Thursday, July 29, 2010

Foreign Policy: A simple Fact Oft Forgotten

Life experience tells us that making an enemy is very easy. One insult or a deceit, intended or otherwise, can do the trick. It's making friends that is difficult. Especially from known adversaries or belligerent quarters.

That fact is , however, oft forgotten in nursing our foreign relations. As far as Malaysia is concerned we have had our own differences with other countries and bouts of bad relationship in the past, including Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore. But thank heaven, good relationship has been restored, although some issues stlll need to be ironed out.

But what about our relationship with the United States and Israel? Since Tun Mahathir's times the relationship has been bad or very bad and for good reasons. In the case of Israel Malaysia is not the only country that condemns its foreign policy and attitude towards the Palestine. The whole world had been agog with the injustices it perpetrated but no one seems to be able to do anything about it because it has the United States' support and protection. And for that reason, and others such as its free trade policy ( Read Che Det's latest entry: Free market II), we had always been critical of that powerful nation.

Are we going the improve the relationship with the US at all by always being so critical? Are we going to help solve the Israel -Palestine issue by condemning Israel without reservation and never at all listening to its argument, at least to understand why it's so vicious and demonic. WE might never become good friends because of competing interest or conflicting philosophy. But listening to what the enemy says is one important step towards resolving any misunderstanding.

Yes, we can easily turn round and say: Why should we listen to them? Why can't they listen to us? Isn't that what the children would say when at odds with their parents? The parents can say that they are older and wiser but what they really mean is that they have the right and power to do what they want and the children will ultimately have to bow down to their will. Isn't that also true for us smaller nations. What do we have to lose to listen to the old man and his spoilt child on why they are so harsh on us kids?Don't they know that the kids today are quite independent of mind and will not stand to any nonsense?

We may have tons of information with regard to the misdeeds of the US and Israel but as long as we keep harping on them the door to a meaningful resolution of differences will remain closed. We have to allow a little room for a meaningful dialogue, an exchange of goodwill, and mutual respect if the current stalemate is to be broken and a new line of understanding is to be adopted. What anger fails to achieve, an open-minded willingness to talk may resolve a lot of misunderstanding. Why don't we give it a try?

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