The world is growing smaller. With advancements in technology and telecommunications, it is easier to keep in touch with people from all over the globe. Businesses seek to be multinational corporations and capital markets seek to extend their reaches to new places.
While there are some that think that globalization tampers with sovereignty and growth, I welcome it for many reasons. In particular, I really like the idea that people can learn from the counterparts in another part of the planet, to come up with new efficiencies and networks that alleviate the human condition. The Quran burnings in Florida stands as a pungent antithesis to this idea of collaborative understanding.
An act of bigotry in one part of the world caused the loss of lives in another, not to mention an undoing of any progress that had taken place in Afghanistan over the last few months. In a race to the bottom, the people of this “church” burned a holy book in a show of extreme intolerance, which was then used as an excuse to kill people (including UN employees who are, by virtue of their position, neutral bystanders).
Fueled by emotion, the mob was able to overwhelm UN guards who chose not to fire on the crowd. Preying on these same emotions, extremists are sure to have a recruiting field-day. It also jeopardizes the NATO transition process to the Afghans, highlighting just how much of the country remains on the precipice of instability. For countries like the United States and Canada that have already invested so much into the Afghani reconstruction effort, there are lessons to be learned in terms of how ordinary citizens can thwart a national strategy.
When it comes to foreign policy, I think both countries (USA and Canada) have down a bad job of explaining why being involved in Afghanistan is important. No country is a closed network any more with ripples in one part of the world causing big waves in another. Involvement in foreign affairs is for selfish reasons of national security but also to spread more stability through the international system by creating provisions for some sort of liberal democracy. By showcasing the intolerant parts of our democratic system, we just end up winning enemies against our best interests.