Assault on the established order (The Japan Times, Dec. 31, 2003)

The concluding year will be remembered for the many ways it undermined the building blocks of the world as we know it. Globally, regionally and even here at home, the events of 2003 posed a direct challenge to the most basic ways in which states and societies act. While change is inevitable, it is by no means clear that this assault on the established order will open the door to a better future. That will depend on whether our governments have the courage and the wisdom to seize the opportunities presented by a world in flux.

Globally, the big story of 2003 was the invasion of Iraq. While Washington mustered an international coalition to overthrow Saddam Hussein, the attack was most notable for its blatant disregard of the United Nations. The decision to proceed without U.N. approval was not unprecedented — NATO action in Yugoslavia in the 1990s did not enjoy U.N. legitimacy. But rarely had a government — and an architect of the international order at that — so flagrantly dismissed international opinion.

This is somewhat the premise of the book I’m working on too: that the paradigm of state sovereignty–which has prevailed since the Peace of Westphalia–is under attack from Left, where transnational progressivism would discard the authority of the nation-state altogether, and from the Center/Right, where America’s Jacksonian unilateralism and humanitarian concerns seem to have converged to add a requirement that the sovereign be legitimate, meet the standards of the

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