Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Musings on World Peace

Have you ever thought that lots of tribal skirmishes in third world countries escalated into wars simply because the industrialized nations sold more advanced weapons to them?

Some of the battles between rival tribes were fought with clubs or machetes until somebody sold them M-16s or AK -47s or Uzis. The arrival of the new weapons made the killing more efficient. If the speed of killing could have been contained to club and machete level, fewer people would have died before someone could have negotiated a peace treaty.

I have no idea if this is true, but I have often wondered why the Russians ever cared about taking over Afghanistan. My thoughts are that they wanted to control the opium poppies. Yes, 90% of the world's opium poppies are produced there. The sale of those finance both the terrorists and the government of Afghanistan. If the Russians could have controlled that country, they could have controlled the opium trade. Quite a lucrative way to finance the Russian government. If we legalized drugs, all that would be worth much less.

And that leads to other thoughts. We put the Shah in power in Iran. He was overthrown by the militants who did not like us for that reason. Then we armed Iraq to fight with Iran. And we see how all that turned out. Just like we provided weapons to the Afghans who fought the Russians, who in turn became the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. They didn't like the Russians and they don't like us either. What if we had let the Russians become poppy merchants and then pulled the rug out from under them by legalizing heroin as a recreational drug?

So many of the conflicts around the world are about various tribal peoples wanting their own homeland. Palestinians (Israel), Tamils (Sri Lanka), Kurds (Iraq & Turkey), Hutus & Tutsis (Rwanda), Georgians (Russia), Chechnya (Russia), Africans and Arabs (Sudan), Serbs & Croats (the former Yugoslavia), Serbs & Albanians (Kosovo and Albania), Basques (Spain). These are several well known examples.

Not all of these tribes or ethnic groups have the ability to economically thrive as their own country. If they all got their own place on the map, eventually they would have to make peace with their neighbors simply for practical reasons. Countries that cannot sustain any kind of agriculture or industry cannot also feed and arm an army. Human nature would probably tend to make stronger countries want to grow by taking over weaker countries, but if peace treaties could hold this aspect of behavior at bay, the majority would have to open trade relations with one another for survival. You can only subidivide down to tribal levels so far before the territories and survival possibilities become unsustainable. Eventually they would have to cooperate with their neighbors for survival.

There is no country on earth that was not at one time inhabited by, and run by, some other group of people besides the ones who are there now. Unless we want to wake up every day to news of some war somewhere, for the rest of our lives, we have to encourage peaceful solutions to these conflicts. Are we asking the questions about how can this be possible?

No comments: