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Thread: Are we still living in a Westphalian world?

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    Default Are we still living in a Westphalian world?

    What do you think? Give me some contemporary examples

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    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    When I think of this concept of a "Westphalian World", I think the following principles are necessary:

    1. States are the primary actors in the international system
    2. States are sovereign and have a monopoly on power within their territories

    So my answer to your question is a qualified yes. States are still the primary actors in the international system; governments control the legal, political, and economic mechanisms that regulate populations and their activities, from trade and migration to war and humanitarian aid. Your legal rights and identity are dependent upon your citizenship in one state or another. States are still treated equally before the law, though this may not always be the case in practice for a number of factors.

    So, my qualifications: there a couple of countervailing forces with trends contridicting the core of a "Westphalian World". First, globalization (essentially capitalism applied globally) is not dependent on a system of states. Capitalism has been at the forefront of destroying the boundaries between states while simultaenously reinforcing the legitimacy of states to regulate commerce (in favor of capital naturally). The result is the collection of capital norms as strong or stronger than Westphalian practices (i.e. global free trade vs political sovereignty to determine trade policies).

    Second, states are now much more complex than their counterparts from previous generations with multiple layers of identities, rights, bureaucracies, stakeholders, and powerbrokers. In weak or failing states any of these components may be stronger than the actual state in practice - but does that mean we have transitioned from a "Westphalian system" to something altogether different or does it mean that the state in question is a failure?
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    When I think of this concept of a "Westphalian World", I think the following principles are necessary:

    1. States are the primary actors in the international system
    2. States are sovereign and have a monopoly on power within their territories

    So my answer to your question is a qualified yes. States are still the primary actors in the international system; governments control the legal, political, and economic mechanisms that regulate populations and their activities, from trade and migration to war and humanitarian aid. Your legal rights and identity are dependent upon your citizenship in one state or another. States are still treated equally before the law, though this may not always be the case in practice for a number of factors.

    So, my qualifications: there a couple of countervailing forces with trends contridicting the core of a "Westphalian World". First, globalization (essentially capitalism applied globally) is not dependent on a system of states. Capitalism has been at the forefront of destroying the boundaries between states while simultaenously reinforcing the legitimacy of states to regulate commerce (in favor of capital naturally). The result is the collection of capital norms as strong or stronger than Westphalian practices (i.e. global free trade vs political sovereignty to determine trade policies).

    Second, states are now much more complex than their counterparts from previous generations with multiple layers of identities, rights, bureaucracies, stakeholders, and powerbrokers. In weak or failing states any of these components may be stronger than the actual state in practice - but does that mean we have transitioned from a "Westphalian system" to something altogether different or does it mean that the state in question is a failure?
    Nice description, only two small point I would disagree with:

    1) What you describe as "political sovereignty to determine trade policies" could IMHO simply be a result of the accepted parctice of allowing traders/trading organisations to aquire or defend market shares with force, the result may only look like "political sovereignty to determine trade policies".

    2) "Second, states are now much more complex than their counterparts from previous generations with multiple layers of identities, rights, bureaucracies, stakeholders, and powerbrokers."

    Here again I would disagree, in most states we found after 1648 still features of the highly complex feudal system, the power of the church was much larger than today, and the interactions of the rulers, often from very few families, were much more complex than todays relations of career politicians.

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    Post Ending Westphalia

    The Evolution of Warfare
    The next steps in the evolution of warfare can be understood by taking a long view look at the past. In reality we are evolving and occasionally our evolution crosses over and we need to repeat our progress. I will discuss three distinct periods of evolution of warfare:
    1) Ungoverned Warfare (Before the Peace of Westphalia)
    2) Governed Warfare (After the Peace of Westphalia)
    3) Return of Ungoverned Warfare (Post 9-11 or When the Peace of Westphalia fails)

