Why Can't We Be Friends? Prof Offers Economic Fix
Aug. 8, 2008
There is hope for peace even among nations that view themselves as enemies, according to UT Dallas professor Lloyd J. Dumas.
Dr. Dumas, a political economist in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, recently presented his paper on that subject, “Turning Enemies into Friends: The Role of Economic Relationships in Building Security and Sustaining Peace” at the International Conference on Armed Forces and Conflict Resolution in a Globalizing World in Seoul, South Korea.
Dumas argued that national security is mainly a matter of relationships, not military power. He believes that there are two critical steps in turning enemies into friends — reducing mutual hostility and suspicion, and then building strong positive ties and that both can be accomplished by establishing the right kinds of economic relationships.
According to Dumas, the mere existence of economic ties is not enough. They must be mutually beneficial and be balanced in both gain and decision making. Relationships in which one party has the vast majority of power or benefit are likely to provoke hostility, even if both parties gain something. Balanced relationships, however, build strong incentives to prevent irreparable conflicts.
Dumas points to the European Union as an example of balanced economic relationships at work. “The European Union today includes nations that have fought many wars with each other over centuries. Yet, despite ongoing disagreements, the web of balanced mutually beneficial economic relationships they have created has made military threats unthinkable among the EU member states,” Dumas said.
The political economist closed by addressing the daunting task of defusing the tension between North and South Korea and suggesting a similar approach for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
“Turning enemies into friends is not a simple process, but it is the key to real security and lasting peace,” he said.
While in South Korea, UT Dallas political economy alumni arranged for Dumas to speak at graduate seminars at the Catholic University of Korea in Seoul and Kyungpook National University in Daegu.
Dumas has published six books and more than 100 articles in 11 languages in books and journals of economics, engineering, sociology, history, public policy, military studies and peace science. He is writing a book that expands on this idea of using economic relationships to build security and sustainable peace, called The Peacekeeping Economy.