In international politics, no concept is less understood and more misused than that of sovereignty. The term carries at least three meanings in everyday language. First, it denotes "supreme power" -- as in Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem "Oenone," which celebrates "self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-restraint" as the only way to a "life to sovereign power." In a similar vein, Robert Burton, tongue in cheek, praises tobacco as a "sovereign remedy to all diseases." A second meaning of the word denotes autonomy, freedom from constraint, or independence. And the third definition can be found in John Keats' "Hyperion":
For to bear all naked truths And to envisage circumstance, all calm That is the top of sovereignty.
Setting aside the poet's sense of sovereignty as a serene, Stoic state of mind, we are left with two basic, everyday meanings for the word: supreme power and autonomy or independence. This is how most people think
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