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Thread: Positive intervention or how to fix other ailing countries/regions.

  1. #1
    Coffee farmer extraordinaire Member spmetla's Avatar
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    Default Positive intervention or how to fix other ailing countries/regions.

    Thought I'd create this thread as suggested by Montmorency as our outlet for thought experiments and discussions on how we think intervention can be done positively.

    Some broad guidelines though certainly not rules:
    1) Explain how the different elements of national power would be used.

    2) Explain how elements of influence that aren't directly controlled (NGOs, corporations, etc...) could be enticed to assist in the manner need.

    3) The assumption would be that that this would be intervention by some democratic nation or group of nations such as the US, EU, NATO etc... and with that this would be assuming that it's under the current administration/leadership and that there was just enough majority support to enact said policies though still a significant opposition that would take advantage of chaos, cost overruns, poor visible returns etc.

    4) Explain the expected timeline and endstate. This is to avoid things like 'stay in Afghanistan longer' to achieve democracy but with not clear vision of how long and at what cost.

    5) Explain how you achieve local buy in and support and deal with outright opposition or violence/terrorism.

    I'd nominate the first country for discussion as the one Montmorency himself suggested: Lebanon.

    "Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?"
    -Abraham Lincoln


    Four stage strategy from Yes, Minister:
    Stage one we say nothing is going to happen.
    Stage two, we say something may be about to happen, but we should do nothing about it.
    Stage three, we say that maybe we should do something about it, but there's nothing we can do.
    Stage four, we say maybe there was something we could have done, but it's too late now.

  2. #2
    Coffee farmer extraordinaire Member spmetla's Avatar
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    Default Re: Positive intervention or how to fix other ailing countries/regions.

    Lebanon:
    I'd see this as primarily an EU effort with essentially France in the lead as seems to be happening anyhow. Think that current peacekeeping commitments along the Israel-Lebanon border would be maintained. Some closer security and intelligence ties with Lebanese police and military should be established at the French level not necessarily EU. The ideal here would be that the state security establishments have more power (not immediately but long term goal) than the individual parties such as Hezzbollah so to avoid another civil war.
    Direct investment by the EU in infrastructure and healthcare should be a priority. Power and clean water should be priorities, damage to trade centers like the port itself should be repaired. Upgrades to overland trade should be enhanced too, especially the capability to do border checks/customs so that trade with Syria and Israel can be encourage and profitable to all three nations.
    Do to the lack centralized control there should be an EU led student exchange style program so that new properly trained intellectuals can be trained to help Lebanon in the future. This ideally would be tied with a requirement of service in Lebanon so that they aren't just trained to be Doctors and Engineers and the skip off to the US, UK or Europe for a job elsewhere.
    All the above would require a massive amount of vetting to ensure that investments are not just being siphoned off by corrupt individuals or institutions in Europe or Lebanon.
    Negotiating a future for the various refugee groups would be a must too though, either supporting their return to home country, citizenship or recognition in Lebanon, or if a country is willing to take them in. This too though should be tied to better border controls so that Lebanon doesn't just become the refugee hub for easy access elsewhere. The biggest hurdle would be finding a future for the Palestinians there, negotiating with Israel or perhaps the West Bank authorities may be useful but Hamas/Gaza seem a lost cause.

    Lebanon used to be a trade and finance hub much like the gulf states are now. That could be encouraged but I don't think trade will be heading too much there as Lebanon has been of lesser importance in the many decades since the start of the civil war. Financial centers may reinvest if stability is ever to really return as the policies are stilli n place to encourage that. However, I could see Lebanon right now transformed into sort of a port of entry/exit for Syrian manufacturing and raw goods/agriculture as they're still in in the throes of violence.

    The biggest problem besides will to invest would be getting Lebanon to actually decouple from armed political groups. Hezzbollah raining rockets into Israel that incur Israeli retribution on Lebanon as a whole are not conducive to development. Their constitution has built in power sharing but that has clearly not worked well since the 1970s so perhaps some constitutional reform is needed, though I'm too ignorant on its constitution to recommend how. The cycle of political violence in the middle east is perhaps the biggest recurring threat to stability that isn't directly from outside forces though some of it is too. It's a small enough State that a stronger central government could still be responsive to local concerns.

