Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A full-scale assault on the rule of law - or anti-Mongol worms?

There's been a growing controversy in recent months about the Mongolian government's handling of the country's mineral assets.  As always, of course, much depends on your perspective.  Within Mongolia, some would argue that, if anything, the government should be doing much more to protect the country's interests (a topic I'll be touching on, incidentally, in the next Nergui book, The Outcast). 

Elsewhere, particularly in the US and Canada, some see the government's recent actions as worrying signs of a drift away from the kinds of 'Western' values that Mongolia has espoused since the collapse of the Soviet Union.  This view has been succinctly expressed in a full page advertisement in the Wall Street Journal by the The Center for Individual Freedom - apparently a 'Constitutional and free-market advocacy organization with more than 250,000 supporters and activists' across the US - calling on George Bush and Condoleezza Rice to 'Send a Clear Message to Mongolia: Eliminate Corruption and Protect Private Property - Or Risk Losing U.S. Foreign Aid.'

As always, the full truth appears to be more complex than these partisan views might suggest - a not unfamiliar mix of principle, self/national interest and realpolitik.  Here's a fascinating account from Mongolia Web which summarises the original controversy, and then includes a highly detailed refutation (and I think it's detailed enough to count as a genuine refutation) by one Mendbayar Nyambuu.  Judge for yourselves.

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