Greetings and Good Day.I try to avoid the ad hominem fallacy when possible, I thought that the last post, particularly the controversy surrounding the acquisition of Hawai'i was both interesting and valid.The Left, in whose positions I not infrequently find myself agreeing with, generally has very selective and fuzzy notions regarding international relations and the historic development of many international situations that press upon us today. Another example, and addressing Eastern Europe for that matter,one finds that at the close of the Second World War, the Soviet Union engaged in extraterritorial interference on a supremely impressive scale. Virtually all the German settlements east of the Vistula, the result of centuries of trade expansion by operation of Hanse capital, was completely undone. These German populations, indeed the entire border of eastern German lands was forcibly moved westward. Today the United Nations and its member states recognize this border between Germany and Poland (it should be noted that the eastern Polish frontier was moved uncomfortably westward as well). This sudden and dramatic movement of populations was undertaken by Stalin's regime partly to eliminate the vexing and quite complex fabric of settlement that made eastern Europe such a crazy-quilt of ethnic enclaves and ethnic disputes and certainly because the Slavic population within the borders of the former Soviet Union sustained losses at the hands of the Nazi's that approached some 26.6 millions. Polish civilian losses during the Nazi occupation fell within a range of 4.9-5.1 millions. The Soviet Union, of course, invoked its own arguments, moral as well as political, to justify the adjustments to population and territory made in the aftermath of WWII. We live with these results now virtually uncritically in the case of Germany and Poland.Of course while this spectacle in eastern Europe was unfolding, the Ashkenazi population and culture was virtually wiped out. During this period, Stalin took advantage of the Jewish Holocaust by ejecting survivors from Soviet territory as well.That the Ashkenazi should look to Palestine and the long-established, continually inhabited lands of the Sephardim in Judea is supremely justifiable. If Germans and Poles were taking in refugees within their historic homelands, during the post-war period, why hold the Jewish people to a different standard?At any rate, we have been discussing the latest chapter of an historical process that owes much to the complex and vibrantly terrible history of the Holy Roman Empire, and this brings our focus the the so-called Westphalian system of states which appears to hold some place in the ontology of international relation with some of Jack's readership.While I understand that many academics use the phrase "Westphalian-state" as a kind of shorthand for the modern nationstate, historians who regularly inhabit central and eastern European studies are less than clear what this term actually means to those who use it.From my perspective, the model put forward by proponents of the Westphalian State System model take great liberties with the historical context of both the Thirty Year's War and the Peace of Westphalia itself (actually two peace treaties of Osnabrück and Münster, signed on May 15 and October 24, 1648, respectively, and written in Latin, that ended both the Thirty Years' War in Holy Roman Empire (today mostly Germany) and the Eighty Years' War between Spain and the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands). While often heralded as bringing about the dawn of the modern nation-state, the Peace of Westphalia arguable did much to retard developments relating to national sovereignty in Europe. Scholars have pointed out that the main signatory states to the treaties were France, Sweden, and the Holy Roman Empire, all of which had been sovereign kingdoms and empires with centuries of complex political development behind them.Secondly, France and Sweden, under the provisions of the treaties, retained the express right to intervene in the internal politico-religious affairs of the German states composing the non-Habsburg lands of the Holy Roman Empire (so much for non-interference from extra-territorial entities).Thus one comes to the heart of the matter, the Holy Roman Empire, whose successor state was the Austro-Hungarian Empire, represented something quite unique and aberrant to what modern historians would call a Westphalian State, yet the Peace of Westphalia saw fit to preserve this Imperial entity intact - not destroy it. It was not until the Napoleonic Wars that the Holy Roman Empire begins to be dismantled, and here again, much extra-territorial interference is in clear evidence.Historians who husband the model of Westphalian state systems frequently are specialists in the Western European histories of the signatory states outside the former boundaries of the Holy Roman Empire. They clearly confuse Western European notions of so-called Westphalian Sovereignty, with the model's concepts of the sovereignty of states, the fundamental right of political self determination, the principle of (legal) equality between states, and lastly, the principle of non-intervention of one state in the internal affairs of another state.While this formed the basis of national sovereignty concepts in Western Europe, these concepts are glaringly absent in that hard-to-define entity that Gibbon quipped was neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire. The internal mechanisms of religious and civil governance within the Holy Roman Empire are far beyond the scope