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Thread: Egypt and the Treaty of Westphalia

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    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Default Egypt and the Treaty of Westphalia

    This is a bit of a free-flowing thought at the moment, but I wanted to strike while the massacre was hot. Lets assume for a moment that the majority of Egyptians like the Muslim Brotherhood but their ideas about Shariah Law and religious intolerance do not sit well with the democratic minded minority. If these were separate ethnic groups who had traditional territorial claims we could separate them and the Brotherhood would form the Islamic State of Egypt and the democrats would form the Democratic State of Egypt. However, there is no such territorial divide.

    Prior to the Treaty of Westphalia the Holy Roman See had representative in territories controlled by dukes or princes. It existed concurrent to the laws of the prince. Territory meant little and there was often "frontiers" between princely states that were not under the control of anyone. After Westphalia the globe was split up and states were created based on geography, not political identity. A historic leftover of this period is the distinction in English common law and American law between law and equity. Equity was originally the province of the church - a separate court where certain remedies could be had that weren't available at law.

    My question is: was that a mistake? Should we consider the possibility of two peoples sharing the same territory but with differing political alliances?
    Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 08-15-2013 at 01:15 AM.
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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    I'm still confused how much some Americans pay attention to the Treaty of Westphalia as a supposed birth of states. It's probably due to Lind's obsession with it. In Germany we pay more attention to the Thirty Years War itself (if at all) and think of the treaty mostly as a document which concluded the war and divided Germany in a Protestant North and a Catholic South.
    The "state" thing developed only slowly and incrementally afterwards. Prussia got most of its revenues from the King's domains (agricultural estates) well into the 19th century, for example.


    The alternative to a state - a patchwork of different legislative, executive and judicature powers from village to village if not from farm to farm - would have inhibited economic and political development with unbearable transaction costs and uncertainty.

    We learned to build and run sophisticated economies and states. There are indeed minority problems (border regions, nomads, multi-ethnic metropolis, political fringes, race, gender, age et cetera) and the political minority still dislikes being ruled by the majority.
    Minority protection rights, the hope of one day being on the ruling team again and constitutions with supposedly eternal basic rules are still unsatisfactory to some. This is especially evident if a lack of democratic culture devalues the reliability of rights and constitution. It's also evident when a minority is obviously a permanent minority because it's too small.

    The new Western European way of handling ethnic problems is largely to make borders less relevant and to have large parties which strive to represent a large spectrum of the society.
    The old Lebanese way up until their civil war was proportional power allocation; power was shared according to strict and lasting rules. This system ultimately broke down under the stress of being Israel's neighbour.


    I suppose Egypt is not going to solve its political dilemma any time soon because its politicians and generals are too egoistic and treat the country too much as a reproducing cake of which they want the biggest possible share. It's their prey, and they're not intent on working out a sustainable solution.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    My question is: was that a mistake? Should we consider the possibility of two peoples sharing the same territory but with differing political alliances?
    No. We should support the Egyptian Army with everything possible and let them wipe the Muslim Brotherhood of the face of the earth.

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    No. We should support the Egyptian Army with everything possible and let them wipe the Muslim Brotherhood of the face of the earth.
    *Sigh*

    Look, this would require us to watch patiently when Egypt overruns
    4.1 Bahrain
    4.2 Syria
    4.3 Jordan
    4.4 Iran
    4.5 Iraq
    4.6 Palestine
    4.7 Saudi Arabia
    4.8 Kuwait
    4.9 Yemen
    4.10 Oman

    5 Elsewhere in Africa

    5.1 Algeria
    5.2 Sudan
    5.3 Somalia
    5.4 Tunisia
    5.5 Libya
    5.6 Mauritania

    6 Other states

    6.1 Russian Federation
    6.2 United States
    6.3 United Kingdom
    6.4 Indonesia
    (quote of Wikipedia's list of countries with MB presence)

    Try again. You'll make yourself proud if you can provide a more intelligent comment.

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    A better comparison might be the Iranian and French Revolutions.

    The MB achieved power without true upheaval, and without an existential crisis that would have allowed them to rule in a state of emergency where they could demonize and imprison their opponents. Then they over reached and alarmed Egyptians who believe that all that they had sacrificed and fought for was about to be hijacked and mutated into a theocracy.

    They should partition the country into Upper and Lower Egypt, before it really escalates into a civil war, as Egyptians try to stamp an identity onto their country, that a substantial number of their fellow citizens disagree with.

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    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Fuchs,

    It’s not about State formation, it’s about sovereignty, specifically, exclusive sovereignty – the idea that within a set territory there could be only one ruler. As I understand it this eliminated the Church’s ability to enforce edicts within a territory controlled by a secular power. Prior to that point there were parallel systems that existed in the same territory.

