Transcript: Robert Cooper on his book "The Breaking of Nations" | Nov 19, 2005

Robert Cooper addresses an unseen audience. He's in his late fifties, clean-shaven, with gelled salt and pepper hair. He's wearing a black suit, white shirt, and flowery black tie.

He says I SHOULD
THANK, FIRST, THE DONNER
FOUNDATION ITSELF FOR HONOURING
ME WITH THIS INVITATION, BUT I
HAVE TO SAY THAT IT WAS-
WHEN I HEARD THAT THE
POSSIBILITY THAT MARGARET
MACMILLAN MIGHT BE INTRODUCING
ME-
THAT I BECAME REALLY EXCITED.

[Audience laughs]

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Robert Cooper. Author, 'The breaking of nations.' 'Imperial liberalism.' Donner Foundation Lecture. May 16, 2005. Toronto, Ontario."

Robert continues AND FOR THAT
REASON I THOUGHT I WOULD TAKE AS
MY STARTING POINT, IN WHAT I
HAVE TO SAY, HER BOOK WHICH, I
GUESS LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE HERE,
ENJOYED ENORMOUSLY AND PROFITED FROM.
MARGARET
MACMILLAN'S BOOK TELLS OF A
WORLD WHERE, FOLLOWING A GREAT
ARMED CLASH OF INDUSTRIAL
SOCIETIES, THERE WAS ANOTHER
SORT OF CLASH-
A CLASH OF IDEAS, OF IDEOLOGIES,
PHILOSOPHIES ABOUT HOW THE WORLD
SHOULD BE ORGANIZED.
AT THE LEVEL OF IDEAS, THE
CONFRONTATION WAS INITIALLY
BETWEEN EUROPEAN REALISM AND
AMERICAN IDEALISM,
BETWEEN CLEMENCEAU AND LLOYD
GEORGE, WHO BELIEVED THAT PEACE
WOULD BE BEST PRESERVED BY A
BALANCE OF POWER, AND BY
AMERICAN IDEALISM THROUGH
WOODROW WILSON, BELIEVING THAT
PEACE REQUIRED INTERNATIONAL
ORGANIZATION-
THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS-
AND DEMOCRACY AND
SELF-DETERMINATION.
THE DIVISION BETWEEN BALANCE OF
POWER REALISM AND THE IDEALISM
OF LOWER INSTITUTIONS HAS NOW
BEEN THE BASIS FOR A THOUSAND
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
TEXTBOOK.
IN PRACTICE, I THINK YOU'LL FIND
THAT, SOMEHOW, THE EUROPEAN AND
THE AMERICAN POSITIONS HAVE
BECOME REVERSED IN THE MEANTIME.
BUT THERE WAS ALSO A DEEPER
CLASH GOING ON, A DEEPER
CONFLICT-
A CONFRONTATION BETWEEN THE
IDEAS OF THE OSIAN REGIME AND
THE IDEA OF SELF-DETERMINATION
AND NATIONALISM.
THIS IS SOMETHING WHICH DID NOT
BEGIN IN 1919-
IT WAS A CONFRONTATION WHICH
HEGEL HAD ALREADY SEEN AT THE
BATTLE OF YENNA.
BUT THE EMPIRES HAD SOMEHOW
SURVIVED.
MARTINIQUE HAD KEPT THE
AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN EMPIRE GOING,
AND THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE HAD MORE
OR LESS HELD TOGETHER.
BUT THESE CAME TO A DEFINITIVE
END IN 1919.
THE IDEA OF SELF-DETERMINATION
COULD NOT BE CONFINED TO EUROPE.
THERE'S A STRIKING ANECDOTE IN
MARGARET MACMILLAN'S BOOK ABOUT
A KITCHEN WORKER IN THE RITZ
PETITIONING FOR
SELF-DETERMINATION FOR HIS
COUNTRY.
WELL, THIS WAS HO CHI MINH, AND
IT TOOK A LONG TIME, AND IT TOOK
A CONFLICT WITH SEVERAL GREAT
POWERS, BUT IT SHOWS THE POWER
OF THE IDEA THAT, IN THE END, HE
ACHIEVED SELF-DETERMINATION.
NATIONALISM AND
SELF-DETERMINATION HAVE BEEN, IT
SEEMS TO ME, FORCES GREATER THAN
NUCLEAR WEAPONS.
THEY HAVE PROBABLY CHANGED THE
WORLD MORE, AND THEY HAVE
PROBABLY BEEN RESPONSIBLE FOR
KILLING MORE PEOPLE.
NATIONALISM, OF COURSE, BEGAN
MUCH EARLIER-
IN EUROPE IN THE 19th CENTURY,
AND IN LATIN AMERICA.
BUT ADVERSI, IT BECAME A WORLD
PHENOMENON-
ONE THAT DESTROYED THE WORLD
ORDER, NOT JUST IN EUROPE, BUT
