Post No.: 0191
Countries that are economically open and tied with each other reduce the likelihood of those countries going to war with each other. Countries that are open-bordered, are trading freely and internationally, with foreign investments and business, are less inclined to go to war with each other because each other’s economic interests are deeply intertwined with one another.
Hurting an economic partner would therefore result in hurting oneself too in these cases. Likewise, mutual benefits can be gained through creating cooperative win-win situations. Everyone, including oneself, will suffer if any side of the boat sinks, so why sink the boat? One is therefore discouraged to go to war against an economic ally, especially the closer or tighter the economic relationship is. Bearing personal costs for acting unilaterally or selfishly will help alleviate some principal-agent problems and moral hazards too. Sharing costs also reduces their burdens compared to anyone suffering alone. All this is true of any kind of relationship at any level – being inclusive and integrating interests (gains and losses) with others, or moving towards some level of cooperation over a standpoint of nothing but competition, will help reduce the likelihood of violent conflict (read Post No.: 0125 for more about interdependence being the key for peace).
Global peace does not depend on all countries being democracies because democratic countries have fought each other in wars too, and some of the richest democracies of the world have committed atrocities in some of the poorest countries in the world – in the name of promoting democracy itself sometimes! (This is not to say that any other currently known form of governance is necessarily better – the point is that the type of governmental ideology isn’t the true answer for global peace.) It does not depend on a nation’s religiosity because countries that are deemed secular are often involved in conflicts too. And it does not depend on the wealth of a nation because both relatively rich and poor nations have been belligerents in conflicts. The strongest factor for peace between states seems to be how economically tied they are with each other. Ways this happen include international investment, exports and imports, the free movement of labour, manufacturing overseas, tourism, the trade of raw materials, and even holding foreign government debt.
Thus economic treaties, such as the European Union (which resulted from the evolution of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), which formed in 1951 after the Treaty of Paris, and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC/Euratom) and European Economic Community (EEC), which both formed in 1957 after the Treaty of Rome, which the latter then became known as the European Community (EC) and became one of the three pillars of the EU in 1992 after the Maastricht Treaty, which then dissolved and was succeeded by the EU in 2007 after the Lisbon Treaty), are therefore good mechanisms for peace between their members. Economic and legal sovereignty disagreements may arise within such relationships but at least no member has ever considered invading another. International wars are more likely to spark between neighbouring countries in particular so we need to get the most economically intertwined with our own neighbours first and foremostly. (Note that the EU (and UN) does sometimes engage in military or peace-keeping missions, but the EU is primarily a political and economic union.)
The Northern Ireland conflict started before either Ireland or the United Kingdom joined the EU (on the same date in 1973), and for both then becoming members of the EU, with a border problem that needed solving, this strongly arguably partly helped facilitate the peace process. And one of the most difficult problems of negotiating the UK Brexit deal has been how to maintain this peace without an open border.
Although it’s impossible to know for sure whether these member states would’ve engaged in new wars if it weren’t for these above economic treaties in Europe after WWII – Europe has been largely peaceful, especially regarding state-versus-state conflicts, ever since. Member states of the EU are instead more commonly allies in any external military conflict. Even regarding non-state-actors, internal separatist movements and terrorism – we must note that Yugoslavia was (or the constituent parts of Yugoslavia were) not part of the EU at the time when the Yugoslav Wars began in 1991 (these series of violent conflicts are also an example of conflicts between democracies because Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia were multiparty democracies). Turkey has, as of posting, recently been experiencing some internal civil unrest, but again Turkey isn’t in the EU even though it’s been trying to get in for a while now. So peace has been brought or ensured between nations and within nations in the EU. Meow!
One of the main and conscious objectives of the forerunners of the EU was to bring fluffy peace and stability to the region and to prevent another era of conflicts between neighbouring European states that were almost non-stop for the centuries up until and including WWII – and for this purpose at least, the EU has arguably been an equivocal success. This economic treaty has worked, and is working, better than any treaty that solely concentrates on being a collective security or militarily-focused peace treaty (e.g. the now-defunct League of Nations that was formed after WWI, that obviously failed to prevent WWII! This was eventually replaced by the United Nations, which does have a Security Council organ but this primarily explores peaceful resolutions and bringing justice, and the UN as a whole is much more than just the UNSC). But history sometimes gets quickly forgotten in some countries hence history sometimes risks repeating. Some people either don’t remember history or haven’t bothered to learn it and fully understand it in the first place, as vehement nationalistic pride rears its head in some parts of some countries, again.
When a country does something that another country that has deep economic ties with the former doesn’t like, the latter may impose economic trade sanctions (e.g. trade barriers or increased tariffs) or countermeasures on them (in international law contexts, countermeasures refer to reprisals not involving the use of violence or force, which although illegal in themselves, are legal if executed in response to an illegal act committed by the other state) as a stern warning against them. This will therefore erode (mutual) economic ties between them – but this strategy is better than starting a military war with them. This strategy couldn’t be used at all if those countries weren’t economically tied with each other in the first place, where the first effective warning might otherwise need to be a violent or forceful intervention.
Therefore being economically tied with another nation in the first place also affords us these options – though still considered aggressive and affects real people’s livelihoods and therefore lives – that can be used to give a serious warning against another country, that is more than mere words yet without needing to resort to a militaristic war (e.g. USA used such sanctions and countermeasures against Russia regarding what was happening in Crimea in 2014 – but at least no war between these two militaristically powerful and capable countries started). Of course, we don’t want to go too far with these reprisals, and we don’t want to raise trade barriers childishly in some petty protectionist trade dispute or trade war, otherwise existing economic ties will weaken too far. A country may think it’ll lose less than a country it’s engaged in a bilateral trade war with in head-to-head terms, but in the long-term and bigger picture it still creates a lose-lose outcome – this country will still be losing something in absolute terms, and likely losing relative to states that aren’t parties to the trade war in total global competition terms.
The entwining, diversity or mixing, rather than the segregation, division or ‘purifying’, of genes, cultures, economies, religions or whatever reduces (perceived) differences and therefore reasons to discriminate or hate, and therefore reasons to fight. Entwining economies implies the need for freer trade and open markets. Free trade requires the free movement of labour too. In the real world, some border controls are necessary, but protectionism as a primary goal is short-sighted.
This all does mean that, although economic growth in one country will likely overall benefit any intertwined countries – significant crashes in one country will likely infect any intertwined countries too. But it’s on balance probably better to economically struggle together than violently fight each other. This does highlight though that sovereign states need to cooperate better internationally in global economic matters (e.g. regarding banking regulations, tax laws and environmental or global commons matters).
So deep economic ties are a key factor for world peace (at least peace against global-scale or world wars) because spiting someone with whom your financial interests are tied with would only spite oneself too, hence war is made less rational. Identifying and sharing other common interests also helps. It’s not to say that it’s technically impossible for deeply economically-tied countries to go to war with each other but it should help contribute to reduce the perceived payoffs of doing so, and it’s the best solution we know of so far for achieving and maintaining world peace.