World Order, Failed States and Terrorism

Henry C K Liu

PART 1: The failed-state cancer
PART 2: The privatization wave
PART 3: The business of private security
PART 4: Militarism and mercenaries
PART 5: Militarism and the war on drugs
PART 6: Outsourcing Public Security

PART 7: History lesson for the 'war on terror'

(Click here for previous parts in AToL)

This article appeared in AToL on April 4, 2005

The world order of sovereign states began with the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 which ended the Thirty Years' War (1618-48) during which the German Protestant princes struggled, with the self-serving help of foreign powers, against the unifying central authority of the Holy Roman Empire, which was under the Hapsburgs in alliance with the German Catholic princes. The Peace of Westphalia established a new world order based on the principle of sovereign states through the recognition of the independent sovereignty of the more than 300 German principalities in the 17th century. These princely states, recognized internationally as sovereign states by the peace, were not nation-states, as they were all of German nationality.

The Peace of Westphalia represented a foreign-policy triumph for France and its Swedish and Dutch allies, since it immobilized political unification of the German nation and delayed it for two centuries. There are clear indications that the "war on terrorism" today aims for a foreign-policy triumph for US imperium that will immobilize the political unification of Arab states as envisaged by Pan-Arabism.

The Peace of Westphalia advanced the modern Staatensystem or the system of sovereign states in international relations and law. From the 17th century to the unification of Germany by Otto von Bismarck in the aftermath of the failed democratic revolutions of 1848, French foreign policy was to keep Europe divided by the sovereign state principles of the Peace of Westphalia, preventing a unified Germany from emerging to threaten France and the other established big powers. To achieve this aim, France, although a Catholic nation, opposed the centralization aims of the Holy Roman Emperor.

German unification was not achieved until after the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 when Bismarck (1815-98) united Germany by having a group of German princes gathering in the French Palace of Versailles proclaim the victorious William I of Prussia emperor of the German Empire. But Bismarck also divided Germany by leaving one-sixth of the Germans outside of the new German Empire, a condition that led a century later to another world war. Bismarck opposed liberalism and advocated the unification of Germany under the aegis of Prussia. Bismarck suppressed socialism with repressive laws that prohibited the circulation of socialist ideas, legalized police power to put down socialist movements and put the trial of socialists under the jurisdiction of police courts. Yet the persecution of social democrats only increased their strength in parliament. To weaken socialist influence and to implement his policy of economic nationalism, Bismarck introduced sweeping social reform. Between 1883 and 1887, despite strong opposition, laws were passed for health, accident and retirement social insurance, prohibiting female and child labor exploitation, and limiting working hours. These laws allowed Germany to circumvent the evils of the Industrial Revolution that beset Britain.

Universalist ideologies, wars of religion
The ideology behind the "war on terrorism" is universal democracy, and in that respect it is analogous to the Holy Roman Empire ideology of universal Catholicism. Yet with the invasion and occupation of Iraq, US foreign policy has challenged the four-century-old Westphalia principle of state sovereignty. This principle has kept the Middle East divided to prevent a unified Arab state from emerging to threaten the superpower status of the United States and the national interests of its neo-imperialist allies. The US invasion of Iraq, while satisfying the myopic mania of the neo-cons who temporarily captured US policy, unwittingly gives legitimacy to pan-Arabism to unleash a frenzy of regime changes unrestrained by the Westphalia principle of sovereign states. The rise of pan-Arabism brought about by the demise of the Westphalia principle of sovereign states in the Middle East will be resisted by the neo-imperialist powers and will inevitably lead to a new global war that will make the Thirty Years' Year look like child's play.

The Thirty Years' War was fought on German soil, carried out by soldiers of fortune who aspired to create principalities of their own with their own political agendas. The "war on terror" today is fought on Islamic soil, carried out by mercenary units and opportunistic local factions hoping to carve out religious or ethnic fiefdoms. The Thirty Years' War dragged on because the warring parties feared each other's success and regularly changed alliances and war aims to keep the conflict going. Peace was not an objective because the purpose of war was to prevent any one party from winning, and as soon as peace was at hand, the potential winner would be neutralized by a new balance of power. Peace is also not an objective in today's "war on terrorism" because the purpose of the war was to prevent indigenous political cultures from overwhelming the injudicious push for universal democracy and collateral US hegemony, which is enhanced by continuing local conflicts with the US as a half-hearted peacemaker and arbitrageur with a not-so-hidden self-serving agenda.