ACROSS THE WORLD.
AND THE QUESTION I SHALL LOOK AT
IN THIS LECTURE, AND I SAY LOOK
AT RATHER THAN ANSWER, IS HOW WE
SHALL PUT THE WORLD ORDER BACK
TOGETHER AGAIN.
WHAT WE HAVE SEEN IN OUR
LIFETIMES IS ONE OF THE GREAT
CHANGES IN HISTORY.
FOR MOST OF HISTORY, THE WORLD
HAS BEEN ORGANIZED IN EMPIRES,
OR AT LEAST THE PARTS OF IT THAT
WERE ORGANIZED AT ALL WERE
EMPIRES-
ASSYRIA, PERSIA, GREECE, ROME,
THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE, THE MOGUL
EMPIRE, AND MANY OTHERS.
EUROPE, UNIQUELY, DEVELOPED THE
SMALL STATE SYSTEM-
BUT EVEN IN EUROPE, THIS WAS
ONLY A PARTIAL SYSTEM MOSTLY
CONFINED TO THE WESTERN EDGES
OF THE CONTINENT AND THE
MEDITERRANEAN.
I PAUSE FOR A SECOND HERE TO SAY
HOW MUCH DIFFERENCE IT MAKES
WHERE YOU LIVE, WHAT KIND OF
STATE YOU LIVE IN.
THESE ARE THE THINGS WHICH SHAPE
OUR LIVES WITHOUT OUR
UNDERSTANDING THEM.
I THINK, WHEN I THINK OF THIS,
THERE IS A PICTURE-
THERE'S A PICTURE BY TITIAN
WHICH HANGS IN ONE OF THE
SCOTTISH GALLERIES.
IT'S A SMALL
PICTURE OF TWO MEN, IN THE DRESS
OF THE TIMES, JOSTLING IN THE
STREET-
AND ONE OF THEM IS LOOKING OVER
HIS SHOULDER WITH A LOOK THAT
SHOWS A-
A COMBINATION OF-
SUSPICION AND HOSTILITY.
AND AS YOU LOOK AT THE PICTURE,
YOU LOOK DOWN AND YOU SEE THAT
THE TWO FIGURES THAT YOU SEE IN
THE PICTURE HAVE BOTH GOT THEIR
HANDS ON THEIR KNIVES.
WELL, THAT'S
EUROPE OF THE RENAISSANCE.
AND THE FACT THAT WE DON'T CARRY
KNIVES, AS MOST OF US NOW, IS A
RESULT OF THE STATE.
OR TO TAKE ANOTHER EXAMPLE-
ANY DAY OF THE WEEK, YOU CAN GO
INTO A BANK, WHERE YOU MEET
SOMEBODY WHO YOU'VE PERHAPS
NEVER SEEN BEFORE IN YOUR LIFE,
AND YOU PRODUCE A FEW DOCUMENTS,
AND THEY GIVE YOU MONEY.
A PERFECT STRANGER.
ON THE FACE OF IT, THIS IS
COMPLETELY IRRATIONAL-
BUT THAT SUCH A THING CAN HAPPEN
IS THE RESULT OF THE STATE AND
THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK THAT IT
CREATES.
SO THE KIND OF STATE YOU LIVE IN
MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE.
THE FUNCTION, ABOVE ALL, OF THE
STATE IS TO PROVIDE TRUST, THE
ESSENTIAL QUALITY IF SOCIETY IS
TO FUNCTION AT ANY LEVEL AT ALL.
WITHOUT THE STATE, TO QUOTE THE
CLASSICAL REFERENCE FROM HOBBES,
LIFE IS NOT ONLY NASTY, BRUTISH
AND SHORT, BUT ALSO SOLITARY.
WITHOUT TRUST, THERE IS NO
SOCIETY.
IT'S NOT ONLY STATES THAT CREATE
TRUST-
THAT CAN HAPPEN IN FAMILIES,
CLANS, AND CRIMINAL GANGS AS
WELL-
BUT ONLY THE STATE CREATES TRUST
AMONG STRANGERS, WHICH IS THE
BASIS OF OUR ECONOMIES AND OUR
CIVILIZATION.
THE COMING OF THE NATION-STATE
BROUGHT GREAT CHANGES INTO
PEOPLE'S LIVES.
THESE WERE ALREADY PARTLY
UNDERWAY THROUGH TECHNOLOGY,
RAILWAYS, AND FACTORIES, BUT THE
STATE ENABLED THIS NEW WORLD TO
FUNCTION BY CREATING AN
INFRASTRUCTURE OF LAWS AND
FREQUENTLY BY CREATING A COMMON
LANGUAGE.
A FRIEND OF MINE TOLD ME HOW, IN
BRITTANY, IN HIS FATHER'S DAY,
THERE USED TO BE A DONKEY'S TAIL
PINNED TO THE LAST BOY WHO USED
THE WORD OF 'BRITAIN' AS THE
FRENCH STATES TRIED TO UNIFY THE
FRENCH LANGUAGE.
WITH THE COMMON LANGUAGE CAME A
COMMON DESTINY, GIVEN CONCRETE
FORM IN UNIVERSAL CONSCRIPTION,
AND EVENTUALLY, IN SOCIAL
SECURITY AND POLITICAL
REPRESENTATION.
THESE DID NOT HAPPEN ALL AT
ONCE, BUT THEY ALL REPRESENTED
FACETS OF A NEW NATIONAL VISION
BEST SUMMED UP IN THE THREE
WORDS-
LIBERTY, EQUALITY AND
