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Peace of Westphalia in the News, February 2023

Finally I get to present three news items that definitely relate to the Peace of Westphalia, if only indirectly (as opposed to most of the alerts that I get, which are about articles that mention Westphalia once as the origin of the nation state and then go on to talk about other things).

First, we have three demonstrations in Germany on behalf of Ukraine. One of them involved almost 20,000 people joining hands between Münster and Osnabrück. I wish they had some photos outside of the cities proper, because I’m curious how much of a chain they actually had. The distance between the cities by road is about 28 miles, which means about 660 people per mile, which means one person per 8 feet — yeah, I don’t think they got a chain. As someone who lived through “Hands Across America,” which was even less of a chain although the media made it sound like one, I don’t like news stories that don’t at least carry some indication of the success of these ventures. It’s fine to make the attempt, but there’s no need to lie about its success. Stating that “The human chain ran a total of 50 kilometers” when it could not possibly have done so is phony.

I’m curious what the effect of individual citizens speaking out for Ukraine is, particularly the Ukrainian flags I see in our neighbourhood. Obviously they have no direct effect, but do politicians notice and care? And where are the activists demonstrating to end the war?

The second news item concerns the Westphalian Peace Prize for 2024, which has been given to Emmanuel Macron. This is quite an early announcement and I expect we’ll hear a lot more about it next year when Macron visits Münster. The prize is awarded every two years, although it was not awarded in 2022 because of covid. The prize money is 100k euros, which is far less than the Nobel (over $1 million) but still a respectable amount, at least compared to the Pulitzer (about $10k). It is not widely reported, but I’m curious if it will gain in recognition now that the Nobel Peace Prize has become increasingly meaningless. Not that one can point to much concrete that Macron has done in support of peace, although he has tried.

Finally, we have a song by Swedish death metal band Death Reich called “The Death of the Peace of Westphalia.” It is a short instrumental piece, and unfortunately the interview I found with one of their members doesn’t shed any light on what the thinking was behind the name of the song. But, here at Everything Peace of Westphalia, we never miss an opportunity to inform our audience of references to our title treaty.

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