The "war on terrorism" today shares many parallel attributes with the Thirty Years' War of four centuries ago. Both are global religious conflicts conducted with geopolitical maneuverings. Both serve as unwitting cradles for new world orders. While the Thirty Years' War was fought to enforce universal Catholicism, today's "war on terror" is being fought to spread universal democracy based on Judeo-Christian values. Like the Thirty Years' War, the "war on terror" today is also complex and multidimensional. US President George W Bush has repeatedly served notice that it will be a protracted and difficult war. Like the Thirty Years' War, the "war on terrorism" today also has no clear single objective, not even the elimination of terrorism. So far, the war has used the threat of terrorism as a pretext to invade sovereign states not to the superpower's liking. The administration of president George H W Bush launched the first Gulf War to protect the tangible principle of sovereign states by driving Iraq from its reincorporation of Kuwait, thus putting the principle of state sovereignty above the intangible principle pan-Arab nationalism. Yet in the second Gulf War to invade and occupy Iraq, the abstract principle of universal democracy was used to overrule the tangible principle of state sovereignty.

Terrorism is as old as civilization itself and many political movements have been forced to resort to it in varying degrees, especially in their early stages of struggle. Powerful, established political powers regularly resort to state terrorism, known euphemistically as war conducted by overwhelming force applied with shock and awe - in other words, terror. Thus the "war on terror" is in fact fought with state terror. Even the most heinous war is always rationalized with high moral justification.

In its most current manifestation, the "war on terrorism" today is a religious war between a faith-based Christian nation and Islamic extremists, both groups controlled by fundamentalists, not unlike the struggle between the Roman Catholic Church and emerging Protestant movements during the Thirty Years' War. It is an unevenly matched conflict between a powerful state military machine and clandestine cells engaged in asymmetrical warfare reminiscent of the early phases of the Thirty Years' War. It is an unbalanced game between an organized system with visible and open targets everywhere and a vast network of disjointed cells that are impossible to find until after they surface with an attack. The same was true with the Holy Roman Empire in its effort to rein in the Protestant German princes and their religious zealot advisers during the Thirty Years' War.

The "war on terrorism" today is a violent neo-imperialist strategy that unwittingly enhances the unifying aim of pan-Arabism, by threatening the sovereignty of the numerous small Arabic failed states created by the imperialist powers of the last century to frustrate pan-Arab nationalism. Just as the prevention of the unification of Germany played a key role in the strategy of foreign powers during the Thirty Years' War, the eventual emergence and prevention of pan-Arabism will play a key role in the "war on terrorism" today. It is too early to discern how the geopolitical implication of the development will shape up.

The "war on terrorism" is a unilateral war waged primarily by the sole superpower that is putting strains on residual Cold War alliances, forcing Europe to seek independence from post-Cold War US unilateralism. It pushes Cold War US nemeses such as Russia, China and India to converge if not unite in support of a multipolar world order. The Holy Roman Emperor was in a similar situation in its relations with the major powers of Europe at the time of the Thirty Years' War.

Bourbons, Bonaparte and Bush
The Peace of Westphalia that began in 1648 after 30 years of destruction and slaughter marked the triumph of the doctrine of the balance of power. The doctrine was directed against Hapsburg supremacy, which was successfully blocked by a France on its path toward superpower status. Later, when King Louis XIV of France advanced the doctrine of "universal monarchy", or still later when Napoleon Bonaparte expanded the same idea to a multinational, multi-ethnic Empire of the French (not a French empire) based on universal citizenship in the imperial Roman sense, the balance-of-power doctrine was directed specifically against France. Today, there is clear evidence of the balance-of-power doctrine being directed against a hegemonic United States that attempts to construct, by violent regime changes in distant sovereign states, a world order of compulsive neo-liberalism. Unlike the Roman Empire or the Empire of the French, US neo-imperialism has yet to adopt an inclusive citizenship policy. US-led neo-liberal globalization promotes only the cross-border free movement of goods and capital, but not of people.

One and half centuries after the Peace of Westphalia, Napoleon co-opted the democratic ideals of the French Revolution and applied them to the concept of a universal empire ruled by a Bonaparte dynasty consisting of members of his family. The people of Spain proved to be less docile than their aristocratic leaders to the Pax Napoleon. Even before Joseph, Napoleon's brother, was proclaimed king of Spain with alacrity by a Spanish Council of Regency, spontaneous anti-French insurrection had broken out in every province of Spain, without central leadership, systemic organization or preparation. Spain was by that time a mere shadow of its former greatness and, in every sense of the term, a failed state. The popular insurrection was not explainable by any aversion to a foreigner on the Spanish throne. The Spanish Bourbons were a foreign dynasty. Joseph Bonaparte came to Spain with an impressive record of liberal reforms as king of Naples and he had the support of a substantial segment of the Spanish elite, nobles, prelates, financiers, officials and intellectuals who looked to France, even Napoleonic France, as a bearer of the liberal principles of the French Revolution. Had Joseph been allowed to rule in peace, such aspirations might not have been wrong.

