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Regulate outer space before it is too late

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The war in Ukraine has reached outer space as Russia and the United States lock horns in flag-waving catfightsin the International Space Station, long heralded as the epitome of international co-operation. This is the second international conflict manifesting itself in space in just over a month. A few weeks ago, the collapse of the Kleo Connect joint venture between Europe and China, aimed at producing hundreds of Low-Earth Orbit satellites, highlighted the fragility of the space domain.

These developments are a timely reminder that the EU’s new multilateral space initiatives are not sufficient and need to be accompanied by a durable framework for cooperation and non-conflictual competition in space.

Outer space is a global commons, which means it is in everyone’s interest that new codes of conduct and treaties are implemented to ensure greater collaboration between states and private space actors. So how do we keep the peace in space while still encouraging healthy competition the fuels innovation? The key lies in smart regulation and strong multilateral consensus. Given the intimate connection between space security and terrestrial security, a simple yet compelling principle must guide space security and inter-state relations down here on Earth: if outer space becomes critically unsafe, it will be unsafe for everyone without exception. 


The rules, or lack thereof, that govern space today, are already directly impacting our relations here on Earth. The quest for space supremacy has catalysed the increasingly fraught relations between the U.S., China and Russia, as well as between the UK and the EU, as Brexit forced Britain to leave the EU’s Galileo system.


Competition in the space domain is crucial for the development and improvement of increasingly complex space technologies. However, this unchecked, and potentially conflictual competition, has come hand in hand with an increasingly insecure space frontier. The global race for ever more accurate satellite infrastructure has induced a rise of increasingly hostile cyber operations. The transmission of counterfeit signals, known as spoofing, the intentional interference of signals, known as jamming, hijacking and even direct kinetic attacks are likely to become more frequent as they given the cloak of national security. They are a growing concern for sustainable global security.


Despite its limitations, the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, established over half a century ago, remains the foundation of international space law and is the most important of the UN’s five major space treaties. The lack of a renewed treaty capturing all the technological advancements achieved over the last decades has created a vacuum in the space domain that has been filled by increasing anarchy and narrow unilateral geopolitical goals.


While the 1967 treaty critically prohibits the deployment of weapons of mass destruction in outer space, it does not prohibit the launch of ballistic missiles through space. It also does not prohibit the placement of non-nuclear weapons in space. In short, the treaty does not prevent all forms of escalation, and it leaves many issues unaddressed, particularly in the age of new weapons and cyber technologies. The unwillingness of the signatory parties to develop their space capacities exclusively for “peaceful purposes”, as stipulated in the treaty, has set a precedent for accepting militarised space use, which continues today.


While space infrastructure undoubtedly holds an important role in national defence and security, it also plays a pivotal role in our global economy. Our global communications systems powered by satellites allow us to closely monitor the trillions of dollars’ worth of goods being traded every day. We receive crucial intelligence regarding geological and meteorological developments through our satellites that allow us to thwart natural disasters saving trillions of dollars and thousands of lives in the process. Satellites now also play a decisive role in our ability to monitor and track worrying changes in our climate and environment. More resources need to be allocated into these crucial activities and away from reckless military escalation.


The use of the ISS for national propaganda and the collapse of the Kleo Connect joint venture illustrates that the trust and cooperation needed for rival countries to navigate the space economy are still in short supply. The EU’s new Space Traffic Management initiative aims to develop an EU strategy to ensure the safe and sustainable use of space while preserving the EU space industry’s competitiveness. It is a step in the right direction but it is not enough to defuse tensions in space. Given the critical role of outer space both for civilian and military purposes, a carefully managed, well-regulated and cooperative framework is indispensable moving forward. Gaps in space law, such as over space mining and debris and the role of private actors, will need to be addressed responsibly within international fora with legally binding agreements. Other neglected areas include space debris mitigation, situational awareness and space traffic management rules. The same ethos that spearheaded the successful Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Partial Test Ban Treaty must steer our space relations. 

Our advanced societies are becoming increasingly and irreversibly overdependent on outer space in our daily activities. Therefore, any disruption or conflict in outer space, intentional or accidental, will be at the detriment of us all. Regulating space is an urgent priority for the global community – it is high time that it is treated as one.

Professor Nayef Al-Rodhan is a neuroscientist and philosopher. He is an Honorary Fellow at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford, and the Head of the Geopolitics & Global Futures Programme at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP).

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International Law

An interview with Joel Angel Bravo Anduaga: Are international organizations still relevant?

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With recent developments in the international arena, and ghost conflicts from the past exacerbating contemporary global issues, it is inevitable to question what is happening with international organizations in different regions across the globe. Joel Bravo shares his insights about the importance of international organizations nowadays. Mr. Bravo is an international affairs practitioner with more than twenty years of experience managing design and implementation of strategies aimed at institutional strengthening and governance. Joel is a former electoral adviser for the United Nations to Ivory Coast (West Africa) and Timor-Leste (South-East Asia), respectively. Currently, he is a PhD candidate in Processes and Political Institutions at the University Adolfo Ibañez in Chile and a Professor at the Tecnologico de Monterrey University in Mexico. His ample experience in the field of international affairs as well as his theoretical and practical knowledge and expertise in international organizations, is crucial to help us understand the current state, challenges, and opportunities organizations faced by ongoing international conflicts.  

What is the current role of international organizations?

For starters, Joel Bravo made it clear that is very important to take into account the period we talk about when explaining the role of international organizations because different periods in time have called for different roles. There must be a differentiation between what these organizations should do and what they can do. There are two levels of analysis towards them. First, the operational level which entails the everyday actions. Second, what the mass media portrays the actions of the organizations to be. There is a lot of speculation in the media about whether the United Nations (UN) works or if the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has a fair agenda, however in the operational sense they still work every day. Hence, the true answer lies within the background and the essence of each organization; circumstances and the purpose of each one are key.

From your personal experience in the peace missions of the Ivory Coast and Timor-Leste, what is your opinion about the influence of international organizations when it comes to conflict resolution?

To begin with, Mr. Bravo explained that the interests of world powers and regional powers are crucial factors. In both cases mentioned, it logically depended on the context of the countries directly involved and the external countries as well. So, it is a mix of variables that must be considered to see what the influence of an international organization in these situations truly is. Meanwhile, in Ivory Coast, at some point, the peace mission led to elections after a certain time; the peace operation from the Security Council was one of accompaniment. In contrast, the mandate that was held in the different missions in East Timor gave the United Nations more power, not only to organize the elections from a logistical and operational point of view, but also to make political decisions.

