Magazine article The Nation

The Newest Superpower

Magazine article The Nation

The Newest Superpower

Article excerpt

It's true that there is no stopping German unification, nor should there be. Germans, no less than Lithuanians, South Africans, Palestinians or Quebecois, have a right to political and social self-determination that is based on international law and equity. But an increasingly interdependent, and vulnerable, world community has the responsibility to see that the process; of self determination is as free and fair as possible, and that the consequences do not imperil the peace.

Those duties are political in nature, and usually highly ambiguous. One person's "free and fair" formula is another's stacked deck, and peace is always conditional. In the case of the two Germanys, self-determination is likely to lead to the creation of a bona fide superpower with the ability, and maybe the will, to throw its weight around in a way that deprives others of fully autonomous self-rule.

That is what superpowers do, whether they are American, Soviet or, in the old days, British, French or Dutch. …

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