FRATERNITY.
DEMOCRACY AND NATIONALISM ARE
INTIMATELY CONNECTED.
ONCE YOU HAVE DECIDED THAT
A
PEOPLE HAS A RIGHT TO GOVERN
ITSELF, IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO
DENY THAT
THE
PEOPLE
HAVE THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE THE
GOVERNMENT.
THAT'S WHY NATIONALISM, AS WELL
AS DEMOCRACY, WAS A GREAT CAUSE
FOR LIBERALS IN THE 19th
CENTURY.
THE ENERGY RELEASED BY THIS
SERIES OF REVOLUTION AND BY THE
DEMOCRATIC PROCESS WHICH
LIBERATED AND ENFRANCHISED
PEOPLE WAS ENORMOUS.
NATIONALISM IS ONE COMPONENT-
TO BE HONEST, I THINK IT IS THE
MOST IMPORTANT COMPONENT-
OF DEVELOPMENT.
DEVELOPMENT IS AS MUCH A SOCIAL
AND ECONOMIC, UM-
SOCIAL AND POLITICAL PROCESS AS
AN ECONOMIC ONE.
TO ACHIEVE THE BREAKTHROUGH INTO
MODERNITY REQUIRES A COLLECTIVE
EFFORT BY SOCIETY, AND TO
ACHIEVE THAT, IT MUST BE
CONSCIOUS OF ITSELF AS A
COMMUNITY, THAT IS TO SAY, MUST
HAVE A NATIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS.
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN
INDIVIDUAL BECOMING MODERN,
EXCEPT PERHAPS BY LEAVING AN
UNDEVELOPED COUNTRY AND GOING TO
A DEVELOPED ONE.
MODERNITY IS ESSENTIALLY
SOMETHING COLLECTIVE.
YOU CAN SEE THAT IF YOU THINK OF
THE POSITION TOWARDS THE END OF
THE 19th CENTURY OF JAPAN AND
BRAZIL.
OBJECTIVELY, BRAZIL HAD FAR
BETTER POSSIBILITY OF BECOMING A
DEVELOPED COUNTRY-
IT WAS CLOSE TO THE U.S.A., IT
HAD CLOSE CONTACTS WITH EUROPEAN
CIVILIZATION, IT WAS
WELL-ENDOWED WITH NATURAL
RESOURCES.
JAPAN, ON THE
OTHER HAND, HAD BEEN LOCKED AWAY
FOR UH-
FOR 200 YEARS, IT HAD LITTLE IN
THE WAY OF NATURAL RESOURCES,
IT WAS IN A PART OF THE WORLD
FAR FROM DEVELOPED CIVILIZED
COUNTRIES.
WHAT JAPAN HAD
THAT BRAZIL DIDN'T HAVE WAS AN
ENORMOUSLY STRONG NATIONAL
SENTIMENT.
AND WHEN JAPANESE PEOPLE MADE
MONEY OR MADE PROGRESS, WHATEVER
THEY DID THEY REINVESTED IT IN
JAPAN.
WHEREAS IN BRAZIL, THEY MOSTLY
PUT IT INTO WALL STREET.
AND THAT, FOR ME AT ANY RATE, IS
ONE, AT LEAST.
THERE ARE MANY OTHERS I CAN
THINK OF-
FINLAND, GERMANY, MANY OTHERS,
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND
NATIONALISM, IT SEEMS TO ME, ARE
INTIMATELY CONNECTED.
YOU CAN SEE IT IN CHINA TODAY AS
WELL.
THE ENERGY RELEASED BY
NATIONALISM AND NATIONAL
SELF-DETERMINATION HAS BROUGHT
MANY PROFOUND CHANGES AND, OF
COURSE, IT ALSO BROUGHT WARS.
AND QUITE SOON, IN WORLD WAR I
AND WORLD WAR II, WE HAD A
DEMONSTRATION IN EUROPE OF THE
FAILURE OF THIS SYSTEM, OF THE
FAILURE OF THE NATIONAL SYSTEM
AND OF THE BALANCE OF POWER.
THE BALANCE OF POWER OPERATES ON
THE ASSUMPTION THAT STATES ARE
GOING TO ATTACK AND CONQUER EACH
OTHER-
BUT BY THE TIME YOU'VE CREATED
MASS INDUSTRIAL SOCIETIES, THE
RESULTING WARS BECOME INEVITABLY
HORRIFIC.
THERE IS ALSO A SECOND PROBLEM,
AND THAT IS THAT THE IDEA OF THE
NATION-STATE SUPPOSES THAT
EVERYBODY IS GOING TO BE OF THE
SAME NATIONALITY.
IN THE DAYS OF UNDEMOCRATIC
MULTINATIONAL EMPIRES, WHEN THE
BALANCE OF POWER REALLY WORKED,
YOU COULD ANNEX TERRITORY AND
PEOPLE.
BUT IN THE DAYS OF
NATION-STATES, IF YOU ANNEXED
PEOPLE WHO WERE NOT OF YOUR
NATION, YOU COULD HARDLY-
THEY COULD HARDLY PARTICIPATE IN
THE NATIONAL COMMUNITY.
IF YOU CONQUERED, THEN YOU HAD
EITHER TO DRIVE THE PEOPLE OUT,
TO ENSLAVE, OR TO KILL THEM.
EVEN WITHOUT THOSE THEORETICAL