    The above problems politically though would need to be resolved before or at least alongside all the aforementioned points to aid Lebanon. Not sure if a 'caretaker govt' needs to be formed first and then given huge international support with an end-date of perhaps ten years of support or maybe yearly checks. Though these have also tended in the past to create permanently aid-dependent countries in other regions as fixing problems results in the outside investment stopping leaving local leaders to let some problems fest to continue the revenue from abroad.

    "Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?"
    -Abraham Lincoln


    Four stage strategy from Yes, Minister:
    Stage one we say nothing is going to happen.
    Stage two, we say something may be about to happen, but we should do nothing about it.
    Stage three, we say that maybe we should do something about it, but there's nothing we can do.
    Stage four, we say maybe there was something we could have done, but it's too late now.

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  3. #3

    Default Re: Positive intervention or how to fix other ailing countries/regions.

    The enduring base of wealth transfer to the beneficiary country would be foreign direct investment, which entails effective domestic subsidies by participating countries to create incentives. This could involve some top-down prioritization based on projected comparative advantages for Lebanon (which I am not informed on), or general inducements, grants, and liability coverage for a broad range of actors to take advantage of. All the same, ground rules should include heightened standards of labor and environmental practices, as well as standards of accountability and reporting, so we don't just have a bandit run on Lebanese stock, metaphorically speaking.

    Security is a prerequisite to any foreign commitment or private investment climate, meaning that some accommodation with Hezbollah is necessary and unavoidable. I don't know what that looks like. Radical elements among both Hezbollah and the Israeli government, as well as near-abroad actors, would have some interest in sabotaging any transnational project, so even in the best case participants have to accept a degree of personal or political risk above that which exists in advanced economies.

    I don't really have anything worth reading to add without building up more relevant knowledge. Would be nice to see any expert perspectives, on Lebanon or otherwise, through this lens.
    Last edited by Montmorency; 09-29-2021 at 06:21.
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  4. #4
    Coffee farmer extraordinaire Member spmetla's Avatar
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    Default Re: Positive intervention or how to fix other ailing countries/regions.

    The issue of how to establish security remains the crucial crux as in just about any nation we'd consider for this topic. How does one get Hezbollah to renounce political violence? They're an arm of the Iranian military and sworn enemy of Israel. Any deal that limits their ability to do violence is probably a non-starter.
    They'd likely oppose any deals with Israel which as a major economy in the region as well as major bordering country is vital to Lebanon's security and prosperity.
    Sanctions and hitting them financially can limit their ability to grow but won't remove them from Lebanon's stability equation.


    https://www.reuters.com/world/middle...ys-2021-08-06/
    Lebanon's Hezbollah and Israel trade fire amid Iran tensions
    August 6, 2021

    The attack drew a wave of criticism from Hezbollah's opponents in Lebanon, a country suffering a crippling financial crisis which the ruling elite are failing to tackle.

    In a rare challenge to Hezbollah, the fighters who fired the rockets were stopped by locals as they passed through a Druze area afterwards. read more

    "What is happening in the south is dangerous, very dangerous, especially in light of the great tension emerging in the region," Samir Geagea, a Christian politician with strong Saudi ties and a staunch Hezbollah opponent, said on Twitter.
    While it's nice to see that some of the Druze locals made their displeasure known it won't stop them. Even if the the rest of Lebanon tried to force Hezbollah to stand down it'd probably devolve into civil-war before they'd voluntarily disarm.

    I also can't see how any outside force could get them to reduce their own power short of civil-war though Hezbollah would probably win such a war.
    Balkanization also seems a non-starter, the areas that Hezbollah control are too small to be viable independent states and if they even remained as semi-autonomous zones they'd likely just continue dragging Lebanon into conflicts with Israel.

    "Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?"
    -Abraham Lincoln


    Four stage strategy from Yes, Minister:
    Stage one we say nothing is going to happen.
    Stage two, we say something may be about to happen, but we should do nothing about it.
    Stage three, we say that maybe we should do something about it, but there's nothing we can do.
    Stage four, we say maybe there was something we could have done, but it's too late now.

  5. #5
    Coffee farmer extraordinaire Member spmetla's Avatar
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    Default Re: Positive intervention or how to fix other ailing countries/regions.

    Seeing as neither of us have a way to tackle the problem of how to get Hezzbollah to not be an obstacle I think we can move onto another nation.

