Relationships with countries are vital

There are no perfect people, so we cannot expect perfect leaders. There are also no perfect countries, so we cannot expect perfect agreements among countries. To respond to these short-comings, we must do our best to value relationships.

This works for people as it does for countries. An ambassador noted America’s strengths are its military might and its relationships with other countries. Our relationships predate the existing leadership team, so it is imperative to nurture them. This will help us resolve problems as they arise.

This is not just a US problem where its current front man acts rashly and chaotically, breaks commitments and agreements and lies more than he does not. He has made America less trustworthy and other countries are finding a need to seek better agreements with others that do not include the US.

The imperfect European Union is experiencing significant tension with the pending Brexit, the current difficulties in Italy and the growing nationalistic movements in EU countries. This is made worse by targeted social media efforts by countries that would benefit from a dysfunctional EU and US. Russia is one of those countries and they have been accused of such targeting.

A key part of these relationships is a financial one. The global economy is larger than it otherwise would be due to these relationships. If each country only tried to maximize its own profits in a zero-sum effort, the total pie is smaller and we all lose. This concept is called the Nash Equilibrium, which won John Nash a Nobel Prize in Economics.

Yet, it is more than that. These relationships make the world more secure and safe. The nationalists argue the opposite, but the more commerce is intertwined, leaders work harder to nourish those relationships. A strong EU makes Europe safer and prosperous. A strong relationship with the US and other countries does the same.

Yet, these agreements are imperfect. Not every citizen within a country may benefit equally from a global economy. There is a graph called the “Elephant Curve,” which is a silhouette of an elephant with its trunk raised. The body forms the rampant growth in income of the poorest workers around the world, while the trunk represents the even more significant growth in the highest income earners. The trough inbetween represents the middle income earners who are seeing stagnant incomes, who are in more flourishing economies. This trough has led to populist politicians who over-simplify the problems and come to short-sighted solutions.

Their needs must be addressed, but first we must understand the causes are more than the global economy. The larger threat is techonology advancements. Through our relationships we must invest together on addressing these issues. If we do not, we will create zero-sum contrasts, that will cause even more tension. The rise of fascism in Germany evolved out of dire economic circumstances after WWI.

This last example should inform us of why working collectively is so important. We must value our relationships and make them as beneficial as possible. Going it alone may seem like a good idea to some, but we need to think through the benefit of trade and mutual investment in each other.

If this concept sounds theoretical, let me explain it better by BMW, Mercedes, Hyundai, Toyota and Nissan making cars in America, with GM and Ford making cars around the world. And, Chrysler is owned by Fiat, an Italian company. Jobs are created as we invest in each other’s countries. This is true for other industries and suppliers. And, we may be less inclined to create war, when so much is invested in each other.


17 thoughts on “Relationships with countries are vital

  1. Very well argued Keith in your own reasoned and fact-based style.
    I would add this in support.
    It has been 73 years since there was a war on mainland Europe involving in any combination France, Germany (or Germanic States), Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Britain. It’s difficult to fight someone when you are so tied up in trade, transport, security etc. And Brexit is not a done deal yet. Nor is the Italian situation, looks like another election looms.

      • Maybe because it’s I read much military history and am thus influenced but I cannot help think of Brexit in an inverse way as paralleling the British Expeditionary Force into France/Belgium in 1940. Hastily put together, not planned for the unforeseen and a heroic but nonetheless a retreat which was only saved from turning into a disaster by a great deal of amazing improvising and more heroics. Another Dunkirk?

      • Roger, well said. It was not well thought or communicated. As people have reacted against Trump around the globe, the UK should realize how others are reacting to Brexit. Economists have projected a retrenching economy under Brexit. Plus, several companies have moved or are preparing to move their EU
        Headquarter or distribution centers from the UK.

        Let’s hope they don’t need the informal Navy to get them out of a Dunkirk Brexit. Keith

      • Thank you Keith.
        I do think this will be another classic British debacle…trouble is in Brexit there’s no likelihood of the ‘gallant, tragic defeat’ we used to specialise in so well.

      • Roger, not that my opinion matters and it certainly matters less than that of British citizens, but my initial reaction to the Brexit was depression. Keith

  2. Dear Keith,

    You make too much sense.

    Your arguments support why I was in favor of TPP and why we need to nourish our UK and EU relationships. Unfortunately, the US president is intent on thrashing US past efforts.

    Russia couldn’t have asked for a better president to accomplish its goals.

    I am very worried about Italy.

    Hugs, Gronda

    • Thanks Gronda. It is akin to a business building relationships with their clients and then a new owner comes in and wants new service agreements with all of them. In these situations, the company is giving clients a choice to consider other options. The US a President is forcing people to consider other options.

      This is not only bad governmental policy, it is horrible as a business strategy. And, business is supposed to be his expertise. I say this because I worked at a company that with new management wanting new agreements, they made us more difficult to work with. Instead of helping solve clients’ needs, I spent too much time in contract negotiations.


    • Erika, and too many people who know better and see what is happening are to scared to call him out. The other countries keep telling us how difficult we have become to deal with. And, he is forcing them to consider other partners. Keith

      • Fear is the only power such “leaders” have to control others forntheir own neeys. Unfortunately ghere are too many not realizing that he had no power at all as soon as no one cared anymore.

      • Erika, quite true. Business leaders who use fear, do not endure the test of time. I know of one leader who ran off more than 1/2 of his leadership team. He was fired by the Board. I know of another who ran off anyone who told him he was going down a perilous path. His company was close to bankruptcy before it was bought. I know of another who went to counseling at the behest of the Board, not for sexual harassment, but general harassment – he was a bully. The counseling failed and he was fired.

        What these leaders fail to realize, unless you are very good or innovative, most people won’t put up with your BS for long. This is a key reason Trump has so much turnover. Keith

      • Yes, exactly! He exchanges everyone who dares to be reasonable and responsible – which means who doesn’t support his egocentric abuse of his function.

  3. Note to Readers: it is useful to consider that after the US withdrew from the TPP, the remaining countries continued forward and signed an Asia-Pacific trade agreement sans the US. The Paris Climate Change Accord will continue with or without the US.
    And, the remaining six countries in the Iran Nuclear deal are looking to continue that agreement without the US. The second happiest man might be Vladimir Putin, as he can endeavor to fill in the void. But, the happiest man is Xi Jeng Peng as China will easily be able to leverage the US retrenchment.

    While I have tried to minimize my fervor on this, I cannot emphasize how poor this posture is for the US. We are truly shooting ourselves in the foot.

  4. Note to Readers: So much for relationships, tonight several tariffs on EU allies go into affect tonight. Trump continues his decline of the US image.

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