    Ungoverned Warfare - Before the Peace of Westphalia
    In the beginning, the world was not a populated and warfare did not exist. As groups formed and people desired what others had, warfare began. Initially it was one group on another; separated by tribe, clan, race, religion, or other easily defined markings. The first Wars stayed small as long as only small groups interacted in warfare that I will characterize as Level 1 or insurgency. However, during the feudal period nobility ruled the lands and small skirmishes broke out among local leaders. As long as the skirmish was contained in a single noble’s land, the skirmish was contained. However, when the skirmishers were from different noble’s areas, then this small skirmish could envelop the nobles and breakout into a larger war. To prevent these larger wars the Peace of Westphalia was established in 1648. (See Tab A)

    Governed Warfare - After the Peace of Westphalia
    The basic tenant of the Peace of Westphalia was the concept of sovereignty. Each noble was granted exclusive sovereignty over their lands, people, their religion, agents abroad, and responsibility for warlike acts. This was to diffuse border skirmishes that could potentially explode into all out war. When a neighboring noble would have issues with local skirmishes, instead of reacting by going to war, he would conduct negotiations with his neighboring noble to resolve the issue and let the neighbor “punish” his people rather than retaliate himself. From this idea of sovereignty grew and the idea that one needs to declare war before attacking. When negotiations failed, then war was pursued as the continuation of policy between the warring nobles. This level of warfare I would characterize as Level 2 or linear warfare. These declarations of war required uniforms so combatants and non-combatants could be distinguished. During these times Armies would march to a battlefield, line up and conduct warfare (usually away from populated areas).

    The concept of declaring war is a concept that is instilled within our Constitution. These ideas to try to limit the carnage of war were further developed into the laws of warfare and were codified in the Geneva Conventions (1-4) and it’s protocols. Additionally the Hague conventions of 1899 and 1907 established; the laws of war, war crimes, and international law. Linear warfare (Level 2) was pushed to its limit in World War One. The resulting trench warfare was the evolution of Napoleonic Warfare blended with technological evolution of the machine gun and indirect artillery. After seeing the horrors of WWI many nations promised “never again”. But in the interwar period, the Germans were developing Level 3 warfare or Maneuver Warfare.

    The Schielffen Plan of WWII was to counter the linear trench warfare of WWI. With the breakout of the Germans around the Magoit Line Maneuver Warfare was established and its dominance over linear warfare was self evident (especially to the French). Additionally, the act of declaring war was still in vogue, an issue the Japanese failed to correctly plan with their attack on Pearl Harbor. Maneuver warfare (Level 3) was pushed to its limits with Air-Land Battle and Joint Doctrine bringing simultaneous elements of warfare power to bear at a single point and time. One of the best examples of Level 3 warfare was Desert Shield/Desert Storm with the quick takedown of Iraq by the US and their coalition partners. Even for DS/DS President Bush obtained a declaration of war against Iraq (House Joint Resolution 77 voted on January 12, 1991), so Westphalia still applies to warfare.

    The ultimate type warfare is nuclear war. I am conflicted as to: is nuclear war the end of level 3 warfare with the maximum concentration of force in a single point at a single time, or is nuclear war a level of war beyond maneuver war? I think that is best left to a separate discussion at a later date.

    Return of ungoverned Warfare – Post 9-11 or When the Peace of Westphalia fails

    Presently, we are seeing an erosion of the Peace of Westphalia. Combatants are no longer in uniform and clearly marked easily distinguished from civilians (non-combatants). Nations are no longer declaring war before or even after hostilities break out. Leaders are no longer able to execute sovereignty over their subjects as their sovereign subgroups conduct war action not condoned by the nation state within which they reside. Without the concept of sovereignty; international relations fall apart, negotiations stall, and warfare returns to insurgency. It could be argued that no rational actor wants to flirt with nuclear disaster and mutually assured destruction. Or that the United States is too strong for any rational actor to come forward and meet on the battlefield because we can concentrate overwhelming power at any point and time we desire. Simply – no one wants to undertake warfare against us. Our rational opponent’s only option is insurgency and seeking to destroy the bedrock that our system of warfare is based upon, the Peace of Westphalia. For when Westphalia fails anarchy ensues and we complete the cycle of evolution of warfare from insurgency, to nation state warfare, and back to insurgency when nation states are overwhelmed by non-state actors.
    The future is clear, future warfare will be marked with insurgencies. But not insurgencies carried out by nations but by non-state actors. We can expect future warfare to not be along national divisions but along the divides of ethnic groups, religions, life styles, and personal choices. The bottom line is that every individual needs to choose live in harmony with others or to fight. Harmony never seems to last – we need to prepare for the fight of future insurgents.

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    I likethe framework you are using Governed warfare and Non Governed warfare. Easier to understand than 4GW,etc.

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    Ulenspiegel & American pride have already pointed matters of importance and I just want to add some basic thoughts.

    1) History walks on a contingent path and it's outcome is not predetermined as the Marxist have hopefully learnt.

    2) Even if we grant tendencies a momentum there is a big problem with your phase 3. It is highly dangerous to extrapolate the future from from mere 12 years of recent history. Compare that to the vast timespan until the supposed divide of the Westphalian Peace.

    In general it still holds true that war is the continuation of politics* with the in-mixing of military means. Terrorism by non-state actors is also the continuation of their politics with means of their chosing. Sadly the advances of science have armed them as well and they a much bigger potential to inflict harm compared to similar actors 200 years ago. The result is sadly rather novel. However it is of course nothing compared to violence potential of (powerful) states. I will leave it there to keep it short.

    *internal and external ones. The state was certainly no monolithic bloc in Clausewitzs view.
    Last edited by Firn; 01-22-2014 at 08:41 PM.
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    Default War Is War

    Forgot to add this to the above comment. Nuclear warfare is still and always was part of any warfare IF you have those weapons available to you. All weapons are tactical no matter how big or devastating they are, which is why the terrorist are laughing at our over intellectual exercise in types of warfare.
    Last edited by slapout9; 01-22-2014 at 08:34 PM. Reason: stuff

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    As I think about this, weapons and tactics only define ways of fighting, not types of warfare.

    Whether one is fist fighting, knife fighting, gun fighting or nuke fighting; the weapon only describes how one is fighting, not what type (genus and species) of war one is waging.

    For me, I like to use "populace-based conflicts" and "state-based conflicts" as the two broad "genus" of conflict. The first is either "intra" to some state or occurs where there is not state structure at all. I do not believe that Clausewitz applies very well to such conflicts and many of our frustrations with this family of conflicts is due to our desire to force them to fit within a Clausewitzian framework.

    State-based conflicts are "extra" or between two or more systems of governance (and the Social Trinity - rather than his "remarkable trinity" - of Clausewitz of "Government-Army-People" works fairly well to describe in simple terms such a system), seek to violently exert their will on one another. Apply Clausewitz vigorously.

    Typically we end up dealing with blended conflicts of state and populace-based; or that begin as one and morph to another. It remains the supreme task to know what kind of war one is in - and when it is not war at all.
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    Scott,

    First, I like your organizational structure. It seems to me that what you are trying to do is to frame war in the context of its political environment. Ungoverned, or pre-Westphalian war and Governed, or post-Westphalian war. If you look at it this way then nuclear war is not a different category of war.

    I would also suggest that you look at post-United Nations war. Here there is a kink in the armor of the Sovereignty created by being a party to the United Nations conventions. Again, this is based on the political framework that the war takes place in.

    Also remember that the Westphalian definition is limited to Europe and the West. Many of the ideas imbued in the Peace of Westphalia did not enter international law until the Hague conventions 0f 1899 and 1907 (perhaps earlier, I don't really have enough data to tell.) In any case, be careful not to "Westernize" your definitions.

