Not long ago, I discussed the idea of a coming wave of microstates. One of the objections of some to independence for small areas like Kosovo or Abkhazia not to mention huge obstacles, is a lack of qualified people to run a new government. Montenegro, for example, was largely independent from Serbia before declaring official independence. It already had a functioning bureaucracy. Yet, for some small areas, even already running unrecognized governments like South Ossetia in Georgia, that doesn’t always mean that they would have enough skilled and qualified people to run all branches of government and provide the necessary government services, especially considering all these potential new states are largely impoverished. Citizens don’t have reliable drinking water or electricity, much less education.
So what to do? First of all, let me note that there are a number of interesting options on the table for these various regions, most all of which don’t grant full independence. This post aims to discuss the situation for newly independent small states and to the extent that it’s transferable, also the implications for autonomous areas.
Since we aren’t talking about armed intervention and the UN isn’t a very realistic or efficient and effective answer, where does that leave us? In his recent book The Savage Wars of Peace, Max Boot writes about limited US intervention in the Dominican Republic. In 1903, a new Domican government entered office and stopped payment of foreign debt, some owed to Americans and most to Europeans. Teddy Roosevelt feared that like in other cases, the Europeans would resort to force and intervene in the island. The following is taken from page 137:
In order to preserve order and keep the Europeans out, the president agreed to assume a customs receivership. Under a treaty signed in 1905, a retired U.S. army colonel took over customs collection for the Dominican Republic. The agreement called for 55 percent of the revenues to be turned over to foreign bondholders, but because the American collectors were more honest than their predecessors, the Domican government actually received more money than ever before.
While all of the Caribbean could surely benefit from something similar today, it shows the big difference such a small program can make. Returning to newly emerging states who just as the Caribbean did and does, lack the people to efficiently, effectively and honestly run a government, who should one turn to? Why the private sector of course.
There has been much discussion about Private Military Contractors with regard to Iraq but if you’re a small emerging country and are looking to build institutions your options are the US, Europeans or the UN. While the US has bigger fish to fry at the moment, might we see companies offering government type services to countries? PMC’s would surely be useful building and running the new military. There are enough ex-government employees and highly skilled private sector people to run any nascent government.
Readers, could the private sector be used in future nation building exercises? When a lack of international support exists and/or a lack of domestic political will or willingness, why not call in the private sector?
NOTE: Don’t forget that Blackwater, for example, offered to intervene in Darfur.