What does getting enough water have to do with diplomacy?
Besides the coughing spell that Prime Minister Theresa May had this past fall during a speech to Parliament, having access to water can teach a lot about diplomatic relations. Most economic issues can be boiled down to activity and provision, policy and trade. Political strategy is method that pushed for behavioral change by constraining necessary resources. Water, I’d say, is pretty necessary.
In an article, “How to Keep Your Body Properly Hyrdrated” by Jane E. Brody, she notes that “people can survive for only three or four days--a week at most--without water” . The body needs nutrients like countries need trade channels. It’s about infusion. The basic needs of a person is tied to the basic needs of a country. What each entity needs to survive is the foundational premise to get a diplomatic conversation started.
Countries want to get things done for their population. With the economic climate increasingly becoming niche market focused--global is now local--the next stages of political relations can be seen as entering a stage of socioeconomic tribalism. Okay, you are probably asking, “What does that have to do with water?” Everything. We need water to get things done.
The impact of inadequate hydration hurts performance and leads to malnutrition. There are damaging physical, cognitive and health effects, according to Brody, of dehydration. Her article offers preventative measures that people can use during, for example, hot summer months such as eating high-water content foods like chia seeds, cucumbers and pears.
If half the population was walking around dehydrated, that would be a major hit to GDP, to the nation’s economy. Plus, think about how decision-making would be impacted if people were walking around half-dazed. (Now, that is nothing against gatherings like Woodstock or a family barbeque). Yet, we are talking about economic decision-making affected by the constraining of vital resources.
Malnutrience results from resources as some level being missing from the development of a person. The impact on decision-making and developmental skill of a malnourished child can be seen well into their advanced educational years. Think of the impact to individual and collective earning power when an otherwise healthy person lacks adequate care.
The World Health Organization, according to a New York Times Op Ed piece, is currently being pushed by U.S. delegates to “water down or scrap simple a simple resolution meant to encourage breastfeeding in underdeveloped countries” . When Ecuador was readying to present an “uncontroversial measure” to advocate for breastfeeding, the Trump administration threatened to enact “punishing trade measures” and withdraw “crucial military aid unless the country dropped it” .
Balking to powerful industry lobbying from baby formula companies, the Trump administration overreached into the needs of women and children all the way over into another continent. This shows how necessary resources are frequently leveraged to create behavioral change between countries. This is the essence of trade war.
War is a way to create or access resources deemed necessary. So is diplomacy. Yet, diplomacy, when done correctly, leaves more room for peaceable relations to help support increased access. Trump’s diplomatic strategy has been an “America first” approach and can feel like “Trumping” or bullying his way through a deal.
We don’t need another war. Nor do we need continual overreach into the lives of women and children. What we need is more diplomacy and a better understanding of what it means to mutually protect and share in each other’s resources.