Recent events have left me pondering a question that I’m sure has crossed the mind of many developing country leaders:
Why don’t rich, developed nations face the same international meddling that they so frequently impose on others?
There are plenty of reasons why not. Most of those reasons have to do with political or economic power. Maybe that will change at some point. If it does change, we might soon see headlines like this:
China, other creditors require political reforms in U.S. as condition for lending
Washington, D.C. – Several of America’s creditors have announced that the recent deal to raise the debt ceiling is insufficient. They are insisting on more substantial reforms to the country’s political system, which they blame for the fiscal crisis.
“The problems facing the United States will not be solved by fiscal changes alone,” said a representative of one creditor nation. “American politics are still based on a constitution that was written in the immediate post-colonial era, by a small cabal of national elites. There are structural problems with the American system.”
The proposed reforms include changes to the Congressional redistricting process, which currently creates hundreds of “safe seats” for each party and encourages pandering to the most partisan voters. Creditors are also requiring the implementation of a ranked-choice voting system that will allow more political space for third parties. Finally, reforms would impose greater restrictions on “earmarked” expenditures, which currently serve a similar function to the systems of clientelism found in other countries.
China has been leading creditor nations in the call for strict cuts in America’s defense spending, though analysts point to the fungibility of general budget lending. International donors also plan to fund pilot programs for participatory budgeting. Critics note that such programs would first require a massive, nation-wide financial literacy program. ………
As someone who has long been frustrated by the systemic problems in American politics, sometimes I wish that an outsider would twist our arm into real reform. On the other hand, as someone who has studied development, I’ve learned to be wary of externally imposed political reforms. Either way, I blame the structure more than I blame either political party. In other words: don’t hate the player, hate the game.
Of course, the United States isn’t the only developed country facing recent troubles. Our friends across the pond might wonder if the following could happen:
Arab League members consider deploying peacekeeping forces to U.K.
Cairo – As London’s riots spread across the nation, leaders of the Arab League nations met in Cairo to discuss a response. Several have suggested offering peacekeeping forces to support the embattled British government. Despite the troubles, most other nations continue to support the regime of Queen Elizabeth II, the second-longest-serving head of state in the world. ………
(Just a caveat for the satire-impaired: If it’s in quotes above, I made it up. Except the part about the Queen. She beats Gaddafi by 17 years.)