ARGUMENTS, THE FACTS MAKE THE
CASE FOR THEMSELVES.
THE SYSTEM HAD FAILED.
THE TRENCHES WERE ONE, THE
SLAUGHTER IN THE CITIES AND IN
THE DEATH CAMPS IN WORLD WAR II.
ON THE AVERAGE DAY IN WORLD WAR
II, SOMETHING BETWEEN 17,000 AND
20,000 PEOPLE WERE KILLED.
WE'VE ALSO SEEN THE FAILURE OF
THE NATION-STATE A SECOND TIME,
MORE RECENTLY, IN THE BALKANS,
FOR SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT REASONS.
IT IS SIMPLY NOT POSSIBLE TO
CONSTRUCT PURE NATIONS ANYMORE.
WOODROW WILSON ALREADY SAW THE
PROBLEM AS MORE COMPLICATED THAN
HE HAD FIRST SUPPOSED AND SAID,
"WHEN I GAVE UTTERANCE TO THOSE
WORDS ABOUT THE RIGHT OF
SELF-DETERMINATION, I SAID THEM
WITHOUT THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE
NATIONALITIES THAT EXISTED,
WHICH WERE GOING TO COME TO US
DAY AFTER DAY."
THE PARADOX OF THE 20th CENTURY
IS THAT, JUST AS IN EUROPE, WE
WERE DEMONSTRATING THE FAILURE
OF THE NATION-STATE.
WE WERE CREATING IT EVERYWHERE
ELSE IN LARGE QUANTITIES.
THE BIGGEST STORY OF THE 20th
CENTURY IS THE END OF EMPIRE.
THE BEGINNING OF THE CENTURY,
THE WORLD CONSISTED MOSTLY OF
EMPIRES.
BY THE END, THEY WERE ALL GONE-
THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE, THE GERMAN,
EMPIRE, THE AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN
EMPIRE, THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE, THE
BRITISH, FRENCH, AMERICAN,
DUTCH, AND FINALLY, THE SOVIET
EMPIRES.
THE DEFEAT OF FASCISM AND
COMMUNISM SHOULD ALSO BE SEEN AS
A PART OF THIS STORY.
BOTH WERE IMPERIAL SYSTEMS.
FASCISM REPRESENTED NATIONAL
IMPERIALISM, WITH THE LOGICAL
CONSEQUENCE OF ENSLAVEMENT OR
EXTERMINATION THAT I REFERRED TO
EARLIER.
COMMUNISM WAS AN ATTEMPT,
ANOTHER ATTEMPT, TO CREATE A
MULTINATIONAL EMPIRE.
THE LEGITIMACY OF THE OSIAN
REGIME HAD COME FROM THE PAST
AND FROM GOD.
COMMUNISM UPDATE ITSELF BY
BASING ITSELF ON THE FUTURE AND
ON SCIENCE, BUT BOTH SCIENCE AND
THE PROMISED FUTURE PROVED TO BE
FALSE AND SO, EVENTUALLY, THE
COMMUNISTS CEASED TO BELIEVE IN
COMMUNISM.
THE SOVIET EMPIRE ALSO DEPENDED
ON FORCE, AS STALIN EXPLAINED
WHEN HE SAID THAT EACH WOULD
IMPOSE HIS OWN SOCIAL SYSTEM AS
FAR AS THEIR ARMIES REACHED.
BUT THIS, IN THE END, DID NOT
WORK EITHER.
THE IDEA OF SELF-DETERMINATION
WAS TOO STRONG.
ONCE THIS IDEA IS ACCEPTED, THE
IDEA-
THE POSSIBILITY OF GOVERNING
PEOPLE BY FORCE BECOMES
IMPOSSIBLE FOR A LIBERAL
SOCIETY.
THAT MEANS THAT CONCRETE PEOPLE
BECOMES PROBLEMATIC, TOO.
BOTH VIETNAM AND AFGHANISTAN
DEMONSTRATED THE DIFFICULTY OF
APPLYING STALIN'S DICTUM ABOUT
IMPOSING YOUR SOCIAL SYSTEM
WHERE YOUR ARMIES REACH, AND
SO, TOO, IN THE END, DID THE
40-YEAR OCCUPATION OF CENTRAL
EUROPE, OF WHICH NOTHING NOW
REMAINS EXCEPT BAD MEMORIES.
I DON'T THINK THAT IRAQ IS
ANYTHING LIKE VIETNAM OR
AFGHANISTAN, BUT HERE ALSO WE
SEE THE DIFFICULTY.
THE UNITED
STATES, GREATEST MILITARY POWER
IN HISTORY, HAS PROBLEMS
CONTROLLING A MEDIUM-SIZED
COUNTRY.
IF IT SUCCEEDS, IT WOULD BE
BECAUSE IT HAS WON THE SUPPORT
OF THE IRAQI PEOPLE.
BUT IT CAN
ONLY GET BAD IF IT CAN PERSUADE
THEM THAT IT IS GOING TO ALLOW
THEM TO GOVERN THEMSELVES.
AN AMERICAN OFFICIAL RECENTLY
SAID TO ME THAT THE U.S. HAD TWO
MESSAGES FOR THE IRAQI PEOPLE-
FIRST, DON'T WORRY, THE U.S. IS
GOING TO STAY AND, SECOND-
DON'T WORRY, THE U.S. IS GOING
TO LEAVE.

