Sunday, May 06, 2007

What makes a country independent?

I was reading responses to Israel's Winograd report, the look into why the Second Lebanon War went so poorly for them and saw quite a few comments that implied Lebanon, at least the southern and eastern parts, is in reality still just a province of Syria.

So how does one country exert control another country?

The most obvious suspects are the usual three methods:

1. Military
2. Political
3. Economic

How one country can exert control another country militarily:

1. Occupy it
2. Control an armed faction within the country
3. Have a credible military threat against the country
4. Have loyalists within the ranks of the country's military

How one country can exert control another country politically:

1. Have its guy running the country
2. Have one or more political parties that work to further its interests
3. Have control over the media of the country

How one country can exert control over another country economically:

1. Own its means of production
2. Control its export and/or its imports
3. Hold enough of its debt

Those are the means I could think of off the top of my head, I'm sure I've missed a few.

Within the global economy, few countries are completely free of foreign influence these days. But clearly, there has to be a certain level of influence before one country could be said to "control" another country.

The old Soviet Union scored high in each of the three categories, leaving little doubt they controlled the Eastern Bloc nations. You can also see which categories began to escape their control before they lost it completely.

Looking at Syria's influence in Lebanon, I think a reasonable conclusion is it remains just that: influence, not control.


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