The idea of a country seems pretty simple. I live in America, and I’m an American. She lives in France, and she is French. The Americans have a president who is their leader, the British have a prime minister, the French have their own president, and so forth.
But the way political decision-making around security issues ricochets around the world, from Western capital to Western capital, is making a mockery of commonly held conceptions of national sovereignty. In recent weeks, a British parliament vote on Syria forced the U.S. president to seek authorization from Congress, while leaked documents detailed extensive cooperation between the intelligence services of the U.S. and other nations. The president of Bolivia was forced to down his plane by Italy and France, just because he joked about having Edwards Snowden on board. And so on, and so forth.
This all demands the question: Why do we hold the conception that we live in separate nation-states? Well, it turns out that this question was actually asked after World War II, and the answer American leaders came up with was … we shouldn’t.
In fact, Western elites in America and Western Europe after World War II made a serious effort to get rid of nations altogether, and combine all “freedom-loving peoples” into one giant “Atlantic Union,” a federal state built on top of the NATO military alliance.
...The reality is that, so far, we have largely failed to articulate a clear and compelling vision of why a new global order matters — and where the world should be headed. Half a century ago, those who designed the post-war system — the United Nations, the Bretton Woods system, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) — were deeply influenced by the shared lessons of history.
All had lived through the chaos of the 1930s — when turning inwards led to economic depression, nationalism and war. All, including the defeated powers, agreed that the road to peace lay with building a new international order — and an approach to international relations that questioned the Westphalian, sacrosanct principle of sovereignty...