Another Path To Charter Cities

Dave Killion — December 6, 2012

As I wrote before, things were looking good for the development of a Charter City in Honduras. Sadly, the Honduran Supreme Court has crushed the possibility, and one of the organizations created in anticipation of participating has closed shop. Observers were not caught by surprise –

“Even before the Supreme Court’s bad decision, the immediate prospects for getting actual “free cities” moving in Honduras were seeming grim. The government, after its initial hugely popular vote to theoretically create a RED program, failed to define the actual boundaries or locations of such zones, or get moving with official appointments of either a Transparency Commission or an executive governor for the project.”

The failure showcases what may be a fatal flaw in the idea of charter cities, which is that at least one of the participants (the host country) is going to be a country led by a corrupt and untrustworthy government. Don’t be too quick to embrace that notion, though. The Chinese government has been (with varying levels of success) teaming up with many poor countries to create special economic zones (SEZ) within those other countries. Africa hosts a number of them, as does Pakistan. There are also many examples of countries creating  SEZ successfully within their own borders. But so far, no one has proposed the path which led to the creation and success of Hong Kong; the military option.

It works like this; although I think that the attacks of 9/11 were perhaps provoked by incessant U.S. intervention in places where the U.S. has no business, I am also open to arguments that the initial U.S. response to those attacks (that is, attacking Afghanistan) was justified. Perhaps, in this case, the U.S. government could have simply carved out a largely unpopulated, city-sized portion of the country, and forced the Afghan government to accept a 99-year lease. Then, just as was done in the case of Hong Kong, govern with a policy of positive non-intervention, and add a dash of liberal immigration regulation with no state welfare of any sort whatsoever. Ta-da! Charter city! Goodness knows, I don’t want the U.S. going out picking fights, but if there is ever another legitimate case for U.S. retaliation against an aggressor state, I hope someone in the U.S. administration will have read this post.

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