How do international organizations influence the exercise of democracy?

Joel Bravo shared that sometimes democracy can be seen simply as a concept and other times as a system or a way of living; it stretches and lengthens according to conditions and needs. Elections are a clear example of this. In the case of Ivory Coast, the efforts to hold elections started in 2005 and did not happen until 2010 because there were no appropriate internal or external conditions. On the other hand, in East Timor in 1999, when the referendum was held and then the presidential elections occurred, it was because there were conditions to do so. Additionally, it is crucial to understand what as well the underlying interest of each international organization is: to hold elections first, and then pacify the country, or pacify the country first then hold elections. Thus, the process of adaption also proves to be a strong challenge. Many factors must be taken into consideration to have a successful democracy in practice and not only in theory, understanding democracy in a broad sense and not simply from the electoral perspective.

Do you consider that international organizations are essential so that the citizens of a country can fully exercise their rights and freedoms? Why?

Initially, Mr. Bravo began explaining the difference between international organizations being essential or necessary. He claims they are not essential but rather necessary, because in many cases there have been accusations of international organizations working in favor of specific interests and being co-opted by world powers. Nonetheless, specifically for the citizens, with the idea of liberal democracy in mind, non-democratic countries would definitely need more the support of international organizations. Yet here we come to a paradox, because if a country is not democratic, thinking for example of North Korea, it is not going to allow an organization to carry out supervision, both in internal and external matters. Then, yes, the presence would probably become essential, but it is not decisive. On the other hand, these matters should be dealt with carefully because, sometimes, the media places excessive responsibility on international organizations. It is true that they help countries, and provide validation, but, at the end of the day, they are still constrained by the context and environment of each case.

Are international organizations accountable?

All organizations, or at least the most important and most robust have internal instruments, instances of accountability, of transparency; to a certain extent they self-monitor. Nevertheless, for example, security organizations such as NATO, due to their nature it is difficult for there to be proper transparency because it would be a matter of national security for the members and the region. It depends on the organization, there are some that can be more controlled. There are some that are highly questioned, for instance, the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank, both which possess control mechanisms, but the question is who determines those mechanisms. Before the West was the main axis for how accountability is and is delivered; it was not questioned because there was no counterpart. China and Russia are now acting as a counterpart and there is a questioning of that order.

What impossibilities can international organizations have that do not allow them to operate as they are expected to do so in theory?

First of all, the nature of each organization is key. Nation-States are the first and focal factor. Anyhow, any international organization also considers at least two other variables, two other types of actors: economic interests represented by the companies that do lobbying and organized civil society; both of which influence decision-making and public opinion, more so in this age of social networks and cyberspace. The word international is now set too short, it would be better to called them world organizations, global organizations or regional organizations but speaking in terms of international continues to think of the Nation-State as the center, constraining its potential.

With new international conflicts developing, how does the role of international organizations change? Are they still relevant?

From a traditional point of view, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict logically has relevance, and it has been proven that international organizations sometimes fall short. Thinking, for example, of the United Nations, NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which to a certain extent could not have prevented the conflict but do have a leading role. On the contrary, if these new conflicts are unknow territory, for example, what happens in the cyberspace, then international organizations are falling behind. Current conditions are shaping up to a hyper-specialization of international organizations. They are becoming increasingly technical, focusing on what needs fixing and working to agree on very specific issues. For these reasons, international organizations are in a process of adaptation. It would seem like it is still slow due to bureaucratic processes, but their relevance is still present.

What is the future of international organizations?

Mr. Bravo answered that there will be a greater presence of regionalization in international organizations that goes hand in hand with specialization. This occurs for example with NATO: in its name it continues to apparently be regional, but it is expanding.  Also, the creation of new organizations is happening, like AUKUS, which on the one hand seems to be new, but it is a continuation of political dialogue mechanisms that were already established and that are now becoming more structured. Whilst the power structure is not perceived clearer, a global restructuring of international organizations cannot be mentioned. However, what can be mentioned is a sense of greater conformation, reactivation, and strengthening of the schemes. There is a cohabitation to a certain extent of the old, traditional organizations that come from the second post-war period that have been adapting, with the new problems and the new-old problems that evolved. Especially technology, social networks and the internet have a lot to do with these transformations.

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The Noble Nobel

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One of the most coveted awards in human history, the Nobel Prize was created by the last will and testament of Alfred Nobel, inventor of the “dynamite”. These are essentially personal awards from his private estate but has since evolved into something much larger. All the Nobel Prizes are awarded in Sweden except for the Peace Prize given in Norway. Alfred Nobel flourished during the Industrial Revolution, when the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway were still together, amassing his fortune making military weapons. Some argue that these prizes were posthumously conceived to improve his reputation.

Nobel Prizes are awarded in the fields of Chemistry, Physics, Medicine, Literature, and the most coveted, the Peace Prize. In his will, Alfred Nobel characterized the Peace Prize to be given “to the person who has done the most or best to advance fellowship among nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and the establishment and promotion of peace congresses”.

More than a century later, has the Nobel Peace Prize lost its luster?

The Norwegian Nobel Committee, a five-member committee appointed by the Parliament of Norway chooses the recipient. Interestingly, despite being appointed by Parliament, the committee is a private body tasked with awarding a private prize. Unless the Committee becomes inclusive, it will lose its moral authority in an increasingly divided world.

Russian journalist, Dmitry Andreyevich Muratov, drew international headlines after auctioning off the Nobel Peace Prize he had won last year for a record $103.5 million to aid Ukrainian refugees.

In doing so, he showed a level of responsibility and moral leadership that has unfortunately been lacking in the institution of the Nobel Prize itself.  This auction presents a moment to reflect on the future of the prestigious award.

Since its inception, nearly every winner of the Nobel Prize for Science has been a “white” man – as almost no scientist that were female or of any other ethnicity were deemed worthy enough to win this illustrious award. Not only this, but only four of the 200 winners in the history of the Nobel Prize for Physics have been women. The committee’s nomination and selection processes are reflected by the institution’s lack of diversity, tainting the reputation of a prize intended to celebrate humanity. This matters especially today because moral leadership is needed more than ever.