The Spanish Church had little to fear from Catholic France, but the monastic orders that controlled the conscience of the masses had vested interest in keeping fanaticism alive, forcing Napoleon to limit the number of priests while appeasing the church elites. The large landowners in Spain could afford to toy with liberal reform, for they also had commercial interests and their income from rent was not threatened by reform. The lesser nobles, on the other hand, were ruined by the abolition of entails and suppression of feudal dues. To them, the Napoleonic Code, a progressive instrument of the rule of law, was a direct threat. They wanted no part of Napoleon's liberation. President Bush's call to liberate the world from tyranny will meet with resistance not from tyrants but from a natural aversion to imported liberty. Like Napoleon's, Bush's bogus liberty is a smokescreen for installing puppet proxies all over the world to support a new American empire that thrives on structural disparity of income and wealth. Like Napoleon's efforts in Spain, Bush's drive for global democracy will be foiled by popular resistance unless and until neo-liberalism is purged from the institution of democracy.

Although guerrilla tactics have been used since time immemorial, the term "guerrilla" gained currency only during the Napoleonic wars, particularly in Spain, where it had been highly effective in the six years between 1808 and 1814. France had 320,000 troops in Spain at the height of its presence in 1810 and a low of 200,000 troops in 1813. During the six-year campaign, French forces lost 240,000 men: 45,000 were killed in action against conventional forces, 50,000 died of illness and accident, and 145,000 were killed in action against guerrilla forces. French losses in Iberia approached 1% of the entire French population. Indeed, Napoleon lost more French troops in Spain than in Russia. These were large numbers that France could not afford, numbers that had they not been lost might have turned the strategic tide at Leipzig or at Waterloo to prevent French defeat. A similar fate is falling on US forces in Iraq and whatever other regime-change plans the neo-cons in the US government are planning.

Military analysts have calculated membership in Spanish guerrilla bands to have been about 50,000. Even if these are added to the Duke of Wellington's regular force in Spain of 40,000 and 25,000 attached Portuguese forces, the French still enjoyed a favorable force ratio of almost 3:1. In spite of their numerical force advantage, however, the French were defeated badly. Some historians see the fall of Napoleon as having begun in Spain, where 320,000 French troops were tied down and demoralized by guerilla warfare. But the real damage suffered by Napoleon in his disaster in Spain was the challenge to his image of invincibility.

Similarly, Iraq will tie down more than 150,000 US troops and Afghanistan 50,000 for the foreseeable future. It the US were foolhardy enough to invade Iran, a country four times the size of Iraq and much less secular, it had better be prepared to send a million troops to deliver its gift of exported liberty. But the real damage is to US prestige of invincibility, following a pattern that began in Korea, then Vietnam, and now Iraq.

Napoleon told the Spaniards: "I have abolished those privileges which the grandees usurped, during the times of civil war, when kings but too frequently are necessitated to surrender their rights, to purchase their tranquility, and that of their people. I have abolished the feudal rights, and henceforth everyone may set up inns, ovens, mills, employ himself in fishing and rabbit hunting, and give free scope to his industry, provided he respects the laws and regulations of the police. The selfishness, wealth, and prosperity of a small number of individuals, were more injurious to your agriculture than the heat of the dog-days. As there is but one God, so should there be in a state but one judicial power. All peculiar jurisdictions were usurpations, and at variance with the rights of the nation; I have abolished them. I have also made known to everyone what he may have to fear, and what he may have to hope."

Yet the Spanish people, long oppressed under the foreign Spanish Bourbons, decisively turned down Napoleon's offer of liberation. It should be an object lesson to the United States' offer of liberty to Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere around the globe. President Bush's second Inaugural Address defined the unity of US national interest with the spread of liberty around the world as a "calling of our time". While no one can argue against liberty, one can question whether liberty can be spread by force, or imposed by occupation and economic domination. It is a well-known fact that liberty can only be taken by the oppressed themselves, never delivered by a liberator from outside.

