Mahatma Gandhi is one of my overall favorite people. He believed that if you approached your adversary, whether an opponent or enemy, rationally and without threat or malice you will eventually gain a better and more engaging and desirable response. But much patience and persistence is required. That is how he was able to eventually defeat British rule in India. Westerners, especially Americans, do not know how to respond to adversity when it is peacefully, non-threateningly, and persistently expressed. That was the reason for the eventual success of Martin Luther King Jr., another of my favorite people and a follower of Gandhi. Had the civil rights movement been dominated by violence there would have been far more resentment against blacks and civil rights may have been delayed decades longer. The same principles are relevant to congress, foreign policy, and most other aspects of life.
The reason why containment by isolation and sanctions does not work is because it antagonizes hostile nations creating more hostility and the need for them to develop atomic weapons, the international equivalent of an equalizer as were the guns in the Wild West, giving them more perceived power and leverage to resist our aggressive repression against them. The root of unrest is poverty and oppression. The more the US imposes aggressive sanctions and hostilities toward a hostile nation the more hostile that nation will respond against us and the more repressed its citizens will become due to the sanctions. Sanctions hurt the common citizens infinitely more than those in power who own the vast majority of wealth. This only breeds more repression and a good reason for those in power to tell their citizens that they are poor because of US sanctions.
How would these nations will respond if the US, instead of threatening them with isolation and sanctions, said that it would Cooperate with them by encouraging US companies to build manufacturing plants in their country and temporarily reducing import tariffs into the US until there economy becomes stronger? They would likely first distrust the US due to our history of hostility but if the US persisted in doing things to gain their trust I think it likely that they would eventually take us up on our offers. As their economy improves and they see the US not as a threat but as a partner they will abandon their expensive nuclear weapons programs as unnecessary and become part of the international economic community just as China has become and easy to deal with. As these countries become more affluent and governments more secure they will feel less threatened by their contented citizens and Evolve into less oppressive and freer and democratic governments (China?) but this may take time. Eliminate poverty and you eliminate oppression and human rights issues. Imposing your own form of what you think is right is just another form of oppression. Allowing and mutually helping a nation to eliminate poverty and encouraging a feeling of secure will encourage the country to evolve into a country without oppression because oppression becomes irrelevant. Giving nations ownership to solve their own problems but helping to lubricate the squeaky wheels will result in the willing improvement of a repressed nation. Aggression is part of the human instinct for survival. Once you remove the need for survival you remove the reasons to fight or flight.
Gandhi taught us how to remove threat by the demonstration of peaceful assembly. This made it difficult for the British to control the Indians and showed the British how cruel and inhumane they were but gave them an easy way out to leave the country peacefully. So the solution of resolving conflict is to ‘nice’ the opposition into submission. The same principles can be applied to any aspect of life, government, and foreign policy. If more congress members would just step across the aisle, shake hands, and take each other out to lunch we could eventually get so much more done during those lunches than all the talking and partisan politics that currently stalemates our government. But we need to make a paradigm shift in our behavior and way of thinking to empathetic respect for each other and towards others. Far more can get done by having a dialogue with your adversaries than by isolation and political sanctions, for that is exactly what we currently have in congress. We carry on our fundamental behavior throughout every aspect of our domestic and foreign policies and in the running of our government. It is prolific and pervasive and very destructive and very American. Respecting your fellow man will gain far more results than treating you fellow man with hostility and distrust.
Also read: Are Foreign Engagements a Distraction from Domestic Woes?
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