The Illogicality of International Law

An interesting observation from the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev:
Kazakhstan-Russia frictions over Ukraine war go public | Eurasianet

Tokayev used the occasion … to re-state his country’s refusal to recognize Moscow-backed breakaway territories of Ukraine.

The UN Charter is the basis of international law, he said, even if two of its principles are at odds: the right of countries to territorial integrity and the right of nations to self-determination.

“It has been calculated that if the right of nations to self-determination was realized in reality on the entire globe, over 500 or 600 states would emerge on Earth, instead of the 193 states that are currently part of the UN. Of course that would be chaos,” said Tokayev, a former diplomat who was once the secretary-general of the United Nations office at Geneva.

Shades of “2001: A Space Odyssey”. What is HAL to do when incompatible objectives have been programmed into his core? The bottom line is that any politician can do anything and claim she is following the UN Charter; and anyone else can respond – No, she is not!

As a numerical aside, suppose the 7.9 Billion of us on Planet Earth divided ourselves into 600 states. The average state would have 13.2 Million people, somewhere between the populations of the Netherlands (17.1 Million) and Sweden (10.1 Million). That hardly seems a recipe for “chaos” – unless one is an afficionado of the current UN.


Wasn’t Tokayev’s regime saved in extremis by a Russian show of displeasure at a budding color revolution just before the so-called special military action started in Ukraine?


OTOH man has a point. Continued Balkanization of the world will lead to no nation but a very few that can independently sustain themselves. Guess what THAT looks like.

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We are already there. Europe is demonstrating that it will die without steady injections of imported fossil fuels and minerals. Same applies to China & India. Sadly, the US can’t even do something as basic as put shoes on its feet without imports.

Russia might be able to sustain itself, but at the cost of giving up high-end luxuries. Bangladesh could probably also sustain itself – because they never could afford such imported luxuries in the first place.

The case for having large countries might sound more convincing if today’s larger countries were not obviously making such a desperate hash of things.

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So look at India. They’re a large country but seem to be thriving. They are building, expanding, increasing trade, improving their standard of living, all while faced with the threat of Pakistan and China.

So there IS an argument for large countries - just not our, at least as we’re currently configured. We too once grew, prospered, minded our own business, were (well, relatively) frugal - and all without a central bank! From Andrew Jackson to the 16th Amendment, we were doing just fine. Congress may have been acting as a jackass, but what’s new there.


Here, according to the 2022 World Happiness Report, are the ten happiest countries in the world.


Every single one is a small, homogeneous country. There is no country on Earth which has put such a priority on self-sufficiency as North Korea. How happy are its citizens (if you can call them that)?

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The Gallup World Poll, which remains the principal source of data in this report, asks respondents to evaluate their current life as a whole using the mental image of a ladder, with the best possible life for them as a 10 and worst possible as a 0. Each respondent provides a numerical response on this scale, referred to as the Cantril ladder.

If I am reading their word salad correctly, this ranking is the average self-assessment of about 1,000 individuals in each country. That suggests there could be a very significant cultural element in how people in different countries respond to a question from an outsider on “How happy are you?”. I have never been to Finland, but I have been to Denmark. It was raining. Nobody was smiling.

It is a little surprising to see that Israelis rank themselves highly on happiness, given the turmoil around them. Investigation of that would probably be meat for several PhD theses.

Being cynical, my guess would be that a North Korean would respond to a question from an official-looking outsider on “How happy are you on a scale of 0 to 10” by answering 10; No! Crank it up to 11. And all thanks to Our Leader.


I have heard a number of Israelis, including a friend of more than half a century who moved there in the early 1990s, describe a spirit of “we’re all in this together” which creates a sense of solidarity and common purpose. A joke in Israel (where both aggressive driving and rudeness are the source of much self-deprecating humour among residents) is that an Israeli will run you down in the crosswalk if you aren’t out of the road 100 milliseconds after the light changes, then offer to drive you to the hospital.

In The Network State, which I discussed in another post today, the author discusses the need for “one commandment” or a shared proposition for a viable consensual community. Israel is a prime example of a country, most of whose population are self-selected immigrants or descended from them, with such a clearly-defined proposition.