If you could rule any country, which country would you choose, and why?
Russia. Because ruling a country is such a difficult and ungratifying task, that I wouldn't agree to do for a country I did not truly love. And even then, I am not sure I would. Even though I do feel there are great many things that need fixing back home. And tend to subscribe to the words "if you want a job done right, do it yourself".
Besides, I think any other country I would just plunder for my own benefit, then disappear to enjoy my ill-gotten wealth elsewhere.
I think I will plug in my old Political Science exam. I don't think my opinion has changed all that much in the last ten years or so. :) I did get full points for that exam, in case you were wondering.
Congratulations! You have discovered a new land with rich and diverse natural resources and large population in a strategically important and influential area. It is up to you to settle this new land and transform it into a viable world power. What will you do? How would you form society? What is your chosen form of government? How will you use Power, what policy choices would you make? How will you gain authority, legitimacy, and sovereignty? What issues of policy are important to your new government?
The first question that arises, is why is this land, strategically important and rich in natural resources, with a large population, up for grabs. Such countries either have a strong government of their own, and already are a world power, or they are a colony to one of the major world powers. Since the question indicates it is neither, for the purposes of this essay, we will decide that the country (Country A) has its own government, but the government is corrupt and doesn’t enjoy popular support. Let’s make that government a military dictatorship, with two generals being uneasy allies, with large part, but not majority, of troops supporting each one. Another assumption we must make before playing out the scenario, is who I am and what support do I have in whichever country or organization (if any) sent me to that land. For the purposes of this essay, let’s assume that I am the Ambassador, sent by the government of my birth country (Country B), which is one of the large and powerful countries, dissatisfied with its current position and seeking to improve it through control of Country A. Let’s assume that the immediate resources I have at my disposal immediately, are the letter of credence and agrément issued by the government of Country A, and intelligence information, gathered by the various agencies of Country B. Among potential resources, which I can have access to due to my position in the government of my country B (let’s assume it is a one-party regime, with me being one of the senior members of the party), are limited number of lightly armed military personnel, large amount of money, influence on the government’s decisions, and power to sign the documents without conferring with the head of the government of Country B if necessary to expedite the process.
To gain power in Country A, the most efficient and cost-effective way (for me and the Country B, not the population of Country A) would be to pit the two generals making up the government against each other. To do that, I would talk at length to both of them to see which of them will be more agreeable to becoming a puppet government in exchange for money, formal (if not real) power, protection from persecution in international courts (if necessary), opportunity to defeat his enemy, or, if all of the above fail, because of blackmail, which may include one or more of the following: threats to the sovereignty of the Country A or physical or economic threats against himself or his family. This way of gaining power is more efficient than direct conquest, because it is cheaper, it doesn’t involve risk to the military personnel of Country B, and it doesn’t compromise Country B by making it an aggressor in the eyes of the world community. Since the government of country A was assumed to be corrupt, one of the generals should agree to take power for himself, then (secretly and unofficially) transferring it to me as the legitimate representative of the Country B. Other factors in choosing the puppet ruler would be which part of the territory he controls (so the resources Country B is interested in are not threatened), and how likely he is to win (it is cheaper to support someone who is more likely to win, since they will require less money, less equipment, and less training for their soldiers).
Most likely that will lead to a civil war. My most important role as the representative of the Country B would be to play the humanitarian role, distributing food, medical care, water, and other necessities to the native population of the Country A. This will have many benefits. It will create good image of Country B in the eyes of the population of the Country A, so they will be less likely to protest our influence on their government. It will create good image of Country B in the eyes of the international community, which will make it less likely to protest our influence on Country A, and also it will claim Country A as part of our sphere of influence. Also, if my country will provide for the needs of the local population, it will make other countries less likely to come into Country A with humanitarian purposes, which potentially could be used to undermine our influence on it.
Once the rival fraction is destroyed, and the obedient (or not so obedient) puppet has the full power, more choices have to be made. First, whether the puppet is obedient enough to be let to rule largely on his own, or if he should be controlled, or even replaced (assassinated). For the purposes of this essay, we will assume that he will remain faithfully allied to Country B as long as he is well paid by it, as it agrees with the characteristics established earlier. To give the new government greater legitimacy, an election might be organized. If the humanitarian efforts and the propaganda machine worked well, the candidate endorsed by us would win, and gain the title of the President. Country A would become a presidential democracy (at least, on paper), with a unicameral parliament, and the Supreme Court appointed by the President. The President would be elected for a 6-year term, and no more than two terms. Shorter term would mean lesser stability and more money spent on organizing elections, rather than on economic development. Supreme Court Justices would be 5 in number, appointed for 15 year terms. Appointing the Justices for life would be unwise, since the situations change, but people tend to view them the way they were accustomed to. Such limitation would allow for greater adaptability, but since the term Justices serve is longer than that of the President, power of the President over Judicial branch would be limited. Members of the parliament should be elected for 3-year terms. Since the only people well-known and having resources for campaigning would be those who supported the President, the parliament would also be under my control.