In these testing times, when the global powers are wrestling against the climate crisis, terrorism, population growth, food insecurity, refugee crisis, religious violence, Islamophobia, racism, and conflicts like the Russia-Ukraine war and its repercussions on world peace, the Nobel committee must demonstrate moral leadership. And it can only do so by redressing its centuries’ old gender and racial disparities against nominees.

The Nobel Prize committee has been on shaky ground in recent times. In matters of war and peace, the stakes are higher. In retrospect, the last two times it selected a head of state were a disaster. In 2009, the committee selected then-President Barrack Obama at the beginning of his presidency. The award was given in the hope that President Obama might change the direction of his country after he had campaigned for the office in part of his opposition to previous heavy-handed military interventions in the Middle East – notably in Iraq. This anti-war sentiment was what the Nobel committee likely honed in on when selecting him for the award.

Yet, President Obama authorized a military surge in Afghanistan and the invasion of Libya. The botched Libya invasion did remove Muammar Gaddafi, but it also helped destabilize the Sahel region, instigating a state of instability and chaos that is still with us today.

The Nobel Committee was on firmer ground when it chose Muratov along with Filipino journalist Maria Ressa “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”

Ressa is considered a brave journalist, but many in the Philippines will say otherwise and even wonder if the award was given erroneously.

Furthermore, in the case of Muratov, it is worth asking if the undisclosed bidder for his Nobel Peace Prize – was, in fact, the Norwegian government. What we know for sure is that Norway recently handed 4 million Euros worth of seized Russian media assets to Muratov.

Cordell Hull, who secured the Nobel Peace Prize in 1945 for his role in establishing the United Nations, was the same person who turned away Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust by redirecting their ships to the infamous concentration camps. On 5 June 1939, he returned a ship carrying 937 passengers. Over a quarter of them ended up dying in the Holocaust.

There have been some glaring omissions as well. At least one is worth noting. Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi, one of the most significant persons of our time. Even today he is a byword for peace activism. Yet even he failed to win the Nobel Peace Prize, despite being shortlisted five times. In 2006. the former director of the Nobel Institute, Geir Lundestad, said the most significant omission in the prize’s history was never awarding the peace prize to the Indian political activist Mahatma Gandhi. However, the committee’s Euro-centric inclinations kept him from receiving the prize.

The sad reality appears to be that the Nobel Peace Prize committee blurs the lines between being an independent institution guided by clear moral principles and one that is a realpolitik instrument of Norwegian foreign policy. It was only in 2017 that the committee prevented current members of the Norwegian parliament from serving on the committee. However, the membership of the committee is currently selected by Norway’s Parliament and perhaps not surprisingly includes four politicians. Two of whom are former government ministers.

With Russia invading Ukraine, China making its own bold land grab in the South China Sea, disinformation on the rise, and many democracies in OECD countries facing a populist if not putschist threat, clear moral leadership on the international stage is needed more than ever.

The Nobel Prize Committee, in this context should take several reforms designed to make the organization more representative.

Firstly, the organization should clearly establish itself as a civil society organization – not an arm of Norwegian foreign policy. The presence of former or current politicians on the committee should be limited if not removed entirely. More civil society leaders like human rights experts would go a long way here.

Second, the committee lacks diversity considering it is composed of entirely of people from white, Christian backgrounds and, of course, Norwegian. Why aren’t representatives of Norway’s immigrant communities or even the ethnic Sami people a key feature of its famed instrument of soft power?

Thirdly, the committee should not be afraid to revoke the Nobel Prizes given to individuals who later betray its principles.

Again, these are extraordinary times, and the Nobel Committee is an important institution whose peace prize is closely followed globally. With Western institutions under pressure, the Nobel Peace Prize is an entity worth saving. The choice is Norway’s.

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International Law

Endgame: Time, History and Alternative World Futures

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Hamm: “What time is it?”

Clov: “The same as usual.”

Samuel Beckett, Endgame

When studying history, it becomes difficult to distinguish endings from beginnings. Though it should be obvious to capable political scientists and historians that the time for Realpolitik[1] is already over, power politics[2] remains essentially unchecked. What still remains uncertain is (1) whether a catastrophic world-system ending would manifest itself suddenly or incrementally, and (2) whether it would augur “new beginnings” or just “the same as usual.”

               There is more for “experts” to consider. As is true for the questions, certain correct answers could be interrelated or synergistic. If the latter, a “whole” expected ending would actually be greater than the sum of its “parts.” That worrisome calculation would be true by definition.

               What then?

In such unstable matters, global policy imperatives would become clear and unambiguous. Going forward, world leaders would then be well-advised to recognize the inherent limitations of always seeking national security in a global threat system.[3] It follows, for these leaders, that now is the optimal time to identify more durable configurations of international relations and international law.[4]

This time represents planet earth’s “eleventh hour.”

And there could be no more urgent kinds of identification.

Any such identifications will have to besystematic. This means, above all, a process informed by creative intellectual imaginations and by variously plausible hypotheses. These imaginations and hypotheses should always proceed together, in tangibly judicious “tandem.”[5]

There is more. In science, which includes jurisprudence, every inquiry must begin with a hypothesis. Inter alia, the appropriate rules for conducting this process  should include useful descriptions of relevant analytic models and an exploration of these models by verifiable methods of empirical-scientific inquiry.[6]      

 What might first have seemed promising in the historic “state of nature” (the global condition of anarchy dating back to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648),[7] is still apt to prove injurious for humankind’s longer-term survival prospects.  Pertinent national and international harms could be experienced not merely as debits in any one country’s implicit national security calculus, but also as an irremediable set of intolerable costs. In the United States, such costs effectively defined the corrosive policy trajectory of former US President Donald J. Trump.[8]

                On national security matters, America’s most important task must be a far-reaching rejection of Realpolitik thinking. Substantially more will need to be accomplished on such conspicuously urgent matters.  To the point, it is high time for American leaders to think meaningfully beyond global power-politics.

