According to Henry Kissinger, countries were invented in Europe in 1648 after everyone tried really hard and failed to kill everybody else that they hated. The innovative concept they came up with that of “borders”: Imaginary lines you draw around the empires of your fellow enemies and agree not to try to conquer.
It is hard to fathom today how people must have felt about that. Remember - for most of the history of the world, in most of the world, the name of the game was mindless territorial expansion because I have everyone that is not me and somehow more land == good. And after Europe invented countries, the rest of the world didn’t mind much - not the Chinese empire, not the Ottoman empire, and definitely not the colonies, where match settings were still FFA.
Unlike most of everything in the history of humankind, the invention of countries worked remarkably well, and achieved it’s primary aim - to stop constant, crippling, ravaging total war all the time in Europe and let it go around and conquer the world. It worked so well that it kinda backfired, since after the Napoleonic wars (which, mind you, only lasted a modicum of 12 years) Europe enjoyed about a century of peace…during which it was constant improving belic technology, but not testing it on their neighbors. So when some clumsy Serbian terrorists managed to piss everyone off, European countries did what they usually do: resort to violence.
Only problem was, everyone thought they’d wage war like in 1815, when in 1915 was a lot deadlier. So everyone accidentally walked into the worst conflict the world had ever seen.
Four years later everyone was traumatized again wondering how did we ever walk into this mess and how do we not walk into it again. Young-un idealistic American empire stepped in and came up with a great idea: Let’s make a League of legends nations so that people can be nice and talk to each other instead of resorting to violence! Also let’s come up with a totally unrealistic list of things that we expect the losers to do. And lets get stuck in political gridlock with congress and not actually join it.
Good try America. Too bad you retired into isolationism and your baby became such a soke that when everyone was making faces at Japan for Invading Manchuria in 1933 they literally walked out. To be kinda fair the Jap rep said "Would the American people agree to such control of the Panama Canal Zone; would the British permit it over Egypt? Lolz. Ouch. Burn.
So, um, everybody resorted to violence again and this time was even worse! 6 years later everyone was totally traumatized again, and America attempted a taked 2. This time they didn’t flake, and together with the Four Policemen of the apocalypse plus…France? They were resolute. Thus League of legends v2 the UN was born, with America, France, England Russia and China having special permanent veto powers. Nobody else matters, right?
And there you have it! The UN is essentially a political construct whose fundamental feature reflect the crystalizaed political reality of the world in October 24, 1945! India is not a country, so why need to bother? We got the best empire already! And de Gaulle is so charming, surely we can scooch over a little? China…yes it’s pathetic, but we gotta give someone east Asia, no way we’re letting Japan touch anything again, take away their toys and make them make real ones. Yes I feel uncorfotable with that guy Stalin too but I’m sure they will pull out of Manchuria soon enough. What could go wrong?
With the benefit of 75 years of hindsight, what would you do differently if you were setting up the UN today? Should we give more countries the vote veto, have the headquarters somewhere other than New York, put the UN on the blockchain?
Join us today at 6PM on Sovereignty Lounge to talk about this most wonderful instutition which deserves so many participation medals for really trying to do the right thing!