One of the greatest challenges to both idealism and optimism when it comes to global affairs is the fact that dealing with nations requires dealing with a government of some kind (unless you prefer dealing with situations like Somalia, and no one really does). The problem with that is that the governments of this world are hopelessly corrupt, and that even by the sorry standard of governments worldwide that a vast majority of the world’s governments are so hopelessly corrupt that they are propped up by other nations because the alternative of anarchy or (in some cases) radical Islam is considered vastly worse than their bungling and incompetence in almost all cases.
Take Laos, for example. Though this nation is best known for being poor, landlocked, and basically abandoned to Communist domination during the 1960’s as the United States focused on Thailand and Vietnam, in recent years Laos has tried to develop with a vengeance. This uneven development has prompted some conflicts between the crony communist government of Laos and between activists who wish to preserve Laos’ unspoiled natural beauty and seek responsible development that benefits more than the wealthiest elites. So, how does Laos’ government choose to deal with the problem of a noisy activist? Well, the activist disappears and the incident is captured on closed circuit television, and Laos’ government is pressured by its ASEAN neighbors (most of whom are also corrupt) to show him safe and sound and restore him to freedom . The lame cover story that the activist made too many enemies among businessmen and that the government has nothing to do with his disappearance have not convinced many. Nor should it.
Not that Laos’ neighbors have clean hands. Moving west to Thailand, General-in-chief Prayuth Chan-Ocha has admitted that army officers have been involved in the trafficking of the Rohingya refugees as slaves, profiting off the slave trade of defenseless refugees, while ironically serving to increase the number of upset Muslims within the country . Not only this, but officers of the Thai military up to the rank of colonel have been implicated in several years worth of slave trading of Rohingya refugees between Burma and Malaysia through Muslim-populated southern Thailand. Whether Thailand has the political will to deal with this corruption on the part of its military establishment is highly questionable. The fact that such corruption extends to such high ranks of the general officers would seem to indicate that it extends to higher levels at least indirectly through kickbacks and bribes.
Of course, Burma is a notoriously corrupt nation that is considered an outcast even among its corrupt neighbors. In the midst of a lengthy and bloody conflict with the Kachin Independence Army, a conflict that has included the shelling of civilians and numerous war crimes, Burmese president Thein Sein gives lip service to peace (including non-governmental organizations) as the only way to engage in a successful nation building process . The Burmese president is certainly correct that any successful nation requires a robust civil society, but unfortunately, as is often the case, the Burmese leadership (especially its military) has been unwilling to let others share in the profits of Burma’s rich natural resources and unwilling to give up power, to ethnic-based states on its periphery. Insecurity and pride have been barriers to Burma’s development and have prevented it from achieving the success it could, a story that has been repeated throughout the melancholy course of the world.
Nor are these Southeast Asian countries unique. North Korea may be one of the most dismal nations of the world, and like so many other nations, the desperate state of its people lies largely obscure while its government seeks to make a glittering appearance to the outside world. The breadbasket, such as it is, of North Korea starves while capital elites and the military take food from starving farmers while showing off glamorous new apartment buildings and reduced restrictions on cell-phone use for foreigners  as a way of currying favor from other nations and appearing as if the government has everything together. Like so many other nations, North Korea is putting on a face to hide the reality of its dismal failure to represent the will of the people.
Yes, as corrupt as these and other governments are, the alternatives are seen as even more unacceptable to the other nations of the world who prop up corrupt regimes because they fear the alternatives even more. Turning to Africa, there are several simultaneous crises, including a civil war in the Central African Republic , a mutiny in Eritrea, as well as a civil war in Mali sparked by the aftermath of the Libyan Civil War that has no spread into a bloody hostage crisis in Algeria . How sad are these African nations? Eritrea ranks behind even North Korea to achieve the position as the least free nation in the world, and some mutineers today took control of the only official information source for the entire nation with the message that they would enforce their downtrodden nation’s constitution. In Mali, the French government (asking support from the United States) is propping up a corrupt regime in Bamako because the alternative of a Sharia-governed state in the north is even less acceptable. Of course, as the Tuareg have been in a nearly constant state of revolt because no Malian government has ever met the desire of the Tuareg for freedom. Now, in their desperation after decades of misrule, the Tuareg have allied with radical Islamists, without bettering their support from the international community. Why were their efforts to better their status rejected for so many decades of obscurity only to be buried in hatred and fear now?
What all of these problems share is a set of common problems and concerns. These nations all share corrupt governments (with overly powerful militaries relative to their civilian governments) that exploit their people and their natural resources for their own selfish benefit. All of them care more about receiving the approval and support of other governments than the love and respect of their people for a job well done. All of them are supported by other nations not because of any fondness of feeling, but often out of a lack of ability or interest in seeking direct government (in these post-colonial times) and the inability to find a better government for its own purposes. Additionally, the lack of development of the civilian sectors has tended to prevent any godly servant leaders for being developed through the leadership of families, communities, and other institutions, so there is one corrupt dictator after another, punctuated by occasional weak civilian governments. These problems, which are generally present throughout the world put particularly visible in the most suffering nations of the globe, are not possible for human beings to solve at present, not without a great deal of persistence as well as divine assistance.
Let us also note that all of these problems are simultaneous problems going on today. No nation has the resources to police all of these matters, nor the interest, as the benefits of pumping massive resources into nations like North Korea, Laos, Eritrea, and Mali are virtually nil despite the natural resources that some of these nations possess. About the only hope that any of these nations possess is the desire to seek after godliness and to appeal to God for divine aid and mercy. Most of these nations at present, despite their own obvious incompetence and serious straits, are far more interested in looking good to other nations and receiving aids from other (corrupt) governments, and so the mood for repentance does not appear present in the nations of the world. Worse, those nations propping up other corrupt regimes are themselves dangerously tottering due to their own massive incompetence and corruption. May God restore a righteous remnant capable of picking up the pieces and beginning again when the time is right.