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Nation and Nation States Essay

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Updated: Sep 16th, 2019

Characteristics of the Modern Nation-State


A Nation refers to a sovereign entity which constitutes of people who share common language, culture and history as well as a government. A Nation may have or may not have geographical boundaries. In international relations, a Nation may refer to a sovereign country with a government, which is fully responsible for the day to day running of the affairs of that country. An example of Nation is Egypt (White & White, 2007).


A State is a politically organized community which exists under a government. The State derives its legitimacy from the people and may be completely sovereign or may be under another authority like a Federal government. Many States usually have a centralized governance system in which decisions are made by bureaucrats who usually sit in the capital of the State or country.

A State is usually composed of people from diverse backgrounds in terms of culture, ethnicity, tribe, religion and language. An example of a State is South Africa (White & White, 2007).


A Nation-State is one which comprises elements of a State and a Nation. A Nation-State typically comprises of people who share a culture, history, language and other cultural aspects as well as a geographical territory. A Nation-State is usually a sovereign entity with a centralized government.

It is distinguished from a Nation and a State in that it is usually homogenous in terms of the above mentioned attributes. Examples of Nation-States include Albania, Bangladesh, Iceland and Hungary among others. In these Nation-States, over 90% of the inhabitants have common cultural attributes (White & White, 2007).

Modern Nation-State

The concept of modern State is different from the traditional Nation-State in that it is a bit liberalized in terms of its cultural elements. As opposed to the traditional Nation-States like the ones mentioned above, the modern Nation-State is composed of people from diverse cultural backgrounds, but who share a territory and a central governs(s).

A modern Nation-State is formulated in a manner which allows it to deliver a wide range of services to the citizens, either at one level or two levels. The modern Nation-State may however have a certain culture, which is typical of all the various people who live in the modern Nation-State. A good example of a modern Nation-State is the United States of America (White & White, 2007).

How the United States Fits the Criteria Of and Functions as a Modern Nation-State

The Criteria of Sovereignty

The United States governance system is known as Federalism, which means that the National government and State governments share power in governing the country. The United States is composed of 52 States, which are partly autonomous and partly linked to the National (Federal) government.

Each State has got its own government which is composed of the Judiciary, Legislature and Executive branches. The National government, also known as the Federal government is headed by the president of the United States and is composed of the Congress (Senate and House of Representatives), the Executive and the Judiciary. All these three arms are independent of each other, meaning there is a clear separation of powers between them (Anagnoson, Bonetto, DeLeon, Emrey, Kelleher, & Koch, 2011).

The Criteria of Fixed Territory

The United States as a country is composed of 52 states, which together form the entity (country) known as the United States of America. Each of the 52 states has got a fixed territorial boundary, but the Federal government has the power to create or merge states and draw the boundaries afresh, with the overall US territorial boundaries with its neighbors remaining fixed.

The Criteria of Common Culture

In terms of culture, the United States culture can be explained using the Hofstedes cultural dimensions for various countries in the world. According to Hofstede, a typical American is highly individualistic as well as less likely to form strong family relationships or ties. This is based on the ranking of the United States at 91% in individualism, which is the leading in the world in terms of the criterion of individualism (International business center, 2008).

US Foreign Policy

In terms of foreign policy, two US foreign policy objectives can be identified. They include the support of Israel in its debacle with Palestine and the creation and maintenance of a new world order.

Support for Israel

US foreign policy has always been influenced by its national interests, moral purpose (maintaining democracy and human rights), and security, economic and hegemonic interests (Saad 2011). Throughout and during the cold war, the United States national and strategic security interests were high in Middle East.

Particularly, Israeli has been United States’ major interest in Middle East as well as a close ally. The United States benefits from close cooperation between its intelligence communities and those of Israel. However, many conflicts have ensued in Middle East with United States being overly criticized for its foreign policy inclination to Israel.

Creation and maintenance of a new world order

Another US foreign policy objective is to have what is popularly known as a new world order. The main idea of new world order is to come up with full-fledged global institutions which are responsible for the control and regulation of world’s affairs including politics, culture, economy, technology transfer, environment, security and to some extent religion.