[Audience laughs]

Robert continues THESE ARE,
UNDOUBTEDLY, THE RIGHT MESSAGES,
BUT THEY ILLUSTRATE THE DILEMMA
AND CONTRADICTION OF BEHAVING
LIKE AN IMPERIAL POWER IN A
POST-IMPERIAL AGE.
THE LAST GIFT OF THE COLONISTS
WAS ITSELF AN ACT OF
COLONIZATION.
AS WE DECOLONIZED, WE LEFT
BEHIND A WHOLLY EUROPEAN
INVENTION-
THE SMALL STATE, THE
NATION-STATE, AS A PARTING
PRESENT FOR THE PEOPLES OF
AFRICA AND ASIA.
SOME OF THE STATES CREATED HAVE
BEEN SUCCESSFUL,
FEW OF THEM HAVE BEEN PREDATORY,
A VERY LARGE NUMBER OF THEM
STRUGGLE TO SURVIVE.
MANY PARTS OF THE WORLD ARE NOW,
IN SOME SENSE, RIPE FOR
IMPERIALISM, BUT THERE ARE NO
IMPERIALISTS LEFT.
WE'VE ALL CONCLUDED THAT OWNING
COLONIES IS EXPENSIVE AND THAT
IF PEOPLE DON'T WANT TO BE RULED
BY YOU, THEN THEY WILL BE AN
ENDLESS SOURCE OF TROUBLE.
AND YET, WEAK STATES ARE
POTENTIALLY A NIGHTMARE FOR
THOSE WHO LIVE IN THEM, AND A
DANGER FOR OTHERS, ESPECIALLY
FOR THOSE IN THEIR IMMEDIATE
NEIGHBOURHOOD.
I SHOULD SAY IN PARENTHESES
THAT, ALTHOUGH WE TALK ABOUT
WEAK STATES AND STATE FAILURE,
THE FORCES OF ORDER ARE
SOMETIMES STRONGER THAN WE
IMAGINE.
THE LEBANESE BANKING SYSTEM
SURVIVED THE FAILURE OF THE
LEBANESE STATE IN THE 1970s.
IN SOMALIA, ONE OF THE PARADIGM
CASES OF STATE FAILURE, THERE IS
AN EXCELLENT MOBILE PHONE
NETWORK-
IN FACT, THERE ARE TWO EXCELLENT
MOBILE PHONE NETWORKS RUN BY
RIVAL WARLORDS.
IF YOU TRAVEL AROUND IN SOMALIA,
YOU DO NEED TO HAVE A DOZEN OR
SO GUARDS WITH YOU WHEREVER YOU
GO.
AND OF COURSE, YOU DO NEED TO
PAY YOUR MOBILE PHONE BILL ON TIME.