of a post on Jack's blog, but the discussion should continue. Suffice to say, each of the German states (leaving aside the non-German states for a moment) possessed its own set of laws and its own elector rights under the Imperial System. Under the Imperial Constitution, the German Princes remained subordinate to the Habsburg Emperor, but were virtually autonomous politically with slightly more constraints with respect to military policy.Contrary to arguing that modern nation states were an outgrowth of the Peace of Westphalia; one could just as well argue that the treaties of Osnabrück and Münster actually foreshadowed a primitive effort at collective security and trans-national (ethnic-religious) dispute resolution.One last set of comments in what might be a very boring post, proponents of the Westphalian State model focus very much on the Wilsonian fallacy of stressing ethnic and religious self-determination without recognizing that regardless of ethnic and religious divisions, economic self-sustainability must help balance the equation. This Wilsonian error helped to completely botch the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1919 under the provisions of the Versailles Treaty. Twentieth-Century European (and World) history was catastrophically influenced by this Wilsonian oversight. The break-up of the Ottoman Empire suffers from many of the same Western European misreadings of Eastern European and non-European histories and institutions.I am often struck at the very few individuals one finds who write and think deeply on non-Western European history and historiography. I am not convinced that models such as that described by the Westphalian State System has much bearing to any state not directly modeled on France or England after the divestment of the Electorate of Hanover in 1837 (It is often forgotten that the Hanoverian Dynasty - now House of Windsor - held the office of Elector of Hanover. As such, on the continent and in that capacity, the King of England was also a subject German Prince of the Holy Roman Empire). England of course, made choices during the 19th century that drew it out of the uneasy continental orbit of Habsburg Imperial obligations, but again, the issue of Westphalian State sovereignty and territorial concepts breaks down even in the case of England until very recent times.In summary, while reasonable minds may differ, one may make a forceful argument that not only are 21st century states not moving beyond the Westphalian state model, a Westphalian State entity never truely existed in the first place and is an historiographic back-reading that superimposes what is actually a model of early-modern France on the subsequent historical development of both central and eastern Europe, as well as the Ottoman east.It is difficult to see how walking for any length of time in an intellectual pair of shoes that do not fit historical contexts can lead anywhere but to a crippling of the mind and a distortion of critical methodology. There is no substitute for consulting primary sources and viewing the facts without the prism of an inappropriate paradigm.
Correction: Sephardim in the above post should read Mizrahim, a very important difference.
Jack,You need a (preferably) short length limit to your comment page. The pithy caption you provided with the cartoon spoke volumes without taking up the vast volume of empty and largely irrelevant drivel supplied by Fig Newton. Come to think of it, you tend to go to great lengths yourself, but at least it's entertaining. Brevity in the blog is a virtue.
I quite enjoyed Fig Newton's post actually, even I do disagree with large elements of it. If its brevity of thought your after maybe you should consult Michael Savages 'works'. Something like that might satisfy whatever level of intellectual curiosity you purport to possess.
"That the Ashkenazi should look to Palestine and the long-established, continually inhabited lands of the Sephardim in Judea is supremely justifiable."Fig Newton,While much of your post was interesting and incisive, I must protest at this particular point. The urge of the Jewish people to go and live in Palestine in 1948 - before and after - is completely justified. There is no way a modern democrat or humanist can object to the principle of a free people moving from one part of the world to another. However, the great sticking point to this argument is of course, the consent of the host nation and population. Did the mass immigration of Jews (Which was in motion before the war and had a very solid and momentous political movement behind, growing in strength and political capital through its influenial Zionist leaders) into Palestine really allow the displacement of the original people? Did it permit an independent Jewish government and state? The illegitimacy of the Israeli state is not, I believe, grounded in the Jewish desire to live in their ancestral homeland. It is an issue of consent between the host population and the immigrants. Where the hosts do not consent, then there is no legitimate basis for the formation of a nation state in that territory, based on the new inhabitants on what was in the majority of the case, stolen land.You will bring up the inevitable 'clarification' that the only people who lived there before this were 'wild Beduoins' but this is again an insane, and oft dismissed generalisation which I believed originates with a trip Mark Twain took to the Holy Land in the 19th century. There was quite clearly an established Arab population (Christian, Muslim and a small Jewish population) in modern Israel before 1948.