    How about Haiti? It's be a sad story for a nation filled with internal unrest, gangs, dictators, corruption, endemic poverty, economic problems. I'd imagine the US would need to lead due to just regional interest together with France because of the on/off historical ties both good and bad with the Dominican Republic being the most vested regional nation for obvious geographic reasons.

    Frankly I can't see how this can be solved without essentially imposing a new government on them with outside control factors to try and stem the ineptitude and corruption of the police/army, and government in general.
    In order to sustain any gains of course the major factor is how to actually boost the Haitian economy? There are many aid programs currently in place of health, infrastructure and investment but to bring up from the poorest economy in the Americas will be a major effort.

    "Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?"
    -Abraham Lincoln


    Four stage strategy from Yes, Minister:
    Stage one we say nothing is going to happen.
    Stage two, we say something may be about to happen, but we should do nothing about it.
    Stage three, we say that maybe we should do something about it, but there's nothing we can do.
    Stage four, we say maybe there was something we could have done, but it's too late now.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Positive intervention or how to fix other ailing countries/regions.

    I'm not going to be able to give detailed and informed commentary on how to form entanglements with any given country, so reposted expert analyses are probably better suited for this space.

    Haiti AFAIK hardly has any capitalist economy, being even poorer than most of Africa. What economy it does have is purely exploitative and extractive, being the residual of the old plantation system, and the typical mining interests that gravitate to poor countries.

    Being so close to the United States, the only obvious formula is that it be integrated into the lower end of some US supply chain - something that doesn't involve pulling out the most valuable working population as immigrants. A more immediate priority is upgrading Haiti's educational, medical, and transportation infrastructure, since they don't yet meet those prerequisites for mutualistic engagement in international commerce.

    While it's true that Haiti has little in the way of legitimate government, any imposed caretaker government will be, if not corrupt, then inevitably disconnected and unaccountable. From all the US and UN interventions Haiti has seen over the past century we know that a foreign occupation can easily stultify domestic institutions by restricting the impulse and opportunity for self-government to build itself. How a balanced and sustainable environment can be bootstrapped is a critical question.

    It's funny that if Haiti hadn't scared all the whites with its original rebellion, instead receiving freedom by some French or British dispensation, we wouldn't have screwed it over nearly as much. Maybe only as much as Cuba even. And to think they had to pay the slavers reparations anyway in the end.
    Last edited by Montmorency; 11-05-2021 at 02:31.
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  7. #7
    Coffee farmer extraordinaire Member spmetla's Avatar
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    Default Re: Positive intervention or how to fix other ailing countries/regions.

    I think you misunderstand me. I don't advocate forming an 'entanglement' but for the US/France to lead via the UN probably some positive change in Haiti. All the other things that need to be fixed can't be done unless there's a government to work with and the current one is seen as illegitimate since the PM is viewed as possibly benefiting from the assassination.
    The US/UN pressuring the PM to hold new elections with outside observers and perhaps not-US UN troops to maintain security at polling sites would be a good first step.
    Imposing a caretaker government of Haitian diaspora would be a disaster but allowing the current situation to fester will like in Lebanon only lead to further and further problems.

    It's funny that if Haiti hadn't scared all the whites with its original rebellion, instead receiving freedom by some French or British dispensation, we wouldn't have screwed it over nearly as much.
    Well of course it wouldn't be screwed over as much as it would still have had trade and cultural ties to a market place for its products. Since the collapse of cane sugar prices due to cheaper sugar beets and high fructose corn syrup all former 'cane sugar islands' have had to diversify into other industries: mostly tourism, some military etc... Hawaii was able to shift to tourism and military industry. Puerto Rico sorta did the same but has never really recovered from the collapse of cane sugar. Haiti not having outside federal, commonwealth, or French association to keep it going has been a big problem for it.
    Yes, it was deliberately screwed over several times but it has certainly shot itself several times over too.

    As for the reparations, that's not surprising as of course the French would look out for the interests of its former plantation owners. When the British ended slavery they paid compensation to slave owners too. The US South lost a civil war so yeah that was not something the North was going to do during the period of Reconstruction.

    "Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?"
    -Abraham Lincoln


    Four stage strategy from Yes, Minister:
    Stage one we say nothing is going to happen.
    Stage two, we say something may be about to happen, but we should do nothing about it.
    Stage three, we say that maybe we should do something about it, but there's nothing we can do.
    Stage four, we say maybe there was something we could have done, but it's too late now.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Positive intervention or how to fix other ailing countries/regions.

