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I have an authoritarian government that's on the talking terms with the west. That means they want the money (trade/investment) but not the advice. So it grants visa only to foreign businessman and professionals who are interested in trade not in politics.

However those damn western diplomats continuously try to demand free press, fund grassroots movements, talk with opposition. Unfortunately they are protected by the Geneva convention and can't be strong armed without diplomatic incident. Also expelling the pesky westerners is not an option since it would leave the country at the mercy of China, and single choice is not much of an choice.

How could country prevent western diplomats from interfering in the country internal affairs or at least making it very difficult to do that?

Maybe limiting the diplomatic mission to the bare minimum staff or placing all the embassies in an island that is not well linked with rest of the country.

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    $\begingroup$ This sounds really thinly veiled. Also, do I read this as "how can I get the money without the strings attached?" $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Mar 29, 2018 at 19:32
  • $\begingroup$ @CortAmmon Sort of , well more like how could I trade with the west without democracy. $\endgroup$
    – Jiguna
    Mar 29, 2018 at 19:35
  • $\begingroup$ To heck with Western diplomats. It's social media and an educated populace which is your real risk. $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Mar 29, 2018 at 19:36
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    $\begingroup$ The West trades with lots of undemocratic countries. L-O-T-S lots. $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Mar 29, 2018 at 19:37
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    $\begingroup$ @RonJohn Don't worry about that, Chinese sold us great system for controlling the internet. And religious education is the only one allowed. The only children who get real education are members of the loyalist tribes. $\endgroup$
    – Jiguna
    Mar 29, 2018 at 19:38

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Create your own internal opposition to distract them.

You want these Westerners and they want to talk to the opposition / free press etc. Begrudgingly allow this. In actuality, the people the Westerners talk to are your stooges.

A shill, also called a plant or a stooge, is a person who publicly helps or gives credibility to a person or organization without disclosing that they have a close relationship with the person or organization. Shills can carry out their operations in the areas of media, journalism, marketing, confidence games, or other business areas

Your stooges will seem to be your opposition while actually being your employees. These stooges will go through the motions of dissenting, protesting etc. They will fail to come to grips with issues that threaten your regime and instead concentrate on peripheral but exciting issues. The free press will publish uncomfortable stuff but never anything that really is a threat.

This would help you in a couple of ways. Your westerners feel good about themselves helping your country move along and expend their energy and resources on the fakes. Your "fake" opposition also sucks up all the oxygen, making it more difficult for a real opposition to gain any traction in this space. Your citizenry who want feel outrage will have their outrage channeled into harmless outlets, like your ban on funny hats. The opposition can win a victory - the ban on funny hats is lifted, for certain occasions.

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However those damn western diplomats continuously try to demand free press, fund grassroots movements, talk with opposition...

The job of a diplomat to to maintain relations with the foreign government. While "diplomatic immunity" prevents them from being arrested, it hardly allows them full access to anyone and anything within a country. Actively acting against the interests of that government with internal factions is NOT a part of their job.

The various spies tagging along with the official diplomats are the ones who will be doing that.

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(reads in fake hard accent) For quick and proper dealing with Western spie... ahem, diplomats, I advice you, dear comrade, to look into the glorious experience of Soviet KGB, always on guard of the peaceful sleep of Soviet citizen.


I think it's pretty clear, what I mean. The Soviet counter-intelligence had lots of experience of shading, recruiting, etc. foreign diplomats and other foreigners inside their state borders. While it might be harder to find first-hand sources in the West from the counter-intelligence, you'd find tons on material from people, who actually played these games with them. So, memoirs of that-time diplomats, CIA agents, think tank philosophers, and politicians might help you a lot.

Of course, that experience is a) out-dated (so what?), b) biased (just as the other side, but in the opposite direction*), c) based on the at most 70s-80s era, so no smartphones and internet access for the filthy spies.

*: When reading Russian sources one needs to be extremely vary of the publication date. The preferred narrative and the folks' mood changed radically at least twice during few years.

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Benevolent dictatorship. Outperform democracy.

Take a long hard look in direction of Singapore. Take also history lessons and read about inherited dictatorship aka kingdom which was used thousand of years.