Hello Christy,Yes, Sephardim vs. Mizrihim:I wrote the comments off-the-cuff and conversationally many people, especially in Israel, identify all non-Ashkenazi Jews as Sephardim.As many sources note, "the reason for this classification is that most Mizrahi communities use much the same religious rituals as Sephardim proper. In the same way, "Ashkenazim" is used for "Jews of the German rite", whether or not they originate from Germany. This broader definition of "Sephardim" as applying to all Mizrahi Jews is also common in Jewish religious circles, especially those associated with the Shas political party." Wiki (but let us not just leave the matter with Wiki)As Nick Danger observed, the long, dry post was already too long and too dry. By the way, I think Jack has the power to delete prosaic posts such as mine and I would hardly object - it is his blog. Thank you though for the reminder to be brief and concise. I will try to do better.Christy, we will probably continue to disagree; however, one of the points that I was moving toward is that within the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire, communities, municipalities, indeed distinct quarters within major cities possessed distinct rights and charters in some cases that guaranteed rights to practice religion and commerce (usually in exchange for payment of certain taxes). This is to say, one can not back-read the so-called Westphalian state ideas of sovereignty into the Ottoman context or the context of the mandates that succeeded the Ottoman empire.The Arab states that inherited the Ottoman patch-work of ethnic enclaves did not and do not necessarily have the right to erase rights that pre-existed the Allied mandates.But we can discuss this at more length if there is support for the discussion from Jack - I do not want to burden his blog with micro-history that only interests us (perhaps).Kind Regards
Correction: the above post is from Fig Newton. Cheers!
Au contraire, mon cher Danger. Anybody who can make me seem pithy and brief by comparison is more than welcome. :o)Fig Newton also is scholarly and does not succumb to the temptations to anger that Christy, D., and I fall prey to. He (I assume 'Fig' is a man's name. It would be indecent for a woman to be named, 'Fig', no?) is a mediator and puts soothing oil on the waters.
Fig Newton's analysis that the Westphalian state system really never was the system of states subject to law within and none without, seems correct. But there is little about it that is specific to Westphalia. Since the end of the 100 Years War, France has been the very model of the nation-state. Governed entirely from Paris, projecting power outward, opaque to power being projected into it.Other countries, like Germany, Italy, Belgium, and Poland, continued to be the object of the foreign policies of other countries, not makers of their own.There were always a French candidate, a Swedish candidate, a Russian candidate, ans so on, for the Polish throne whenever it became vacant. Until just over a century ago, Italy's many small states remained, in Dante's memorable phrase, "not a lady of provinces, but a bordello", manipulated by neighboring powers.So to Germany's small states as Fig Newton has pointed out. Nominal sovereignty in practice meant little. The central significance of Westphaliam sovereignty was the right to chose Catholicism or Lutheranism as the mandatory religion of the population without outside interference. Every other feature of what we would consider self-determination was readily brushed aside by stronger powers even within the so-called Westphalian system.Consider the subsequent fate of the very states which supposedly characterize the Westphalian sovereignty system, those of Germany, Italy, and the Low Countries. Every one of them was absorbed into the growing mass of the Prussian and Piedmontese states, into France and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.Almost all of those literally hundreds of supposedly sovereign and inviolable states was absorbed by larger more powerful states. What remains today of Westphalian sovereignty is Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, San Marino, and the Vatican -- trivial fossils.That Westphalian sovereignty really meant only the right of the ruler to impose religious conformity was demonstrated as late as 1830 when the Catholic portions of the Netherlands were made into Belgium.The notion of sovereignty as some sort of profound autarky in a world of nation-states subject to no law, is largely the invention of colonial people exaggerating the significance of their new independence.
