A wise person once said that “If you do not learn the lessons of history, you are condemned to repeat the mistakes of history”. This provides a convenient point of departure to look at some lessons as they apply to some current global events and relate these to conduct by NZ of its international relations. It is important to emphasise that understanding lessons of history does not necessarily make the task of resolving problems any easier. One lesson is that nothing ever works out quite as countries intend or expect.
The big context for today’s international relations is the modern globalisation of our planet, driven by an exhilarating revolution in the technologies of communication that shrinks time and distance everywhere; creates new opportunities as well as dangers; and is pulling countries closer together and pushing them further apart virtually at one and the same time. The need to understand rapid and extensive international change is indispensable for NZ. Globalisation is not making people or countries more alike one another despite fondest expectations that an ideal blend of democracy and of capitalism would spread as a universal model for world security and prosperity. Right now the resurgence of religion in the Islamic world and beyond, is actually challenging what it means to be modern and is changing the nature of international security, peacemaking and diplomacy. So here begins the first lesson.