‘Countries experiencing conflict should be left to solve their own problems’
by Ivan Cheong (JC2 2021)
In the world we live in, there can be conflicts in countries regardless of when and where. It can come in different scales, from a small riot in a city, to an all-out war between the world’s superpowers. Even though conflicts mainly involve those in the fight, should third parties intervene and help solve the problems causing the conflict? It is quite the dilemma actually, because there are many pros and cons of helping the country facing conflict. Same thing can be said otherwise. However, countries experiencing conflict should not be left to solve their own problems. There are economic, security and diplomatic benefits of doing so, such as economic prosperity, mutual improvement of security and improved international relations and unity, respectively. No doubt there are the risks of doing so, such as a net loss of resources and deaths, but it is still worth giving a helping hand as the benefits outweigh the risks and cons.
It is in a nation’s interest to assist another country facing conflict for security reasons. The result would be increased security for both the country aiding and the country being aided. An example would be during the Vietnam War, where South Vietnam was fighting against the aggressive North Vietnam, who was under the Communist influence. Singapore sold ammunition to the Thai people to help fuel the war effort in fighting against the Communists coming from North Vietnam. Singapore did this because if Thailand fell to the Communists, Singapore could be a potential target for invasion. The ammunition sent there was to protect not just Thailand and South Vietnam, but also protect Singapore from the Communists. Therefore, out of self-preservation and security, it was wise to aid another country in its conflicts as doing so can lead to a better sense of security.
Helping a country in need of aid in a conflict it is facing could mean potential economic growth to not only the country being aided, but also the one helping. A country’s trading partner facing conflict would be of concern, as leaving it alone may negatively affect trade and economic relations between them. For example, during the second world war the Allies were badly affected economically due to the Nazis who invaded and destroyed their land. The US gave billions of dollars’ worth of ammunition and weapons to the Allies to aid them in their conflict against the Nazis. Thanks to the aid, tides of the war turned against the Nazi in the Allies favour, and the Allies were able to recover their economy. A recovered economy meant that the US was now able to trade better with the Allies, and the US economy grew at least 8% annually from 1934 to 1944. While it seemed at first that helping them was pointless, since the war occurred a continent away, there were indirect benefits of doing so.
Another good reason to help a country is to help strengthen international unity and diplomacy. When Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1978, Cambodia could not do much against the mighty force of Communist Vietnam. But thanks to international cooperation between the ASEAN countries, all 6 countries protested at the United Nations to condemn Vietnam for its atrocities against Cambodia. After many years of protesting at the United Nations, Vietnam was forced to stop by China. The aid to help Cambodia via diplomatic pressure, and that it worked out, meant that the conflict was solved for the time being with minimal blood shed and losses. This helped to maintain and strengthen international diplomacy and unity between the countries helping and the country being helped. Assisting a country to solve its conflicts is good as it improves diplomatic relations with other countries, creates a mutual sense of trust, and therefore provides ground for further improvements of political, economic, or even military international relations.
From a humanitarian perspective, helping another country solve its conflicts is the morally and ethically right thing to do. It is illegal by international law to hurt anyone or country who is not a threat or did nothing wrong, and an aggressor does not have the right to do so. Those who have power and resources only has the right to do so if the one they are harming is a threat and has equal power and resources. People who are relatively weak and defenceless against an oppressive aggressor deserve aid. In terms of their military, the victim country should be left alone. But in terms of their society, they should be rescued and given aid to help cope with the war. For example, the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940 evacuated at least 300000 Allied troops who ran out of ammunition. The oppressive and incoming Nazi Germany was invading the majority of Europe and the troops at Dunkirk stood no chance against the Nazis. At this point, the helpless troops would be considered unthreatening and needed serious aid. They were evacuated by civilian boats coming from Britain and the majority of them were saved. Therefore, a country should be helped in its conflict not in a militaristic manner, but in terms of providing welfare to the helpless victims of the conflict because no fuel to the fire should be added and it is morally correct to save them.
Sometimes, it is simply best to leave a country alone to solve its own issues. Take the riot in Hong Kong for example. The people are protesting China’s Extradition Bill. The bill states that fugitives in Hong Kong can or will be sent to be judged in mainland China if the Chinese jurisdiction wants to. This is a retreat from the 50-year pledge of Hong Kong autonomy that China pledged. Many external observers support the Hong Kong protest, while others want to help Hong Kong by criticising against the protest. But is helping Hong Kong in this crisis worth it? No. The protestors are too far gone to be stopped by verbal means, and the only way to stop them is brute force. However, doing so would end up in many deaths and casualties. It would be a waste of resources and lives. Even if one were to support the riot, doing so is going against China’s interest, and no country in their right mind would want to fight, let alone agitate a world superpower. China has the geographical and technological advantage in a fight against Hong Kong and those who support it. In such cases, helping the country in conflict is not worth the resources put into doing so, as there may be dire consequences ahead that are not only bad for the country being aided, but also the one aiding.
In conclusion, countries experiencing conflicts should be helped to solve their own issues due to the potential security, economic and diplomatic benefit it reaps. It is also the morally right thing to do. There are some instances however, where a country is simply too far gone to be helped. Providing aid, whether to the people or the government, will reap costs that are way higher than the benefits, such as more casualties and deaths. Therefore, so long as the benefits outweigh the costs and it is morally correct, a country indeed should be helped with its own issues.