Post-colonial societies assumed that somehow all their problems would go away once the British or French or Portuguese left. When nothing of the kind happened, various mythologies were invented blaming "neocolonialism" and "American imperialism" for their problems.The most extreme case of inventing mythologies of blame for the profound problems of foundering societies unwilling to grasp the nettle of facing reality, is the one which started this discussion. That is the Arab world's blaming Israel for its failures in education, in providing medical care, in building infrastructure, in modernizing social relations, in accommodating technology, in making progress toward equitable distribution of wealth, of finding ways of producing wealth other than pumping it out of the ground.We see countries almost devoid of natural resources, like Denmark, Belgium, Japan, Singapore, Finland, Ireland, Switzerland, Hong Kong, and even Israel, and so on, and reflect that these are among the wealthiest countries in the world. We see that the ability of a society to maintain high levels of production and consumption depends on the success of its institutions and of its cultural life. Schools must produce skilled workers and professionals, and graduate people who can function both economically and politically as mature and responsible citizens.There must a class of citizens who take the pursuit of the public good as a real goal and not just as lip service for their own interests.And so on and on for every kind of institution in society.Comparing these successful countries to others takes us to the inescapable conclusion that the failure of a society to prosper is an INTERNAL failure of that society. It is also a fact that blame for the failure of a society to thrive is NEVER accepted by the actual people responsible -- the ruling elites of that society.Palestine is no different. Israel is responsible for the failures of Palestinian society in the same way as the Gang of Four was responsible for missed quotas in remote provinces, for adverse weather, for bad harvests. By magic. Because Palestinian elites will not and cannot accept their collective and individual failures. Nothing can be more galling to them to see a society more or less coeval with their own that flourishes while theirs molders. That is the source of the mythology of blame -- the unwillingness of those responsible for the failures of Palestinian society to accept responsibility, let alone to do anything to improve the society they have ruined.
"let alone to do anything to improve the society they have ruined."I would like you to elaborate on this point, as it is patently untrue. Clearly, the economic booms in countries lacking resources which you have mentioned are reversing course now altogether. Ireland is in its worst recession since the 80s and Iceland almost went bankrupt recently. The reason was because of these countries reliance on glass based banking system - the cracks were in development for years but everyone was enjoying the good times so why stop now? The glass broke and its looking nigh on impossible to emerge the other side.Countries like Ireland, for example, largely flourished because they had low wages, low costs of living, low costs of business. Footloose industries came in their droves as the universities and ITs started pumping out college graduates with the sufficient skills to do high tech work. This relationship led to a boom in the service sector, and the self-continuating economic boom this created was extended and deepened by a massive property boom aided by cheap (Mainly German and other large EU countries) credit helped by the European banking systems. With credit so low, speculators from both home and abroad invested in Ireland, paying way over the odds for property which in reality was worth half its value.Then came the end of cheap credit and suddenly all thats left is a bloated, highly inflated country with massive economic problems brought about by the factors you mention.The problems in Palestine are infintely more complex than the citizenry merely 'taking responsibility' for their own actions. You really need to do some reading on the finer details on guerrila warfare and resistence movements. When people fight for their liberty, their GDP growth figures tend to take a back seat.