[Audience laughs]

Robert continues NEVERTHELESS,
FEW PEOPLE WOULD CHOOSE TO LIVE
IN SUCH A PLACE, A FACT WHICH IS
BECOMING A PROBLEM FOR DEVELOPED
COUNTRIES.
MOST OF THE WARS SINCE THE END
OF THE COLD WAR HAVE BEEN WARS
OF WEAK STATES.
WEAK STATES ARE WHERE DRUGS ARE
GROWN, AND WHERE TERRORISTS
SOMETIMES HIDE OUT.
LAST-
THE FIRST HALF OF THE 20th
CENTURY DEMONSTRATED THE
BANKRUPTCY OF THE EUROPEAN
NATION-STATE BALANCE OF POWER
SYSTEM.
AND DURING THE REST OF THE
CENTURY WE ABOLISHED EMPIRE AND
THEN FOUND THAT THE NATIONAL
STATES WE CREATED TO REPLACE IT
DIDN'T WORK EITHER.
SO WHAT SHOULD WE DO NOW?
I'VE SAID SOMETHING ALREADY
ABOUT THE VIRTUES OF THE
NATION-STATE, ITS DYNAMISM AND
ITS LEGITIMACY.
LET ME SAY SOMETHING NOW ABOUT
THE VIRTUES OF EMPIRE.
WITHIN ITS BOUNDARIES, EMPIRE
PROVIDED PEACE AND ORDER.
IN MORE ADVANCED CASES, IT
PROVIDED A FRAMEWORK OF LAW,
WIDE POSSIBILITIES FOR TRADE AND
MOVEMENT, AND LARGER FREEDOM, TO
USE MICHAEL DOYLE'S PHRASE.
LARGER, THAT IS, THAN THE
CONFINES OF THE NATION-STATE.
IMPERIAL RULE WAS OFTEN NOT VERY
INTRUSIVE-
LOCAL COMMUNITIES WERE MOSTLY
LEFT ALONE, AND WITH THIS CAME A
TOLERATION FOR DIVERSITY.
HISTORY IS FULL OF ATTACKS ON
FOREIGNERS, ESPECIALLY ON THE
JEWS, BUT IT WAS A BREAK-UP OF
EMPIRE THAT REALLY BROUGHT
LARGE-SCALE RACIAL VIOLENCE,
EVEN GENOCIDE.
HINDUS AND MUSLIMS, GREEKS AND
TURKS, SERBS AND ALBANIANS,
SEEMED TO HAVE LIVED MORE EASILY
WITH EACH OTHER UNDER IMPERIAL
CONDITIONS, THAT IS, WHEN
SOMEONE ELSE WAS RULING THEM AND
THEY DID NOT HAVE TO RULE EACH
OTHER.
AND, OF COURSE, EMPIRES TOOK
CARE OF THOSE PARTS OF THE WORLD
WHICH, FOR SOME REASON, WERE NOT
GOOD AT LOOKING AFTER
THEMSELVES.
AND FINALLY, EMPIRES PROVIDED
SOME KIND OF AN INTERNATIONAL
ORDER.
SINCE WE LIVE IN AN AGE WHICH IS
FUNDAMENTALLY LIBERAL, WE'RE
TRYING TO DO WHAT WE CAN TO
REPRODUCE SOME OF THESE RESULTS,
BUT IN A LIBERAL FRAMEWORK.
I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT LIBERAL
IMPERIALISM, WHICH IS AN
OXYMORON-
BUT ATTEMPTS AT LIBERAL
ALTERNATIVES TO EMPIRE.
ONE VERSION IS THE IMF-WORLD
BANK VERSION WHERE, IN EXCHANGE
FOR LOANS, YOU ATTEMPT TO
PERSUADE PEOPLE TO GOVERN
THEMSELVES IN THE WAY THAT YOU
THINK APPROPRIATE.
SOMETIMES IT WORKS, MORE OFTEN
IT DOESN'T.
WHEN IT DOESN'T WORK, THAT'S
PROBABLY A RESULT OF FACTORS
WHICH GO BEYOND THE ECONOMIC
SYSTEM, POLITICS AND SOCIETY.
IT'S NOT EASY TO PUT THOSE RIGHT
WITH A LITTLE ADVICE AND A BIG
LOAN.
WHEN THINGS HAVE GONE MORE
DRAMATICALLY WRONG, THE
INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY HAS GONE
FURTHER AND HAS TAKEN COUNTRIES
OVER.
BOSNIA AND KOSOVO, THE OBVIOUS
EXAMPLES, AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ
TO A LESSER DEGREE.
I'M NOT SURE WE CAN BE WHOLLY
SATISFIED WITH THESE CASES,
EITHER.
THERE IS SOME DIFFICULTY IN
TELLING COUNTRIES THEY MUST
BECOME DEMOCRACIES AND ACT UNDER
THE RULE OF LAW WHEN THE
INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY ITSELF
IS EXERCISING UNACCOUNTABLE
POWER, AS SOME WOULD SAY IT'S
DOING IN BOSNIA OR IN KOSOVO-
NOR DO WE SEEM
TO BE VERY GOOD AT FINDING EXITS
FROM THESE SITUATIONS.
IN OTHER CASES, SINGLE COUNTRIES
ACTING WITH LOCAL CONSENT HAVE
TAKEN OVER THE TASK OF PUTTING A
COUNTRY BACK ON ITS FEET-
BRITAIN IN SIERRA LEONE, FRANCE
IN THE IVORY COAST, AUSTRALIA IN
THE SOLOMONS.
THE UNITED
NATIONS HAS TAKEN ON OTHER
COUNTRIES, BUT HERE ALSO,
SUCCESS IS RARELY COMPLETE.
SOMEBODY I KNOW SAID IN A RATHER
IRONIC MOOD THAT THERE HAD BEEN
AT LEAST SEVEN SUCCESSFUL
PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS IN
HAITI, FOR EXAMPLE.