Every country is simply a conglomerate of humans where the course of actions must be decided. There is no inherent feature that the course of actions is automatically more efficient or fair in a democracy than in a dictatorship. Some rulers like Augustus did a very good job during their reign; what they did is giving their nation what they desire.

Give the people a country where they think: Hey, I really want to live here. More than enough to eat with many choices, a home, the ability to marry and live their lives, good education, give their children a perspective. Low criminality and corruption. Allow them their vices (porn, drugs, whatever). And look out what the population wants and try to achieve it.

If we look at Singapore, despite its authoritarian regime the population is quite content and scores very high on the human development index, outperforming most of the Western Europe and the USA. The political opponents are also mostly done by suing instead of executions and assassinations. Still unfair, but not so bloodthirsty.

The litmust test is their ability to travel: If the citizens return, you know that you are on the right path. Don't suppress opponents, but listen to their complaints (because they are the only ones who tell you the bad sides in the country) and repair the pointed out problems. If the opponents run out of problems and their last resort is "It is not a democracy", people will scratch their head and ask: "What exactly is better in a democracy? Why do we need it?". Never underestimate that people are lazy; currently 70-80% are voting in continental Europe, less are voting in the USA, UK and Southern/Eastern Europe, only the Scandinavians get a higher voter turnout.

The only problem with a benevolent dictatorship is that sooner or later a not-so-benevolent dictator will pop up (Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot) and will use the already installed and established institutions for their reign of terror and cleptocracy, including other countries. The following episode will people turn away from dictatorship until they forget it again decades later.

(Yes, everything I wrote here is very bitter and cynic...and I hope, very wrong).

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The real issue is you have misidentified the problem. Diplomats are hardly the problem, and (as many travel/politics books by Robert Kaplan demonstrate), diplomats rarely travel beyond the diplomatic compounds and circles of political and business elites, so rarely interact with "the people", or even truly understand what is happening outside the bubble anyway.

Western economies are extremely good at producing and selling things due to the ruthless nature of market capitalism and in short order, whatever sort of trade you open with the West will become a floodgate for Western consumer goods and values to enter your realm. Unless you are careful, most of the trade will be high value added goods to be sold in your country, and it will be the value added goods that not only you cannot produce, but the ones your people will desperately want.

You sell cotton, but get jeans and t-shirts with funny logos written on them.

You institute sweatshops to make jeans, and your jean wearing kids want pop and energy drinks. And cars. And TV's

Then computers and gaming software

Then internet and social media

This so called Coca-cola capitalism spreads Western consumer culture throughout the world, and once people are hooked on consumer culture, a certain percentage are going to start asking "how does this work, anyway?", and a smaller percentage will be wondering how to institute it in your country. If you are smart, you could try to co-opt them with "crony capitalism" and co-opt them into an oligarchy (Russia is a good example in the Putin era), but other models of authoritarianism can also be applied, ranging from the current Chinese model to the Fascist Corporate State or even National Socialism.

For the most part, Western nations are content with this sort of arrangement so long as you are not working too hard to destabilize the political structures underlying the patterns of trade. At that point, you might discover that Western civilization is also very good at other things besides trade.......

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You have put yourself in a double bind. You don't want the side effects that come with interacting with a group, but you are bound to continue interacting with the group (since you have declared that it is unacceptable to expel them). As a result, what you begin is a battle of wills. You must have more will to maintain your style of culture and government more than they will you to change.

Your first step would be to determine what you can do with the others. Can you arrest them? Can you fine them? Is there anything you have that they want which you can deny them? You'll need to use that for leverage.

In any situation, authoritarian government or otherwise, the usual solution is to keep moving. Don't let the Other land on you. While you cannot force the Westerners out by your own rules, you can make them want to leave on their own accord. Constantly shift what you are doing with them. Any foreigner which does not move with you eventually finds themselves holding onto a stale relationship which does not provide further value. Then simply make sure that the only people who are invited to interact with you are the ones who are not trying to muck with you. The more true they appear to be, the further in you permit them to get.

This is, of course, a very generalized pattern, which makes it very useful for worldbuilding. Its a pattern which is often used by a weaker but stronger-willed individual to survive interaction with a stronger individual.

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