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SAIS Review 26.1 (2006) 1-2

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One of the striking features of today's globalizing world is the cross-border penetration of just about everything: goods, ideas, technology, culture, food, the English language and much more. For proponents of globalization, this greater interconnectedness holds great promise. In the post-Cold War era, few ideas have been more influential than the notion that the spread of liberal democracy and free markets could contribute to peace and stability. In such a world, countries would be interdependent, cooperation would increase, and state borders would matter less.

Despite the great appeal these ideas hold, this is still a world defined by states and their borders. As Harvey Starr writes in his article that opens this issue, "Borders matter." States are defined by their ability to exercise a monopoly on the legitimate use of force within their territory. In many cases, however, border regions are unstable because states are unable to exercise control effectively or are competing for control. In such situations, the borders may not be able to hold back human trafficking, drug running, arms smuggling, and a host of other ills.

The Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were a stark reminder that more easily permeable borders allow the spread not only of beneficial ideas and goods, but also of terrorists and murderous ideologies. The masterminds of those attacks are now believed to be hiding in the lawless border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Iraq, porous borders have allowed support for the insurgency to stream in from Iran and Syria. Illegal immigration across Mexico's border with the United States remains an emotional issue in U.S. politics. As this issue went to press, the avian flu continued to spread across national borders into new countries, threatening a worldwide pandemic.

Even in a globalizing world, therefore, it is useful to consider the role of borders in international relations. That is the theme of this issue ofSAIS Review.

The issue opens with Starr's article, which explains why borders still matter in international relations and why we should pay attention to them. Stuart Elden then examines the changing norms of state sovereignty brought by the world's understanding that what happens within a state's borders cannot be that state's exclusive concern.

We then offer a trio of articles addressing Iraq. Richard Schofield describes the history of Iraq's original border demarcations with Iran and Kuwait—fateful decisions that still have security ramifications today. Robert Bateman, an Army officer recently stationed in Iraq, examines the challenges of securing that country's borders. Alexander B. Downes, surveying recent efforts to resolve ethnic conflicts, concludes that partition is the only viable solution, one that he believes should be applied to Iraq. [End Page 1]

The issue then explores several conflicts along national borders and issues that arise along those borders. Cyrus Samii examines the Kashmir conflict and outlines several steps the parties could take to ease tensions. Shireen T. Hunter provides a historical perspective on the complex and intractable conflicts along border regions in the Caucasus. Matthew J. Ouimet analyzes the 60-year-old conflict between Russia and Japan over the Northern Territories/Kuril Islands. Although most of the articles in this issue deal with land borders, territorial disputes at sea and control of sea-lanes are also important in international relations. James R. Holmes and Toshi Yoshihara explore China's view of the strategic South China Sea and the implications for U.S. foreign policy. Kathleen Davis outlines the problem of cross-border trafficking of North Korean women into China.

Perhaps the most striking example of the relaxation of national borders is in Europe, where members of the European Union have yielded progressively more sovereignty to the center with the aim of maximizing economic well-being. Even so, future widening and deepening of the union remain controversial, as demonstrated by last year's French and Dutch rejections of the constitutional treaty. How much further should the European Union extend its borders, and to what extent should member states pursue deeper political integration so that national borders matter less? Ioannis N. Grigoriadis analyzes...


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