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September 9, 2014 | Weekly Commentary

Scottish Independence would shake up the Global system. Polls released today showed for the first time that a majority — an extremely small majority, but a majority nonetheless — of Scots favor independence. A poll is not the election which will be held Sept. 18. The political union between Scotland and England might be abolished after 300 years. The implications of this are enormous and generally ignored.

One of the principles of post-World War II was the inviolability of Europe’s borders. Border disputes were the origin of centuries of war, and so Europe’s borders were frozen after World War II to avoid discussion.

Scotland separating from England can’t be minimized. If that centuries-old union can be revised, then anything can be revised. Scottish separatists’ reason for splitting is that they are a separate nation, that each nation has the right to its own state and the right to determine its own destiny, and that they no longer choose to be in union. But if they have the right to determine this, why shouldn’t others in Europe enjoy the same right?

For example, modern Spain is an amalgam of regions. One, the Catalan region — which contains Barcelona — has a strong separatist movement. If Scotland can leave the United Kingdom, then why shouldn’t Catalonia be allowed to leave Spain? Meanwhile, if French-speaking Belgians and Dutch-speaking Belgians wish to part ways and return their two regions to their respective countries of origin, why should they not be allowed to? And why shouldn’t the eastern part of Ukraine be allowed to secede and join Russia?

Raising the stakes, this is an issue that goes far beyond Europe. There are seemingly innumerable separatist movements in India, China, Africa and so forth. If Scotland has the right to leave the nation-state it is part of and form a new one based on ethnic identity, why can’t anyone follow suit? And if anyone can do it, but they are blocked by the state they wish to leave, is resorting to violence in pursuit of independence legitimate?

Having Scottish Independence happen in the heart of Western Europe would set a clear precedent that would expand geographically and conceptually. It would legitimize similar movements globally and force a reconsideration of what a nation is. Ultimately, a nation would be whatever the majority says it is (Source: Stratfor Global Intelligence).

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