               On such time and history-related subjects, it’s best to begin at the beginning. In the fashion of every other state, the United States is part of a much larger and interdependent world system.  This more comprehensive system has steadily diminishing chances for any sustainable success within the recalcitrant pattern of competitive sovereignties. What is the rationale, our decision-makers should finally inquire, of seeking a “qualitative military edge”[9] in a system that is inclined to “self-destruct?”[10]

               The basic issues here are not just narrowly scientific. They are also broadly philosophic. “What is the good of passing from one untenable position to another,” asks Samuel Beckett in Endgame, “of seeking justification always on the same plane?” Though the celebrated Irish playwright was not thinking specifically about world politics, his generalized query remains useful. For scholars of world politics and world law,[11] the “bottom line” must always be the primacy of intellect or “mind” as the basic font of a particular  nation-state’s variable power.[12]

                Truth is always exculpatory. Pain, worldwide, is always “deep.”[13] It can never be overridden by the visceral chanting of political nonsense or by substitution of empty witticisms for historical fact.

Prima facie, Realpolitik or balance of power world politics has never succeeded for longer than variously brief intervals.[14] In the future, this unsteady foundation could be further undermined by multiple systemic failures, failures that are sometimes mutually reinforcing or “synergistic.”[15] Moreover, these failures could sometime involve weapons of mass destruction.

               Most portentous, in this regard, would be nuclear weapons.

               There is more. By definition, any failure of nuclear Realpolitik could prove not “only” catastrophic, but also sui generis. This troubling assessment would obtain if any such failure were judged in the full or cumulative scope of its unprecedented declensions.

               For proper remediation, certain specific steps would need to be taken. Immediately, all states that depend upon some form of nuclear deterrence should begin to think more self-consciously about fashioning alternative systems of world politics; that is, about creating prospectively viable configurations that are reliably war-averse and simultaneously cooperation-centered. While any hint of interest in such speculative patterns of global integration will sound utopian or fanciful to “realists,”[16] an opposite interpretation could actually prove more plausible.

               At this tipping point in human evolution, it is more realistic to acknowledge that any traditional “every man for himself” ethos in world politics would be infinitely degrading. Accordingly, this rancor-based ethos is incapable of offering any serious survival reassurances. “The visionary,” reminds Italian film director Federico Fellini, “is the only realist.”

               Again and again – and at some point, perhaps irretrievably – “Westphalian” world systemic failures could become tangibly dire and potentially irreversible. In the final analysis, it will not be enough to tinker tentatively at the ragged edges of our current world legal order. At that decisive turning point, simply continuing to forge assorted ad hoc agreements between stubborn states or (as “hybridized” actors) between these states and various surrogate or sub-state organizations would prove conclusively wrongheaded.

               In the longer term, the only sort of realism that can make any sense for America and other leading states in world politics is a posture that points presciently toward some “higher” awareness of global “oneness”[17] and (however incrementally) toward greater world system interdependence.

               In its fully optimized expression, such a now-indispensable awareness — would resemble what the ancients had called “cosmopolitan.” For the moment, let us be candid the insightful prophets of a more collaborative “world city” civilization must remain few and far between,[18]  but this consequential absence would not be due to an intrinsic lack of need or a witting forfeiture. Rather, it would reflect a progressively imperiled species’ retrograde unwillingness to take itself seriously –  that is, to recognize that the only sort of loyalty that can ultimately rescue all states must first embrace a redirected commitment (both individual and national) to humankind.

               At its heart, this is not a bewilderingly complicated idea. To wit, it is hardly a medical or biological secret that the core factors and behaviors common to all human beings greatly outnumber those that unnaturally differentiate one from another. Unless the leaders of all major states on Planet Earth can finally understand that the survival of any one state must inevitably be contingent upon the survival of all, true national security will continue to elude every nation. This includes even the purportedly “most powerful” states, and especially those that fitfully declare themselves “first.”

               The bottom line? The most immediate security task in the global state of nature must be to become more collaboratively self-centered. Simultaneously, the leaders of all pertinent countries, especially the United States, must learn to understand that our planet always represents a recognizably organic whole, a fragile but variously intersecting “unity.”

               Incontestably, Westphalian anarchy now exhibits rapidly diminishing options for managing world power[19] or providing law-based mechanisms of successful war avoidance.[20]

               More precisely, to seize upon the disappearing opportunities for longer-term survival, our leaders must build sensibly upon certain foundational insights of Francis Bacon, Galileo, Isaac Newton,[21] and on the more contemporary observations of philosopher Lewis Mumford: “Civilization is the never ending process of creating one world and one humanity.”[22] These earlier names will mean  little or nothing to America’s present-day policy planners -but there will still likely be capable advisors who can draw properly upon the incomparable dignities of serious study and dialectical thought.[23]

               Even in present day America, erudition deserves some pride of place.

               There are always key matters of law. Jurisprudentially, no particular national leadership has any special or primary obligations in this regard, nor could it reasonably afford to build a nation’s most immediate security policies upon vaguely distant hopes. Nonetheless, the United States remains a key part of the interrelated community of nations, and must do whatever it can to detach a steadily wavering state of nations from the time-dishonored “state of nature.”

 Any such willful detachment should be expressed as part of a much wider vision for a durable and law-centered world politics.[24] Over the longer term, Washington will have to do its very primary part to preserve the global system as a whole. Immediately, “America Together,” not “America First,” must become our national mantra. However silly or impractical this imperative may sound at first, nothing could be more fanciful than continuing indefinitely on discredited course.

               For the moment, in this connection, there is no further need for detailing analytic or intellectual particulars.  There are bound to be many, but at least for now, only a more evident and dedicated awareness of this civilizational obligation need be expected.[25]

               In The Plague, Albert Camus instructs: “At the beginning of the pestilence and when it ends, there’s always a propensity for rhetoric…It is in the thick of a calamity that one gets hardened to the truth – in other words – to silence.” As long as the states in world politics continue to operate in narrowly zero-sum terms of engagement – that is, as grim archeologists of ruins endlessly-in-the-making – they will be unable to stop the next wave of terror attacks,[26] genocides[27] and/or catastrophic wars.[28]

               Until now, for various unsound reasons, the traditional expectations of Realpolitik have managed to appear fundamentally sensible. Accordingly, there are no good reasons for expressing any still-lingering or retrospective regrets. Nevertheless, from the overriding standpoint of improving our longer-term security prospects, both national and global, the American president must substantially expand his visionary imagination.

                By ignoring the complex interrelatedness of all peoples and all states, “America First” represented the literal opposite of what was most urgently needed.

               Nothing could have been more obvious.[29]

               Now more than ever, affirming the extremity of “everyone for himself” in world politics is a prescription not for realism, but for recurrent conflict and far-reaching despair. Should this perilous prescription be allowed to stay in place, the costs could sometime be nuclear.[30] At that hard-to-imagine point, it will already be too late to discover that “America First” was a law-violating and lethal presidential mantra.

 Before Americans can hope to survive as a nation under law, we will first have to survive as a species; that is, as a planet-wide civilization. In matters of world politics, this means, among other things, understanding vital differences between the traditional anarchy of “Westphalian” international relations and the more disruptive dynamics associated with “chaos.” When compared to “Westphalian” anarchy, an impending chaos could be more expressly primal, more starkly primordial, even self-propelled or palpably “lascivious.” For further elucidation, we should think here of the “state of nature” described in William Golding’s prophetic novel, Lord of the Flies. Long before Golding, the 17th century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes (see Ch. XIII of Leviathan) warned that in any such rabidly dissembling conditions, the “life of man” must be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”

               Looking ahead, such fearsome warnings could become manifestly more plausible in circumstances where expanding threats of a nuclear war would coincide with expanding levels of pandemic. One potential source of optimism, however, is the paradoxical prospect of a beneficent or peace-guided chaos. Whether described in the Old Testament or in certain other sources of Western philosophy, chaos can represent as much a source of large-scale human improvement as one of decline. It is this prospectively positive side of chaos that is intended by Friedrich Nietzsche’s seemingly indecipherable remark in Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883): “I tell you, ye have still chaos in you.”

               When expressed in more aptly neutral tones, chaos is that condition which prepares the world for all things, whether sacred or profane. More exactly, it represents that yawning gulf of “emptiness” where nothing is as yet, but where some still-remaining civilizational opportunity can still originate. As 18th century German poet Friedrich Hölderlin observes: “There is a desert sacred and chaotic, which stands at the roots of the things, and which prepares all things.”

               Insightfully, in the ancient pagan world, Greek philosophers thought of this “desert” as logos, as a primal concept which indicates that chaos is anything but starkly random or intrinsically without merit. Getting meaningfully beyond the former president’s retrograde impulse and its generic “template –  that is, beyond Realpolitik – will first require “fixing the microcosm.”[31] Before anyone can conceptualize a system of world politics that rejects the refractory mantra of “everyone for himself,” a far-reaching and prior re-conceptualization will have to take place at an  individual human level.[32]

               There is nothing to suggest that American leadership will expect anything more ambitious than transient national improvements in the short term, and little more for the long term. The “prize” should not be just another few years of planetary political life, but rather a more lastingly durable pattern of global survival.

               Always, worldwide security and renewal must be brought back to the individual human being. Building upon Dante’s De Monarchia (1310)[33] and the later cosmopolitanism of H.G. Wells, Lewis Mumford and J.W. von Goethe, 20th century French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin concludes helpfully in The Phenomenon of Man: “Each element of the cosmos is positively woven from all the others….”  Before an American leader can meaningfully oppose the traditional and crippling dominance of power politics in world affairs, an opposition that would inevitably outlast his own presidential tenure, he would first have to understand what Chardin calls “the idea of a worldwide totalization of human consciousness.”  

This is the incomparably key idea of the world as a single, organic, legal unity.

               Whatever its apparent differences and divergences, the world displays an ineradicable and eventually irrepressible “oneness.” All human beings are cemented to each other not by the nefarious aggregations of belligerent nationalism, but instead by their immutably basic likeness and by their inevitable interdependence. When Siddhartha listened attentively to the river, says Herman Hesse in his novel of the same name, “…he did not bind his soul to any one particular voice and absorb it is his Self, but heard them all, the Whole, the unity….”

               There is one last but indispensable observation, one that concerns various presumed connections between individual nation states and the divine.  Here, the German philosopher Georg F. Hegel had commented famously: “The State is the Divine Idea as it exists on earth….We must therefore worship the State as the manifestation of the Divine on earth, and consider that, if it is a difficult to comprehend Nature, it is harder to grasp the Essence of the State….The State is the march of God through the world….”[34] To date, this is an idea that is responsible for literally uncountable numbers of individual human deaths and collective disasters.

               This brings us all back to the connected phenomena of individual human death fears and belligerent nationalism. In the nineteenth century, as part of his posthumously published lecture on Politics (1896), Heinrich von Treitschke looked insightfully beyond the daily news. Citing to Johan Gottlieb Fichte, the German historian had opined prophetically: “Individual man sees in his own country the realization of his earthly immortality.”[35] Here, Fichte understood something of utterly uncommon and incomparable importance. It is that there can be no greater power on earth than power over death. [36] We may also be reminded by philosopher Emmanuel Levinas that “An immortal person is a contradiction in terms.”[37]

               For too long, a starkly illogical search for immortality has lain at the heart of human wrongdoing, wrongs including war, terrorism and genocide. This is because so many diverse civilizations have regarded death-avoidance as a necessarily zero-sum commodity, a goal that can be met only at the correlative expense of certain designated “others.” In such “traditional” calculations, the presumed prospects for success have typically been linked to the de facto degree of hatred expressed for despised “others.”

               The greater the hatred, the greater the justifications for killing, the greater the personal chances of living forever.

               Though absurd and perverse, this operational  calculus was captured by psychologist Ernest Becker’s paraphrase of  author Elias Canetti: “Each organism raises it head over a field of corpses, smiles into the sun, and declares life good.”[38]  Additionally, we may consider the explanatory reasoning of psychologist Otto Rank: “The death fear of the ego is lessened by the killing, the sacrifice, of the other; through the death of the other, one buys oneself free from the penalty of dying, of being killed.”[39]

               What next? Looking ahead, the United States must act together with other states on more firmly logical foundations than those supplied by variously recurrent myths of “sacrifice” and irrationality.[40] By discarding the toxic gibberish of Realpolitik or belligerent nationalism, cooperating states could finally affirm what ought to have been obvious from the beginnings of world legal order This is the obligatory replacement of “everyone for himself” calculations with affirmations of human oneness. The only alternative, as we may extrapolate from Russia’s ongoing aggressions[41] against Ukraine, is a sordid global future of war crimes, crimes against peace and crimes against humanity.[42]

               Realpolitik should end, but not without the simultaneous establishment of promisingly new global beginnings.  Such establishment, in turn, should begin with the individual human being, with the microcosm,[43] and build incrementally upon certain extraordinary acts of “will.”[44] Reciprocally, species solidarity or “oneness”  must represent the sine qua non for all new human beginnings.

