Systems of global governance should move beyond realpolitik
We must keep at bay both domestic and international tyrants trying to impose their will on others
The war in Ukraine has drawn pointed attention to the manner in which global politics is conducted. Carl Von Clausewitz famously described diplomacy as the continuation of war by other means. Whereas earlier big powers got their way through war and conquest, they now got their way through diplomacy in the garb of realpolitik. International diplomacy as practised today can be dated back to the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648 and the post-Napoleonic Concert of Europe (CoE) that tried to maintain peace by a balance of power among the bigger countries. While that Treaty was based on the premise of non-interference in the internal policies of other countries, a corollary of the Metternich system was that major powers had their own spheres of influence that others would not disturb. This cosy understanding was shattered by the emergence of nationalism and new nation-states from the 19th century onwards, leading to two world wars and later the Cold War.