The countries vary between one another in their geography as well as in their historical tradition. This in turn leads to other differences that reflect in social, cultural, and international relations with the country. This also results in either swift growth of the country or slow laggard growth. Every one of these would depend on the historical traditions, the political climate that prevails in the country in addition to the demographical and economical pressures that the society experiences. The situation the country is in, in these cases would all together decide on what kind of international relations the country would enjoy with the other nations.
An analysis of the situation in the following countries has been carried out. The differences in them in all the spheres are taken up. Though a major thrust has not been placed on the economic comparison, economic growth and prosperity are inevitably dependent on the various factors that make up the politics and the demographic traditions of the country.
North Korea and Uganda
North Korea was the child of the Capitalistic/communistic divide that separated the allied powers after World War II. North Korea happened immediately after the World War. In the case of Uganda, the political turmoil, though was closely connected to the same divide was more a product of the cold war rather than that of the World War. While both North Korea and Uganda had the support of the erstwhile USSR to evolve into what it is today, they do not continue to get the same support. They have started laying their working ways to either fight the capitalistic initiatives or succumb to them, by adopting democratic and capitalistic constitutions. While North Korea continues to be dominated by the communistic form of government and political environment, Uganda has moved out of the dictatorial regimes that dominated its political scenario and has moved towards a democratic constitution. However, the effectiveness of this constitution and the political changes that are sweeping the nation are yet to be fully reconciled.
Korean peninsula went in for a divide immediately after the Second World War with the US and the USSR playing the role of leading two separate entities. During the cold war period, the differences between the two divided nations heightened leading to an arms race between them. While with the prosperity of the United States, South Korea prospered, the communist North lagged. However, comparing with the nations such as Uganda which was also a subscriber to communistic principles, the progress of North Korea was better. North Korea had built a powerful military to combat the powers of the South as well as the US. And in pursuing such a confrontationist course, the North is left with little or no option but to run an arms race.
Unlike North Korea, the Ugandan government did not have a perennial enemy. However, it still had to arm itself against the neighboring governments and the internal battles that raged from time to time. Though this did not make the government enter into a bitter arms race with any of the neighboring countries, it did build an impressive army during the reigns of its dictators that could control the country effectively. It did not also get into a nuclear program or such other arms requirements, because none of its enemies forced them for such a need.
Largely African dominated population, the Ugandan population is less educated when compared to the North Korean. The gender spread is also more oriented towards a dominating male population in Uganda than it is in North Korea. Uganda has a strong presence of Asian community which is financially more powerful when compared to the native society. This is also true of other minorities in Uganda. But that is not the case with the North Koreans. There is no mix of demographics in the country. There are hardly any outsiders who reside here apart from the Koreans and they need not compete with anyone else. This makes managing the country much easier. Uganda is rich in several mineral resources, there are several Western interests in the area. So is the case with North Korea, though the western influence in the governmental decision is low. This is also the reason why the World Bank funding and other such foreign aid is phenomenally low in the case of North Korea. Since the government has changed tack in the case of Uganda, foreign aid and investment have been forthcoming.
North Korea’s relations with its neighbors especially China and Russia have not been into any problem. These relationships have been always cordial. Whereas, its relationship with some of its other neighbors and rest of the world countries have not been so warm. For instance, its relationship with Japan or South Korea, or the United States has not been warm. This is possibly the reason why there is an escalated tension in the region and the country went ahead with its nuclear program. This effectively, made the country explode its first nuclear bomb. North Korea though, is not looked at as a terrorist state or as a supporter of terrorism, on many occasions, the US has warned North Korea on possible help to Iraq and Al Qaida linked terrorist organizations. There is also constant alarm in the Western circles of the possible nuclear weapon technology sale to the Islamic terrorists.
This is particularly thought to be possible because of the reason that Arab nations were and continue to be closer to the Russian Federation and the communist states. The missile technology with the North Koreans is also on par with the Russian technical capabilities. This has made the west more concerned about the nature of problems that could be faced due to the clandestine sale of nuclear and missile armaments to the terrorist groups.
In the case of Uganda, though the initial relationship with the country has improved a lot in the last few years with most of the western countries, the warmth is still missing. One of the primary reasons is that the country being a Muslim majority nation and the declared religion of the nation being Islam, there have been several pieces of evidence pointing to sourcing of terrorists from this country. More and more steps have been taken to alleviate poverty in the country. This is looked at as the major cause of such orientation of youth groups towards terrorism.
Uganda’s relationship with its neighbors has considerably improved in the last decade after Idi Amin and the government returned to a democratic form of government. There has been international support for the economic growth of the country and foreign investments in the country have been increasing consistently.