These regulations, according to the US would help the world to achieve universal culture of the world in which people of the world subscribe to universal rules, principles and regulations in almost all aspects of live (Slaughter, 2005).

The European Union as a Transnational Entity

The European Union is a union of 27 Nations mainly found in Europe. One of the historical events which led to the creation of the European Union is the world war one and two. After the world wars, the Nations in Europe saw the importance of coming together as a strategy of diffusing the extreme effects of Nationalism, which were largely seen to have contributed to the world wars (Archer, 2008).

Another interest which contributed in to the creation of the European Union is the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). This was a sort of a Federal union which was aimed at bringing under one umbrella the countries in Europe, mainly to avert any tensions and rivalry between them. At its inception, the ECSE was composed of six member States. The ECSE gave birth to the European Economic Community (EEC) which was to later incorporate other States within Europe to form the European Union (Archer, 2008).

The major institutions which comprise the EU include the European Council, the European Commission, and the Court of Justice of the European Union and Council of the European Union. The major Nations which comprise the EU include the United Kingdom, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Germany, Slovenia, Portugal and Netherlands (Archer, 2008).

The contemporary function of the EU is to ensure that there is a common stand among member States on issues of security. The EU is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the member States participate in all ways to ensure that there is no threat of international terrorism. The EU is also concerned with the stabilization of the economies of the member States so as to put them in a good position to recover from the economic recession of 200-2009 (Archer, 2008).

One example of foreign policy of the EU is to ensure that there are no restrictions in the movement of goods and people especially within the member States. This policy is aimed at boosting trade between the member States as well as opening the European markets to goods from other parts of the world. The other example of foreign policy for the EU is on defense, in which the EU has got its troops in the UN Security Council, which is charged with ensuring that the world is safe from terrorists (Archer, 2008).

How Nation-States and Transnational Entities Engage In Foreign Policy to Achieve Their Interests

Nation-States like the United States and transnational entities like the EU engage in foreign policy to achieve their interests through coming up with policies which enhance their interests at the expense of the interests of the world in general. A good example is the new world order; whose main proponents are the United States and the EU.

Through the new world order, the two (US and EU) aim to propagate their policies on security, economy, trade, environment and governance to the rest of the world. Those countries which do not comply are threatened with economic and trade sanctions (Slaughter, 2005).

One of EUs foreign policy is the provision of humanitarian aid as well as the promotion of trade between it and countries in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific. One of EUs partner in Africa is Tanzania. As part of its foreign policy, the EU provides over €100 million as aid to Tanzania.

This aid is used in funding various projects on good governance, prevention of HIV/AIDS, water supply, education and the environment. Tanzania also exports more than 50% of its goods to the EU duty free and imports over 20% of its goods from the EU.

The consequences of this interaction for international politics

The consequence of the interaction between the EU and the US is that world politics are greatly being shaped by their policies. For example, the recent revolutions in the Arab world (Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and Libya) have been highly attributed to the involvement of the EU and the US in the politics of the Arab world, which is also a leading producer of oil.

Many governments in the world have also been forced to embrace democracy instead of dictatorship. Those leaders who are dictatorial in their readership have been forced to quit office. Good examples include Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan. In these countries, the EU and the US were the major players. Their main interest is to have in place a leadership which can develop friendly policies on the exploitation of oil.


Archer, C.(2008). The European Union. Washington: Taylor & Francis.

Anagnoson, J.T., Bonetto, G., Buck, J.V., DeLeon, R.E., Emrey, J., Kelleher, J.J & Koch, N. (2011).Governing California in the Twenty-First Century (3rd, ed.). New York, NY: W W Norton & Co Inc.

International business center, (2008). Geert Hofstede Analysis. Web.

Saad, A.(2011). A proposed Peace Strategy for the Arab-Israeli conflict. Web.

Slaughter, A.M. (2005). A New World Order. Woodstock OX20 1TW: Princeton University Press.

White, G.W., & White, E.A.(2007). Nation, State, and Territory: Origins, Evolutions, and Relationships, Volume 1. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

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