Two main fac­tors push na­tions to act

New Straits Times - - Letters -

IN to­day’s shaky state of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions, coun­tries will usu­ally ra­tio­nalise the be­hav­iour of other coun­tries in a very un­in­formed way, lead­ing to the mis­judg­ment and mis­read­ing of in­ten­tions from ac­tions.

As gen­er­ally ob­served, there are two fac­tors why a na­tion acts in one way or an­other: faith and ide­ol­ogy. Faith, which has al­ways been closely as­so­ci­ated with re­li­gion, will re­fer to Chris­tian­ity and Is­lam.

Ide­ol­ogy is to be un­der­stood as a sys­tem of gov­ern­ment, such as democ­racy and com­mu­nism. Over the years, there have ap­peared vari­ants of these be­ing prac­tised by coun­tries to suit their dif­fer­ent con­di­tions.

His­tor­i­cally, con­tests among coun­tries have al­ways in­volved state ac­tions taken in the name of faith or ide­ol­ogy, or both, at dif­fer­ent times. In the Mid­dle Ages, coun­tries fought wars in the Mid­dle East to spread Chris­tian­ity. Dur­ing the pe­riod of em­pires, Chris­tian­ity and eco­nom­ics were merged. Af­ter the two World Wars, ide­ol­ogy and the com­pe­ti­tion be­tween democ­racy and com­mu­nism be­came an im­por­tant in­stru­ment of state for the big win­ners — the United States, Rus­sia and China. In the cause of push­ing for­ward with democ­racy in the world, the US im­posed a sys­tem of al­liances com­pris­ing her al­lies in the wars. In Eastern Europe, com­mu­nism took ef­fect strongly as a state ide­ol­ogy cham­pi­oned by the Soviet Union. This devel­op­ment led to the Cold War, di­vid­ing Europe be­tween a demo­cratic West and a com­mu­nist East, sep­a­rated by the Berlin Wall.

In China, Mao Ze­dong led a “Long March” that en­abled an in­dige­nous form of com­mu­nism to take root in the coun­try from 1949 on­wards. In 1978, Deng Xiaop­ing brought in his Four Mod­erni­sa­tion Plan to help open up the coun­try to for­eign trade, in­vest­ment and greater ex­ter­nal in­te­gra­tion with the world. A clear in­di­ca­tion that a third vari­ant of ide­ol­ogy had ap­peared next to democ­racy and com­mu­nism, that of glob­al­i­sa­tion and the grow­ing pull of eco­nom­ics for coun­tries.

China is cur­rently lead­ing the world to gain as much from glob­al­i­sa­tion as pos­si­ble. This ap­pears to be the new ide­ol­ogy un­der Pres­i­dent Xi Jing­ping and is marked by a greater in­volve­ment of coun­tries in the global econ­omy and help­ing to re­struc­ture the fi­nan­cial ar­chi­tec­ture in ways that can ben­e­fit more coun­tries.

Its suc­cess at us­ing glob­al­i­sa­tion raised warn­ing signs world­wide. Many fear that China is about to re­peat what she once did in Africa some years ago. This had then been re­garded as a onesided deal, with all the re­turns go­ing back to China and less to the African na­tions in­volved.

The re­li­gion ide­ol­ogy par­a­digm has re­mained a dom­i­nant choice to ex­plain na­tion states’ be­hav­iours through­out his­tory. Vari­ants of the ide­ol­ogy par­a­digm are seen at work in the world, through democ­racy, com­mu­nism and glob­al­i­sa­tion. Now, na­tion states and ex­trapo­lit­i­cal groups world­wide have been drawn into us­ing re­li­gion vari­ants, such as the re­li­gion-based schism be­tween Sun­nis and Shias.

DR AZHARI-KARIM, Kuala Lumpur

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