[Audience laughs]

Robert continues BUT NOT ALL OF
THESE CASES, HOWEVER A FAILURE,
I HAVE MYSELF A PARTICULAR
ATTACHMENT TO THE CASE OF
MACEDONIA, ABOUT WHICH YOU DON'T
HEAR VERY MUCH AND THAT'S
BECAUSE IT'S NOT NECESSARILY
WORKING BADLY.
BUT EVEN THESE PLACES ARE
FRAGILE.
IN MOST CASES, THERE'S BEEN A
RELUCTANT DEFENSIVE RETURN TO
IMPERIAL METHODS.
BUT THE OTHER ATTEMPT TO CAPTURE
SOME OF THE BENEFITS OF EMPIRE
IN A FASHION THAT ALSO ALLOWS
SELF-DETERMINATION IS WHERE I
COME FROM-
THE EUROPEAN UNION.
THROUGH SOME COMBINATION OF LUCK
AND OUTSIDE HELP, ESPECIALLY
FROM THE UNITED STATES AND NATO,
AND PERHAPS A LITTLE EXPERIENCE
ACQUIRED AFTER THE GREAT
TRAGEDIES OF THE 20th CENTURY,
WE HAVE MANAGED TO BUILD
SOMETHING OF THAT WIDER FREEDOM
AND THE LAW GOING BEYOND
NATIONAL BOUNDARIES.
WE HAVE NOT ABOLISHED
SOVEREIGNTY, BUT TODAY, IT'S
EXPRESSED AS A SEAT AT A TABLE
RATHER THAN AS A HEAVILY-GUARDED
FRONTIER.
WE ALSO MANAGED DIVERSITY.
ALTHOUGH ECONOMIC RULES ARE THE
HEART OF THE EUROPEAN UNION, WE
ARE FAR FROM UNIFORM.
FREEDOM HOUSE PRODUCES A LIST OF
COUNTRIES RANKED BY ECONOMIC
FREEDOM.
SOME OF THE E.U. ARE IN THE TOP
TEN-
LUXEMBOURG IS ACTUALLY NUMBER 3,
AFTER HONG KONG AND SINGAPORE.
AND THEN YOU'LL FIND FINLAND,
NETHERLANDS, THE U.K.-
OTHERS, YOU'LL FIND WAY DOWN IN
THE 19, UH, WAY DOWN IN THE 70s.
SO, THERE IS A GOOD DEAL OF
DIVERSITY IN SPITE OF THE COMMON
SYSTEM OF LAW, AND WE HAVE ALSO
FOUND A WAY OF LIVING TOGETHER
IN PEACE, WHICH IS VERY
REMARKABLE IF YOU KNOW ANYTHING
ABOUT EUROPEAN HISTORY.
AND PERHAPS WE HAVE MADE A
CONTRIBUTION TO THE PROBLEM OF
WEAK STATES.
IT WAS NOT A FOREGONE CONCLUSION
THAT, WITH THE BREAK-UP OF THE
SOVIET UNION, THE REVOLUTIONS OF
1989 WERE ALL GOING TO RESULT IN
STABLE DEMOCRACIES.
NORMALLY, REVOLUTIONS PRODUCE
THE OPPOSITE-
LENIN, CROMWELL, ROBESPIERRE,
THE AYATOLLAH KHOMEINI.
I BELIEVE THAT THE EXISTENCE OF
A COMMUNITY OF DEMOCRACY IS ON
THE BORDERS, OFFERING PRACTICAL
HELP AND THE PROSPECT OF
MEMBERSHIP HAS BEEN AN IMPORTANT
FACTOR FOR REFORM AND STABILITY
IN CENTRAL EUROPE.
IN DOING THIS, I THINK THE
EUROPEAN UNION MADE THE RIGHT
STRATEGIC CHOICE, BUT IT MADE IT
AT SOME COST.
AT THE MOMENT EUROPE IS
SUFFERING A CERTAIN ENLARGEMENT
INDIGESTION, AND WE ASK
OURSELVES IF WE CAN ESCAPE FROM
THE IMPERIAL SYNDROME
WELL-CAPTURED IN CATHERINE THE
GREAT'S WORDS, "I HAVE NO WAY TO
DEFEND MY BORDERS EXCEPT TO
ENLARGE THEM."
[Some laughter]
THE E.U.
SYSTEM WORKS FOR EUROPE.
I'M NOT SO SURE THAT IT COULD
WORK ELSEWHERE, ALTHOUGH I'M A
LITTLE BIT-
I SOMETIMES SAY TO MYSELF THAT
ENLARGEMENT MIGHT HAVE WORKED IN
OTHER CASES, AND THAT, PERHAPS,
IF HAITI HAD GONE THE SAME WAY
AS HAWAII OR PUERTO RICO, IT
MIGHT HAVE BEEN A DIFFERENT
PLACE.
BUT NEVERTHELESS, EUROPEAN
SYSTEM IS ESSENTIALLY EUROPE.
IT'S A SYSTEM-
IT HAS AN ADVANTAGE, SOME
WELL-ESTABLISHED STATES AT THE
BOTTOM, AT THE BASE OF IT-
AND IT HAS THE ADVANTAGE WHICH
DOESN'T APPLY IN AFRICA OR IN
THE MIDDLE EAST,
AND IT ALSO-
I THINK AN ADVANTAGE FOR EUROPE-
THAT WE ARE BASICALLY WITHIN A
LIMITED SIZE RANGE.
THERE ARE BIGGER STATES AND
SMALLER STATES, BUT WE'RE ALL
SMALL OR MEDIUM STATES,
SOMETHING THAT DOESN'T WORK IF
YOU THINK OF ASIA.
BUT NEVERTHELESS, SOMEONE MAY
FIND SOMETHING TO COPY IN THIS,
EVENTUALLY.
FOR THE OVERALL ORGANIZATION OF
THE WORLD, AND IN THE ERA OF
GLOBALIZATION, ORGANIZATION IS
NEEDED.
IT SEEMS TO ME
THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE TO THE
AGENDA SET BY WOODROW WILSON AT
VERSAILLES.
THE END OF EMPIRE HAS BEEN MORE
OR LESS ACCOMPLISHED.
THE NEXT STEP IS TO TELL, TAKE
SELF-DETERMINATION TO ITS
LOGICAL CONCLUSION AND ENCOURAGE
THE SPREAD OF DEMOCRACY.
AND THE FACT
IS THAT WE LIVE IN A DEMOCRATIC
AGE EVEN THOUGH WE'RE NOT
DEMOCRATIC OR OBLIGED TO
PRETEND-
YOU HOLD ELECTIONS IN ZIMBABWE
BUT YOU FIX THEM, YOU CALL
YOURSELF DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE'S
REPUBLIC OF KOREA.

