April 10, 2009

ACTOR:

Who Gets a State, and Why?: The Relative Rules of Sovereignty (Stephen D. Krasner, Foreign Affairs)

In international politics, sovereignty still rules. Recent crises in Kosovo, Georgia, and Gaza are reminders that recognition as a sovereign state is the golden ring that political leaders hope to grasp. Recognition offers even small and weak communities a wealth of benefits, including international status, diplomatic protection, possible control over natural resources, seignorage (the right to print money and sell other assets such as flags of convenience and Internet domain names), and access to foreign aid from richer states and international financial institutions. [...]

The many different arrangements that prevail regarding recognition, autonomy, and effectiveness of governance show that sovereignty does not mean just one thing. Sovereignty has not been displaced by other ways of ordering political life -- such as trusteeships, tributary states, regional or world government -- precisely because it has been so malleable, not because it provides a fixed, universal template. No legislature sets authoritative rules for how sovereignty should be enacted; no court or umpire settles competing claims. Any kind of deal is possible, and the reason particular arrangements succeed or fail is not whether they conform to a conventional pattern, but whether they align with the interests of important domestic and international players. Sovereignty, in other words, is whatever the relevant actors say it is.


It is whatever America says it is.


Posted by Orrin Judd at April 10, 2009 6:38 AM
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