What Naruto taught me about international politics

By Shola Osiyemi

It never ceases to amaze me how fictional works can feel so realistic. Naruto Shippuden’s fourth great ninja war arc, provided a high-stakes, intense and action-packed arc. That featured the five great shinobi countries forming an alliance to battle the evil threat of the Akatsuki, led by the infamous ninja, Tobi.

This war provides a great insight into how actual world war’s function. Countries allying together, sharing resources, manpower and information, with the shared objective of trying to destroy, what they perceive, as a greater evil.

Naruto’s 4th great ninja war showcases the importance of international cooperation. The theory of realism rationalizes that nations cooperate purely for their domestic interests. Whether these be: economic interests, national security interests, or political interests. The realism ideology believes that nations are selfish actors.

Many political scholars argue that this is why the United Nations allied together during WW2. Despite Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States having diverging ideologies, when a common enemy arose, it was in all their personal interests to unite and try to defeat Germany.

Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin. The alliance between 3 Great Powers.

The 4th Great ninja war presents this same phenomenon. Prior to the war, all of the villages across the land are segregated from each other. The Hidden Leaf, Hidden Sand, Hidden Cloud, Hidden Rock village and Hidden Mist Village are lands that operate independently from one another. These villages don’t trade with other, migration between villages is minimal, and historical conflicts has massively weakened trust amongst villages.

As a result, the villages are isolated, and act independently most of the time. This all changes once a major threat emerges, that has the power to destroy everything they know and love, forever.

Headed by Tobi and Madara, the enemy is an infamous gang of ninjas called the Akatsuki, who command’s the White Zetsu Army. An army which consists of legions of disposable soldiers, ready to pillage every village in the land.

The White Zetsu Army

Wisely, the leaders from each nation (known as the Kage), decide to unite, forming an international alliance to defeat this deadly threat. This results in the creation, of the Allied Shinobi Forces, a unified military force, featuring ninjas from every nation, who all serve to defeat the sinister Akatsuki.

The allied Shinobi Force

This trope isn’t only portrayed in Naruto, it’s a concept that’s been explored various other stories, like Game of Thrones. To me, it really hits home, because this is something that we see in real life, it’s a fundamental element of international relations, it showcases how successfully countries can operate together, and most importantly, why countries decide to team up.

When we put our petty differences aside, we’re humans, who want to protect the people we love. It’s only when a threat emerges, a threat that possesses the ability to subtract everything we know and love, do we comprehend how much these things mean to us. That’s the reason why, in times of peril, nations cooperate to defeat an evil common enemy.

It’s in the time of peril, nations shift their attention to the bigger picture of humanity.

In a weird way, there’s beauty to the chaos. Countries collaborating together is something that the world needs more of, and it’s fascinating to witness just how great we humans are, when we put our brains together.

But why is it only when an enemy emerges do we collaborate?

It makes me wonder, just how much better the world would be, if we cooperated with each other, more than we fought against one another.

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