Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Economics and politics inevitably linked throughout history

I found this excellent piece, "Lessons from the history of trade and war" posted yesterday, with this thesis:

"History, however, suggests that globalisation is as much a political as a technological phenomenon, which can thus be easily reversed, and has been so in the past"...

I couldn't agree more. The authors of this piece go on to say:

"The international system has historically done a pretty poor job of accommodating newcomers to the Great Power club. German unification and industrialisation during the late 19th century led to tensions with Britain and France over colonial and armament policy, while Japan's rise to regional prominence during the interwar period, and its search for secure sources of raw materials, ended in war against United States and its allies. Both precedents are worrying, in that similar questions are posed today, both in terms of the rights of emerging nations to rival the established powers’ military capabilities (notably with regard to nuclear weapons), and in terms of the strategic importance to countries like China of ready access to oil supplies and other natural resources."

Given the overwhelming military superiority of the USA, I don't see any country challenging the existing global economic system through military means anytime soon. Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait was just such a challenge in that Hussein made a grab for oil resources, daring the world to do something about it, and the US quashed that. The costs of military action to acquire resources would be too great to justify the economic gains from attaining control of said resources.

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