April 18, 2004

Welcome to our Post-Westphalian World

With the death of Abdel Aziz Rantisi the hazards and pitfalls of the post-Westphalian world start to show up. As a terrorist criminal, Rantisi should have been arrested, tried, convicted, and punished judicially. His extra-judicial killing should be condemned. As the leader of Hamas, a group with whom Israel is at war, Rantisi is a legitimate target for a missile at any time, any place. If he surrounds himself with civilians, their deaths are his fault, not the Israelis'.

Israel is somewhat at fault for not declaring the war it is conducting against Hamas but this is a relatively minor point. The fact that Israel is at war with Hamas is the elephant in the room. Everybody knows it, if nobody wants to talk about it. The US, in conditionally supporting the action is remaining true to its implicit post-Westphalian commitment while the UK, in condemning the killing, is behaving hypocritically, stepping back from Tony Blair's explicit announcement that Westphalian notions are no longer UK policy and that we're in a post-Westphalian world.

Arguing about Westphalia is fraught with danger to all manner of international institutions so nobody wants to open the Pandora's box. An essential part of the challenge of Al Queda and other trans-national terrorist groups is that they are fundamentally counting on our political elite's cowardice in this matter. They position themselves so that to strike at them effectively, we must dismantle the Westphalian construct of national sovereignty.

In the end, we can give up our freedom or we can give up Westphalian sensibilities. The choice is up to us.

Posted by TMLutas at April 18, 2004 09:29 AM