                What increasingly draws near represents an end anda beginning. This is because termination and commencement are never discrete states of human development; more correctly, they represent complementary parts of a single civilizational process. This indispensable process must be ubiquitous and universal. To narrow or particularize it in any way would only cheapen both its attractions and its benefits. 

               In Samuel Becket’s Fin de Partie, first performed at London’s Royal Court Theater on April 3, 1957. Nell queries Nagg: “Why this farce, day after day?” The same question now needs to be asked about Realpolitik and America’s global future. Why, after all, should we continue to abide any system of world politics that has never succeeded and never even met humankind’s most minimal expectations?

               Could it be that we ought never expect answers to questions that have not been asked?


[1] A previous book by this author deals with these issues from an expressly American point of view. See: Louis René Beres, Reason and Realpolitik: US Foreign Policy and World Order (1984). Professor Beres is also the author of three earlier books dealing with alternative world futures: Reordering the Planet: Constructing Alternative World Futures (1974); Planning Alternative World Futures: Values, Methods and Models (1975); and People, States and World Order (1981).

[2] For political philosophy origins of such assumptions, see especially the terse comment of Thrasymachus in Bk. 1, Sec. 338 of Plato, The Republic: “Right is the interest of the stronger.”

[3] In his seventeenth-century classic of political philosophy, Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes points out interestingly that while the anarchic “state of nature” has likely never actually existed between individual human beings, it nonetheless defines the legal structures of world politics, patterns within which nations must coexist in “the state and posture of gladiators….” This uneasy “posture,” explains Hobbes famously, is a condition of “war.”

[4] In the words of Mr. Justice Gray, delivering the judgment of the US Supreme Court in Paquete Habana (1900): “International law is part of our law, and must be ascertained and administered by the courts of justice of appropriate jurisdiction….” (175 U.S. 677(1900)) See also: Opinion in Tel-Oren vs. Libyan Arab Republic (726 F. 2d 774 (1984)).The specific incorporation of treaty law into US municipal law is expressly codified at Art. 6 of the US Constitution, the so-called “Supremacy Clause.”

[5] Among other things, this means a Nietzsche-like “overcoming” of “Mass Man.”  Says Jose Ortega y’ Gasett in The Revolt of the Masses (1930): “The mass-man has no attention to spare for reasoning; he learns only in his own flesh.”

[6] Among the earliest books laying out such rules, see, by this author, Louis René Beres, Reordering the Planet: Constructing Alternative World Futures (1974); Louis René Beres, The Management of World Power: A Theoretical Analysis (1973); Louis René Beres, Transforming World Politics: The National Roots of World Peace (1975); Louis René Beres, Planning Alternative World Futures: Values, Methods and Models (1975); and Louis René Beres, People, States and World Order (1981).

[7] See: Treaty of Peace of Munster, Oct. 1648, 1 Consol. T.S. 271; and Treaty of Peace of Osnabruck, Oct. 1648, 1., Consol. T.S. 119. Together, these two treaties comprise the Peace of Westphalia.

[8] This belligerent nationalismof Donald Trump stood in marked contrast to authoritative legal assumptions concerning solidarity between nation-states. These jurisprudential assumptions concern a presumptively common legal struggle against aggression, terrorism and genocide. Such a “peremptory” expectation, known formally in law as a jus cogens assumption, was already mentioned in Justinian, Corpus Juris Civilis (533 CE); in Hugo Grotius, 2 De Jure Belli ac Pacis Libri Tres, Ch. 20 (Francis W. Kesey., tr, Clarendon Press, 1925) (1690); and in Emmerich de Vattel, 1 Le Droit des Gens, Ch. 19 (1758). The Founding Fathers of the United States were most likely made aware of these expectations by Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Law of England (1765),a comprehensive classic work which quickly became the conceptual basis of subsequent United States law.

[9] This is an especially reasonable question to ask of Israeli leaders in Jerusalem (political) and Tel Aviv (military), where the only palpable issues are seemingly still drawn from immutable core assumptions of perpetual regional conflict.

[10] We may recall here the pertinent parable from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations: “What does not benefit the entire hive is no benefit to the bee.” Unless we take meaningful steps to implement an organic and cooperative planetary civilization – one based on the irremediably central truth of human “oneness” –  there will be no civilization at all.

[11] According to William Blackstone’s Commentaries (Book IV, “Of Pubic Wrongs,” Chapter V): “All law results from those principles of natural justice in which all the learned of every nation agree….” In legal philosophy, the classic definition of Natural Law is given by Cicero in The Republic: “True law is right reason, harmonious with nature, diffused among all, constant, eternal….”

[12] Consider here the observation of French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, “It must not be forgotten that it is perhaps more dangerous for a nation to allow itself to be conquered intellectually than by arms.” See: “The New Spirit and the Poets” (1917).

[13] In “The drunkard’s song,” a passage in Zarathustra, Nietzsche sums up such pain with unparalleled simplicity: “Tief ist ihr Weh” (“Deep is its pain”) says the philosopher about the world. This “lied” was put to music by Gustav Mahler in his Third Symphony, 4th Movement. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6aM9hezKudY&list=RDuPQSokfeQN8&index=2

[14] The concept of a balance of power – an idea of which the nuclear-age balance of terror is a more fearful variant – has never been more than facile metaphor. Further, it has never had anything to do with any calculable equilibrium. As such a balance is always a matter of individual and more-or-less subjective perceptions, adversary states may never be sufficiently confident that strategic circumstances are “balanced” in their favor. In consequence, as each side must perpetually fear that it will be “left behind,” the search for balance continually produces only widening insecurity and perpetual disequilibrium.

[15] Such synergies could shed light upon the entire world system’s state of disorder – a view that would reflect what the physicists call “entropic” conditions – and could become more-or-less dependent upon each pertinent decision-maker’s subjective metaphysics of time. For an early article by this author dealing with linkages obtaining between such a metaphysics and national decision-making, see: Louis René Beres, “Time, Consciousness and Decision-Making in Theories of International Relations,” The Journal of Value Inquiry, Vol. VIII, No.3., Fall 1974, pp. 175-186.

