The world cannot go back to the past.

When the war between Russia and Ukraine first broke out, the world thought it was just another geopolitical dispute like the one over South Ossetia in 2008, and that Ukraine was a giant Georgia.

As the war progresses, however, and as we see the reactions of many European countries and the United States, it becomes clear that this time could be very different from 2008.

Regarding the Russia-Ukraine war, the embargo, sanctions and even SWIFT cut-off imposed by the West on Russia are actually nothing in a longer historical period. I was most surprised when, 20 days ago, Finland and Sweden formally submitted their applications to join NATO.

May 15, 1 PM, Finnish President and Prime Minister Marin held a press conference in the capital Helsinki announced that Finland has formally decided to apply for NATO membership;

Hours later, Sweden’s prime minister announced his government’s support for NATO membership;

A few days later, Switzerland, ever a neutral country, said its defense ministry was drafting a report on security policy, including joint military exercises with NATO countries and providing “alternative arms” to countries that aid Ukraine.

There are more than 200 countries and regions in the world, but only seven permanent neutral states — permanent neutral means that it pursues a policy of neutrality at all times, does not initiate wars, does not participate in wars between other countries or groups of countries, and always remains neutral.

Switzerland is the oldest permanently neutral country. Since 1515, when the Swiss League was defeated by the French and Venetian armies, Switzerland has been a neutral country for more than 500 years. At the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Switzerland’s permanent neutrality was generally accepted by the European countries and has remained so ever since.

The peaceful, harmless Sweden of today was one of Europe’s great powers in the 17th century, but it was largely wiped out by a crushing defeat to Russia. In 1780, Sweden signed the Union of Armed Neutrality with Tsarist Russia and Denmark, which was the beginning of Swedish neutrality policy. After losing Finland in 1815, Sweden became a Buddha with a complete makeover. It never started or participated in a war again and remained neutral for more than 200 years.

Finland, a country with a third of its territory in the Arctic Circle, declared permanent neutrality when it gained independence in 1917. Despite its glorious defeat by the Soviet Union in 1939, Finland gained Soviet respect and maintained its neutrality for more than 100 years after the war.

Ireland was independent from the United Kingdom, after independence for a long time did not have much eye to eye with the United Kingdom, but the United Kingdom is the victor of two world wars, has a decisive influence on the military and political in Europe. In this case, after independence in 1948, Ireland did not want to follow Britain and could not fight Britain, so it had to remain neutral and non-aligned, refusing to join NATO and other organizations. That’s more than 70 years of neutrality.

Austria was pulled into German tanks in World War II, and after the war all of it was divided between the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain and France. In 1955, the four countries and Austria signed the Treaty on the Re-Establishment of an Independent and Democratic Austrian State, which recognized Austrian independence. Later, Austria declared that it would not participate in any military alliances and would not allow any country to set up military bases in Austria. Austria remained neutral for more than 65 years.

Costa Rica, the only permanently neutral country in the Americas, decided in 1948 to abolish the army and keep only the police and security forces, tired of the many military coups in Latin American history. In 1983, Colombia declared permanent neutrality, which was recognized by the United Nations for nearly 40 years.

Turkmenistan, the only permanently neutral country in Asia, declared independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In order not to offend major powers such as Russia, the United States and China, Turkmenistan declared absolute neutrality at the time of its independence, and in 1995 was officially granted permanent neutrality by the United Nations government. Today, the permanent neutrality period is 27 years.

Finland, after all, had a history of invasion by Russia; But Switzerland and Sweden, both famously neutral, have not taken an explicit part in a war or coalition of nations since 1815, and even joined the United Nations only in 2002.

But now Sweden has made it clear that it will apply to join NATO, while Switzerland will conduct joint military exercises with the alliance. This is really,

The world has changed and can never go back to the past.

Since European civilization dominated the course of human history, the evolution of the world’s political structure over the past 400 years can be roughly divided into the following five stages:

Westphalia system → Vienna system → Versailles – Washington system → Yalta system.

Each of these systems produced some important principles that became prevailing international norms at the time and later.

From 1618 to 1648, an international war broke out in Europe with Germany as the main battlefield, lasting for 30 years. About 60% of the population of the German states was wiped out during the war; On the basis of this war, the European countries collectively signed the Peace of Westphalia.

In terms of content and outcome, the Peace of Westphalia put an end to the brutal wars of religion, defined the national boundaries of the European continent (on the basis of ensuring the division of Germany), established the concept of the nation state, established the principle of religious freedom, established the boundaries of Protestant (Lutheran, Calvinist) and Old (Catholic) churches, and established the boundaries of Protestant (Lutheran, Calvinist) churches. The contract embodies many of the principles governing the relationship between nations in modern society.

Since it involves almost all countries in Europe, the treaty is regarded as the first multilateral treaty in the modern history of Europe. It confirmed a series of important concepts such as the nation state, national sovereignty, national territory and national independence, which are prevailing all over the world today, and became the source of international law.

The Thirty Years’ War weakened the European hegemony of the Habsburgs and Spain, facilitated the later rise of the French hegemony, and gave rise to Nordic powers like Sweden and maritime hegemons like the Netherlands. The Westphalia Contract has become one of the most important events in human history.

Not long after the establishment of the Westphalia system, the bourgeois revolution broke out in England, and finally established the parliamentary monarchy model at the end of the 17th century. Then, with the help of the balance of power in Europe established by the Industrial Revolution and the Westphalia system, Britain rose rapidly, seized a large number of colonies around the world, and became the world hegemon.

A more damning change came in France, where the revolution in the late 18th century led to the Napoleonic Empire. Napoleon exported the bourgeois revolution to the whole continent of Europe by means of war, and became the strongest country in the continent, breaking the balance of power maintained for 170 years in the whole Europe, so that the feudal monarchs in the whole Europe were very afraid, so they united against France and defeated Napoleon completely.

The Vienna system emphasized the principle of balance of power, orthodoxy and compensation, and emphasized the maintenance of peace and coordination among European powers. It also created the “general resolution”, which required all participating countries to sign, and incorporated European countries into a common system to assume responsibilities and obligations. In order to safeguard the Vienna system and prevent a recurrence of the French revolution, Tsar Alexander I of Russia formed a holy alliance between Austria and Prussia.

 

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