South Korea and Qatar
South Korea is the child of World War II, and it took the side of the United States at the end of the war. Seoul began its adventure with capitalism to become one of the Asian Tigers to combat and bring about a major economic shake-up in the world. Though they continue to harbor differences with Japan, the political map of South Korea continues to be democratic and capitalistic. This has helped the government lay a strong foundation and an association with the United States for protection, much like the Japanese, the investment of the country in defense spending was limited. This ensured that the country progressed substantially faster and the country’s social needs are met rather than the military needs.
Qatar also took the US path quickly during the demise of the Cold war. This meant that Qatar though inherently filled with the principles of Islam became more of a capitalist. Though they continued to harbor the Islamic differences with the west, they were more western in their outlook. The progress of Qatar into a rich emirate today owes it basically to the way the government handled the policies. A democracy with a capitalistic outlook, the government helped in forming investments and in running private enterprises. This ensured that the private enterprise quickly led the country from one success to the other.
Koreans have a long history of war with the Japanese, the Russians, and the Chinese. But then, their immediate memory is more dominated by the misunderstanding that exists with the Japanese in some of the cases and with the Chinese in few others. However, overall the country has gone through major upheavals during World War II and the country was also bisected. The following line of Republics and autocratic rules were initially not directed to push the country forward. But from 1960 onwards, the country has developed to be one of the richest countries in Asia. Most of the time during this period, the country was under military autocratic rule. However, by 1992, the country had its first civilian president and then the democracy seems to have continued in the country since then.
Qatar on the other hand has a history that spreads over millennia and has all along been governed by the Sheikh. The powerful pearl business dominated the politics of Qatar too until as late as 1930 when the pearl market collapsed. But still, the family that controlled the pearl business also had the right to do oil exploration in the country. They struck oil in 1939 and started operations in 1949 delayed due to World War II. The country was all along under the sheiks and therefore, autocratic by definition. This meant there were ongoing power struggles and palace intrigues that dominated the history of Qatar. Steady economic progress and stability were realized only in the last quarter-century when except for the palace coup organized by one of the sons and the crown prince of the ruling sheik there was no change in the political climate noticed.
South Korea has a population of over 49 million mostly nonreligious people. There are, of course, more Christians than Buddhists more because of the influence of western culture and practices. However, most people are pretty confused to follow any specific religion. A high literacy rate of 98% of the population and an average life expectancy that is over 77 years ranks among the developed countries of the west. This makes South Korea one of the best in Asia. Though there is an increased rate of Koreans who have emigrated to other countries from the Korean mainland, hardly any settlers have come into Korea. There is a lot of homogeneity in the population in Korea. Foreigners from a very small percentage, almost negligible in the case.
In the case of Qatar, on the other hand, nearly 60% of the population is of people other than Arabs. Only 40% of the population is Arabs, the rest contributed mostly by Pakistanis and Indians. The country has less than a million people in it and the normal life expectancy is at about 73 years on average. However, most of the people, 95% of them, are Muslims and no other religion is followed vehemently by any other group of people. The western presence in the country has come down drastically through the influence of the west in terms of culture and practices that are very common to find.
The dominating international relationship in South Korea is that of the United States. Most of the policy decisions in the country are decided based on what is good for their relationship with the United States. So is the case with the US policy towards South Korea too. The nomination of the South Korean for the UN Secretary-General and other positions in global bodies, talk of the proximity South Korea still enjoys with the US. South Korea is a major balancing regional player for the power tussle between Japan and China. South Korea has been a major economic power in the east ushering in a growth rate that Asia had not seen earlier. As a strong economic power, it could negotiate and bring about comfortable living standards for its people.
In the case of Qatar, the economic growth has made its relationships with the local countries bring about a united front. The UAE could take care of some of the composite foreign policies of all the countries and sheikhdoms in the group. Apart from this, the relationship that the country enjoys with the rest of the Arab world has been comparatively much harmonious in the last decade than it was earlier. The competition between them and the race to produce more oil was nullified and brought under the regional cooperation groups like the OPEC. This would also help the country decide on its selling prices making it a group decision rather than one competing with the other. Its relationship with the US and with the major western powers has become warm and the country is more in line with the NATO countries rather than with the other regional powers like Turkey.
The political and historical differences among the countries have been large. But their demographic and cultural differences are more unified and there are several similarities that unite mankind across the borders of nations. In the case of North and South Korea, they though have taken different paths due to economic and political reasons, they have also progressed and have their relationships with the other countries. The regional groups that have been formed by the countries for their negotiation benefits only show that they are more inclined towards the prosperity of their people.
Keith Pratt, 2007, Everlasting Flower: A History of Korea. Reakton Books.
Bruce Cumings, 2003. North Korea: Another Country. New Press.
Habibur Rahman et al. 2007, The changing face of Qatar: From the Age of the pearl to the 21st century. Kegan Paul International.
Dan M Mudoola, 1996, Religion, ethnicity and politics in Uganda. Fountain Publishers.