WAR AND PEACE: YOU CAN’T HAVE THE OTHER WITHOUT THE ONE.
I was home alone today, mulling over the state of the world, when it dawned on me just how interconnected are war and peace.
Our planet has been developed, and continues to be developed, by a series of what we call ‘core periphery’ relationships. Some people call it ‘Imperialism’, others ‘Heartland Hinterland’ development.
Basically a ‘core country’, such as Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, and now, America, uses its financial, military, knowledge-based, and overall economic/industrial might to develop a ‘periphery’, that is to say, other parts of the world whose natural and human resources it wants to develop for its benefit, and, hopefully, also for the benefit of the peripheral country also.
This is how what is today Canada and America were developed by France and Britain in the 1600 and 1700s, whereby they each invested money in soldiers, equipment, and so on, to develop the beaver skin trade, fisheries, lumber, minerals, tobacco, and other things.
Each of these types of development caused more or less disruption of the pre-existing civilizations that were here already, but served to rapidly spread French and English culture, language, and the Christian religions of each King throughout the continent, because whomsoever controlled commerce, controlled the language in which it was conducted, as well as the political, religious and cultural underpinnings which held up the economic system.
Now that our continent has been pacified by this system, we have now turned our sights onto the rest of the world, seeing that the frontier here in North America has been pretty much developed to its full potential, even one might say over developed, causing us to look for other opportunities for economic growth overseas.
This is why America eventually started expanding into Latin America in the 1820s: The Spaniards had just pulled out, and the Americans saw new opportunities for economic growth in that part of the world, seeing that Spanish economic interests had significantly waned in the wake of their troupes pulling out.
America even formulated the so-called Munroe Doctrine, named after the President of the day, which said that America’s navy would essentially protect Latin America against any potential Spanish re Conquest after the pullout. So the US was positioning itself to be a major player in Latin America and Caribbean commerce.
They eventually seized upon this opportunity to fight the Spanish-American War of 1898 and took control of the Philippines, and several Pacific islands, as well as Cuba, from Spain.
They then consolidated their economic grip over global commerce in the two world wars, establishing their dominance with superiority on the land, air, and especially, at sea.
We now find ourselves in a situation where American as well as some Canadian troops, are deployed around the world. The desire to continue to develop the world’s resources for our benefit causes hardship, but it also causes a very dynamic process to take place.
The resources that are being developed in Afghanistan as well as other Central Asian, African, and Asian countries, are stimulating the construction of roads, bridges, power dams, and pushing governments in those countries to look seriously at investing in education so as to supply skilled workers to develop those resources.
The people from those countries who are already educated, and who may happen to be on the wrong side of whatever ethnic or religious conflict which has erupted in their country due to the economically-driven nature of the military intervention, have often already ended up on our shores. They’ve either come to Canada, America, or somewhere else in the western world in search for peace and a better future for themselves and their families.
With the skills and knowledge that they acquire here, they, or likely their children, may eventually be able to go back to their country of origin, and take with them the necessary skill sets to build, or rebuild their homeland, and make it more like Canada or America, while combining the best elements of their home country’s language, culture, religion, and customs.
This process will likely take decades, if not centuries, but it will occur and is occurring already. Many people bemoan the fate of the people of the emerging world, as they struggle to emerge. What they don’t realize is that we too went through the same process, except not being filmed 24/7 by CNN or CBC News. Imperialism may have acquired a bad reputation over the last few decades as we’ve begun to fall all over ourselves apologizing for past ‘sins’, both real and imagined. However, one thing remains: The legacy of Frederic Jackson Turner still lives on.
Turner’s seminal writings about ‘The Significance of the Frontier in American History’, talk about the Frontier as being the place where true American liberty and democracy were and are being created, free from the constraints of an often over bearing and inert yet onerous state.
As my mulling comes to a close, I’d just like to say that I’m very thankful for what ‘Core/Periphery’ relationships have wrought on this planet. It may take many more years before ‘Peace on Earth and Goodwill towards all men and women’ comes to pass, but in the meantime, let’s all have a thought and a prayer for the men and women who have chosen, and continue to choose to wear the uniforms of our two countries, and who, along with men and women in uniform everywhere, will eventually make ‘war’ turn into ‘peace’ everywhere on this planet of ours.