Territories

Territories. Places. Spaces. I had no idea that geographical terms could be so similar, yet distinctly different at the same time. This week’s reading about the idea of territories was by far the most complicated reading for me. However, I did try to understand somewhat of what the authors were arguing in the articles.

One topic that I found particularly interesting was the discussion in, “The Territorial Trap” which sought to explain the relationship between territories, sovereignty, and the ideas of political freedom.

Freedom, virtue, justice are all ideals that the American political system claims to defend. These characteristics only exist, Agnew argues, in a defined territory where sovereignty is clearly outlined. Agnew also notes the modern Western European thought that any outside organization, which interferes in a territory, poses a threat to the ideals of freedom, virtue, and justice. The concept of territorial sovereignty as the ultimate protection for a group of people raises many questions (62). What if the governing authority does not have the interest of its people in mind? Do outside organizations or groups always have to threaten government authorities or is there room for cooperation?

Agnew raises a great question in discussing territorial sovereignty completing “universal values” (63). What do the dominant territories do with others whose values do not align with the “universal values?” So often today people in the Western European mindset assume that their values are ones in which all people groups desire.  However, many territories today do not hold freedom, independence, and personal justice as the highest form of the “good life.” Furthermore, if sovereignty truly lies within the territory as defined by the author, than it is unlawful for those who abide by “universal values” to demand that others follow their same way of living. One nation or organization cannot, under the modern idea of sovereignty, tell another state what to value. America is extraordinarily consistent in forcing other nations to follow their “universal values?” American political leaders are also consistent in preaching that sovereignty nations should be left to govern themselves. President Wilson’s 14 points in WWI is a perfect example of this contradiction. Americans wanted to “inspire” other nations to their capitalist ideas, but preached state independence and territorial sovereignty. The Vietnam War is another example of American intrusion into territories. Do you see similar contradictions in history or in the world today?

The biggest question I have in regards to modern ideas of power, sovereignty and territory is, if dominate nations truly believe that each territorial state should act independently, than why are powerful nations quick to interfere in other states’ affairs?  In theory, states should be able to govern themselves and in theory protection would lie under the sovereignty of the governing bodies within a state. However, what seems logical in theory is not practically possible, or even existent in modern society.  Do you see true territorial sovereignty existent today?

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