Strange Bedfellows Indeed
Some advice to developing nations: avoid the U.S. dollar like the plague, lest you wish to be addicted to it like crack.
That's right, the almighty dollar is more addictive than even crack cocaine. Once it gets into your system, it's there to stay. And just like crack, you need increasingly larger amounts of it in order to achieve an acceptable level of euphoria.
In actuality however, it's not just the dollar of which developing nations need to beware. Most strong foreign currencies have the same debilitating, decaying effects. So the dollar isn't all that much different from the German mark, the British pound or, God forbid, the French franc. But it's the dollar that garners attention from rebels, revolutionaries and reactionaries as the symbol of Western interference, greed and decadence.
Most developing countries don't even realize the quagmire they're about to get stuck in when they succumb to the lure of "foreign investment." Take Yugoslavia for instance. Forget the debate over whether, as a nation, that country is the anti-Christ for the things it has perpetrated upon Kosovar Muslims. Just focus on its level of addiction.
A few days into NATO's bombing campaign, one of the major news networks did a report on how the bombing was affecting the Yugoslav people. Part of the report talked about how a local McDonald's restaurant had re-opened for business after the initial shock of the air raids wore off. Now if that isn't some serious psychological mess, then what is?
Just think about that. The United States is bombing your country into oblivion, while your people are ecstatic over being able to eat U.S. hamburgers. They might as well just invite a crack dealer over for dinner, or hook up an IV of morphine if they're going to be that stupid.
The latest soon-to-be addict is Kuwait. Sure, one can argue that this little fiefdom has been pimped by and addicted to Western economic interests for some time now. But the story with Kuwait is that it's trying to take its addiction to a new level.
On Monday, Agence France Presse quoted Kuwaiti Commerce Minister, Hisham al-Oteibi as saying, "We will do all we can to create the infrastructure to encourage foreign investment in Kuwait and give priority to the private sector."
Translation: As if we didn't have enough foreign corporations mucking up our system already, we're going to make it even easier for your to step in with your big investment dollars, take the reigns directing our country and lead our economy where you like. And if the common man gets stepped on, no worries, let them eat McDonald's.
And the list of countries goes on. Like Argentina, which continues to flirt with making the dollar its official currency, as if that would be a panacea to all its problems. But enough with the belly-aching.
The fact of the matter is that Muslim countries comprise a sizeable percentage of the so-called developing world. As such they put the fate of the Muslim world in the hands of foreign investors each time they "open up" their markets. But Muslim countries don't need McDonald's; they need the fruits being grown in Bangladesh. They don't need Nike; they need the high quality cotton that used to be a trademark of Egyptian commerce. And they surely don't need oil, gas or any other valuable natural resource that can be dug from the ground with a little bit of labor and ingenuity.
Yes, this is all rather simplistic and far too idealistic. But if the addicts were replaced by idealists, then maybe we'd be on the road to something better.
But for now, it looks like there's a 12-step program with your country's name on it out there. So go ahead; introduce yourself.
"Hi, my name's Muslim Country X, and I'm a dollar-aholic."
See, that wasn't so bad.
Ali Asadullah is the Editor of iviews.com