Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Issue Of Sovereign Borders

The Movie Braveheart Marks Man's Effort To Be Free
The aim of this article is to visit some of the issues concerning self-control and how the world reacts when people go in search of what they see as "freedom". We must understand that being recognized as legitimate by other governments is one of the first hurdles newly formed groups face. After that consider operating and running a government is expensive and requires a bit of experience. This area of expertise is also a major stumbling block to long-term success. The leaders of change or a revolution often do not possess the skills to progress through this next level. Issues like corruption are not guaranteed to vanish with regime change.

In June of 2013, I wrote an article about Scotland and the issues involved in its leaving the UK. I pointed out that such an event in the not too distant future may affect the British currency when voters in Scotland will be given the choice of separating from the UK and opting for independence in a referendum. What an independent Scotland might do about a currency is still up in the air. Another issue is whether the newly formed independent country would depart "Scot free" or would inherit part of the massive national debt owed by the UK. To clarify, in our modern world setting up your own independent nation is a formidable and complicated endeavor.

Another problem or question I tried to highlight is that if the UK Government is agreeable to allowing Scotland to go their merry way will Wales and Northern Ireland be inspired to move towards independence? I also noted this might encourage similar movements in Catalonia, Belgium, Northern League in Italy, Basques, Cornish, and among the Poles. Lots of problems could develop. As you may know, Venice and the area around the city recently voted to separate from Italy.

What is happening in Ukraine and the unrest in many areas of the world brings into focus the many conflicts that develop when a region decides to change governments often outside the recognized democratic system of voting. In some cases, even after an overwhelming vote such as in Crimea, the whole process is called into question. Unfortunately, the American civil war did not resolve the issue of succession forever and definitely was not a template for a solution that should be used in countries across the planet. Bottom-line many in politics are slow to give up control and this will not change.

What we are talking about comes down to governance and the right of people to choose under whose rule they want to live. Sometimes it is about one group of people forcing their will upon another. Ethnic pride, taxation, persecution, and sometimes simply the desire for more autonomy that lead the move towards independence. While smaller countries have some benefits they often muck up the works and result in expensive bureaucratic duplication. It is difficult for a small country to function in our modern world and meet all the legal benchmarks required by their larger brethren. Currency, passports and documentation, conflicts in laws with other countries, and many other problems quickly surface.

Borders are a creation of man and not visible to the birds flying above. Much bloodshed and many wars could be avoided if the issues of regime change or borders could be handled in a more rational and constructive way, but do not expect this to happen. Borders and political control is a problem that haunts man since before the written word. Recently President Obama and other officials have talked about the legal sanctity of sovereign borders, but in reality, this is an argument of convenience masking deeper issues. When it comes down to it we are just pawns in this sad power game. If you doubt this just ask some of the many people displaced from their homes in Syria.

 Footnote; As always your comments are welcome and encouraged. I also urge you to visit the archives for other articles or topics that might interest you.


  1. Enjoy your work Bruce. To say I'm astounded we have been able to paper over the mess left in 2008 is an understatement. I watched as they changed the rules of the game (FASB 157, etc.) to cover up the true extent of the damage to the system and wonder what other tricks (bail-ins, etc.) they will try to sell when the next shoe drops. Hopefully enough people have become, or will become, cognizant enough that when the next crisis hits real positive change can take place. The first step will be to remove and hold accountable those responsible for the problem, who are largely still in place from the 2008 debacle. Then we need to deal with the real culprit...our debt based monetary system and the private Federal Reserve that manages it.

  2. Bruce, have you ever looked at a satellite pictureeof Haiti/Dominican Republic? Borders are very quickly visible to a bird flying above. Indeed, where it is not visible to a bird flying above, I might question if it is really a border, or whether the two political regions are actually one.

  3. I gave a paper at a major social science convention over a decade ago on the question of the legitimacy of secession. I tried to make the point that it's like a revolution. Let me back up a bit. When I was a student in college and taking a sophomore government course, a fellow student asked the professor to define a "legal revolution." Without batting an eyelash, the prof said "one that succeeds!"
    Very true about secession, too! As one political commentator wrote in TIME magazine back in 1990 or thereabouts - and I'm paraphrasing, but this is pretty accurate - "the principle of secession in the United States wasn't decided by professors at an academic convention, but rather on the battlefields of Gettysburg and Antietam." Sadly, might does make right.