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States of mind

When does a country’s right to claim territory expire?

By AC Grayling   210

Most borders between states are drawn in the blood of wars. Most states, even small ones, are aggregates of territories once separate and many retain a desire to be so. A state is a highly artificial thing, a fiction of history, an uneven line on a map turned into a fetish, a casus belli and a licence for all the arrant nonsense we call nationalism, patriotism and other dangerous absurdities.

All over the planet there are claims by one country to ownership of part or even the whole of another. One of the more comical is Spain’s claim to Gibraltar—comical…

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