Special Guest: John Negroponte on the Nation-State and Current Threats
John Negroponte has held numerous positions throughout the federal government, serving as ambassador to Honduras, the United Nations, and Iraq, as well as the Director of National Intelligence and Deputy Secretary of State. He joins Bellum for some brief Q&A.
1. One of the hot issues in political science is the future of the nation-state, with many forecasting its passing in the coming century. As a retired diplomat who represented the most successful nation-state in history, what’s your take?
At the end of WWII there were around 50 states; today there are close to 200. Not all have the full attributes needed for viability, but most do, especially if, as in the case of Europe, they group together for certain collective purposes. But lets make no mistake: the nation state remains the unit around which the international community organizes itself for practical purposes. And the larger powers will remain key drivers of the international community for decades if not centuries to come. That is simply not going to change. Some countries may replace others in this category, but the concept will endure.
2. Students in security studies these days see lots of what appear to be intractable problems – North Korea, Iran, radical Islam, Israel-Palestine, and some argue even climate change. You served during both the Cold War and the War on Terror. Was the world always this complicated and security threats always this intractable, or are we living in an unusual time?
The fundamental geopolitical situation is quite benign. The Cold War is over; the larger powers enjoy essentially good relations. Entire regions of the world enjoy relative peace and prosperity. There is an arc of instability extending from Israel in the Middle East to Afghanistan and Pakistan in South Asia; but even there many of the situations are fairly localized. The most problematic issue is the threat of WMD acquisition by the countries of Iran and North Korea, but concerted efforts are being made to manage both of these.