We continue to monitor attitudes and relationships between nations. History teaches that sometimes social attitudes can make a huge difference in history. Consider for example the anti-Semitism that developed in Austria and Germany starting as early as Martin Luther, and continuing on to Hitler. Social attitudes ultimately allowed the killing of millions of Jews. So lets take a brief look around the world.
INDIA VS PAKISTAN: Intellectuals and moderates continue to work for peace, but conservatives and fundamentalist religious leaders continue to stoke the flames of prejudice and religious war. Some would rather have war than peace, thus continued bombings and disruptions by the radicals.
OUTLOOK: Education, affluence, and continued work of moderates is encouraging in India. Pakistan's leaders recognize the need for a progressive view but the situation there could change because of the thousands of fundamentalist Muslim clerics.
ISRAEL VS PALESTINE: The right wing leaders of Israel have been counter productive to peace...proving the adage that "every time you kill a terrorist you create 10 more." Israel's destruction of entire blocks in Palestine is of concern even to millions of Jews. The new "Concrete Curtain" across the land will only be a symbol of hate and repression. The older leaders of Palestine are just as radical as the Israeli leaders and many think new leadership in both sectors is necessary to end the killing. These old men are fighting old wars and carry grudges and baggage from 40 years back.
OUTLOOK: Younger, idealistic leaders on both sides of the "Concrete Curtain" must be groomed and emerge with a true dedication to peace.
LATIN AMERICA: South America, Central America and Mexico have long been ravaged by economic class struggles. Communists and socialists still find support in places like Columbia and Guatemala...but the years of fighting have so weakened the economies and political systems that organized crime seems to be the real power of large pockets of Latin America. One star to watch is Brazil's president, Luiz Inacio da Silva. He has 70 percent approval ratings because of how he has raised Brazil's international profile. He has made 13 trips abroad, and is calling for rich countries to stress poverty and hunger issues for developing nations. At the World Economic Forum in Switzerland da Silva warned that leaders that ignore social ills cannot achieve economic growth. The IMF has since agreed to weigh social progress with economic progress in lending to Brazil.
OUTLOOK: Many believe that increased trade through regional agreements such as NAFTA will bring more prosperity and eventually! peace through affluence. Regional leaders such as President Fox of Mexico and Luiz Inacio da Silva are positive influences for the region.
CENTRAL EUROPE, RUSSIA, AND LOCAL CONFLICTS: Nations such as Romania, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Slovenia, have suffered in the past 10 years. Free market economies have been slow in developing. Russia still wants to maintain influence but there are wild cards at hand. Muslim fundamentalists have underground cells migrating up from Afghanistan and Pakistan and continue to create mischief for governments in Central Europe.
OUTLOOK: Expect a greater role of the United States and a continued role of Russia in the area. Much investment in economic development is required for the area to stabilize.
IRAQ, IRAN, SYRIA: The balance of power has been turned upside down. The strongest nation of the area has been and continues to be Iran. Natural resources, educated leaders and dedicated followers characterize Iran and Syria. Iraq is without direction and in turmoil due to American presence. Even though the current leaders in America seem to be rattling war chains to intimidate Iran and Syria into total compliance with American will, America will ultimately diminish in presence and power in the region. Iraq will spend years recovering from the U.S. invasion/occupation.
OUTLOOK: Only international and multi-national effort can save Iraq from remaining a disaster zone and a breeding ground for terror. Every Iraqi family that lost a child, mother, father or brother to American bombs is a potential source of anger aimed at the U.S. and Britain. Iran's leaders don't desire conflict with America but both Iran and Syria know that American fundamentalist/conservative influence in Washington D.C. has no qualms about invading their nations. Moderates in Iran and Syria have hope only if moderates in the U.S.A. can gain power and influence.
EUROPE, GERMANY, FRANCE, BRITAIN: Europe is an interesting mix. The sector has economic problems, and even with the Euro there are still regional conflicts. Britain is a hold out from a United Europe and has increased hostility because of it's actions in Iraq. The political mood in Germany and France is moving to the left, as are the winds in Britain. The war in Iraq could be the stimulating force for a new generation of liberal politics in the region.
OUTLOOK: If a United Europe and a strong Euro continues to develop it could be a powerful competitor to the United States, economically, and in the global political scene. The U.S. could lose it's influence over NATO and find European nations believing that they should be the "policemen" to control U.S. aggressiveness. The USA must mend its fences in Europe through sophisticated and multi-lateral diplomacy.
JAPAN, INC. VS ASIA: Japan continues to have hard wired, at high levels of government, an arrogance in relating to the rest of Asia. There is an entrenched feeling among leaders of Japan that they are superior to other Asian cultures (superior to all cultures for that matter!) and that Asia and the world is theirs to exploit. Thus there is a sub-level of hostility towards Japan. It is unspoken, but it is present.
OUTLOOK: As Japan continues to deal with it's internal economic problems slowly and with little success, some believe that ultimate conflicts between Japan, China and other power sources in Asia is inevitable. The hope for Japan is to be found in the young educated generation, that has a broader world view than the old guard of Japan.
CHINA...AND EVERY NATION THAT IS HER NEIGHBOR: China is the sleeping giant of Asia. Leaders there have taken a strategy of building economic trading alliances and then using the threat of "stopping trade" instead of armies to force their political agenda on their neighbors. It is odd that every nation that borders China feels insecure about the relationship. Nepal constantly looks over their "Northern" mountains, as they try to deal with Maoist rebels who are funded by someone very powerful (could it be China?). Mongolia recently revoked a visit visa to the Dalai Lama because China threatened to block rail traffic and deliveries to Mongolia. India continues to keep a war with China on it's military alert planning program, even while leaders of China and India sign economic trade accords. Tibet, slowly finds it's culture and natives losing identity in face of a long term grinding influence by China to remove "Tibet" and to completely absorb it into Chinese culture.
OUTLOOK: China will be the world's most powerful force, economically and militarily by 2015. The entire world will have to learn how to deal with China and nations will be hard pressed to keep Chinese dominance from influencing every aspect of their national lives.
THE U.S.A. AND THE WORLD: The United States has become more militarized in attitude and in reality than since World War Two. Terrorism has essentially created an environment that has allowed right wing conservatives to take the USA far to the right politically. The Bush Administration has created political strength by manipulation of conservative political and religious groups, fundamentalist Christian/political groups and powerful business groups to create a new McCarthyism. Moderates, intellectuals, and liberals are out of power in America. The poor have never had power, and the top 5% of the wealthy are enjoying great influence. With this political strength the current leadership of America has an attitude that it can attack any enemy at any point on earth, at will. And it can. Diplomacy and multilateralism have lost power and influence in the USA.
OUTLOOK: If the American people decide that they can't afford global militarism and adventures, the political power will shift. The polls suggest that Bush is still highly regarded by a majority of Americans but the margin is declining. The "sticker shock" of the high cost of foreign wars may translate into high interest rates, recession and economic downturn. If this occurs, new leadership will be required, perhaps demanded by voters. The next election is a pivotal point in America's relationship with the rest of the world: Will it be a right wing, gun-slinging unilateral force? Or will it return to a moderate oriented diplomacy and multilateral rebuilding of alliances. It is too early to predict. Patriotism is still at a high level but an attitude is emerging that 'Patriots should also bring in more responsible leadership'. We will see.