In 1648, the Peace of Westphalia ended the 30 years’ war by esconcing Cardinal Richelieu’s principle of raison d’état – justifying Catholic France’s alliances with Protestant powers to prevent absorption into the Holy Roman Empire – as the defining principle of the nation state.
Under raison d’état each state was free to run its peaceful internal affairs as it wanted, for example responding to pressures for universal suffrage at its own speed.
When Tony Blair was elected in 1997, he trumpeted a post-Westphalian settlement which would see Britain not only buy into the European Union’s supra-national agenda like never before, but participate in wars to spread neo-conservative values to Afghanistan and Iraq in what former US Deputy Defence Secretary Robert Ellsworth called “salvation without representation“.
In Israel’s Gaza campaign, we’re seeing a demonstrably democratically-elected government take on Hamas, a group banned in many countries for its links to terrorism. It is in a sense a campaign against the crisis-hit post-Westphalian movement, where
it is the “internal” boundaries that create problems. Security, defence of privilege, identity, recognition and cultural traditions…are now altered, uncertain, liquid. They are no longer reliable.
Egypt’s sponsoring of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is also a classic Westphalian move: Egypt is one of the states that have banned Hamas. If Palestinian terrorists (by no means all Palestinians) were to catastrophically weaken Israel, the terrorists’ first move would be to announce themselves part of the soi-disant caliphate proclaimed by Jihadis in Iraq and Syria.
This is also a supra-national power, but far removed from the multilateral transfer of ruleswith the EU as template dreamt of by Blairites. It is an attempt to rebuild the Ottoman Empire, and as such the next stop would be Egypt, therefrom the rest of Arab Africa.
Israel is certainly fighting for survival, but it is now at the centre of the fight for the nation-state system. All of us who value freedom need to realise that freedom lives or dies with Israel.