Tag: foreign policy

The History Of War And Peace

As Plato says for Clinias of Scambonidae — “For (as he would say) ‘peace,’ as the term is commonly employed, is nothing more than a name, the truth being that every State is, by a law of nature, engaged perpetually in an informal war with every other State.”, I have seen peace not as the normative state but as a temporary interlude in an ongoing war. What first drew me to study history was observing the chain of treaties to ‘end’ European conflict that extorted and humiliated the defeated parties. The Peace of Westphalia established the supremacy of the nation-state over religious states, but it also begat machinations to maintain a “balance of power” whereby ‘balance’ more or less meant your nation maintained some level of control throughout the continent. The Treaty of Frankfurt, with the indemnity France was forced to pay and territory it was forced to cede, did nothing to establish good will on the Continent. The Anglo-Ottoman Convention allowed British dominance in the Middle East, and the borders created largely ignored ethnic division. The Treaty of Versailles punishment of Germany undermined the Weimar Republic. European nations learned, my professor asserted, and sought to ensure the treaty ending World War II wouldn’t follow the long chain of humiliating, punitive treaties. An assertion ridiculous on its face – border adjustments in the Balkans under the Paris Peace Treaties begat revolution and conflict decades later as ethnically different peoples lumped into the same country broke apart.

Punishing and embarrassing a nation, or lumping people with a long history of conflict into the same country are hardly conducive to lasting peace. I oft wonder if that was the point — see: Eisenhower’s military industrial complex speech. Demanding four billion dollars from King Salman may not be an insurmountable financial burden to the Saudis, but such payment would certainly be seen as a national embarrassment. Violating the US out of the Iranian nuclear deal — and an extrapolation of what the US will ask from North Korea — is just another event in a centuries long chain of “we win, FU” so-called diplomacy.

Viewing North Korea’s summit in light of Iran – either a set of conditions are acceptable in North Korea but not Iran or North Korea will be told to completely eliminate their nuclear capabilities. It’s one thing for Korea to offer to dismantle their testing facilities — frankly, nuclear testing is frightening, and once you’ve got a bomb there’s not much point in repeatedly exploding a nuclear device — but denuclearizing and permitting frequent, invasive inspections to ensure the program is not renewed … that’s a big ask.