I have always contended that the only difference between success in developed nations and failure in developing nations comes down to a single word: institutions.
Western institutions are the levers that hold Western nations together.
Without institutions, many Western nations will be as dysfunctional as developing nations.
The Belgium Scenario
Belgium has not had a government for heaven knows how long.
A journalist once wrote that the one thing Belgium and Iraq had in common was they had both been
without a functional government for eighteen months.
That article was written years ago.
Iraq now has a government and Belgium still don’t have a government.
Meanwhile, while Iraq without a government was in turmoil, Belgium is still somehow functioning.
Civil servants are still being paid…
Tax is still been collected…
Businesses are still running…
And garbage is still been collected.
What’s the difference between Belgium and Iraq?
Belgium has strong institutions that function irrespective of whether there is a government in place.
While Saddam Hussein was the Iraqi institution.
Remove Saddam, and the institution collapse.
The Eastern Bloc Scenario
We are witnessing the impact of weak institutions in the former Eastern European countries.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, they are still struggling to survive.
Without handouts from Brussel, many of them would be as poor as any developing country.
Ironically, the Eastern bloc countries collectively have better educated population than their wealthy Northern neighbours.
Yet, they depend on their Northern neighbours for handouts.
Lack of institutions.
Boris Johnson and Donald Trump Dangerous Games
US President Trump is pressurising pharmaceutical companies and the FDA to come up with a coronavirus vaccine before a “very special day” to help him win the election.
The UK government has reneged on the withdrawal agreement its signed with the EU.
For Mr. Johnson and Mr. Trump, the process of governing is a game.
They do not understand the long-term implications of their actions on the economic and political stabilities of their respective countries and the wider international system.
National and international institutions are built upon trust.
Mr. Trump undermining the credibility of pharmaceutical companies and the FDA to win re-election would erode trust in those institutions, which will have long-term implication for the health of the United States.
Mr. Johnson reneging on his promise to the EU would damage trust in UK Inc.
Not only would it make it difficult to reach a trade agreement with the EU, it would damage British credibility in the long-term.
It is really bad that those guys are placing their personal ambition above the interest of their countries.
And what puzzles me is the deafening silence of the British and American public.
Institutions that are built on the blood and sacrifice of previous generations are being destroyed by Mr. Trump and Mr. Johnson and we are looking the other way.
What right have these guys to destroy institutions they never built?
As I write, Mr. Trump is leading the UAE and Bahrain in signing a normalisation agreement with Israel.
The Middle East is finally waking up to the fact that dialogue is in everyone interest.
If only Mr. Trump was drinking his own kool-aid.