    COUNTERING CORRUPTION (Dan Nexon)

    The Biden administration recently released the first-ever United States Strategy on Countering Corruption (PDF). I’m not an expert on the technical side of anti-corruption efforts, but my quick read of the document is that it’s pretty good. The very fact that it exists in the first place is a good thing. It’s a very welcome development for those progressive journalists, policymakers, and academics who have spent years arguing for the mainstreaming of anti-corruption goals in U.S. foreign policy.

    A lot of what we know about globalized kleptocracy comes from the efforts of journalists and whistleblowers, a good number of whom risk their freedom – and too often their lives – to expose corruption. So it’s laudable that the strategy emphasizes support for journalists, non-government organizations, and others who expose corruption.


    Of course, there’s a big gap between a “strategy paper” and actual policy. There are plenty of reasons for skepticism. Globalized kleptocracy may undermine U.S. security, but it does so in indirect ways – such as via oligarchs and kleptocrats buying influence in Washington. The downside risks of anti-corruption policies are more obvious.

    Getting serious about corruption means antagonizing, and perhaps even destabilizing, a number of U.S. partners and allies. Conditioning assistance on anti-corruption measures will make it impossible for the U.S. to compete for influence in some countries. China and Russia, for their part, are perfectly happy to deal with corrupt governments; both countries export corruption.

    More robust anti-kleptocracy measures, for a variety of reasons, pose a real threat to the Russian regime – a much bigger one than, say, the expansion of NATO into the Baltic states; U.S. sanctions enacted in the wake of the 2014 invasion of Ukraine helped motivate Russian support for Trump in 2016. Additional sanctions, whether on Russia or other kleptocratic regimes, will further increase interest in circumventing the SWIFT system and U.S. financial institutions.

    When it comes to corruption, the United States has a long history of looking the other way. It’s not obvious that the organizational changes proposed in the strategy will change that. There’s at least a vague family resemblance here with efforts to ‘bake’ human rights into U.S. foreign policy. Given the… spottiness… of the recent-ish U.S. record on human rights, it’s easy to dismiss those efforts. But they are a net positive. The problem is that it won’t take that many exceptions to start punching a big hole in broad anti-corruption efforts, particularly involving financial flows.

    Another problem is that the United States itself is a non-trivial source of corruption. Yes, that means there’s a lot the U.S. government can do on the domestic front. But it’s also a symptom of the many domestic interests that could derail anti-corruption efforts. Any meaningful crackdown will hit the financial sector, the luxury real-estate market, and states – such as Nevada and South Dakota – that profit from serving as tax havens.

    Corruption is bipartisan. Support for anti-corruption measures is less so. It doesn’t take very much for reforms to crash into Republican opposition to regulation. The GOP’s de facto leader, Donald Trump, is a fan of the same kind of neo-patrimonialism that characterizes kleptocratic regimes. In fact, there’s a danger that Trump, or someone like him, could weaponize anti-corruption measures to selectively target political opponents.

    Does any of this mean that we should give up on ambitious anti-corruption efforts? Of course not. Most of the downside risks are unlikely to leave things worse than they are in the status quo. If a future reactionary populist wants to weaponize anti-corruption tools against political opponents, there are already plenty of tools at their disposal. So let’s hope that Washington follows through on an ambitious anti-corruption agenda.
    Vitiate Man.

    History repeats the old conceits
    The glib replies, the same defeats


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  9. #9

    Default Re: Positive intervention or how to fix other ailing countries/regions.

    Shows how little I know - I'm not sure I thought to say that a starting point should be complementing China's Belt and Road Initiative (with an emphasis on smaller-scale, faster turnover projects, social and knowledge infrastructure, since this seems like an appropriate specialization for rich countries). As long as we all remember that it's not about competition as such. Development is its own reward (fringe benefits include more markets to trade goods and services with, and not having to deal with hundreds of millions of impoverished refugees).

    We should never stoop to imagining that our interest in "countering" China lies in comparative superiority at dominating and exploiting poor countries. Our interest is in never having so little to offer or projecting such an overwhelmingly-negative influence that China finds it unchallenging to dominate and exploit countries abroad.