While I would have no formal position in the government of Country A (annexation is not favored by Country B), by the virtue of my influence on the elected government officials, both in executive and legislative branch, I would be the one making all of the most important decisions, which include foreign policy and image of Country A in the eyes of the world community. A democratic constitution would be written and ratified, and Country A would renounce its past as a military dictatorship, join the United Nations (if it hasn’t before), sign the international treaties (which, coincidentally, will be the treaties signed by Country B as well). Country A would also invite foreign visitors from established democracies to display their improvements in human rights and other areas. These improvements should be real, not acted, since a happy population is easy to rule, and there is lesser chance that a rebellion, a strike, or other disruptive activity will occur. The money for these improvements will be loaned by Country B, solidifying the ties between the two countries.
The economic improvement of the Country A would require introduction of modern technologies, developing the infrastructure, and educating the population. All of that will be done by the government and the private companies of Country B (we will assume that Country B, while a one-party system, encourages private business, as it is beneficial for economy). Through education, people of Country A will be tied even more to Country B, with programs of study carefully tailored for that purpose. Since Country B will decide that technology is shared, the level of development of Country A can be controlled. Through careful work, and with ample support from Country B, Country A can rise to the level of a world power in 15-20 years, though it would be developed in such a way that it would never be a danger, economically or militarily, to the state interests of Country B. That would mean, that private enterprise should be supported in those industries that extract the natural resources that have value on world markets, and/or are needed by Country B. Private enterprise should be discouraged in industries producing goods or services that have potential to create competition for the goods and services produced by Country B. Overall economic prosperity of the population of Country A should be comparatively high, so the population will not grow restless or go on strike, which would be disruptive to the business.
Among other issues of domestic policy that would be important, are education, health care and public sanitation, and environmental protection. Elementary education should be encouraged for all people of Country A, because it increases productivity, secondary education should be encouraged for city dwellers, but not necessarily for rural populations, since city dwellers are more likely to engage in anti-government activities, and should be kept off the streets, and brainwashed for a longer period of time. Higher education should be encouraged for the gifted children, and colleges in Country A should focus on those programs that serve the industries being developed in Country A; programs preparing for the industries discouraged in Country A should only be available to those students in colleges of Country B (and they would be encouraged to stay there after graduation). Health care, focused mainly on prevention of diseases, and public sanitation are important for lowering mortality rates, improving well-being of the population, and also they would be cheaper than treating the diseases once the outbreak occurs, and that would lower the risks of epidemic/pandemic that could potentially affect Country B and other world powers. Protecting environment, while it is taxing on the newly developing industries, will be encouraged because it is my personal belief that environment must be protected while we still have something to protect. Country A thus will sign all the important international treaties, such as Kyoto protocol and Montreal protocol.
To summarize, the most cost-effective way, which is also least likely to cause negative reaction in the international community, based on conditions specified in the first paragraph of this essay, would be not a conquest or annexation of the territory in question (Country A) by Country B, but creation of a puppet regime. My role would be acting a puppeteer, working with the government of Country A to implement policies favored by Country B (which I would also have influence on, as defined in the first paragraph of this essay). That regime should be a presidential democracy, with the President as the head of the executive branch, a unicameral parliament as the legislative branch, and a Supreme Court with members appointed by the President. The election will be the basis of legitimacy. The sovereignty is assumed to be present from the start. The authority rests with the government of Country A by virtue of that government being part of the previous military government, by virtue of having support of the military and the support of Country B. Public opinion in the Country A should be very favorable to Country B, which would be reached through humanitarian and economic aid to the population of Country A by Country B and by propaganda. Policy issues most important to the government of Country A (which are the same as the interests of Country B and my interests) would be education, public health, environmental protection, economic development, fostering close ties with and economic dependency of the Country B, and forming a positive image of Country A in the eyes of the world community through joining the United Nations, ratification of international treaties and agreements, and improving human rights and well-being of the population. Country A thus should become an important world power, so as to strengthen, but not undermine, the power of Country B.
PS On the less serious note, can I just have the crown, and not the job? Assuming it is a diadem, not the heavy big ugly crown.