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National Sovereignty - Take It or Leave It

In days past nationalism was the standard by which all else was judged - people who stood up against or protested the course their country was taking were portrayed as 'unpatriotic' and 'traitors to their flag'. But in this day and age where human rights are discussed far more loudly than any other kind of rights, where do human rights end and national rights supercede them?

  • If some of a nation's spies are found to have sold secrets to outside parties, are they 'national traitors' or simply traitors to their brothers in arms? Examples include Aldrich Ames, Kim Philby, David Shayler and Alexander Litvinenko.
  • If some of a nation's citizens take up arms against that nation's government and their interests, are they 'traitors to their country' or simply exercising their universal human rights? Examples include Berthe Fraser, Claus von Stauffenberg, David Hicks and Joseph Stalin.
  • If another nation is unhappy with what our government is doing within our borders, does that country have the right to intervene - with force if their original protests are ignored? As an example, if certain Islamic nations are unhappy with the way Muslims are being treated in the UK and USA, do they have the right to intervene if their protests are ignored? If a certain West-European country is unhappy with the way their neighbour is treating certain of their citizens, and their protests are ignored (on grounds that 'you can't tell us what to do!'), should they have the right to intervene?
  • And on the flipside, if our nation is unhappy with what another government is doing within their borders, do we have the right to intervene - with force if our protescts and sanctions are ignored. As a few examples, human rights abuses in China? The situation in Zimbabwe? The '92-'95 Bosnian War?

Where do we draw the line - or should we? Should there even be independent sovereign powers, or is the age of the nation-state over?

NB The author does have fairly strong views on each of these questions, and isn't necessarily saying that all the names cited are 'the same'.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 May 2012 00:41

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