Incongruent issues, overlapping battlefields
The Thirty Years' War was a protracted, complex, multidimensional conflict in a splintered Germany, with much similarity to today's Middle East. It was a German civil war fought over Protestant-Catholic religious issues. It was also a violent civil conflict over constitutional issues regarding the central authority of the Holy Roman Emperor and centrifugal forces of state sovereignty. The two separate issues were not congruent, yielding overlapping battlefields and shifting alliances and adversaries. The religious wars among Catholics, Lutherans and Calvinists were fought by secular monarchs who saw religious schisms as political opportunities. Ferdinand II and his primary ally Maximilian I represented the re-Catholicizing zeal of the Jesuit Counter-reformation, while Frederick V of the Palatinate represented the equally militant forces of Calvinism. Unspoken is the socio-economic struggle behind the religious dispute, with the Counter-reformation trying to preserve agricultural feudalism while Calvinism agitated for the emergence of capitalism.

The "war on terrorism" today will also be a protracted, complex, multidimensional conflict in a splintered Islamic Middle East and Central Asia. It will be a struggle between Christian fundamentalism and Islamic fundamentalism, and a struggle between unipolar US imperium and a multipolar world order of sovereign states. It will also be a struggle between neo-liberal market fundamentalism and humanist socialism. The fall of Soviet socialist imperialism should not be mistaken as the death of socialism or the end of history. The triumph of anti-imperialist socialist and populist forces through democratic processes in Central and South America will spread to other regions. The day will come when the US will regret its disingenuous push for democracy all over the world. True democracy will emerge as an effective vaccine against neo-liberal market fundamentalism.

One of Germany's main problems in the 16th century was that the northern states were still divided over religion, though, ironically, it was division among the Protestant states. After the Religious Peace of Augsburg (1555), Protestant states had split along two different lines. There were those states that wanted a flexible approach to Protestantism. These states, known as the Phillipists, saw value in some of the ideas of John Calvin and Huldreich Zwingli and saw no harm in adopting a combination of Protestant beliefs. Opposed to these states were the hardline Lutheran states. In 1577, these states produced the "Formula of Accord", which clearly stated their position, and the Phillipist states responded to this by switching openly to Calvinism. Therefore, there was a visible split among the Protestant world in Germany and there was a failure to create a common front against the Roman Catholic Church. Similar splits in Islam, perhaps even more complex, also cause a failure to create a common front in modern times against the Judeo-Christian evangelicals. In modern politics, the split in the socialism camp between communists and social democrats has similarity to the split among the Protestants.

This Protestant split allowed the Roman Catholic Church some gains in Germany. The socialist split has also allowed market capitalism some gains in many parts of the world in recent decades. In the 1580s, the archbishop of Cologne wanted to secularize his land. This would have been very lucrative for him but it also broke the terms of the Imperial Reservation in the 1555 Augsburg Settlement, which forbade such a move. He was removed from his position by the Holy Roman Emperor, who sent Spanish troops to enforce his authority. This was a perfectly legal move by the emperor. A more orthodox Catholic replacement was installed.

But Spanish troops so near to the western French border were not well received in Paris any more than Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuban were welcomed by Washington. The Protestant Evangelical Union was founded in response to this foreign intrusion. It was a defensive alliance of nine princes and 17 Imperial Cities. It was led by the Elector Palatine and its general was Christian of Anhalt. This union was predominantly Calvinist, and many Lutheran leaders stayed away from it as they felt that its existence could lead to anarchy.

In response to this union, Maximilian of Bavaria founded the Catholic League in 1609. Ironically, he did not ask the Catholic Austrian Hapsburgs to join it - a symbol of just how far the status of the Hapsburgs had fallen, to a level similar to US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's disparaging reference to uncooperative Western European allies and the "old Europe". Phillip III of Spain sent financial aid to maintain some Hapsburg influence but his involvement in a central European issue was bound to provoke the French. The "war on terrorism" today also brings forth an opposing coalition against US hegemony and unilateralism, such as a new European relationship with China and, more significantly, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) process.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization
Unilateralism in US foreign policy, highlighted by US rejection of the Kyoto Treaty and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the hardline approach toward North Korea and China, and until September 11, 2001, support for anti-socialist terrorism in the name of human rights and democracy, has solicited efforts by targeted countries to form their own sets of cooperative multilateral mechanisms that exclude the US. The SCO process, the most significant of such mechanisms, has quietly but steadily built up its economic, military and diplomatic relations, seeking to present itself as more viable counterweight to emerging US hegemony in Central Asia.

The SCO consists of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and, most recently, Uzbekistan. Until that sixth member joined, the group was known as the Shanghai Five. The group emerged from a series of talks on border demarcation and demilitarization which the four former Soviet republics held with China. Since 1996, when the group held its first presidential summit meeting in Shanghai, the five-country group has held annual summits. The statement from the July 2000 Dushanbe summit notes the establishment of a "Council of National Coordinators" that would further foster regularized cooperation among the member states. In addition, the joint statement expressed the group's view of the international security situation both within and beyond their borders. The Dushanbe statement pledge the member states to crack down jointly on secession movements, terrorism, and religious extremism within their borders and to oppose intervention in another country's internal affairs on the pretexts of humanitarianism and protecting human rights; and support the efforts of one another in safeguarding the member states' national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and social stability. China has called for strengthening mutual support in safeguarding the national unity and sovereignty of the SCO member nations and jointly resisting all kinds of threat to the security of the region, particularly from outside the region.

