Values or Interests
Today I am going to address an important question which is “What matters the most in a relationship between states?”. Is it the similarity in cultural values that bind them or is it the economic and political interests that bring them closer to each other. Cultural values and people to people contact has an important role in bringing two countries together but most of the International relations’ experts are of the view that interests supersede the values in international relations and I agree with them.
Let me give you some examples from the international arena. Pakistan and China are two countries which are different from each other in each and every aspect except that they are neighbors but they have an extremely close relationship with each other. According to most of the International Relations’ experts, the bond is due to the mutual enmity towards India right from the start. Right now both the countries are working on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor under One Belt One road initiative and their relationship is strengthening each and every day.
Similar is the example of the close relationship between India and the Soviet Union in the pre-cold war scenario. India on one hand was and is a democratic country whereas the Soviet Union had a communist regime but they were closely bonded due to their mutual importance for each other. USSR was seeing India as a major partner in the region against the American influence whereas India needed military and economic aid. Both the countries shared nothing except their national interests.
A unique example of such interest-based orientation was the alliance of America, China, and other countries with the Afghan Mujahideen to counter USSR forces in Afghanistan. This interest-driven worked well for America and as a result of the successful strategy, USSR was disintegrated into Russia and other smaller states. Another important thing to note is the undeclared alliance of China with USA against USSR despite the fact that both China and USSR were communist states, thanks to Chinese diverging interests with USSR and converging interests with the United States.
Nor I am against people to people contact neither I am against the notion that shared cultural values bring two countries together but it is a fact that in nation states, interests are of the primary importance.