfort, and liberty inevitably lead to the kind of thing we see today where liberty is taken to license, and then used as an excuse to destroy freedom in the name of doing good. Perhaps that's the case. Its clear that the experiment, the dream of the founding fathers in the United States is in ruins.

I can't shake the feeling that we're watching the entire world structure and everything that has given us modern civilization being undermined to the point of complete collapse by leftist termites who have been burrowing under the walls for decades. They've so completely chewed through the foundations that they're boldly showing their hideous pale grubby faces unmasked for the first time, grinning in triumph as the wood groans and stones crumble over their heads.

But when it all comes down, it won't just fall on them.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with your assertions.

Further, I would suggest that can interchange "Politically Correct Leftists" with "Islamists".

I believe that align at this time as they both see the same means to an end; but each seeks to impose its own dogma in the aftermath.

11:20 AM, October 03, 2013  

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