Why Global Peace Needs Nation-states

The German foreign minister, Heiko Maas, recently declared that ‘nationalism is the mother of all political problems’. Such a statement must be understood in the context of Germany’s troubled history. However, in the UN Security Council, Germany may face a totally different problem: how to rescue nation-states. Indeed, the future of nation-states has become a central question of our times. In a world of instant communication, of supranational organisations, transnational companies and cross-border capital flows, of international elites, global travel and mass migration, of ballistic missiles and space exploration, is it still desirable – or even feasible – to organise human societies in geographical areas surrounded by borders?

In a word, yes. In fact, nation-states may even become more important, not despite but because of globalisation. Anything else would lead to chaos.

The most compelling argument for nation-states is the mounting number of those that fail. They create ‘black holes’ in the global order of ungovernable places that affect the survival and wellbeing of tens of millions of people and tend to destabilise entire regions. Virtually all armed conflicts in the world are now within failing nation-states. They have become a global security problem.

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