With these aims in mind, the SCO defense ministers meet annually along with their foreign ministers, and their militaries conduct joint exercises and training, exchange information about peacekeeping operations, and hold conferences and other exchanges on security issues. The Dushanbe statement also noted the group's opposition to the use of force or threat of force in international relations without United Nations Security Council approval, a direct reference to recent US undertakings in Iraq. The group also opposes any attempt by countries or groups of countries to monopolize global and regional affairs out of selfish interests. In similar terms, the Dushanbe statement also expressed its opposition to US missile-defense strategy by stating its strong support for the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty of 1972 and its opposition to "bloc-based" (ie, US alliance-based) deployment of theater missile defense systems in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in Taiwan and Japan.

The SCO maintains that it is not an alliance, and is not aimed at any third parties. Indeed, the group has a number of internal differences that will likely prevent it from becoming like a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The two biggest countries in the group, China and Russia, have enjoyed much-improved relations over the past decade, but still harbor mutual long-term strategic distrusts. In addition, individual members of the group differ over other important issues, such as relations with various neighbors such as India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and over how best to exploit the rich reserves of energy and other natural resources in Central Asia for common use. Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to welcome additional members to the group (such as Uzbekistan; Pakistan, Iran and India have expressed an interest), which, if admitted, would certainly complicate the achievement of consensus within the group. China and India are engaged with serious efforts to improve relations.

The SCO process has resulted in impressive achievements, such as settling border disputes, introducing confidence-building measures, and moving in cooperative ways to combat illicit activities in their region such as terrorism and drug smuggling. It has also issued increasingly pointed statements in opposition to US hegemony. The SCO is indicative of efforts around the world seeking security-related mechanisms independent of US participation.

End of the Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was also an international war between France and Spain and a dynastic war between the Bourbons and the Hapsburgs. Foreign powers opposed to the Hapsburgs could not look with equanimity on developments in Germany. The French, English and Dutch formed a league to oppose the Hapsburgs. They found their champion in Christian IV of Denmark, who also had extensive possessions in northern Germany. Christian IV invaded Germany in 1626, but was crushingly defeated in 1627 by the army of the Catholic League and a new Imperial force under the enigmatic Bohemian condottiere Albrecht Wenzel Eusebius von Wallenstein. Emboldened by victory, Ferdinand, Holy Roman Emperor and king of Bohemia, issued the Edict of Restitution, requiring the return of all lands expropriated from the Roman Church since the 1550s. Fearing Wallenstein's rising power, the territorial rulers forced the emperor to remove him from power and reduce the size of the Imperial army. Concerned by growing Hapsburg power along the Baltic, Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, the Lion of the North, invaded northern Germany in 1630. Cardinal Richelieu of Catholic France wanted an alliance with the Protestant Gustavus to form a counterweight to Hapsburg power in Europe. If Gustavus could also enlist the help of Maximilian of Bavaria and the Catholic League, then so much the better. Both Gustavus and Richelieu were pragmatists. Though they held opposite views on religion, they both realized that they needed each other if they were to form a realistic opposition to Ferdinand, Holy Roman Emperor and king of Bohemia. Gustavus was not welcomed by his fellow Lutherans in Germany. His sole significant ally was the French, who subsidized his army.

After the Swedish-allied city of Magdeburg was destroyed by an Imperial army, the Protestants grew concerned and began to arm. When the Imperial forces moved against Saxony, the elector of Saxony threw in his lot with the Swedes. The Swedish army met the Imperials at Breitenfeld near Leipzig and annihilated them. The Swedes promptly took over most of southwestern Germany. Ferdinand, Holy Roman Emperor and king of Bohemia, had no choice but to recall Wallenstein. The Swedes and Wallenstein's new army met near Leipzig at Luetzen on November 16, 1632. The battle was a draw, but Gustavus was killed. Fearing Wallenstein's rising power, and concerned by his intrigues with hostile powers, the emperor had him killed. With some imagination, one can see Saddam Hussein as a modern-day Wallenstein who was first used by the US against an Islamist Iran and then destroyed to punish his intrigues with hostile powers.

