Dealing with nations no different from dealing with people

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Pradip Rodrigues

So last week Saudi Arabia reacted or rather, over-reacted to what its leaders perceived to be Canadian interference into their justice system. Nothing wrong or new with the message Canada was relaying not just to the Saudis but to the world, but it was the medium it chose- Twitter. Global Affairs Canada tweeted “gravely concerned” about a new wave of arrests in the Kingdom targeting women’s rights activists.

Everything that followed is now very well-known so I won’t go into it, but here’s the takeaway.

If US President had sent out the identical tweet, quite possibly Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman would be on his way to Washington trying to explain and mend fences by doubling their already massive investments in the United States.

Diplomacy between nations is a lot like diplomacy and friendship between people and families in our communities. Everything is transactional and all or most relationships be it personal or professional are need based.

The way people in our friend circle or people in general also operate is very political in nature.

There are plenty of rich or nouveau riche people who are brash and arrogant like US President Trump. No one really stands up to them in a social setting because they are fabulously rich, have cultivated powerful friends in high places and have an envious lifestyle. These are the people who can say the most ridiculous things in a social gathering and get way, because no one will dare challenge their beliefs and opinions. Anyone who has the temerity to challenge them risks their wrath which could mean social ostracism.

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If you are a ‘friend’ of this rich bully, others will see you as an ally and treat you with respect knowing well you have someone powerful who has your back. So if for example, you are like Canada under PM Trudeau, your words would be taken with a generous pinch of salt if you’ve fallen out of favor with your once good friend and ally, the US. In which case, you and your words would be ridiculed.

Saudi Arabia is like your nouveau riche friend who has oodles of cash and that is what buys them the silence and the allies they need. China is that hard working individual who came up the hard way and for has most of his or her life been the underdog. He or she is that rags to riches story and today love the guy or hate him, but you can’t ignore him because the relationship is symbiotic. The newly rich individual or country can buy their loyalty and allies who can all be counted on their silence or support when called upon.

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At the end of the day, all of us would love to say things that are on our mind and advertise our own moral thinking on issues, but our opinions will only matter on the leverage we have over people. If you are rich and successful, you are insulated by wealth and status. No one wants to hear the opinion of someone who is low down on the food chain or doesn’t have the means to project a sense of power or success. If such a person decides to lecture a rich person about morality, that person risks being destroyed and ridiculed.

This is the reason why the rulers of Guyana or Eritea aren’t asked about their views on anything and if they do offer their opinions they will be ignored or punished. So they wisely choose to blow in the direction of the wind. This explains why everyone wants rushes to London, Beijing or Washington to talk to the leaders of those countries.

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Canada is like one of those small, rich and naïve countries that have for the longest time depended upon a rich and powerful cousin- the USA to support its prosperity through trade and guarantee is security and pecking order on the world stage. But there has been a falling out which has been noticed on the world stage. Suddenly, those who once feared risking the wrath of the US if they criticized or punished Canada in any way suddenly realize they have nothing to fear. This is why Saudi Arabia, India and China have taken on Canada at different time with sheer impunity.

Without the US, Canada has lost a lot of its glitter, its heft and if Canadians were to need visas to visit the US, that would be the last straw.

The fact that all Canada’s allies have refused to take sides is no different from someone who is seen as weak having lost its powerful friend. -CINEWS

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