[16]Whenever the new Muses present themselves,” warned 20th century Spanish existentialist philosopher, José Ortega y’ Gasset, “the masses bristle.” See Ortega y’ Gasset, The Dehumanization of Art (1925) (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1948, 1968), p.7.

[17] In medieval western civilization, the world was conceived as an hierarchical order, extending from lowest to highest, and the earthly divisions of authority (always artificial or contrived) were reunited at the level of God. Below this divine stratum, the realm of humanity was to be considered as one, especially because all the world had been created solely for the purpose of backdrop for humankind’s sought-after salvation. Only in its relation to the universe itself was the world to be considered as part rather than whole. In the clarifying words of Dante’s De Monarchia (1312-1313): “The whole human race is a whole with reference to certain parts, and with reference to another whole, it is a part. Fir it is a whole with reference to particular kingdoms and nations, and it is a part with reference to the whole universe, as is manifest without argument.” To sum up the background of this “oneness” assumption (not a hypothesis), the conceptualized medieval universe was tidy, ordered and neatly arranged. Imagined in metaphoric fashion as an immense cathedral, it was so simply conceived that it was frequently represented in art by great painted clocks. At its center lay the earth, at once a mere part of God’s larger creation, but at the same time a single unified whole unto itself. For this fascinating history, literary as well as philosophic, see Anatole France, The Garden of Epicurus (1923).

[18] The best studies of such modern world order “prophets” are still W. Warren Wagar, The City of Man (1963) and W. Warren Wagar, Building the City of Man (1971).

[19] See Louis René Beres, The Management of World Power (1973), op cit.

[20] Because war and genocide are not mutually exclusive, either strategically or jurisprudentially, taking proper systemic steps toward war avoidance would plausibly also reduce the likelihood of always-egregious “crimes against humanity.” Under international law, crimes against humanity are defined as “murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population before or during a war; or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated….”  See Charter of the International Military Tribunal, Aug. 8, 1945, Art. 6(c), 59 Stat.  1544, 1547, 82 U.N.T.S.  279, 288

[21] Regarding science in such matters, Niccolo Machiavelli joined Aristotle’s plan for a more scientific study of politics generally with various core assumptions about geopolitics or Realpolitik. His best known conclusion, in this particular suggestion, focuses on the eternally stark dilemma of practicing goodness in a world that is generally evil. “A man who wishes to make a profession of goodness in everything, must necessarily come to grief among so many who are not good.”  See: The Prince, Chapter XV. Although this argument is largely unassailable, there exists a corresponding need to disavow “naive realism,” and to recognize that in the longer term, the only outcome of “eye for an eye” conceptions in world politics will be universal “blindness.”

[22] We may think also of the corresponding Talmudic observation: “The earth from which the first man was made was gathered in all the four corners of the world.”

[23] Dialectic formally originated in the fifth century BCE, as Zeno, author of the Paradoxes, had been acknowledged by Aristotle as its inventor. In the middle dialogues of Plato, dialectic, with its conceptual root in the Greek verb meaning “to converse,” emerges as the supreme form of philosophical/analytic method. Plato describes the dialectician as one who knows best how to ask and answer questions. This particular knowledge – how to ask, and to answer questions, sequentially – should now be usefully transposed to the improved study of American national security issues.

 

[24]Because US law is founded upon “the law of nature” (see US Declaration of Independence and US Constitution), this Trump-era opposition to human rights and freedom was in ipso facto opposition to Natural Law. Natural Law is based upon the acceptance of certain principles of right and justice that prevail because of their own intrinsic merit.  Eternal and immutable, they are external to all acts of human will and interpenetrate all human reason. It is a dynamic idea, and, together with its attendant tradition of human civility runs continuously from Mosaic Law and the ancient Greeks and Romans to the present day.  For a comprehensive and far-reaching assessment of the Natural Law origins of international law, see Louis René Beres, “Justice and Realpolitik:  International Law and the Prevention of Genocide,” The American Journal of Jurisprudence, Vol. 33, 1988, pp. 123-159.  This article was adapted from Professor Beres’ earlier presentation at the International Conference on the Holocaust and Genocide, Tel-Aviv, Israel, June 1982.

[25] International law, which is an integral part of the legal system of all states in world politics, assumes a reciprocally common general obligation of states to supply benefits to one another, and to avoid war at all costs. This core assumption of jurisprudential solidarity is known formally as a “peremptory” or jus cogens expectation, that is, one that is never subject to question. It can be found in Justinian, Corpus Juris Civilis, Hugo Grotius, The Law of War and Peace (1625) and Emmerich de Vattel, The Law of Nations or Principles of Natural Law (1758).

[26] Under international law, terrorist movements are always Hostes humani generis, or “Common enemies of mankind.” See: Research in International Law: Draft Convention on Jurisdiction with Respect to Crime, 29 AM J. INT’L L. (Supp 1935) 435, 566 (quoting King V. Marsh (1615), 3 Bulstr. 27, 81 Eng. Rep 23 (1615) (“a pirate est Hostes humani generis”)).

[27] Neither international law nor US law specifically advises any particular penalties or sanctions for states that choose not to prevent or punish genocide committed by others. Nonetheless, all states, most notably the “major powers” belonging to the UN Security Council, are bound, among other things, by the peremptory obligation (defined at Article 26 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties) known as pacta sunt servanda, to act in continuous “good faith.” In turn, this pacta sunt servanda obligation is itself derived from an even more basic norm of world law. Commonly known as “mutual assistance,” this civilizing norm was most famously identified within the classical interstices of international jurisprudence, most notably by the eighteenth-century legal scholar, Emmerich de Vattel in The Law of Nations (1758).

 

[28] In broad legal terms, stopping such “waves” could be properly described as a “peremptory” obligation of states. According to Article 53 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties: “…a peremptory norm of general international law is a norm accepted and recognized by the international community of states as a whole as a norm from which no derogation is permitted and which can be modified only by a subsequent norm of general international law having the same character.” See: Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, Done at Vienna, May 23, 1969. Entered into force, Jan. 27, 1980. U.N. Doc. A/CONF. 39/27 at 289 (1969), 1155 U.N.T.S. 331, reprinted in 8 I.L.M.  679 (1969).

