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If you don't mind getting a cargo cult democracy in return, by all means go for it. I tend to view democracy as an effect rather than a cause of societal well-being.

A democratic system can come in several flavours, of which we can note two: an educated populace that has leverage over the political class in ways that go beyond voting to lobbying, independent journalism, political fact-checking, availability of ascension into the political class, effective employment of law enforcement against corrupt officials etc., or business as usual (i.e. corrupt oligarchy) with some bread-and-circuses election-type events once every few years. Which one would you rather have?

Good governance arises out of the extent to which the distribution of power matches the distribution of wisdom. Given that we're talking Third World countries, the starting situation is tyranny with no wisdom either at the top or anywhere else, really. The best short-term solution for them is to import a king, a legislative body, and some army generals from a better country, which are a) representative of that country's skill in governance or even somewhat better, and b) all in cahoots with each other so that they don't ruin the country by infighting. Sorry, medium-term; the short-term result of that is bloodshed. Which is why nobody is doing it.

What these people need is infrastructure, and safety -- from their governments, and from each other. Both of these are prerequisites for reaching the level of prosperity needed to afford to think about civic matters rather than just food and family, and safety is especially needed for ensuring that going up against the Powers That Be is not a suicidal endeavour.

Exactly how this is to be achieved diplomatically, I don't know, I'm out of my depths here. I might say something stupid and get mocked, so I'll refrain from policy suggestions. But in any case it seems much, much better than pushing for democracy and hoping for the best.

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Another question that's worth asking is "what's in it for the Western governments?". The pseudo-solution I talked about usually goes by the name of "colonisation". When it happened, it stood motivated by pure economic exploitation on one hand, and the European belief in their duty to spread Christianity on the other hand, and it's arguable how much of the latter can be called altruistic. Now powerful Western states are either secular or American, and have lost the political capability to credibly claim that colonisation is a civilising mission, after domestic nationalism (which inevitably leaked) and two world wars. There is no incentive (on a reasonable time frame) and lots of disincentives to get hands-on involved in Third World governance. Currently they're playing the long game, sending development aid and presumably engaging in paternalistic diplomacy. Tame, but by the looks of it, ineffective and unprofitable for them. (Though, in the short term, probably less so than recolonisation.)

There's a question in here somewhere. If you had to put "Western guns" and "decolonisation" on the same spectrum called "Third World democracy", that can have values from more to less, where would both sit on it, and what would make them either close or far away to each other? Because it's obvious that the two notions are necessary opposites. Do Western guns help secure democracy? Did decolonisation help secure democracy?






The best short-term solution for them is to import a king, a legislative body, and some army generals from a better country


But would it benefit these countries in the long run? Third world countries that escaped Western rule seem to be no obviously worse than the former European colonies. On the eve of independence India was economically ahead of China. Ghana was ahead of South Korea. There is no trace of that initial advantage now.
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melian
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