The Imperial and Spanish armies joined and inflicted a crushing defeat on the Swedes at Noerdlingen. All the Swedish gains in southern Germany were lost. After Noerdlingen, most of the German territorial rulers made their peace with the emperor. Under the resultant Peace of Prague, most of the church lands in Protestant hands in 1627 were allowed to remain so.

After the invasion of Iraq, most of the Arab states also made their peace with the US, most notably Libya's Muammar Gaddafi. The Financial Times reported on March 26, 2003, that Libya brought to an end decades of international isolation as a pariah state with a promise to join forces with the United States and the United Kingdom to fight the "global war against terrorism". It promised to provide intelligence to help root out al-Qaeda and secured a gas-exploration deal with Shell that could be worth billions of dollars. Tony Blair, UK prime minister, held two hours of talks with Gaddafi in a bedroom tent a few kilometers outside of Tripoli, the first time a British leader had set foot in the country since 1943. He emerged to declare the Libyan leader an important ally of the neo-imperialists and urged other Arab countries to follow Tripoli's example.

In May 1635, 17 years after the beginning of the Thirty Years' War, France declared war on Spain and increased the scope of its interventions in the Empire, and gradually weakened the Imperial forces. Earlier, in October 1634, the Holy Roman Emperor, the king of Spain and the Roman Catholic princes of Germany had agreed to a joint attack on France. Louis XIII was simply preempting the inevitable: attack before France itself was attacked.

The military prospects of France were not good. Its troops were undisciplined and lacked experience in the newer forms of fighting. France, therefore, needed alliances. In July 1635, France signed a treaty with Savoy, Parma and Mantua for a joint campaign in northern Italy. The French Huguenot general, the Duc de Rohan, was sent to help the Swiss Protestants in a campaign to overthrow the Valtellina. In October 1635, Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar and his army were taken into French service.

To sustain the above alliances, Richelieu needed improved finances by taking loans, selling government offices to the highest bidder (though not necessarily the most talented) and to place government tax inspectors (intendants) on permanent location in the provinces to ensure tax collection. French military involvement in the Thirty Years' War got off to a poor start. The Spanish made timely and generous concessions to the Swiss Protestants in the Valtellina and therefore stability was brought back to the area. Rohan was abandoned by the Swiss rebels and had to withdraw to France.

In 1636 came the expected attack on France by the major Catholic powers of Europe. The high taxes in France had made Richelieu a very unpopular man and the invading Catholic forces hoped to capitalize on this and be seen as a liberating force with religious righteousness. France had to endure a three-pronged attack. The Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand attacked through Picardy. An Imperial army led by Graf von Gallas attacked through the Vosges and Phillip IV of Spain led an attack from the south.

The Cardinal-Infante was especially successful and many Parisians feared that their city would be occupied. It was commonly thought that Richelieu would be dismissed as a concession to the Cardinal-Infante but Louis XIII stood by him and asked Parisians to be patriotic and supply money to the government in the defense of Paris. Bernhard of Weimar pushed back Gallas and the attack by Phillip IV failed to materialize. The Cardinal failed to maintain his push and he too was pushed back from Paris.

Though the attack on France failed, the prestige of France as a nation had suffered. It had proclaimed itself as the savior against the domination of Europe by the Holy Roman Emperor, but a nation that had been invaded could hardly claim the status of protector of European liberties.

The German electors had no faith in France. In the autumn of 1636 they were summoned to Regensburg by Ferdinand, Holy Roman Emperor and king of Bohemia. Here, they duly elected his son, Ferdinand, king of the Romans. In February 1637, the elder Ferdinand died and his son succeeded him as Ferdinand III. Like any new emperor or king, Ferdinand had to prove himself, but his start was less than auspicious. France took control of Alsace and much of the Rhineland while the Swedes took over or neutralized northern Germany and carried the war into Bohemia. Over the final four years of the war, the parties were actively negotiating at Osnabrueck and Muenster in Westphalia. On October 24, 1648, the Peace of Westphalia was signed, ending the Thirty Years' War.

Reorganization and compromise
No true Diet or Reichstag had been assembled since 1613. The emperors, Ferdinand II and III both, had ruled by fiat and the consent of the electors. While they had hoped to resolve matters themselves, the electors, at the Kurfeurstentag opened in Nuremberg on February 3, 1640, agreed that a Diet should be called. It was to debate a broader amnesty than that granted by the Peace of Prague in the hopes of at last bringing peace to the Empire. The Diet actually opened at Regensburg on September 13, 1640. At first all went according to the Imperial plan. A safe-conduct was issued to emissaries from Hesse-Cassel and Brunswick-Lueneberg and even to the Winter King's relict, Elizabeth Stuart. The Diet agreed to a general amnesty. And to put some force behind these pacific plans, the current size of, and subsidies to, the Imperial army were agreed.