    Last edited by Montmorency; 05-28-2022 at 08:10.
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  10. #10
    Coffee farmer extraordinaire Member spmetla's Avatar
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    Default Re: Positive intervention or how to fix other ailing countries/regions.

    Development is its own reward (fringe benefits include more markets to trade goods and services with, and not having to deal with hundreds of millions of impoverished refugees).
    It's like one of my favorite quotes: "a rising tide lifts all boats" and why I wish the US would really invest more in the region's economies in Central America and the Caribbean. The French sorta do the same in West Africa but in a much more post-colonial maintenance of their influence more than to try and help the local economies. The British Commonwealth could have been a similar thing but seems to be more just a cultural exchange and sporting club (at least to me form afar) outside the handful of anglo majority members.

    We should never stoop to imagining that our interest in "countering" China lies in comparative superiority at dominating and exploiting poor countries. Our interest is in never having so little to offer or projecting such an overwhelmingly-negative influence that China finds it unchallenging to dominate and exploit countries abroad.
    Exactly, I think that the "West" can offer much better deals that benefit the locals more as well as western corporations/trade ties. The mass-migration problems wouldn't be such persistent problems if the causes were actually addressed.
    Hard sell though on many nations' peoples though to spend their tax money on other things for a benefit that exists but people can't or won't understand.

    "Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?"
    -Abraham Lincoln


    Four stage strategy from Yes, Minister:
    Stage one we say nothing is going to happen.
    Stage two, we say something may be about to happen, but we should do nothing about it.
    Stage three, we say that maybe we should do something about it, but there's nothing we can do.
    Stage four, we say maybe there was something we could have done, but it's too late now.

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  11. #11

    Default Re: Positive intervention or how to fix other ailing countries/regions.

    Germany, Japan, and South Korea are good examples. In addition to help/investments and foreign trade, it depended on what the citizens did in those countries. They worked hard to get to where they are now. Stability also helped.
    Last edited by Shaka_Khan; 06-03-2022 at 01:55.
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  12. #12
    Darkside Medic Senior Member rory_20_uk's Avatar
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    Default Re: Positive intervention or how to fix other ailing countries/regions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shaka_Khan View Post
    Germany, Japan, and South Korea are good examples. In addition to help/investments and foreign trade, it depended on what the citizens did in those countries. They worked hard to get to where they are now. Stability also helped.
    All three were homogenous, had established rule of law - and two of the three were doing fine until they were flattened by external factors so it was more of a reset. All three had been occupied so the whole "or what?" question was answered.

    South Korea and Singapore are two examples of where effectively a benevolent dictatorship worked rather well.

    So, a geographical area that has stable borders, has limited ethic instability, would be receptive to external input... And is also a basket case. Hmmmmm...

    Really, for the West to have a chance of this oh so wonderful holier than thou, the West needs to get itself sorted so when it does approach these poor failing countries one of the first statements isn't "yes, you bastards helped cause this".

    An enemy that wishes to die for their country is the best sort to face - you both have the same aim in mind.
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  13. #13
    Coffee farmer extraordinaire Member spmetla's Avatar
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    Default Re: Positive intervention or how to fix other ailing countries/regions.

    Looking at the continued mess in Sri Lanka it's a shame there's so little anyone can really do to help. Excessive loans and spending helped the former government get to the point they were at. Currently there really no government to try and help out an even if there were accountable and reliable entities of the government to deal with, how would one actually help the situation.

    Shipping in oil/gas on a loan or something seems like the first step so that things can 'run' again. The wider problems....

    "Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?"
    -Abraham Lincoln


    Four stage strategy from Yes, Minister:
    Stage one we say nothing is going to happen.
    Stage two, we say something may be about to happen, but we should do nothing about it.
    Stage three, we say that maybe we should do something about it, but there's nothing we can do.
    Stage four, we say maybe there was something we could have done, but it's too late now.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Positive intervention or how to fix other ailing countries/regions.

    I know very little about the situation in Sri Lanka, but I thought it was triggered by an ill-considered and abortive revamp of the country's agricultural system in 2021.

    As in El Salvador (Bitcoin libertarianism), when governments blunder in choosing the country's economic orientation, one can but step in with alternatives.
    Vitiate Man.

    History repeats the old conceits
    The glib replies, the same defeats


    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



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