American Samizdat

Tuesday, September 05, 2006. *
The glacier has begun to creak. In the world's most powerful dictatorship we detect the merest hint of a thaw. I am not talking about China or Uzbekistan, Burma or North Korea. This state runs no torture chambers or labour camps. No one is executed, though plenty starve to death as a result of its policies. The unhurried perestroika is taking place in Washington, in the offices of the International Monetary Fund.

Like most concessions made by dictatorial regimes, the reforms seem designed not to catalyse further change, but to prevent it. By slightly increasing the shares (and therefore the voting powers) of China, South Korea, Mexico and Turkey, the regime hopes to buy off the most powerful rebel warlords, while keeping the mob at bay. It has even thrown a few coppers from the balcony, for the great unwashed to scuffle over. But no one - except the leaders of the rich nations and the leader writers of just about every newspaper in the rich world - could regard this as an adequate response to its problems.

The fund is a body with 184 members. It is run by seven of them - the US, Japan, Germany, the UK, France, Canada and Italy. These happen to be the seven countries that (with Russia) promised to save the world at the G8 meeting in 2005. The junta sustains its control by insisting that each dollar buys a vote. The bigger a country's financial quota, the more say it has over the running of the IMF. This means that it is run by the countries that are least affected by its policies.
posted by Uncle $cam at 11:32 PM
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