Christy asks about Ireland, Iceland, and the current collapse generally.My understanding is that there has been an imperfect amalgamation of credit markets in all the wealthy countries and in the western ones in particular. It is not a coincidence that Irish home prices are tanking at the same time and to roughly the same extent as California home prices are. To some extent lenders and investors were fungible and created similar investing, employment, house-buying, and mortgage-lending environments in Sonoma County as in County Cork.When the great Wall Street banks started to be seen to have feet of clay, the smaller banks were both enmeshed with them or owned by them, or no better. So just as all the real estate markets rose more or less jointly because they rose on similar market conditions, so too they are all plummeting more or less in sync as well.What Christy describes in Ireland can be repeated by changing the names and locales and be a good description of California.I am not sure I agree with the notion that Ireland's boom was only a product of low wages. Business profitability has many more elements to it than just low wages. For example Switzerland pays high wages and Swaziland low wages but businesses in Switzerland are considerably more profitable than those in Swaziland.Even at their worst economic conditions, which may yet lie ahead of us, any of the western countries provides a higher standard of living to even its poor than almost any of the poor countries provides to the generality of its working people.But to connect my former proposition to the curent subject, the elites in the western countries who have produced the current disaster are the financial classes, not even the industrial classes, but the finance elites in particular. As though they have set out to prove me right, they have shown exactly no remorse, no willing to accept responsibility for the catastrophe they have visited on their countries, on the western in particular and the world in general. There is no suggestion of any of guillotines on Wall Street, of scaffolds with nooses for lobbyists and congressmen. None at all. The classic example of the denial was the presidents of the auto companies flew to Washington in their private jets. They were so oblivious to their responsibility for their failures that it literally did not occur to them that anyone else thought they were.Alan Greenspan, the ideological father of deregulation, was questioned by a Senate committee and try as he could, could not see any error he had made nor any responsibility he bore.In fact no one will be punished except for those who will lose their jobs and their savings. And their families. The denial will be complete.I have conservative friends, otherwise intelligent people, who claim that the source of the current problem is an excess of government regulation. The alternative of course would be to accept responsibility for the consequences of their actions and their ideology.But in context, the disaster to the United States and the other wealthy countries will be largely economic, no small thing in terms of disrupted lives, but within our borders none will starve and few will die on account of it.The failures and denials of elites in Palestinian society are far broader more damaging than the failures and denials in the United States. While our financial system is collapsing, Harvard and UCSF and Stanford, and UCLA and Johns Hopkins continues to train superb doctors, not only Americans but foreign students from all over the world. Our medical professional elites have not failed us. So too with Cal Tech and MIT and so on. Our engineering elites have not failed us. At the seme time Bir Zeit University, established with Israeli assistance, has offered a four year course in anti-Israel agitprop but has graduated few or no well-trained doctors or engineers.Though there have been massive political failures among the political class of office holders in the United States, our government offices, for all the sneering at them, are in fact staffed with public-spirited civil servants interested in doing their jobs well and serving the public weal. Palestinian civil service, particularly under Arafat was considered to be patronage sinecures given in return for loyalty to Arafat personally.Our IRS is no fun to deal with but they are dedicated to doing their jobs and they extract billions in tax revenue from the public just as they are aupposed to and they pocket substantially none of it. The tax-gathering elite if that is wha they are is a success at what it is set to do. It is my understanding that Inland Revenue in the UK is the same.Under the PA there was no formalized system of accounting and taxation amounted to little more than shakedown and baksheesh. State revenues were treated by Arafat almost as his personal property. He is reputed to have been worth billions when he died and it is reputed that his relationship to Jacques Chirac was more than just political.Our clergy though there are some profound failures and denials, notably as in tolerance for gays, nevertheless there is no modern example of any of them preaching violence toward other religious groups -- with the notable exception of Malcolm X. I consider that one of the functions of a clergy in a heterogeneous society is to facilitate peaceful coexistence among the faithful.I hardly need tell you of the catastrophe and denial of it, brought upon Palestinian society by the failures of their clerical elites.There is also the failure of the intellectuals. How smart does one have to be to chose not to antagonize a neighboring society that has an air force when you don't have one?And on and on.Compare Turkey. Under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turks collectively recognized (or were forcibly shown by the Kemalists) the shortcomings of the Turkish elites. Turkey made and has continued to make substantial progress toward prosperity and modernity. Notably, though they were on the short end of British, French, Italian, and Russian invasions, they blame no one for their still being less wealthy than the Europeans. They are working hard to improve their economy and institutions. Though a piously Muslim society, Turkey is committed to secularism. The Turks collectively are set, not on destroying Europe but on joining the EU. So far from demonizing Israel, they are allied with her.Since they don't have the same level of failure to mythologize the blame for, they often blame one another for shortcomings in Turkish society, but rarely do they blame foreigners.So there is nothing about Islam, or living in the Middle East, or any such thing, that requires backwardness or poverty. Nor is it an imperialist plot by the Americans or Israelis."The fault is not in our stars but in ourselves."
