At one point last week, as I was developing the Aeon article, a process that required multiple ‘back-and-forths’ between me and the editor Ed Lake, Ed asked me whether I could provide an example of a state without Sacred Lands, to illustrate the idea that such states are at a competitive disadvantage in the “ruthless and dangerous business” of international politics. I went mentally through all the modern states I have some knowledge of, and I just couldn’t think of one that did not hold some core territory as sacred.
Lincoln Memorial, the National Mall (Washington, DC) (Source)
In most states, their capitals are certainly not negotiable. It’s inconceivable that the United States, for example, would give up Washington D.C. in exchange of some other piece of real estate, no matter how large and how well-appointed. Anybody who has stood in the middle of the National…
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