Tag Archives: Sovereignty

Santa Crosses International Boundaries: State Sovereignty and the Night before Christmas

by Brandon Valeriano and Laura Sjoberg

It is often said that borders are withering away, that we are in a new era of state sovereignty.  Duvall and Wendt wrote the best treatment on this (in my eyes) suggesting that our view of sovereignty is terrestrial and likely countered by the forthcoming era of UFOs (or terrorists, depending on how you read the article).  Duvall and Wendt, however, ignore that there is a flying object that has disproved the effectiveness of borders for centuries now: Santa.  Through his travels west from deep in the Pacific Ocean all the way to the West Coast of the United States, Santa is the prime example of the challenges of the construct of state sovereignty and its enduring nature.  santa tracker

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Waves of War and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Like my good friend Steve Saideman, I don’t write much about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is academically odd, given that most of my stuff has been on ethnic conflict, secessionism, and irredentism, and the whole Israel/Palestine thing falls smack in the middle of that category. It was certainly included in the data set I compiled for my dissertation, but I’ve largely avoided it since then for reasons well-known to most people in the international relations field. Israel-Palestine is the ultimate Third Rail – a viper’s nest of highly-charged, overly-emotional, moralistic arguments that are deadlocked into an endless shouting match. In that arena there is no winning, and rarely even surviving. From a rational choice perspective, staying away from this argument is a pretty obvious choice – the costs FAR outweigh the benefits.

So why am I stepping into it now? Because I wrote a review last week of Andreas Wimmer’s latest book, Waves of War: Nationalism, State Formation, and Ethnic Exclusion in the Modern World. And even though Wimmer manages to write the entire book without mentioning Israel or Palestine even once, I think the picture he puts together may hold not the solution to the problem, but the answer to why there is endless fighting and no progress towards peace.

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