Nations and groups of nations experience bouts of political stability and instability that seem to
progress in a certain pattern.  You might say that instability leads to stability, which then sets the stage
for instability on a higher level.  By “instability” we mean the presence of conditions that increase the
likelihood that violent conflict may erupt.  It could be due to a large, radical protest movement
demanding change, or two nations having a border dispute.  Any situation where more than one center
of political power is present has some degree of instability that is heightened when one or more of them
represent some level of dissatisfaction.  The more power centers there are to interact, the more
political fault lines there are and the greater the potential for conflict.  A power center can be a nation
with an army, or an alliance, or an international political movement, or on a smaller level, a terrorist
organization or even a political party or labor union.  The way that instability leads to stability is that
once a conflict is resolved, the warring parties may become friends and pursue commerce, or the loser
may completely absorbed by the winner, or they may form an alliance against a common enemy.  They
have now merged to form a new, larger power center--on some level anyway--that now finds itself in an
unstable relationship with another large power center, itself perhaps an alliance or an empire.  And just
as earthquakes along major fault lines are less frequent but more destructive, so are wars between
these larger actors.
Some examples:  Europe throughout the Middle Ages was made up of a large number of small and
medium-sized  fiefdoms.  Throughout the era they warred and merged with one another until the
modern states of Europe emerged--who then continued to war with each other in turn.  Of course, it
was a two-steps-forward-one-step-back process as empires and kingdoms disintegrated even as
others consolidated, and super-national power centers such as the Catholic Church had considerable
influence much of the time.  But by the 20th century we were seeing wars and political fault lines not
just between nations but large alliances.  WWI was mainly between two large European blocs, while
WWII involved even larger quasi-global blocs of which there were actually 3. (Of course, earlier conflicts
such as the Thirty Yeas War and the Napoleonic Wars involved large alliance blocs and they did
produce instability/stability cycles within their own contexts.)  For some time now it had been
unthinkable that longtime foes Britain and France would fight another war--they had become a single
power center, joined by the United States and many others in the course of the two World Wars.  And
with the Cold War there emerged the highest level of instability--more or less the entire World was
divided into two more or less stable blocs.  The Iron Curtain represented the ultimate political fault line
and had the instability along this line erupted into full-blown conflict, it might have destroyed the World.
Now then, the next important concept to introduce is the distinction between natural stability and
artificial stability.  Natural stability exists when there are genuinely friendly relations among the political
entities in a given region.  The Western Alliance aka the Free World and all--or most--of the nations
comprising it could best be characterized in this way.  By contrast, artificial stability exists when a
regime is capable of keeping a lid on any potential for unrest or secession movements.  The Soviet
bloc--or just about any dictatorship or empire--was/is artificially stable; despite the yearning of so many
people to break free from its grip, there was always greater potential for conflict with forces outside the
Communist World than within it.  Then, when the Communists did finally lose their grip on power, the
former Soviet Empire was plunged into a state of instability from which the process of developing
natural stability continues.
It was instability in the Balkans which led to WWI, and that conflict left a great deal of instability in its
wake, but it was progressive in a couple of ways.  It undid the (last vestiges of the) artificial stability of
the Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires and produced several new, ostensibly stable states in
Central Europe.  But in the Balkans, stability alternated between artificial and non-existent.  The
creation of Yugoslavia appeared to unite the Southern Slavs, but political and religious rivalry led to
infighting that raged even amid the throes of WWII.  The Communist regime which followed was
artificially stable right through the Cold War, after which the country erupted in serious bout of
instability, to say the least.  The complex three-way war in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the mid-1990s
illustrates the problems encountered when international borders are drawn leaving ethnic peoples on
the wrong side.  Usually they wind up as oppressed minorities, but it was fear of such an outcome that
drove Bosnian Serbs and Croats--supplied by their newly independent parent countries who had
inherited most of Yugoslavia’s military equipment--to assert themselves militarily.  Having no parent
country, the Bosnian Muslims (who tended to not be very religious) took the worst of it.  They suffered
some of the worst atrocities Europe had seen the Third Reich, mainly at the hands of the Serbs, who
pursued a policy of “ethnic cleansing” aimed converting the patchwork of ethnic enclaves into
geographically contiguous zones.
Despite the carnage, the international community was slow to react.  Intervention by the United Nations
was limited and ineffectual--the global organization was accustomed to peacekeeping operations and
was unprepared for a peacemaking operation that would have them confront full-size armies in
combat.  The United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) consisted of only a few thousand troops
and was very limited in its rules of engagement and in its mission, which was to protect Sarajevo airport
and relief supply convoys.  The ravages of ethnic cleansing were allowed to continue, and when
UNPROFOR designated several Bosnian towns as “safe havens”, it was unable to adequately protect
them and massacres ensued.  This was enough to overcome the isolationist forces in American politics
and open the door for NATO to launch air strikes on Serb forces.  This rapidly led to a peace
agreement to be negotiated in Dayton, OH and the deployment by NATO of the Implementation Force
(IFOR) with 60,000 peacekeepers.