    Other than that, I think you are on to something that could end up being most useful in looking at the nature of violent struggles.
    Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 01-23-2014 at 05:33 PM.
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    Default Bob:

    For me, I like to use "populace-based conflicts" and "state-based conflicts" as the two broad "genus" of conflict. The first is either "intra" to some state or occurs where there is not state structure at all. I do not believe that Clausewitz applies very well to such conflicts and many of our frustrations with this family of conflicts is due to our desire to force them to fit within a Clausewitzian framework.
    Agreed that one cannot take a 19th century source and attempt to apply it verbatim to modern situations. In short, Clausewitz cannot be read as a "bible"; I'm not a Clausewitz "fundamentalist".

    I get your "populace-based conflicts" and "state-based conflicts" dichotomy, I think. Using my shorthand:

    VSA01 (Violent State Actor) vs. VSA02 = "state-based conflict"

    VSA01 vs. DVNSA01 (Domestic Violent Non-State Actor) = "populace-based conflict"

    What would you call this one:

    VSA02 vs TVNSA01 (Transnational Violent Non-State Actor; which may or may not be "affiliated" with DVNSA01)

    in "populace-based conflicts" and "state-based conflicts" terms, or do we need a third classification ?

    You are looking at this from a policy-military strategy standpoint - that's an endorsement, not a criticism.

    I'm, as I write, looking at this from a Laws of War standpoint. There we have something of the same dichotomy - internal and external - and where the rules (of engagement, and other rules) are relatively clear in purely internal cases ("populace-based conflicts") and in purely external cases ("state-based conflicts").

    The devil is in the "unpure" cases; e.g., VSA02 vs TVNSA01 - which in the real world would be even more "unpure" with added actors (a "wicked" problem).

    --------------------------------------
    PS: Stan,

    I would also suggest that you look at post-United Nations war. Here there is a kink in the armor of the Sovereignty created by being a party to the United Nations conventions. Again, this is based on the political context of the war.
    Agreed. After thinking about it briefly, Question: When acting in its Chapter VII mode, is the UN best described as a VSA (albeit a superstate ?) or TVNSA (a super NGO ?) - practical application: the mix of warring "entities" in the Northeast Congo.

    Regards

    Mike
    Last edited by jmm99; 01-23-2014 at 05:39 PM.

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    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    I don't think Westphalia is a useful fixture on which to turn the "governance" (nature?) of warfare; that is, although it ushered in the start of a new political era regarding the characteristics of political states, I do not see the immediate connection to how it changed warfare. Prior to the peace, states maintained uniformed armies and delivered declarations of war; and after the peace, there were still "ungoverned" conflicts. The sophistication in states' ability to mobilize men and material, creating larger armies, had a more clear impact on the conduct of warfare. It's only recent through the proliferation of technology have non-state actors caught up so-to-speak with states in the ability to deliver violence.

    If war is an extension of politics, then a change in the nature of politics would change the nature of warfare. Depending upon your selection of political theory, Westphalia did not necessarily change the nature of politics insofar as it was limited to changing how politics was conducted.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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    Scott,

    One other quick point. I would dispute your interpretation that there was no war before there were politically defined groups.

    Ungoverned Warfare - Before the Peace of Westphalia
    In the beginning, the world was not a populated and warfare did not exist. As groups formed and people desired what others had, warfare began. Initially it was one group on another; separated by tribe, clan, race, religion, or other easily defined markings.
    War is a characteristic of the Hominini tribe, a genetic classification that includes the Homo and the Pan line. Humans fall into the Homo line; Chimpanzees in the Pan line.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hominini)


    I make this statement because there is evidence not only of humans engaging in “war”, or deadly combat, back at least 50,000 years, but also because out Pan relatives engage in war. (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/22/sc...himp.html?_r=0 - see also http://www.amazon.com/War-Human-Civi.../dp/0199236631 )
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    Default Unwinable Wars C-SPAN Interview Of Bill Lind

    Recent interview with Bill Lind on the peace of Westphalia and the changing nature of War


    http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4501370/william-lind

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