[Some laughter]

Robert continues THERE ARE MANY
WAYS WE CAN ENCOURAGE THE SPREAD
OF DEMOCRACY.
I AM ESPECIALLY IMPRESSED BY THE
WORK DONE BY ELECTION MONITORS-
WE SAW IN UKRAINE WHAT AN EFFECT
THESE CAN HAVE WHEN SOMEBODY
FEELS OBLIGED TO PRETEND TO BE
DEMOCRATIC, THEN YOU CATCH THEM
OUT.
I'M LESS CONVINCED ABOUT THE
DIRECT USE OF MILITARY FORCE.
ARMIES HAVE UTILITY IN DEFEATING
DICTATORS, BUT THEY REMAIN
FUNDAMENTALLY UNDEMOCRATIC
INSTRUMENTS.
DEMOCRACY IS ABOUT THE RULE OF
LAW, LIMIT ON POWER, LIMIT ON
GOVERNMENT, AND IT'S ABOUT
EQUALITY.
FOREIGN SOLDIER, NECESSARY AS
THEY SOMETIMES ARE, REPRESENT
NONE OF THOSE THINGS.
DEMOCRACY CANNOT BE IMPOSED FROM
OUTSIDE.
THE COMPROMISE IS THAT
ESTABLISHED LEGITIMACY HAVE TO
BE MADE BY THE PEOPLE
THEMSELVES.
IT SEEMS TO BE A PAINFUL PROCESS
WITH MANY FALSE STARTS.
WE MUST HOPE NOW THAT LEBANON
HAS LEARNED SOMETHING FROM ITS
PAST, AND IT MAY BE THAT
WHATEVER THE IMMEDIATE RESULT,
IRAQ WILL ALSO LEARN SOMETHING.
AND I SHOULD SAY THAT THOUGH I
AM-
COMMITTED TO THE IDEA, AS I
THINK EVERYBODY MUST BE, OF
DEMOCRACY EVERYWHERE, I DO ASK
MYSELF HOW IT WOULD WORK ON THE
SCALE OF A COUNTRY LIKE CHINA.
'CAUSE THERE ARE PROBLEMS OF
SCALE IN DEMOCRACY THAT
CITY-STATES COULD RUN DEMOCRACY
ONE WAY, RUNNING DEMOCRACY WITH
1.2 BILLION PEOPLE IS GOING TO
BE SOMETHING DIFFERENT.
FOREIGN ARMIES DO, I THINK, HAVE
A ROLE TO PLAY IN ESTABLISHING
THE CONDITIONS FOR DEMOCRACY-
NOT JUST BY DOING AWAY WITH
DICTATORS, BUT PROVIDING AN
ENVIRONMENT OF SECURITY.
AN ATMOSPHERE OF FEAR AND THREAT
IS THE ENEMY OF PROGRESS.
IT'S WHEN PEOPLE FEEL
REASONABLY SECURE AND CONFIDENT
THAT THEY CAN TAKE THE RISKS
INVOLVED IN TRUSTING THE PEOPLE.
IN THIS RESPECT, I THINK NATO
PLAYED A VITAL ROLE IN THE
TRANSFORMATION OF EUROPE IN THE
LAST HALF-CENTURY, AS I THINK
THE U.S. PRESENCE DID IN THE
PACIFIC, TOO.
I'M NOT SURE THAT WE SHALL SEE
DEMOCRACY WELL-ESTABLISHED IN
AFRICA OR THE MIDDLE EAST,
UNLESS IT'S POSSIBLE TO DO
SOMETHING ABOUT SECURITY THERE.
THE FATE OF COUNTRIES IS ALWAYS
LINKED TO THAT OF THEIR
NEIGHBOURS.
WE CAN SEE A DOMINO EFFECT OF
FAILED STATES-
IT MAY BE THAT DEMOCRACY ALSO
DEVELOPS WELL IN CLUSTERS.
THE THIRD PART OF WOODROW
WILSON'S AGENDA-
INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION AND
THE INTERNATIONAL LAW SHOULD BE
A PART OF THE SAME PROCESS.
SELF-DETERMINATION, DEMOCRACY,
AND INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
GO TOGETHER.
THE IDEA THAT YOU CAN RUN
DOMESTIC GOVERNMENTS BY LAW AND
BY INSTITUTION WHILE
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS ARE
GOVERNED ONLY BY FORCE SEEMS TO
ME STRANGE.
IF YOU BELIEVE IN THE BALANCE OF
POWER, THEN YOU HAVE TO EXPLAIN
WHY IT IS THAT GERMANY AND
FRANCE ARE NO LONGER THINKING
ABOUT FIGHTING EACH OTHER.
THE IDEA OF A GIGANTIC WORLD
SCALE BALANCE OF POWER AMONG
DEMOCRACIES SEEMS TO ME BOTH
RIDICULOUS AND REPELLENT.
DEMOCRACIES ARE, ON THE WHOLE,
RELUCTANT TO GO TO WAR, BUT WHEN
THEY DO, THEY HAVE DIFFICULTY IN
STOPPING.
BOTH OF THESE FACTS, TOGETHER
WITH THE TECHNOLOGIES NOW
AVAILABLE FOR WAR, SUGGEST THAT
THE BALANCE OF POWER IS NOT A
SENSIBLE ARCHITECTURE FOR THE
INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY.
THAT IS NOT
BECAUSE STATES ARE INHERENTLY
NICE.
AS MACHIAVELLI SAYS, MEN ARE
MADE VIRTUOUS BY CONSTRAINT, AND
THE SAME IS TRUE OF STATES.
MEN MUST BE CONSTRAINED BY
GOVERNMENT, GOVERNMENTS MUST BE
CONSTRAINED BY THE RULE OF LAW
AND BY DEMOCRACY, AND FINALLY,
STATES CAN ONLY BE MADE VIRTUOUS
BY CONSTRAINT.
THE CONSTRAINT
MAY BE THE THREAT OF FORCE, BUT
IT MAY ALSO BE THE CONSTRAINT OF
INTERNATIONAL LAW AND
INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS.
INSTITUTIONS MAKE US WHAT WE
ARE.
NORTH KOREA HAS THE SAME PEOPLE,
THE SAME CULTURE, THE SAME
HISTORY, AND ALMOST THE SAME
GEOGRAPHY AS THE SOUTH-
BUT THEY HAVE DIFFERENT
INSTITUTIONS, AND THAT MAKES
THEM COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.
AND JUST AS THE STATE CAN CREATE
TRUST, SO INTERNATIONAL
INSTITUTIONS CAN CREATE TRUST
AMONG STATES.
THAT, SLOWLY, IS WHAT THE
EUROPEAN UNION HAS BEEN DOING.
WE ARE, IN A SENSE, THE
WILSONIAN COMMUNITY-
I THINK OF THE PHRASE 'OPEN
COVENANT OPENLY ARRIVED AT' WHEN
I THINK OF THE WAY THAT THE
COUNCIL WORKS, BECAUSE IT'S
COMPLETELY IMPOSSIBLE TO KEEP
ANYTHING SECRET AT 25.
BUT I ALSO THINK OF THAT STRONG
THEORY THAT RAN THROUGH THE
IDEAS OF THE PEOPLE WHO WANTED
THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS TO WORK.
WHEN YOU ASK THEM, 'HOW IS IT
GOING TO WORK?
HOW IS THIS GOING TO PREVENT
WAR?'
THEY ALL SAID PUBLIC OPINION
WILL NEVER LET WAR HAPPEN IN THE
LEAGUE OF NATIONS.
WELL THIS WAS NOT THE CASE FOR
THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS-
BUT IT'S NOT A BAD EXPLANATION
OF WHY EUROPEAN COUNTRIES NO
LONGER THINK OF FIGHTING EACH
OTHER.
MONET, WHO WAS HIMSELF BEHIND
THE SCENES OF THE CONFERENCE OF
VERSAILLES, SAID THE COMMUNITY-
THAT'S THE EUROPEAN UNION-
ITSELF IS ONLY ONE STAGE ON THE
WAY TO A MORE ORGANIZED WORLD
FOR TOMORROW.
INTERNATIONAL TRUST AND
TRUSTWORTHY STATES ARE NOT
CREATED OVERNIGHT ANY MORE THAN
DEMOCRACY CAN BE,
AND MEANWHILE, THE CONSTRAINT OF
THE THREAT OF FORCE MAY STILL BE
NEEDED.
BUT FORCE RARELY PROVIDES A
LASTING SOLUTION.
LASTING SOLUTIONS WILL COME, I
BELIEVE, FROM REALIZING THE FULL
WILSONIAN PROGRAM-
SELF-DETERMINATION, DEMOCRACY,
AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION.
VERSAILLES, IS SEEN AS A FAILURE
BUT IT SET THE AGENDA FOR THE
20th CENTURY, AND I THINK ALSO
FOR THE 21st.
THANK YOU.

[Applause]

Watch: Robert Cooper on his book "The Breaking of Nations"