"The fault is not in our stars but in ourselves"Firstly, condolences and deepest sympathies on the loss of a member of your extended family. Also, apologies for some of the childish name calling and aggressiveness, which has no place in such a sensitive debate really.I have to strongly disagree with the above point and relating post, especially in reference to the Palestinian question. Primary closure has played a huge role in crippling Gaza's economy. Israeli elites, previous to the harsh closure policies, spent much energy intergrating Gaza's economy into Israel's for over 30 years. Gaza is a small vulnerable strip as we all know, and therefore 30 years of built up dependancy on Israel, followed by closure policies has left the economy pf Gaza crippled. Deinstitutionalisation, and a lack of any empowerment programs at the hands of Israeli occupancy and oppression has left the area weak, vulnerable and in financial ruin. Subsequent closure policies and economic embargo have left Palestinians experiencing the worst economic decline in the last 20 years, 4/5 households live on the poverty line thanks to Israel. As I state previously, this poverty, this oppression and the horizontal inequality will inevitably cause conflict. The fault as you put is in Israel, and it is only widescale institutional change to rectify this situation, and a sovereign Palestine with control of its borders that can end the conflict.
Thank you for your condolences D.Occasionally we agree on particular facts, as here. But we diametrically disagree on what conclusion ought to be drawn from them. It is true that there was an attempt to integrate the economy of the territories with Israel's economy. D. sees this as somehow nefarious. In fact the intention was benign. Indeed it was unrealistically, even naively optimistic in purpose.In the enthusiasm of the Oslo Accords of 1993, there were those in the government of Israel who actually believed that Arafat was since and actually intended peace. Foremost among these was the late Shimon Peres.Peres believed and openly espoused the proposition that Israel, the Palestinian territories, and Jordan would become economically and eventually politically intertwined and interdependent the way the countries of the European Union are. He went so far as to begin the construction of the Trans-Judaean Highway which would facilitate the shipment of goods by truck between Tel Aviv, Ramallah, Jericho, and Amman with air and sea links to Europe and to the rest of the world. The sections of the highway that were completed today connect nothing and are not used. They stand in Judea as mute mockery of the hopes for peace of that era.Just as Europe is wealthy today because of the growing integration of the economies of its member countries, it was hoped that Israel, Palestine, and Jordan would prosper together within an integrated economy.But the essential element of integration, peace, did not come. The Dutch do not shoot at Belgian border policemen nor rocket their towns. Neither side sends suicide bombers to visit the other. So Belgian goods and services roll into the Netherlands and Dutch goods and services roll into Belgium and everyone benefits.Once again, Palestinian refusal to live in peace with their neighbors comes with a price, a steep price, not only in lives but also in standard of kiving.Peace, when there has been peace, has benefitted both sides. Palestinian construction workers entered Israel every day. They helped Israelis overcome their perennial housing shortage and gave Palestinian families reliable hard currency incomes.But the occasional, then more and more frequent, suicide bomb attacks in Israel by construction workers or by people posing as construction workers, made for more and more security measures at border crossing checkpoints. Every time there was a bomb attack there was a day or several days of closure of the checkpoints. Which meant no work got done on the Israeli side, and no wages were earned on the Palestinian side.Finally the Palestinian attacks on the checkpoints became so constant and severe that routine crossing to work in Israel was stopped. Without the checkpoints to go through, suicide bombers started going around them, entering Israel through open country. That is why the security wall was built. Gaza went from an enclave with relatively open borders and access to Judea and Samaria and beyond to Jordan, to a prison.But every step of the way, it was the suicide bombers and those who sent them who forced the separation.D., you are right to complain of Gaza's miserable situation and the collapse of its economy. But you are wrong to blame Israel for it. The Israelis have merely done what anyone would do if they were being attacked by suicide bombers -- they have tried to keep them out. With some success, I might add. It has been a while now since any suicide bomber has been able to kill any Israeli within Israel.There is no reason to believe the process cannot be run in reverse. A commitment to peace and to the permanent cessation of rockets and suicide bombing and all such attacks, would soon lead to the reopening of checkpoints to normal commerce and eventually to working at jobs in Israel, as before.The embargo did not come from nowhere. It is a response to Palestinian attacks. The way to make it go away is to stop the attacks permanently.