Monday, February 06, 2006

Friendship above Fighting

A female journalist, whose name I can't recall, wrote shortly before the US led Afghanistan and Iraqi invasion on the possible benefits of a completely lateral concept. What if we gradually tempted these difficult parts of the World and it's people with all the luxuries we have in the west, tempt them with all sorts of sweeteners and deals and trading. It would drive the leaders crazy but could ultimately win them over!

Don't laugh, this general approach has a tendency to work. Look at China since it took control of wealthy capitalist Hong Kong. Many thought at the time that Hong Kong would be ruined. Quite the opposite is emerging. The Chinese wanted and are getting into the gravy train they saw in Hong Kong. Places like North Korea with their archaic regimes are beginning to look stupid as South Korea and other neighbours prosper. The North Korean leaders are pathetically trying to promote an image that they have a happy educated people. But their wagons are being circled and time is running out.

The blunt stick of war is a very crude weapon in the 21st century. It pisses people off for decades afterwards, creates a horrible mess. The American liking for using military methods to make the World safer even disguises and suppresses to the recipients the improved values and lifestyles we are trying to promote. Military intervention may sometimes be necessary but is rather overrated and should be a very last resort.

The hand of friendship, goodwill and trade can be powerful. I'm not saying it always works. Crazy leaders who incite their people are always a problem. But in today's world with excellent potential for good trade and communications it is possible to use sophisticated methods to influence peoples better than ever.

The most basic thing which all people want is a better life for themselves and their family. To rise from poverty, to enjoy some comforts, lack of hunger, have good shelter and build from there. In the nasty regimes most of their people lack these basics.

Unfortunately religion extremism is still alive and well as a powerful cocktail for the poor and frustrated and is exploited as a weapon by right wing leaders in less developed parts of the World. So it can take time and patience to get people around to doing something tangible to improve their lot. We don't help our cause by over use of military options. Violence begets more violence.

This is a complex subject. But we in the western world must always develop international friendship, communications, partnerships and trade as the prime tool in improving our World. I must say that Ireland for it's small size has not been too bad at promoting this concept. It's the bigger western cats who have to listen more.

No comments: