July 13, 2018

Back to 1648: The Treaty of Westphalia

Featuring Richard Fontaine

Source: Axios

Journalist Steve Levine

If the current global order is being upended, what will replace it?

We are getting a clue in the actions of western leaders and their allies, whose posture suggests a turn back to the foundational, 370-year-old system that preceded World War II.

This brutish order, established in 1648, was called the Westphalian system, and it more or less left states on their own.

In effectively embracing it today, western countries are rejecting the collective bodies that the U.S.-led victors of WWII established with the aim of preventing another catastrophic global war.

"Historically, great powers haven’t (even mostly) been able to sustain peace," says Mathew Burrows, a former senior U.S. intelligence officer now at the Atlantic Council. "They fall out with one another."

Karen Harris, managing director at Bain Macro Trends, tells Axios that the new order will be the U.S., Russia and China — "multiple parallel great powers pushing against each other in the two new borderlands of cyberspace and (actual) space."

That, she said, "will lead to a more fragmented geopolitical order and by extension, a more fragmented international trade and finance order."

Read the Full Article at Axios


  • Richard Fontaine

    Chief Executive Officer

    Richard Fontaine is the Chief Executive Officer of CNAS. He served as President of CNAS from 2012–19 and as Senior Fellow from 2009–12. Prior to CNAS, he was foreign policy ad...