If this has been our policy, at what point can these nations who share our Western Hemisphere look forward to mutual benefit? If the U.S. desires a friendly neighborhood, then it must begin by being a good neighbor. No one likes a bully, and if our policies have tended to compromise the integrity of our neighbors to the south, then we need to begin fresh dialogues that consider the needs of our partners, and not just our own. Let us renew those relationships which show the most promise, and welcome suggestions for how to develop and strengthen our other partnerships.
We cannot expect other nations who share our hemisphere and the world around us to respond favorably to one-sided agreements which give one partner unfair advantages and offer the other partners very little in return. If what we offer is little-more than survival-benefits without long-term partnership considerations, it is no wonder that our promises and dialogues are largely ignored! If the European Union unequally rewarded its member nations, it would soon lose its credibility and strength. We should learn from those unions which have proven their ability to prosper and endure and accept their diplomatic advice when it is offered.
No one expects the unification of the Americas to happen anytime soon, but we can promote the development of inclusive dialogue by suggesting ways in which we can mutually benefit from our relationships. Why should other global regional-partnerships achieve such remarkable success in their trade relations, while the Western Hemisphere struggles to survive? Do our European and Far-Eastern neighbors have goods and services to offer that we in the West do not? We are being outmaneuvered in our own backyard! If we refuse to develop our own neighborhood, we encourage other nations to do it for us, on THEIR terms.
Perhaps we should revisit that perception long enough to recall that these same partnerships have endured the test of time for many generations. In addition, we in the West have formed other strategic relationships in the Far East that require patient nurturing so that the seeds of global cooperation can mature. The Americans, like any other global-partnership, can only be as strong as their weakest link.
We need to examine the relationships we have in our own hemisphere before we can promote diplomacy in any meaningful way in the global community. Let’s encourage each other to be more willing to help than to offend, more ready to develop than to be enriched ourselves. We can show the world that Americans are united in goodwill and dedicated to the success of our Western Hemisphere. If we treat others as we would like to be treated, others will respond in-kind, and reciprocate with diplomacy that is worthy of the name.
This marathon of diplomatic effort in the Americas is in need of a fresh infusion of hope and determination from both the public and private sectors in order to respond effectively to all of the educational and developmental requirements. Rather than developing the Americas from afar, our policies must include a blueprint of inclusiveness that establishes southern leadership positions where they are able to influence and determine paths-of-development for their future.
This strategy will come as welcome news to those who struggle to overcome the perception of non-inclusiveness in the present diplomatic formula. When we approach our neighbors with a developmental plan that includes them in the decision-making process as real partners who enable their own transformation, we enlist their cooperation to realize its actualization. When we perceive that our relations with some partners have been damaged either by our own policy errors, or as a result of misperceptions caused by forces within or without their own borders, our response must persuade using the most attractive and inclusive strategies which we are able to provide. When our southern neighbors realize that we, as Americans working together, can truly accomplish changes that will empower and uplift our Western Hemisphere, they will be less likely to engage in primary relations with another hemisphere.
The best guarantee for our reluctant partners that diplomacy with us will yield results, is the success of our neighboring partnerships. We will experience other global economic challenges in the future which require strategic partnerships similar to that of the European Union. Let’s not be caught unprepared for the next crisis, but instead prepare our hemisphere for the requirements needed to prosper in the new millennium. Our inevitable struggles equip us for the eventual challenges we face in the global community.
Our union strengthens our leverage and impact with other world communities. Does the West still possess the formula and the ingredients for success? Can we motivate others in our own hemisphere and those of like-minds throughout the world, that our methods are correct, practical and transformational? Is it true that following the model we provide will help our global partners to succeed? We have led by example in the 20th century, and I believe that we can inspire the Western Hemisphere and the world to respond to our example and follow us into this new millennium.
In order to accomplish this, we must first trust each other enough to cooperate in the relationships that will transform the West. As a cohesive unit, we can present a united and compelling hemisphere to our global neighbors. Good governance must supply the blueprint and the leadership necessary for success. We have the manpower, energy and diplomatic willingness to accomplish the unification of our Western Hemisphere. Let’s not let policy failures and short-sightedness deter us from accomplishing the union that we seek.
Our failure at this task will only encourage others to attempt what we have failed, and result in further diversions and delays to our eventual unification process. It is inevitable that we will either work together in goodwill and harmony, or settle for yesterday’s uneasy alliances and postponed dreams. Let’s make plans now to create a Western Hemisphere and world where all of us can participate equally and enjoy the benefits of our shared cooperation.
Mark Overt Skilbred