The Importance of Interdependence

by Nastya Petrovitch

The concept of interdependence is two or more things which are mutually dependent on one another. In a global sense, it means countries that equally rely on each other for help as well as trade. A country which is completely dependent on other countries becomes vulnerable and a country which maintains complete independence from other countries runs itself into the ground (Gandhi). Interdependence provides a happy medium between the two extremes. The practice of interdependence between countries is tantamount to achieving effective and worthwhile foreign policy (Gandhi).

With the advent of globalization, traveling the world has become very easy, making the two oceans which surround the country simply not enough protection that it gave in the past. Technology has distanced us from the reality of war while also bringing the world closer together, with scary results. After 9/11, people realized that their way of life was not guaranteed. These horrific events proved that things which once seemed so indestructible and everlasting could crumble in an instant (Zinn 68). The attack had everyone grappling for answers. It was the first time that today’s youth experienced the reality of war (Goodall). Before 9/11, today’s generation had really not experienced war the way previous generations had (Goodall). They had not grown up during the Cold War like their parents had, and they did not grow up under the threat of fascism like their grandparents had.

In previous eras, the United States seemed impervious to the likes of foreign invaders. Even when Japan attacked Hawaii in Pearl Harbor, it was (at that time) an attack that was not on U.S. soil. Society still continued to function like it never happened, thinking that a U.S. attack was an impossibility. The foreign policy of the past no longer gives enough protection. In a world which is becoming more and more interconnected, a new way of thinking needs to be developed in order to deal with the world today (Dalai Lama).

In order to prevent future attacks, the United States must not only be vigilant about future terrorism but also work alongside other nations in order to accomplish this. In today’s world, stamping one’s foot and going it alone simply does not effect much long-term change (Zinn 69). When one stubbornly insists one’s way, it angers other countries, increasing the amount of anti-Americanism as well as making it harder to accomplish the task. It is also not the job of the United States to simply police the world (Dalai Lama). The responsibility of establishing global law and order lies in many different countries working together towards the nonviolent resolution of conflicts around the world (Zinn 73). Instead of insisting stubbornly on independence from institutions like the UN, it would be more beneficial to practice interdependence (Dalai Lama).

Globalization also means that foreign imports outsource domestic goods, causing disastrous effects. The country has become so reliant on foreign imports that products are rarely manufactured in the country, because it is simply cheaper to produce elsewhere (Wright). While this may create more jobs for the workers in that country overseas as well as lower domestic prices, it creates a detrimental effect on the U.S. economy over time (Wright). One can see that when one looks at trade with China. Everywhere there is something which has been impacted by China. In determining the actual extent of their influence, “China’s effects on the world are so great – and potentially explosive – that paradoxically it has been hard for those charged with seeing the big picture to grasp them” (Fishman 8 ). Most products have “Made in China” written somewhere, and a great deal of people have been layed off of work due to factories moving to China (Fishman 2). Prices are at unbelievably low prices, thanks to the cheap labor supplied by China’s sweatshop workers (Fishman 5). It is not just impacting the United States either. Many countries now rely economically on China too (Fishman 15). China’s workforce is not only stealing factory jobs but also is starting to produce the handmade specialty goods as well. People used to come from around the world to buy handmade ornaments from Germany, but now businesses are folding under the strain of Chinese competition (Fishman 158). Many of these businesses are small family operations which cannot possibly afford to match China’s prices (Fishman 159). So these businesses are fading from existence, until local village shops become only a memory (Vaclav).

The problem with this ever-increasing dependence is that it causes the United States to look the other way in order to remain a trading partner with China. China continues to oppress Tibet and to conduct major human rights violations. China drove the Dalai Lama out of their country. Instead of welcoming the Dalai Lama with open arms, the United States refuses to allow the Dalai Lama to speak before Congress. If the Dalai Lama were to speak before Congress, it would disrupt trade relations with China. So the United States complies with China’s ruthless tactics in order to keep the domestic economy stable. Governmental policy should not be designed around pleasing a country like China. If the U.S. were less reliant upon Chinese goods, and were able to increase China’s reliance on American goods, the US would have more leverage in foreign relations. The practice of inderdependence instead of simply dependence would greatly improve the US economy.

While interdependence is a wonderful concept, it is not often used in practice. Independence is often overvalued, while interdependence is seen as weak. Many politicians take the stance that bullying other people constitutes diplomacy. The use of diplomacy means seeing the other side and convincing them to do something, even if they are in the wrong (Gandhi). Diplomacy lies in the practice of interdependence. While it is a long hard road to travel, it is a worthwhile one. The practice of “interdependence [in society today] ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency” (Mohandas Gandhi).

Works Cited:

Dalai Lama. Ethics for the New Millennium. New York: Riverhead Trade, 2001.

Fishman, Ted C. China Inc. New York: Scribner, 2005.

Gandhi, Arun. “Community of the Future.” M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence. 3

August 2005.

Gandhi, Mohandas. Brainy Quote. 3 August 2005.

—. Quote Source. 3 August 2005. .

—. Quotes Web. 3 August 2005. .

Goodall, Jane. Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey. New York: Warner Books, Inc.,

2000.

Havel, Vaclav. “Globalization.” UPS Longitudes 04: Synchronizing the World of

Commerce. Paris, France. 26 October 2004.

Wright, Robert. “We’re All One-Worlders Now: The New Politics of Globalization.”

Editorial. Slate. 25 April 1997. Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC. 19 July 2005.
Zinn, Howard. “The Optimism of Uncertainty.” The Impossible Will Take a Little

While: A Citizen’s Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear. Ed. Paul Rogat Loeb. New York: Basic Books, 2004. 63-73. The Nation. 2 September 2004. The Nation Institute. 19 July 2005.

You can visit Nastya Petrovitch’s blog at http://www.progressiveu.org/blog/candy7468  

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