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Nation states are not as independent as they seem. In this text the author explores independence in Europe and beyond, particularly in relation to empire and decolonization. The author examines how freedom of action is limited not only by a tightening net of interdependence and by the rules which the international society puts in place, but also by the hegemonial authority of the strongest and richest powers. Drawing on personal experience, the author explains how these three forms of pressure determine the external and internal behaviour of juridically independent states. This creates an increasingly supranational framework of restraint that limits the sovereignty of even the most powerful states. The text examines the effects of supranational pressures on Europe, on former colonies, on human rights and on the responsibilities of states. It relates the growing curbs on independence to current hegemonial practice and to international theory.