In 1640 a short pamphlet, Dissertatio de ratione Status in Imperio nostro Romano-Germanico, was published under the pseudonym Hippolithus a Lapide, but generally attributed to the Swedish court historiographer Bogislav von Chemnitz. This widely read work demonstrated the limits of the authority of the emperors under the Imperial constitution and the manner in which the Hapsburgs had exceeded their legitimate authority in pursuit of power.

In December 1640, Georg-Wilhelm, elector of Brandenburg, died and was succeeded by his son, Frederich-Wilhelm, as the Great Elector who in January 1641 removed his late father's adviser, the pro-Imperial Schwartzenberg. During the summer of 1641, the Swedes and French had shown that, regardless of the emperor's wishes, they were not going to disappear from the Empire, nor were they going to permit any solution to be reached of which they were not a part.

On June 30, 1641, they entered into the Treaty of Hamburg, which renewed their 1638 treaty of alliance, which was set to expire. Unlike prior treaties, which had run for a specified term, this was to last until the war was over. In July 1641, Frederich-Wilhelm concluded a two-year truce with Sweden. He then announced to the shocked Diet that he did not consider the Imperial proposals, grounded on an extension of the Peace of Prague and seeking a purely domestic solution to the wars of the Empire, worthy of his support. The lesser Protestant princes immediately began to distance themselves from the emperor and rally to the Brandenburger.

The Swedes and French issued an invitation to the emperor, Spain and the Estates of the Empire to peace conferences to be held in Westphalia. On December 4, 1642, Armand-Jean du Plessis, Cardinal Richelieu, died. His health had long been weak and he had persisted in his labors only by dint of his preternatural will. He was succeeded as Louis XIII's chief minister by the Sicilian Giulio Mazarini, more commonly known as Cardinal Mazarin.

Even though the convening of peace conferences, both domestic and foreign, had been set, peace did not come swiftly to the Empire. After the close of the Reichstag of Regensburg and the signing of the Treaty of Hamburg, a structure for negotiation was in place. In theory, the purely domestic quarrels of the Empire were to be settled at Frankfurt in a meeting of the Princes of the Empire, the Deputationstag. The international dimension of the war was to be settled by negotiations at Muenster and Osnabrueck.

According to the Preliminary Treaty of Hamburg, the Congress of Westphalia was to open on March 25, 1642. However, this was rendered impossible by delays in ratification of the treaty: the emperor delayed his approval until July 26, 1642. As a result, the official opening date was revised to July 11, 1643. Even then, only the Imperial representatives were there on time. As they had no one with whom to negotiate, no progress was made.

On May 14, 1643, Louis XIII died. His widow queen, Anne of Austria, a Hapsburg and sister to Philip IV, was appointed regent to the infant Louis XIV. Hopes of a softening of policy toward the Hapsburgs were misplaced. Anne was far more zealous in the protection of her son's interests than her brother's. She confided the running of France to Mazarin, who continued Richelieu's anti-Hapsburg policies unabated. While the diplomatic front remained static, the war did not.

The Peace of Westphalia represented a compromise rather than an unconditional surrender. Each of the combatants had experienced abrupt reversals of fortune during the course of the war: thus neither was willing to proceed on the assumption that the emperor's dire military straits would continue. Further, the interests of the Swedes and the French were sufficiently divergent that the emperor was able to play one off against the other. For example, the Swedish desire for a guarantee of Protestant rights in the Hapsburg domains was scotched by the French at Imperial insistence. The peace thus concluded had something for everyone and everything for no one, the classic outcome of a balance of power. The primary component of the peace from the international perspective was a complex series of land transfers within the Empire. This was particularly true of the Swedish acquisition of eastern Pomerania, which led to a complex chain reaction of land transfers, mostly representing re-secularization of bishoprics returned to the Catholic Church under the Edict of Restitution.

After these transfers, all dreams of the Roman Church of its re-establishment in northern Germany were ended. The constitution of the Empire was so adjusted as to render its already loose structure utterly incoherent, with a particular laxity imposed in matters of religion. The Princes of the Empire were granted an expanded version of their German liberties, the Landeshoheit. They could make military alliances among themselves and with foreigners, could wage war and make peace, only provided the alliances and wars were not directed against the emperor. As the future was to display, this was an empty proviso. To protect against the emperor and Catholic electors using the machinery of the Imperial state to advance the old religion, Protestants were to be admitted as judges in the Imperial courts in numbers equal to the Catholics, and in any matter before the Diet that had religious implications, unanimity of decision was required. The followers of John Calvin were at last to be considered followers of the Augsburg Confession, and thus receive the same rights under the Imperial constitution as the Catholics and Lutherans.

