Friday, July 17, 2015

Arc of Instability

Recently I spent a month and a half on service-learning projects in Rwanda, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam and southern mainland China.  At the same time, I have been reading Ian Morris’ “Why the West Rules - for now”.  And I realise that much of these places are part of a region often called the “Arc of Instability”.  

Based on Morris’ version of the arc, Rwanda is at one end of the arc, while Myanmar and Cambodia are at the other end.  All 3 places are very poor and face immense challenges.  

Rwanda went through a genocidal civil war 2o years ago and much of the country is still without electricity or running water.  

Cambodia went through a genocidal civil war 40 years ago, a large part of the country is still without electricity or running water, and corruption is rampant. 

Myanmar has been under decades of self-imposed isolation and social development suffered tremendously.  

Yet all 3 of these countries look at least partially hopeful.  Rwanda is exceptionally clean, both physically and in the government; the people are self-confident and optimistic.  In Cambodia the roads have improved a lot, and construction is accelerating.  Myanmar is opening up, and the Internet is much more accessible.  

We have also been invited to other countries in or near the arc, such as Pakistan, India, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, …  In some of these countries, we have real concerns of security and are not quite ready to go there yet.  

What is clear is that those of us living in the more developed countries cannot ignore what is happening in these countries.  As Morris and other people point out, instability in these countries affect the whole world.   We are all in this world together.  

No comments: