The Westphalian Mirage
THE SOURCE: “To Order the Minds of Scholars: The Discourse of the Peace of Westphalia in International Relations Literature” by Sebastian Schmidt, in International Studies Quarterly, Sept. 2011.
Few serious discussions of globalization go very far before sage allusions to "the Westphalian system" start flying. The term is a catchall description for the rules of the game that have prevailed in international politics since the European treaties collectively called the Peace of Westphalia were signed in 1648. Today, we tend to measure the uncertainties created by globalization against the solid foundation established by the Peace.
The only problem, writes Sebastian Schmidt, a graduate student in political science at the University of Chicago, is that the foundation is a mirage. The Westphalian system that scholars and others confidently cite as a standard was not what it seems. The ructions of our present-day globalization may not be as unprecedented as we think.
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