Within the Empire, a broad amnesty was granted to all.

The Edict of Restitution was finally laid in its grave. The Peace set the normaljahre to January 1, 1624, with all lands in Protestant hands at that date to remain so for at least 40 years. Since this date was before the Imperial advances in northern Germany attendant upon the Danish war, the north German Protestant lands were to remain secularized.

The pope protested the loss of lands, but purely pro forma, in order to preserve the Church's rights should the war rekindle. Even these mild protests were met with a provision in the final treaty in which the parties agreed to ignore any formal protest the Church might lodge. The papacy itself was unwilling to endanger the fragile peace through excessive vigor in preservation of its rights: the bull formally protesting the settlement, Zelo Domus Domine, was not issued until August 20, 1650, although it was backdated to November 26, 1648.

The Catholics received confirmation that there would be no more creeping secularizations accomplished by changes in the religion of holders of bishoprics. The Protestants were to recognize the reservatio ecclesiasticorum, and any prelate converting to the reformed faith would henceforward lose his benefices. Various of the parties received monetary settlements, either to compensate them for losses of lands, or to assist in payment of the long-suffering soldiery.

The results of the war and the two peace treaties were highly significant. France replaced Spain as the greatest power in Europe. With Sweden, France had blocked the Hapsburg efforts to strengthen their authority in the Empire. At Westphalia, the right of the individual states within the Empire to make war and conclude alliances was recognized. In theory as well as in fact, the most important of these states became virtually autonomous, and German unity was postponed for more than two centuries. The Empire was further dismembered by the recognition of the independence of Switzerland and the seven northern provinces of the Netherlands. Two new powers emerged in northern Germany. Sweden received part of Pomerania and the bishoprics of Bremen and Verden; Brandenburg-Prussia added the rest of Pomerania and several secularized bishoprics to its possessions. In southern Germany, the Bavarian rulers were permitted to keep the upper Palatinate and the title of elector, but the Lower Palatinate was restored to Frederick's son and an eighth electorate was created for him. France received most of Alsace by the Treaty of Westphalia, and by the Treaty of Pyrenees parts of Flanders and Artois in the Spanish Netherlands and lands in the Pyrenees.

The religious settlement at Westphalia confirmed the predominance of Catholicism in southern Germany and of Protestantism in northern Germany. The principle accepted by the Peace of Augsburg of 1555 that Catholic and Lutheran princes could determine the religion practiced in their territory was maintained, and this privilege was extended to include the Calvinists as well.

The Austrian Hapsburgs had failed in their efforts to increase their authority in the Empire and to eradicate Protestantism, but they emerged from the war stronger than before. In Bohemia, they had stamped out Protestantism, broken the power of the old nobility, and declared the crown hereditary in the male line of their family. With Bohemia now firmly in their grasp and with their large group of adjoining territories, they were ready to expand to the east in the Balkans, to the south in Italy, or to interfere once more in the Empire.

The above detailed summary of the complexity of the Thirty Years' War presents a glimpse of how unpredictably the "war on terrorism" will affect the shape of world order over its anticipated protracted course of decades. Rising powers such as China, India and Brazil, as well as a revitalized Russia, will eventually become major players, as will a European Union and Japan increasingly independent of US domination. There is also the unstoppable spread of socialist movements in Central and Latin America as a major factor in the evolution of new balance-of-power configurations. If the US persists with its faith-based foreign policy for an extended period, it may fall into the danger of repeating the fate of Catholic Spain.

The real losers in the Thirty Years' War were the German people. More than 300,000 had been killed in battle. Millions of civilians had died of malnutrition and disease, and wandering, undisciplined troops had robbed, burned and looted almost at will. The population of the Empire dropped from about 21 million to 13.5 million between 1618 and 1648. Today, the real losers so far in the "war on terrorism" are the Iraqi people and their Islamic brothers. The Thirty Years' War remains one of the most terrible in history. The long-range result of the war, which was to endure for about two centuries, was the enshrinement of a Germany divided among many territories, all of which, despite their continuing membership in the Holy Roman Empire up to its formal dissolution in 1806, had de facto sovereignty. After the fall of imperialism, the Westphalia principle of sovereign states has been deviously used by Western neo-imperialists to rule the region through a proxy of puppet sovereign states to oppose pan-Arabism. As unnatural fragmentation of the German nation has been identified by analysts as a long-term underlying cause of later German militarism, the unnatural fragmentation of the Arabic nation is also an underlying cause of Islamic terrorism.

Next: Militarism and failed states