Reasons for Conflict & Cooperation Between Locations & Cultures

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  • 0:00 Conflict and Cooperation
  • 0:52 Economic Causes of Conflict
  • 2:23 Political Causes of Conflict
  • 3:09 Political Causes of…
  • 4:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

Sometimes you fight with your siblings, and sometimes you get along with them. Similarly, countries can choose to engage in conflict or cooperation over a range of political and economic issues, from fighting over resources to sharing military support.

Conflict and Cooperation

Think about your best friend. Surely there are reasons that you two started to get along so well in the first place. Maybe it's because you're both good at the same sport, or have a similar sense of humor, or even have the same sense of style or taste in music. It could be just because a teacher sat the two of you next to each other years ago, and you just hit it off.

Now think about someone you don't like so much. Maybe it's an obnoxious person in class, or a bratty sibling, or even a politician. Again, you just didn't decide one day to not get along or like this person. Something must have happened.

We can apply these same tendencies between people to looking at countries. States can either choose to have conflict or cooperation over a variety of issues, many of which are on a much larger scale than personal relations.

Economic Causes of Conflict

You open the pantry when you get home from school one day as a child and notice one cookie left. You look around, thinking this is your lucky day, and then your big brother comes and snatches it from your grasp. Or maybe your little sister cries for it and threatens to blackmail you unless you give up the cookie. Congratulations, you have been the victim of an economic conflict.

Sure, countries don't fight over cookies. But they fight over oil. They fight over gold and riches. They fight over factories and fertile farmland. Don't believe me? In 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait for the sole stated purpose of gaining their oil. In the 1500s, England made piracy legal as long as it was directed at the rich Spanish Empire. And for much of the 19th and early 20th centuries, France and Germany couldn't stop fighting over two provinces known as Alsace and Lorraine.

Economic Causes of Cooperation

In fact, Germany and France give us a great example of what happens when countries decide to work with each other economically rather than against each other. After World War II, seeing how much death and destruction that their long-brewing disagreement had caused, France and Germany set up the European Coal and Steel Community to share economic resources. Other countries also helped found the group, and today we know it as the European Union. It was the international relations equivalent of if you and your sibling decided to split the cookie, then crack open both of your piggy banks to order a pizza while your parents were still at work.

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