    This idea of a single exclusive sovereign has been under attack for some time by the R2P crowd. Their idea is that where the sovereign acts unjustly against her own people others from outside the sovereign’s territories have the legal authority to intervene. This idea would be similar in that it attacks the principle of exclusive sovereignty, except it looks at the idea of parallel sovereignty.

    It is probably too late. The hatreds are settling in. Morsi is now the equivalent of the Twelve Imam (excuse my use of a Sh’iah idea for a Sunni organization). He is perhaps more powerful now than he was before. He is the only person who can stop this rift from becoming the stuff of legend.
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    Council Member BayonetBrant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    My question is: was that a mistake? Should we consider the possibility of two peoples sharing the same territory but with differing political alliances?
    I'm going to ask, and let someone smarter than me (pretty much everyone here) point out the differences

    - is the ultimate political solution on Bosnia (parallel Serb/Bosniak gov'ts) similar enough to consider as a basis for a solution like this?
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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Divided or shared?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    My question is: was that a mistake? Should we consider the possibility of two peoples sharing the same territory but with differing political alliances?
    Western Europe took a long time, centuries after the Treaty of Westphalia, to evolve systems of governance where peoples and politics coexisted with minimal violent conflict. Not to overlook what happened in Bosnia, Kosovo, the wider FRY and many other places, close to me Northern Ireland.

    One of the largely forgotten episodes after 1918, partly as the League of Nations was responsible, were the number of population transfers, e.g. between Greece and Turkey in Thrace.

    There were and remain a few places where sovereignty was shared, usually small tropical islands involving France and the UK.

    Today it is difficult to see how partition and population transfer could happen by agreement.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Western Europe took a long time, centuries after the Treaty of Westphalia, to evolve systems of governance where peoples and politics coexisted with minimal violent conflict. Not to overlook what happened in Bosnia, Kosovo, the wider FRY and many other places, close to me Northern Ireland.

    One of the largely forgotten episodes after 1918, partly as the League of Nations was responsible, were the number of population transfers, e.g. between Greece and Turkey in Thrace.

    There were and remain a few places where sovereignty was shared, usually small tropical islands involving France and the UK.

    Today it is difficult to see how partition and population transfer could happen by agreement.
    But that is not the question - I am not looking at partition. That is the solution we automatically default to. Nor am I looking to something like Northern Ireland where both parties agree to a common government. In certain respects I am looking at going back to a time before the Treaty.

    What I am talking about it two peoples sharing the same territory living under different laws - one secular and one religious. Certain common services would be provided by the central government but the legal system that the people live by would be separate depending on which group you declare yourself a part of. For example, if I were secular I could make statements against Muhammad but if I were a member of the religious group that would be a crime punishable by law.
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    In a certain sense, your question touchs on freedom of thought and belief. While today an accepted concept in Europe and North America, initial notions of religious rights developed during a roughly 100 year period from the 1550s to the 1650s when historic European agreements laid a foundation for today’s established rights. During this period, Europe was wracked with fighting stemming from “confessional polarization” and intra-religious hatred. Several notable peace agreements took into account the importance of respecting religious identity and religious rights, such as the Peace of Augsburg, the Union of Utrecht, and the Edict of Nantes. Implemented with varying degrees of success, they are notable accomplishments that built to the Peace of Westphalia.

    Today, modern "Westphalian" systems of law permit different sets of legal systems to a certain point. Individual members of religious communities can voluntarily opt into their religious legal systems, which would obligate them to certain moral standards. The Amish in Pennsylvania, for example. People must be free to leave, but then they face social ostracism. However, religious communities would not have the power to enforce criminal punishments, which is of course reserved to the state.

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    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Condettiere - I believe your comparison with the French Revolution will prove to be the most accurate.

    BB, - I don't know enough about Bosnia to make any assessment. I would be interested to see if it really does exist with two separate systems in the same territory.

    T22 – The Amish make for an interesting argument, but as you say, they really do not have their own laws as much as they have strictly enforced social norms.

    The more I think about this the more I find it unlikely to be successful. Humans are territorial. Ethnic groups often define themselves with regards to a place on the face of the earth. This connection along with ideas about the secular state are sometimes associated with the birth of nationalism, although I personally think of a “nation” as a group of people who share a common heritage, language, myths, history, and territory – a “state” is the government overlaid upon the nation. I cringe every time I hear the term “nation-building” being associated with places like Afghanistan. Outsiders can build a state – that is just the functional components of government. Outsiders cannot build a nation – that only members of that nation can do.
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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    *Sigh*

    Look, this would require us to watch patiently when Egypt overruns

    (quote of Wikipedia's list of countries with MB presence)

    Try again. You'll make yourself proud if you can provide a more intelligent comment.


    *Burp*
    You Guys (Germans) started it all, so you need to help clean it up.

    The idea came from John Rothmann after hearing him on a radio interview and reading about his book. Link to book review below.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icon_of_Evil

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    But that is not the question - I am not looking at partition. That is the solution we automatically default to. Nor am I looking to something like Northern Ireland where both parties agree to a common government. In certain respects I am looking at going back to a time before the Treaty.

    What I am talking about it two peoples sharing the same territory living under different laws - one secular and one religious. Certain common services would be provided by the central government but the legal system that the people live by would be separate depending on which group you declare yourself a part of. For example, if I were secular I could make statements against Muhammad but if I were a member of the religious group that would be a crime punishable by law.
    I'm not aware of any such construction in Western history at least. A possible exception was the division in the Middle Ages between secular and canon law. But this was not symmetrical--the clergy was outside secular law but the laity was subject to both secular and canon law as the conflict between Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV and Pope Grepeory VII in the 11th Century shows. Gregory could excommunicate Henry; Henry could do nothing to Gregory. Perhaps something like what you want existed in those cases of imperial immediacy where a Prince-Bishopric coincided with a Church diocese, but again I think it was be limited to a division along the lines of the clergy and the laity with the same asymmetry noted above.
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    The way I see it, the Muslim Brotherhood figures Allah is on their side and half measures won't do if you have the backing of god. I don't see much room for compromise here. If you figure the Copts have to convert or die, what is there to talk about? So it may be a matter of kill or be killed as hard as that is.

    With the takfiri movement in the Muslim world that is what it will always come down to. People who believe god is on their side aren't likely to compromise.
    Last edited by carl; 08-16-2013 at 04:44 AM.
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    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    With the takfiri movement in the Muslim world that is what it will always come down to. People who believe god is on their side aren't likely to compromise.
    I would disagree. History is full of examples where people of different beliefs lived together. Every hamlet had its own favored god (which in the modern Christian world translated into their own patron saint). The Islamic faith did not start out evangelical. The conquering armies often set up their own military towns away from the local populace. When the Islamic armies conquered the Iberian peninsula they did not force everyone to convert but instead saw the non-Islamic occupants as ahl al-dhimma (the people under protection). That did not mean that they were treated equally, but they were not forced to convert.

    Now I agree that religion offers certain advantages when it comes to encouraging conflict, not the least of which is the idea that God is on our side and therefore 1) everyone else is unworthy (they may not have souls and therefore are not even human), and 2) you are right in taking any action God "directs". But these are only rationalizations that allow "civilized" people to do what they already want to do - to succumb to their more basic motivations. Islam also has the history of being not only a religion but a political system of sorts, which makes the problem more vexing. But I do not believe that you cannot have an country in the Islamic world that allows for freedom of religion and a secular government. Just not sure how to accomplish it in a period of potential social and political transition.
    Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 08-16-2013 at 11:50 AM.
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    You can't convert all the Jews and Christians immediately, otherwise you have no tax base.

    Usually, the only way other religions can co-exist with Islam is if the authorities are anxious not to upset the economic applecart.

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Curmudgeon:

    You can have a Muslim country with reasonable government. That was Ataturk's basic point my small knowledge base seems to recall. The Baathist movement was secular. There used to be a lot of Catholics in Iraq. It can be done and I believe was done.

    But, it can't be done under the takfiris. Those guys aren't reasonable or they wouldn't be what they are. There is a struggle in the Muslim/Arab world now between the wild eyed killers and those who for example would let the Copts or the Ahmadis live. The conflict in Egypt can be viewed I think in that light, secularists vs. the takfiris. At least the Egyptian Army may view it that way.

    The wild eyed killers don't even seem to go for the apartheid system of old. Besides, I'm not sure that would fly nowadays.
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    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    The wild eyed killers don't even seem to go for the apartheid system of old. Besides, I'm not sure that would fly nowadays.
    That is an excellent point. Is the Leviathan still necessary in some situations?I think the world we Westerner's created offers no in-between. That may be our downfall.
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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    I think the world we Westerner's created offers no in-between. That may be our downfall.
    Exactly. That is a great point too. Pinochet or Franco were unpleasant, repugnant maybe, but they offered a stepping stone to something that got a lot better. The takfiris won't.

    The actions of the Turkish Army over the decades maybe didn't conform to our sensibilities but they seemed to do Turkey good.
    Last edited by carl; 08-16-2013 at 03:18 PM.
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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    Exactly. That is a great point too. Pinochet or Franco were unpleasant, repugnant maybe, but they offered a stepping stone to something that got a lot better.
    Come on. Both were worse than what preceded them.

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