[29] An irony of Trump-Era US-Russia relations is that although they remained seemingly adversarial, the US president was generally willing to be dominated by his Russian counterpart. In the presumptively worst case retrospective, US President Donald Trump acted as Vladimir Putin’s marionette, a sort of “Manchurian Candidate.” In the opinion of retired US Air Force Lt Col. Alexander Vindman, a former member of Trump’s National Security Council, the defiling American president had wittingly served as Putin’s “useful idiot.” See: https://news.yahoo.com/impeachment-witness-lt-col-alexander-153907783.html

[30] The cumulative costs could also be overwhelming and more-or-less unbearable. This references security costs, economic costs and even broadly “human costs.”

[31] This idea of “man as microcosm” was already developed in Francis Bacon’s Advancement of Learning as a model that took individual man as an accurate representation of
the entire world—that is, “….as if there were to be found in man’s body certain
correspondences and parallels which should have respect to all varieties of things….
which are extant in the greater world.”

[32] A properly antecedent question was raised earlier by Jose Ortega y’ Gasset in 1925: “Where,” the Spanish philosopher queried, “shall we find the material to reconstruct the world?” See Ortega’s The Dehumanization of Art (1925) (1968) by Princeton University Press, p. 129.

[33] Says Dante: “…the whole human race is a whole with reference to certain parts, and, with reference to another whole, it is a part. For it is a whole with reference to particular kingdoms and nations, as we have shown and it is a part with reference to the whole universe, as is manifest without argument.”

[34]  See: See: Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, as quoted by Karl R Popper, The Open Society and its Enemies, 4th ed., 2 vols. (Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1963), vol. 2, p. 31.

[35] One must consider the contra view of Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y’ Gasset in The Revolt of the Masses (1932). Here, Ortega identifies the state not as a convenient source of immortality, but instead as the very opposite. For him, the state is “the greatest danger,” mustering its immense and irresistible resources “to crush beneath it any creative minority that disturbs it….” Earlier, in his chapter “On the New Idol” in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche wrote similarly: “State is the name of the coldest of all cold monsters…. All-too-many are born – for the superfluous the state was invented.” Later, in the same chapter: “A hellish artifice was invented there (the state), a horse of death…. Indeed, a dying for many was invented there; verily, a great service to all preachers of death!” “The State,” says Nietzsche, “lies in all the tongues of good and evil; and whatever it says it lies – and whatever it has it has stolen. Everything about it is false…. All-too-many are born: for the superfluous, the State was invented.” (See: Friedrich Nietzsche, THUS SPOKE ZARATHUSTRA: ON THE NEW IDOL, in The Portable Nietzsche, 161 (Walter A. Kaufman, trans., 1954).

[36]How does killing in world politics hold out a promise of immortality for the perpetrator? According to Eugene Ionesco, “I must kill my visible enemy, the one who is determined to take my life, to prevent him from killing me. Killing gives me a feeling of relief, because I am dimly aware that in killing him, I have killed death. Killing is a way of relieving one’s feelings, of warding off one’s own death.” This comment from Ionesco’s JOURNAL appeared in the British magazine, ENCOUNTER, May 1966. See also: Eugene Ionesco, FRAGMENTS OF A JOURNAL (Grove Press, 1968).

[37] See God, Death and Time; originally Dieu, la mort et le temps (1993). See also, by Professor Louis René Beres, at Horasis (Switzerland): https://horasis.org/soaring-above-politics-death-time-and-immortality/

[38] See Ernest Becker, Escape from Evil, 2 (1975).

[39] See Otto Rank, Will Therapy and Reality 130 (1936; 1945).

[40] This is the key message of 20th century German philosopher Karl Jaspers’ Reason and Anti-Reason in our Time (1952). Jaspers writes, inter alia, of the overriding human obligation to rise above “the fog of the irrational.”

[41] For the crime of aggression under international law, see: Resolution on the Definition of Aggression, adopted by the UN General Assembly, Dec. 14, 1974. U.N.G.A. Res. 3314 (XXIX), 29 UN GAOR, Supp. (No. 31), 142, UN Doc A/9631 (1975) reprinted in 13 I.L.M., 710 (1974).

[42] Crimes against humanity are defined as “murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population before or during a war; or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated….”  Charter of the International Military Tribunal, Aug. 8, 1945, Art. 6(c), 59 Stat.  1544, 1547, 82 U.N.T.S.  279, 288. In law, states must judge every use of force twice: once with regard to the underlying right to wage war (jus ad bellum) and once with regard to the means used in actually conducting war (jus in bello). Following the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 and the United Nations Charter, there can be absolutely no right to aggressive war. However, the long-standing customary right of post-attack self-defense remains codified at Article 51 of the UN Charter. Similarly, subject to conformance, inter alia, with jus in bello criteria, certain instances of humanitarian intervention and collective security operations may also be consistent with jus ad bellum. The law of war, the rules of jus in bello, comprise: (1) laws on weapons; (2) laws on warfare; and (3) humanitarian rules. Codified primarily at The Hague and Geneva Conventions, these rules attempt to bring discrimination, proportionality and military necessity into all belligerent calculations.

[43] The American Founding Fathers expressed little faith in “The American People.” Nurtured by the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes and the religion of John Calvin, they began their Constitutional deliberations with the notion that every citizen must potentially be an unregenerate being, one who has to be continually and strictly controlled. Fearing popular participation as much as leadership tyranny, Elbridge Gerry spoke openly of democracy as “the worst of all political evils,” while William Livingston opined: “The people have been and ever will be unfit to retain the exercise of power in their own hands.” George Washington, as presiding officer at the Constitutional Convention, sternly urged delegates not to produce a document to “please the people,” while Alexander Hamilton – made newly famous by the currently popular Broadway musical – expressly charged America’s government “to check the imprudence of any democracy.”

[44] Modern philosophic origins of “will” are best discovered in the writings of Arthur Schopenhauer, especially The World as Will and Idea (1818). For his own inspiration, Schopenhauer drew freely upon Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Later, Nietzsche drew just as freely and perhaps more importantly upon Schopenhauer. Goethe was also a core intellectual source for Spanish existentialist Jose Ortega y’Gasset, author of the singularly prophetic twentieth-century work, The Revolt of the Masses (Le Rebelion de las Masas;1930). See, accordingly, Ortega’s very grand essay, “In Search of Goethe from Within” (1932), written for Die Neue Rundschau of Berlin on the centenary of Goethe’s death. It is reprinted in Ortega’s anthology, The Dehumanization of Art (1948) and is available from Princeton University Press (1968).

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