“Those attacks showed emphatically that ways of doing business rooted in a different era are just not good enough. Americans should not settle for incremental, ad hoc adjustments to a system designed generations ago for a world that no longer exists.” — 9/11 Commission Report
Far from defeating terrorism, today’s government-to-government foreign-aid system can actually incite it by propping up corrupt and repressive one-party states. Fortunately, there is a strategy that could subvert global terror by providing hope and opportunity in the Third World — at the expense of corruption and despair
Free Cities is a new private-sector development paradigm that would allow the United States to offer millions of people in developing countries the same freedom and non-corrupt prosperity that Hong Kong enjoys — without the baggage of colonialism.
Hong Kong was always different from other colonies. It began as a minor trading post, surrounded by empty territory. Over time, more and more people moved there, attracted by opportunity and freedom — just as they were drawn to the United States. In 1984 Hong Kong became a free city under a 50-year agreement between Britain and China. The Chinese government let Hong Kong retain its self-government, all its existing laws, and its free-market economy. Post-colonial Hong Kong has been a spectacular success, energizing and accelerating the transformation of Communist China itself.
China calls this remarkable arrangement “One Country, Two Systems.” It provides a model the U.S. can use to seed new outposts of freedom and prosperity around the world.
The U.S. should negotiate a series of bilateral treaties with receptive governments, carving out undeveloped sites the size of Hong Kong. Then a joint venture between the host government and the U.S. would launch brand new Free Cities in these places, with a complete set of American-style freedoms and responsibilities, guaranteed by treaty for 50 years.
Treaty-based Free Cities would entice and attract enterprising people and capital from around the world by offering: self-government; the rule of law; low taxes; reliable prosecution of corruption; freedom of faith, speech, and press; public registration of real property; a merit-based civil service; multi-ethnic meritocracy; zero tariffs; and an American university.
Free Cities would exemplify free-market globalization, rather than the economic exploitation of protectionist colonialism. They would generate millions of jobs where there are none today. And rather than opening another bottomless pit of statist foreign aid, these cities would be self-funding. A Free Cities development strategy would pay its own way by attracting funds from the private sector.