I have strep throat this week. I’m sorry I probably will miss this one. Fortunately, it was Fred’s idea and he definitely has the background to lead you all through this urgent question. Fred, feel free to moderate or even lecture a bit.
This has been a great topic since 1648! That’s when the Peace of Westphalia codified national states as the basic organizing structure of Europe. The next three centuries basically were about who was to get their own nation and who wouldn’t. After WW2 and the Europeans finally quit colonialism, the formation off the UN and related institutions made the nation the building block of a much enlarge international order. In 1945 there were about 60 independent countries and as handful of intergovernmental orgs (IGOs) ; now there are over 200 nations and 300 IGOs.
But WWII’s end famously left us in a largely bipolar world, where most countries had to softly ally with the USA or USSR. In the 25+ years (!) since the USSR disappeared new forces and new challengers have roiled the old order. Some people say it’s dying.
We have discussed the causes many times: The rise of China and other medium-sized powers. Decentralization of power into global networks and giant multinational corporations. AI is coming, terrorism is not dead, U.S. leadership of the West is being killed off by Trump and his gang, etc.
Fred will probably have a more sophisticated take on the basic question of can anyone take the place of the nation state in the coming century and who will that be good and bad for. Enjoy discussing what the role of nations has been, is now, and could become.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS –
- Traditional nation state roles and responsibilities and how they form the bai of the od order Trump is happily destroying.
- Forces changing things and forces to come.
- Recent: China, transnational networks, Internet/social media.
- Climate, AI, weapons proliferation.
- If not nation states, what?
- Upward: Regional blocs? EU – how’d that work out?
- Downward: Corporations? NGOs, chaos?
- How can we organize to cooperate to solve urgent problems, especially climate change?
- Is the USA doing too much now, relative to its power? Do multinational institutions weaken us or help us hang onto the power we have left?
OPTIONAL BACKGROUND READINGS –
- July 2019 CivCon mtg: Was the liberal international order just a passing phase?
- “The future of the nation state.” World Economic forum. Recommended.
- Former top U.S. diplomat Nicholas Burns “The crisis of confidence in the Democratic West.” Recommended..
- Elizabeth Warren: Building an international order that benefits all Americans.
- General David Petraeus: The immense threats to international order and cooperation.
- Via Ali: The Kurds are the latest victim of the nation state fetish.
NEXT WEEK: How much of U.S. Government spending is “wasted?”
(Seriously, this is a vital topic to help understand U.S. politics.)