Stopping Future Wars With Good Political Relations and Economic Sanctions

One of my professors in college was a well renowned economist, primarily in the field of labor economics, however there was one topic that he found incredible interesting and devoted his life to it. That research was how we can use good foreign relations not only to stop wars, but to make both countries in the long run wealthier. Geopolitics is a complicated thing, but the research he did showed that in almost every single case, countries that had better relations with each other, created more economic prosperity for their people as well as greatly lowered the chances to go to war. He used a formula to rank how good foreign relations to other countries were and put them on a scale from one to 10 at different periods of time. For example if you looked at the US and Japan, the scale was around 0 during WWII and increased to about 7 during the 70s and 80s. This raises a question, why don’t countries stay neutral and develop better political relations instead of starting ideological fights and meaningless wars?

I know the world isn’t that simple, but some countries that have been highly successful have kept to the neutrality model over time, and their citizens have some of the highest qualities of life. Countries in the modern era may be less ideological than during past eras like the cold war, but there are still remnants of forcing ideology onto other countries. Rather than engaging in a war, unless it is absolutely necessary, staying neutral is the most profitable solution. Without getting too political, this is why when I see certain politicians talk about starting fights with other countries, I sort of shake my head. The key to US power has been mostly in its trade relations and vast network of partners, so why would we jeopardize everything we have worked to create, for an ideology that will be forgotten in 30 years.

Today more than ever we are in a world that needs to use diplomacy and good relations to solve problems, not arms. With weapons that can quite literally level entire cities and destroy our planet , on the line, other ways to hurt an enemy can prove just as fruitful. Economic sanctions can work just as well as tanks in many scenarios where certain countries are lashing out or misbehaving in the international community. Instead of bleeding our own country dry by building billions of dollars worth of war machines, denying certain countries from accessing vital international resources to run an economy ends up creating long lasting desired effects. Eventually a country will stop acting in a hostile manner because monetarily they can afford to keep it up. Although there are a few exceptions cough North Korea cough , economic sanctions can keep misbehaving actors from becoming a developed economy.

However, ultimately much of this ideology comes down to what you believe in morally, because most of the time, economic sanctions not only hurt the government, but also the people within the country as well. Many of them are innocent people who have no interest in their government and are really just collateral damage. However, bringing them into a warzone would significantly increase their chances for becoming a fatality. In our history, countries we went into to establish a government, liberate and spread our ideology, like Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan , there were much higher levels of collateral damage than there were actual target fatalities, and on top of that the new governments we established have no loyalty to us if suddenly we stopped aid. So one is left wondering if we just wasted all that money, time and human life for an outcome that could have been achieved by cutting them totally off economically and politically.

As time goes on I believe that we are going to see far less physical wars and instead start to see economic wars take place between countries. We see it to an extent now, but in the future as warfare moves to a point where it threatens million of lives, other solutions are going to be used, most likely economic ones. In the long run the ways we can fight countries that act badly in the international community is through having good political relations with other countries that trade with them and enacting economic sanctions that will cripple their economy. If they change their act, then the sanctions can easily be undone, rather than the numerous lives that would have been lost if we invaded and used physical warfare instead.