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Eureka: The pseudo-science of government Eureka: The pseudo-science of government
by Akli Hadid
2017-12-08 08:02:46
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You are the king or the president. Here's what you need to have in mind. First, where does the money come from. Second, who will protect me.

When you inherit power, your government will have three layers. First, the secret services who will protect you and your institution. Second, your intelligence services who will spy on people who are a threat or threaten to depose you.Third, the army which will protect you from invaders. The fourth layer will be local government.

govern1_400When in power, you have to keep in mind that you have to pay your secret service agents, your intelligence agents and your army. Don't pay the secret services? You will wake up at gunpoint and be thrown out of the palace. Don't pay the intelligence agents? They will cook up a story about your taking bribes and will depose you. Don't pay the army? You're either facing civil war or having your palace surrounded by the army.

Your secret services, intelligence agents and army are rational people who constantly talk about their paychecks and keeping their jobs. They also look at external factors that may cause them to lose their paychecks or to have lighter paychecks.

To illustrate all of this let me give concrete examples. First, Park Geun Hye's South Korea. Park Geun Hye was notorious for her unusually long silences, so long that no one could read her mind. There was speculation in the secret services, the intelligence services and the army that she would get rid of some of them, but nothing concrete happened. Still the silences were so long that over time speculation arose that there would be changes. When the secret services, intelligence services and army saw that the main source of cash, corporate taxes, were dwindling and that the economy was shrinking, the intelligence services cooked up a scheme to remove her from power. Some say she intended to stay silent over the entire length of her five-year term, and that her main reason for being in power was to restore her father, president Park Jung Hee's image.

The Arab spring. Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Yemen relied on a mix of financial aid from foreign countries and textile-producing oligarchs along with revenues from tourism to keep the cash flow rolling. When the 2008 recession hit in Europe and North America textile orders were dwindling and tourism cash flows were dwindling. Ben Ali of Tunisia, Mubarak of Egypt, Assad of Syria and Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen were educated in what I described above, but their economic and social knowledge was modest at best. They could not come up with creative ideas to resume the cash flows. The intelligence services felt that soon their paychecks would start coming late if at all, and decided to cook up protests so they could throw the presidents out of the palace.

A lot of the civil wars in the 1990s in Africa had to do with African states having their financial aid cut in the wake of the end of the cold war. That is Western Europe and the United States used to send governments financial aid so they could opt out of Communism and side with the Western world, but once the financial aid was cut, army factions would start to fight each other in what was an actual treasure hunt.

Now about local government. A lot of palaces don't see the need to pay and staff local government as much as they see the need to pay and staff secret services, intelligence agencies and armies. That's why a lot of times local governments are under staffed, under funded and often inefficient bureaucracies.

Why wasn't Ban Ki Moon even allowed to run for the South Korean presidency? In politics, the secret services, intelligence agencies and the army are equals, and there is no hierarchy between the president and those agencies. If a president threatens to be on top of the hierarchy and to decide who keeps their job and who loses it, then people in those agencies will be worried about losing their jobs. But Ban Ki Moon claimed superiority because of his background as head of the UN, which did not please those agencies.

Why were presidents Roh Moo Hyun and Lee Myung Bak prosecuted after they left the presidency in South Korea? Because they fired or jailed several elements who bothered them in the secret services, the intelligence services and the army.

In sum, when dealing with the secret service, intelligence agencies and the army, as president, you can lay the ground rules, you can be called upon to resolve disputes and be the judge, you make sure you pay them, but you don't fire or jail them unless the decision is based on a wide consensus. Otherwise they will be thinking that they are the next in line for jail or to lose their job.


      
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