Four hundred years ago, the first genuinely international system of states in human history emerged. Prior to that time, there were regional geopolitical systems such as the various Chinese dynasties interacting with neighboring kingdoms. But there were no genuinely international systems. The Westphalian system created something quite new when nation states emerged. Personal loyalties were transferred from fealty to a king to a national identity and commitment to a state. The era also witnessed new organizational concepts, such as limited-liability corporations that broadly mobilized capital to focus it on targeted mercantilist ventures.

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John J. Hamre
CSIS President and CEO, and Langone Chair in American Leadership