There are a number of lessons to be learned from Bosnia.  One of them is that the United Nations lacks
the power and authority to intervene effectively in even a medium-sized conflict.  The UN can only ask
that member states to contribute troops to a given operation, and, partly to avoid stiffening opposition
to its presence, partly to avoid cold-feet-inducing casualties, restrains them from any meaningful
confrontations with combatants.  It would appear that a large-scale commitment by a major power such
as the United States--around which can coalesce a coalition--is necessary for a peacemaking operation
to be successful.  But another lesson that seems not to be as well-learned is that the ad-hoc nature of
these coalitions-- disbanding and then reinventing themselves on a case-by-case basis--can result in
neglect or at best delay in the face of a humanitarian catastrophe.  The 1991 Gulf War coalition, while it
couldn’t have been expected to oust the Iraqis from Kuwait overnight, was assembled rapidly and was
effective and resolute in enforcing the ultimatum against Saddam Hussein’s forces.  But with Bosnia
there was much more dithering while civilians in large numbers were slaughtered, and in Rwanda the
international community failed altogether to intervene in stopping a massive campaign of genocide.
There needs to be some way of speeding the process of assembling military coalitions capable of
effectively intervening in such crises without overreaching for a One World Government, which is far
too unrealistic a proposal.
Much greater promise is shown by a region-by-region approach to internationalism.  Along with
geographic proximity, countries that make up a given region have a certain degree of shared history,
language, religion, economic interdependence, and--whatever works--shared resentments against the
US and other powers.  What’s more, keeping the process of internationalization compartmentalized by
allows each of them to proceed at their own pace.  Leading the way is, of course, Europe with is
European Union.  The adoption of a common currency in the euro was a major step, as was the
elimination of customs controls, and the establishment of region-wide institutions including the EU
Parliament.  But the kind of military and political integration necessary for the regional organization to
prevent a situation like Bosnia is a point to which it has not yet evolved.  Steps toward economic
integration are more palatable in the early stage than military since there is less overt an association
with peoples’ sense of national pride.  Yet there have been some promising examples where countries
neighboring trouble spots have taken on their share of the burden in military interventions, such
Caribbean islands that joined the invasion of Grenada in 1983 and of course the Arab states that
joined the Gulf War coalition in 1990.  But these were US-dominated operations along with Bosnia,
Kosovo, etc. needs the ability to act independently in mounting peacekeeping and peacemaking
One region that has made some admirable progress amid some of the most difficult circumstances is
Africa.  In 2002 the Organization of African Unity became the African Union.  This entailed a
strengthening of the common-market style economic relationship and espoused a lot of high-minded
principles of continental unity and shared interest, but also has teeth enough to authorize military
intervention in the event of “war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity”.  In the first 3 years of
it existence, the AU has assembled forces from member states to intervene in conflicts in places like
Burundi, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Congo and Sudan, considerable success. But just as interesting is the
recent creation of the Pan-African Parliament, to which each AU member state has agreed to send 5
members (at least one of whom must be a woman).  What’s significant is that for the first time,
representatives will be elected directly elected by the people, thus circumventing the national
governments and allowing opposition parties representation in an international organization for the first
time.  The treaty establishing the PAP calls for a 5-year period during which it will mainly be a forum for
debating the issues affecting the continent, but later it is slated to possess real legislative authority.  
We’ll see how ultimately successful this foray into regionalism will be and where it will lead.  Some
prominent participants have envisioned an ultimate goal of creating a “United States of Africa”--which
would make it a regional federation.  
Looking around the world, one can begin to see a number of other regional groupings emerge that
seem to have some potential for a regional unity movement to take hold.   Latin America is a good
example.  To a very large extent they share a common language and religion.  They also share a
degree of resentment toward US dominance which, while being unhelpful overall, provides a common
set of grievances that can help drive a regional unity movement.         

At first I had the idea of a regional federation called “Anglo-Oceania” comprising the US, Canada,
Australia, New Zealand, and the various Pacific islands of, etc. But realistically they’d become the 51st+
states.  A regional federation consisting of a superpower orbited by a number of smaller, weaker states
presents some problems.  Rather than try to lump every country into 1 of exactly 9 superstates, it’s a bit
more realistic to look for potential unions among contiguous, roughly equal states, and look for others
to remain on their own indefinitely.  The US is already a regional federation.  Likewise, China, India, and
Russia are to large to play well with others.