Look, I get that State-to-State diplomacy is insanely complex. Truly I do. But how is it possible that policy makers let these “lack of land/food/economic opportunity” situations build up to a political crisis *so godd*mn* often, culminating in costly million+ dollar emergency aid/security interventions?
The easy answer is the blame the State Department or USAID. They’re nice punching bags. Their job is to fix and prevent these problems, right? What are we paying them for?
The larger issue, I’m afraid, is that the ordinary citizens fail to fill the gap. Rather, most of us don’t know *how* and the means aren’t there.
Folks in developing countries need substantive, mutually respectful interaction with their international peers: artist to artist, entrepreneur to entrepreneur, engineer to engineer. They need partners, investors and capital (incl. equipment).
Micro-Loans are a start, but banks can only provide fuel if there’s a car and a driver. “Social Entrepreneurship” funds like Acumen are giving people the power and confidence to invest in start ups like poultry farms, but the investors aren’t really the average citizen.
The enthusiasm for “Fair Trade” products (however the real cost/gains calculus works out for the intended beneficiaries) shows that “Western” consumers will support producers in developing countries through purchase preferences. But that only works if there are companies that can justify (i.e. profit) the cost of importing and doing business in difficult countries.
Most of all, there needs to be more focus on “South-South” trade, i.e. developing countries producing goods for one another. If you want to help a city in the USA regain it’s footing, you’d be crazy if you told them to live in shacks and focus on one product to export to Brazil. You’d also want the city’s inhabitants to be selling things to one another, as well as their neighboring cities.
When ordinary U.S. citizens are failing/unable to invest their time/health/money in these countries *now*, they suffer worse consequences later. Money spent by the U.S. government on emergency interventions does not get repaid, especially in the recurring crisis-response-crisis-response loop.
Like what’s happening with the global economy? Destabilized countries screw with existing international trade and prevent other consumers/innovators/producers from participating, i.e. the international economy is literally starving for new inputs, running off of fumes.
Never mind what security threats are bred in destabilized areas. (Like taking off your shoes at airports? That bullsh*t is justified by people ticked off by poverty and political repression in developing countries.)
So for now we enjoy the padding that comes with geography (oceans) and State institutions (e.g. Homeland Security, the Congressional Budget Office). But that padded wall gets thinner and thinner with every crisis.
We’d better find a better way to do this.