Discourses of World Politics Research Proposal

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¶ … Politics

Herz (1957) surmises that the once understood concept of the sovereign nation-state has become doubtful due to a variety of factors. These uncertainties, he continues, are the result of specific fundamental changes in the structure of international relations, as well as the changes in material forces such as military technologies. To better understand Herz's position, one must first understand what these shifts were, followed by what types of legal and institutional regimes they grounded. To further explore the topic, major technological and organizational changes that have challenged or modified these regimes of the modern state will be described.

Shifts Responsible for the Institutional and Legal Order of the Modern State:

Herz (1957) uses an analogy to begin his discussion of the changes that he surmises are responsible for the institutional and legal order of the modern state. He compares the sovereign nation-state to that of an atom. At one time, the atom was subject to forces but was impenetrable. So too was the nation-state -- an impenetrable, hard shell, political atom. However, the changes that have occurred have made that once impenetrable body completely penetrable, "which tends to obliterate the very meaning of unit and unity, power and power relations, sovereignty and independence" (474).Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Research Proposal on Discourses of World Politics Assignment

Modern compartmentalized sovereignties evolved from a three-pronged struggle "among emperors and popes, popes and kings, and kings and emperors" (Herz 475). However, the protection that groups and individuals in the Middle Ages enjoyed was afforded by common social moral standards and the absence of highly destructive weaponry. Once gunpowder was invented, and the common moral standard was no longer firmly in place, this relative protection was lost. Religious and civil wars sprang up and a 'neutralist' central power was established. The Holy Roman Empire was replaced by territorial princes whose power was the sole factor in territorial coexistence. A developing money economy and advancements in military technology would further change the political landscape.

Professional armies allowed overlords to free themselves from vassals and garner their own power. The "gunpowder revolution," as Herz (1957) notes, further affected social, economic and political relationships, due to the changes it afforded in protection and security. Sovereigns, both old and new, had to have their military reach geographically determined before they could lay claim to control over large regions. Once this was established, in place of the sovereignty of a castle or fortified town, large-area states came into being as units of impenetrability, which only occurred after all of the independent fortifications were eradicated, replaced by armed border installations. This was the basic structure of the territorial state during the classical period of the modern state system. However, the argument became if a state could be sovereign and yet subject to an empire.

According to Herz's (1957) citation of Leibniz, a state could be sovereign and still subject to a majesty. Sovereignty came with the leaders ability to constrain their subjects within their territory and constrain forces from penetrating from outside their territory. Yet, these smaller sovereigns were still subject to the fealty of the empire -- making them both leader and subject. These complex relationships and emerging sovereign-states primed the world for modern international law.

Modern international law, like the topic of sovereigns and empires, has been perceived as contradictory, according to Herz (1957). Like empires, international law claims to bind sovereign states. Like empires as well, if need be a remedy to enforce sovereign states compliance with international law when they refuse to do so can be war. Herz continues to note that it is also international law that connects the territorial past with the state system of present. Through this system of laws, sovereign states' impenetrability is protected and deducing the consequences if this sovereignty isn't respected.

"But, it was not only this mutual legal accommodation which rendered possible a relatively peaceful coexistence of nations. War itself, the very phenomenon which reflected, not the strength, but the limitations of impermeability, was of such a nature as to maintain at least the principle of territoriality," Herz (1957) states. The modern evolution of the nation state, however, has changed that. Herz continues to describe the absolute exposure of nation states that mean war will not only result in damage or change, but instead complete annihilation of life and the way of life. Nationalism too has had an impact on the modern state.

Personalization of units as self-determining national groups was witness with the rise of nationalism. This new trend meant that society abhorred depriving a sovereign nation of their independence. These nation-states would first need to consider themselves representative of a specific nationality -- such as the Jewish nation-state of Israel. This rise in nationalism, as Herz (1957) notes, results in new states splitting away from multinational or colonial empires. In modern times, this was experienced with the splitting off of many now sovereign countries from the former USSR, such as: Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, Kazakhstan, etc.

Herz (1957) outlines further sources of change that led to the demise of the antiquated territorial state and gave rise to the modern state. These include: possibility of economic blockade; ideological political penetration; air warfare; and atomic warfare. Economic blockade, or economic warfare, Herz notes, has never been the sole means of forcing another nation into surrender. Despite the fact that Germany and her allies were seriously endangered in World War I and similarly in World War II, military force was still necessary. One only has to look at the decades-long economic blockade of Cuba to see how ineffective alone this method truly is. However, it is still a factor to the development of the current modern state, due to the interdependence of modern nation-states, in contrast to the independence of territorial states of the past.

Ideological political penetration, or psychological warfare as Herz (1957) describes it, also has not been effective in solely being responsible for the surrender of a nation. However, subversion of loyalties does play a part in the impermeability of a former territorial state. This was demonstrated with Bolshevism, Nazism, and even democracy. According to Herz, these are not nearly as powerful a catalyst for the shift to the modern state as air and nuclear warfare.

Herz (1957) surmises that air warfare and nuclear warfare are the two facets that have had the most radical effect on the territoriality of nations. With these military advancements, the relative security of territorial nations dissolved. Enemies could now make direct attacks against the 'soft' interior of a nation, while bypassing the outer defenses. With that reality comes the end of traditional impermeability of even the states with the most powerful military in place. Herz describes it as a change in warfare "from a fight to a process of devastation" (487).

Major Technological or Organizational Changes that Have Affected the Regimes of the Modern State:

Arquilla and Ronfeldt (1993) go beyond Herz's (1957) work more than three decades earlier and discuss one particular technological advancement that have affected the regimes of the modern state. The authors note, "For your forces, warfare is no longer primarily a function of who puts the most capital, labor and technology on the battlefield, but of who has the best information about the battlefield" (141). This goes beyond simply knowing where the enemy is, which was the primary goal of reconnaissance not so long ago, but every other bit of knowledge about the environment and the enemy that can be had. This mastery of information is a powerful tool. Yet, with this resource comes the ability for others to attack it, leading to possible netwarfare and cyberwarfare.

As Arquilla and Ronfeldt (1993) surmise, this shift in technological advancements may result in how conflict occurs and how armed forces wage war. The authors delineate between netwar and cyberwar. Netwar, Arquilla and Ronfeldt define as "societal-level ideational conflicts waged in part through internetted modes of communication" (144). Cyberware, in contrast, occurs at the military level. The connecting factor is that they are both forms of war centered on knowledge. This new type of warfare means that large nation armies are not the only threat to the modern state, but smaller groups and even individuals become a threat to the regimes as well.

Homer-Dixon (2002) build upon Arquilla and Ronfeldt's (1993) early thoughts about the power to inflict damage on modern states due to technological advancements. He focuses, however, on specifically terrorism and the facilitation of terrorism due to increased use of technology and economic innovation. These technological and economic advancements, Homer-DIxon continues, result in richer modern states that become reliant on intricate technological networks. In addition, there is also the tendency to see vital assets concentrated in small geographic clusters. This, he concludes, gives terrorists immense destructive power, allowing them to inflict maximum psychological and financial damage with minimum effort. One only has to look at the effects of September 11th to see the truth in this theory.

Leander (2005) discusses a completely different organizational change that challenges the modern regimes -- the privatization of military companies. Leander… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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