Nation: Those Maddening Modalities

TWO hundred years ago, Jean Jacques Rousseau described peace parleys as "a species of general diets where one deliberates in common as to whether the table will be round or square, whether the chamber will have more or fewer doors, whether such and such a plenipotentiary will have his face or his back turned toward the window, whether such and such another will take two steps more or less while making a visit, and upon a thousand other questions of equal importance, uselessly debated for the past three centuries." Things have scarcely changed since....

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