Economic Cooperation Vs. Economic Coercion

Economic Cooperation Vs. Economic Coercion

You cannot separate trade from politics any more than you can separate military gifts from war. Doing your neighbour’s shopping does not compensate for cutting their power supply. Politically you cannot isolate food from fellowship or tyres from transport. You cannot sensibly participate in a contest where one side’s rules differ from the other’s. The economic cooperation being sought with China by most countries, especially the European Union Members, depends for its success on some sort of real and demonstrable rapprochement between China and the West. Such a relationship seems to be growing less likely daily.

So many negatives suggest that Macron Missions or Lula Loveins are unlikely to do more than stab a touch more poison into the system. Today’s politics of irritation are so petty, so beloved of our present negotiators, that sensible plans for a stable world seem inconceivable. Most political planning has become gambling, and not of the visionary sort. 

What lies at the base of international stability? Truthful information, of course. You may have been told this when young, either by parents trying to stop you lying about your results or by school teachers attempting to eradicate the damage done at home. What they will have told you may have varied from what you observed. Passion for truth is never greater than with ardent liars. Given AI’s dependence on the past, at least for now, we cannot reasonably hope for greater truth for the future. How can we ensure sensible cooperation of differing ideologies?

Contrary to what is widely believed, all good things begin with practical behaviour modified to become ethical rather than principles redefined to suit what can be done. 

The European Union is a good example of this. If it had continued for, say, another fifty or hundred years as the European Economic Community (EEC), concentrating its efforts on trade, it would be politically and morally a great deal stronger today than it is. But M. Delors and others decided it would blossom as a political union (European Union). Wiki says “The Delors presidency has been considered as the apex of the European Commission’s influence on European integration”. Not by me, it hasn’t. It rushed a job that should have taken four generations to complete and shattered a part of the union that is crucial to future cooperation.

Courtship is useful when you don’t hop into bed before you are certain about the other things that matter.

International trade today is complicated by the need to prevent nuclear war and the rapid weaponization of critical elements of technical development – or (mostly) chips, as we call them. The planet’s resources – and now its threats, too – and the power generated and concentrated by technology require that commerce be reequipped to maximise the availability of the former and minimise the danger from the latter. A grand reorganisation, relaunching or (heaven forbid) renaming of the United Nations is out of the question. Any attempt at it would almost certainly trigger conflict as a knee-jerk reaction.

A sensible, monitorable, enforceable world agreement on chips might not seem a major step in the right direction. But it would be one foundation brick in the construction of economic cooperation. It would work because we would all understand it and realise that if it didn’t work we would destroy the planet.

One brick to start with.

One brick at a time.

Good morning

John Bittleston