The Westphalian myth

Was the Peace of Westphalia and its implications for state sovereignty one big myth? The apparently ineradicable notion (repeated even by many recent historians of the war) that the Peace of Westphalia sanctioned the “sovereignty” of Switzerland and the Netherlands and their independence from the empire demonstrates this. In the case of the Swiss it … Continue reading The Westphalian myth

Introducing: the Federation of Free States, an ongoing thought experiment

The most popular article I have ever written, in terms of views, has been, by far, “10 Places that Should Join the U.S.,” a short piece at RealClearHistory pining for an enlarged geographic area under the American constitution. This is not a strange concept for longtime NOL readers. I’ve been pleading for stronger political ties … Continue reading Introducing: the Federation of Free States, an ongoing thought experiment

The Mexican-American War, and another warm welcome

My topic over at RealClearHistory today is the Mexican-American War and slavery, so be sure to show me a little extra love and have a peek. An excerpt: The British, for their part, played an ingeniously devious role. London convinced Mexico to finally recognize Texas independence in 1845, as long as Texas agreed to avoid … Continue reading The Mexican-American War, and another warm welcome

RCH, and a warm welcome

My topic over at RealClearHistory today is the Mexican-American War. I lay out a general background on all the players, hoping that a primer will do readers there some good. An excerpt: Texas. In 1821, the newly-established Mexican government was having severe trouble with the Comanche in the area and invited Americans to settle the … Continue reading RCH, and a warm welcome

From the Comments: New Republics, Westphalia, and Russian Strategy

Thomas L. Knapp (check out his two contributions to the most recent Cato Unbound symposium on voting) has a great comment about Ukraine (Russia) that deserves further scrutiny: In order for Putin to “pull out of” Ukraine, he’d first need to be in Ukraine. The new republics which seceded from Ukraine are not in Ukraine. Knapp brings … Continue reading From the Comments: New Republics, Westphalia, and Russian Strategy

What is a nation?

I know Michelangelo has already asked and answered this question, and NOL has dealt extensively with “the nation” before, but: Nations are now defined not as races or peoples but by their possession of a state, and states are legitimate only if they express political will of a nation. The strange new idea of nation-building … Continue reading What is a nation?

Colonialism and Identity in Wasolon (and everywhere else, too)

The notion of the person is constantly renegotiated and is at stake between groups situated within the same political entity as well as between neighboring political entities. With advent of [France’s colonial] district register and the resulting written registration of identity, the notion of a person acquired a greater fixity. It became much more difficult … Continue reading Colonialism and Identity in Wasolon (and everywhere else, too)

From the Comments: What is a “National Interest”? (Why not federalism?)

Michelangelo writes: I sympathize with your pro-federation views, but it is admittedly a difficult position to argue from a purist libertarian view. I would support offering statehood to Japan and South Korea, as I mentioned earlier this week.* I would not however offer the same deal to Ukraine or the Baltic states. If pressed why … Continue reading From the Comments: What is a “National Interest”? (Why not federalism?)

Bernard Lewis, Edward Said, Facts, Ideology, and the Middle East

I recently came across an excellent interview conducted by Evan Goldstein, who is the editor of Arts & Letters Daily and the Chronicle of Higher Education, with Bernard Lewis, who is an eminent historian of the Middle East from Princeton. There were three things that stood out to me in the interview: 1) the potential for ideological … Continue reading Bernard Lewis, Edward Said, Facts, Ideology, and the Middle East

From the Comments: Russia Resurgent and a Libertarian Strategy

I am working on a speculative piece about the recent assassination of liberal (i.e. libertarian, a.k.a. internationalist) politician Boris Nemtsov in front of the Kremlin. In the mean time, here is an old comment of mine on Russia’s new grand strategy: Thanks Dr A, I still think this is all a part of Russia’s symbolic … Continue reading From the Comments: Russia Resurgent and a Libertarian Strategy

Some ramblings on intellectual diversity (in universities and in libertarianism)

I’ve been reading through the ‘comments’ threads this weekend and especially my dialogues with Dr Amburgey (he’s at the University of Toronto’s prestigious business school). Amburgey describes himself as a “pragmatist” or a “centrist” but nevertheless has been a fairly stalwart defender of the Obama administration (except on its egregious violations of our civil liberties) … Continue reading Some ramblings on intellectual diversity (in universities and in libertarianism)

The New Caliphate in the Middle East: When Islamists experiment with libertarianism (and why the West should do the same)

Richard Epstein, the legal scholar and libertarian Republican known for his erudite wisdom in the fields of law and economics and tort law, has recently joined in the chorus of Right-wing critics attacking Senator Rand Paul (and President Obama) for arguing that the US government does not have enough information to carry out an attack … Continue reading The New Caliphate in the Middle East: When Islamists experiment with libertarianism (and why the West should do the same)

Weekend Question: What to do about the violence in South Sudan?

As many of you may know, the recently-minted country of South Sudan has descended into civil war. I’m going to show you how this violence was actually predictable, but first I want to point out a couple of things. Why did South Sudan get international recognition and not Somaliland, which has been a functioning democracy … Continue reading Weekend Question: What to do about the violence in South Sudan?

From the Comments: Federalism, Small States and Central Banks

Rick Searle asks the following question after reading my argument with George Ayittey on secession in Africa: Brandon, how do you respond to the geopolitical and macro-economic arguments in favor of strong federalism rather than small-state nationalism? The experience of Central Europe after the First World War seems to offer a telling example of what … Continue reading From the Comments: Federalism, Small States and Central Banks

From the Comments: The New Internationalism

My dear, brave friend from Iran, Siamak, takes issue with my recent musings on the state of affairs in the Middle East: I’m completely against this. Any changes in mid-east borders could start a Religious-Ethnic Oil war that brings years of savagery and massacre. The problem of middle-east can be solved with tolerance through diplomatic acts. I … Continue reading From the Comments: The New Internationalism