After economic crisis, rising unemployment and poverty, Chancellor Vater won the elections of Securia with promises of strict law and order. Part of his agenda was a wall along the borders to Otherland to control immigration, trafficking and unspoken dangers. The crowds cheered when he spoke of his plans to protect the people of Securia from whatever seemed popular. At some point he got carried away and started promising that he would make Otherland pay for the wall.

Unfortunately, Chancellor Vater has no idea how to fulfill his promise and shift the costs to Otherland. He said that we Germans are good at building walls and ordered me to realize his ideas and he doesn't care how as I do not harm his reputation. When I pointed out that building walls itself is a bad idea and could make him look bad, he told me that I'm all stupid and to make it happen.

Now I'm stuck. How can we make Otherland pay for a wall that his country builds? Please help me, because I don't want him angry again.

Things I've thought of so far:

  • Military force might work, but would harm the Chancellors reputation
  • Subtle economic threatening seems to be possible, but I don't see yet how this would work
  • Best would be a solution that tricks Otherland in believing we would help them somehow by building the wall and make the happily pay - Chancellor Vater is literally, a "good father" to all people.

To keep things simple please assume that we only want to load the costs of building the wall to another country. We will simply forget that there are stupid costs for maintenance etc.


Some additional informations on our situation:

  • Securia's economy is significantly larger than Otherland's
  • In the past, we used Otherland as a cheap source of labor. However, we now want control on who works where.
  • We are open to inducements to Otherland. If all other political acceptable solutions fail, this might be even solution to save our faces (and an interesting story, too).
  • We're talking about securing a border (about 3,0000 km). It does not have to be a brick wall, just a quite (but not perfectly) secure border.
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Just hack the Swiss bank account where the other nation's government officials have deposited the money they stole. $\endgroup$
    – EvilSnack
    Sep 3 '16 at 17:38
  • $\begingroup$ Why the hell did this get so many downvotes? This question is hilarious and interesting. $\endgroup$
    – Fiksdal
    Sep 18 '16 at 19:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Fiksdal: Maybe because it really belongs in Politics? And because the simple answer is "You can't". You either pay for the wall directly, or you hide the cost in e.g. increased military spending, higher consumer prices to your citizens, &c. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Mar 4 '17 at 18:50

Sure, the Chancellor could go all gunslinger on them. But what if he's actually a Machiavellian negotiator?

Assuming Securia exports roughly 18 billion [currency] monthly to Otherland, and imports roughly 23 billion [currency], that gives a 5B trade deficit with Otherland. What kind of trade deals could our good Chancellor work out? Let's say the Chancellor convinces Otherland to sign a trade deal where both sides tax imports at 10%. That's the result, but, of course, the agreement itself is 3,456 pages of dense legalize.

Great for both governments, right? An extra 1.8 billion [currency] for the Otherland government, and 2.3 billion for Securia every month! This money can go directly toward securing the border.

But wait, won't people in each country be angry that the goods suddenly got more expensive? Of course! But who cares about the people of Otherland? Let's focus on Securia. The new taxation will simultaneously reduce demand for Securian goods in Otherland (since they're now less affordable) and also reduce demand for Otherland goods in Securia (same reason). Trade will start to stagnate between the two countries as production bases switch to more profitable markets. This will be more painful for the smaller country (Otherland). This will be particularly true if Securia uses Otherland as a manufacturing/labor base, then "imports" things like electronics back into the country for sale. Securian businesses will move their factories to other impoverished countries that don't have such high taxation, resulting in widespread unemployment across Otherland.

After a year or two of this, Otherland will become desperate. But they're trapped, since they agreed to the terms; it seemed like such a good idea at the time. And that's when Chancellor Vater offers them a way out. They've collected 20-40 billion [currency] during the time of this trade deal. If they want to back out of the agreement, all they have to do is "refund" that money to Securia.

Bam! Wall money. And that's on top of the 25-50 billion [currency] Securia also collected in taxation.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ That's scary easy.... I hope the OP is not a representative for any real-life Securia government! But great answer, elegant and simple. $\endgroup$ Jun 27 '17 at 7:55
  • $\begingroup$ Ugh, 10 months later this is a lot less funny. $\endgroup$
    – Azuaron
    Jun 27 '17 at 13:28
  • $\begingroup$ Precisely what I was thinking.... a lot less funny. $\endgroup$ Jun 27 '17 at 13:42

What you're probably looking for here is a classic case of Gunboat Diplomacy. It's about as diplomatic as a knuckle sandwich but it does get the point across. As a tactic it sounds like it fits the personality of the leader in question as it's a true demonstration of how "great" the country is at least at a military level.

One of the best known examples of this is the black ships that forced Japan to open up to international trade after the imperial powers had destroyed the Chinese fleet with similar vessels.

Of course these days gunboat diplomacy doesn't need to involve actual gunboats. You could also use aircraft carriers, or economic sanctions. The latter being the preferred method in the modern age, though perhaps less effective in the short term than the black ships turned out to be, it has been effective in reigning in Iran and possibly toning down Russia's war in Ukraine. While sanctions have not been effective against DPRK, the gunboats didn't work there either.

Sanctions are likely to be the most effective against a smaller partner directly dependent on your economy and trade with a near neighbour, say Spain and Portugal. They're less likely to be effective against a distant already somewhat isolated economy, like the US and DPRK.

  • $\begingroup$ +1 for as diplomatic as a knuckle sandwich. Eloquent and evocative. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Dec 16 '16 at 19:13

I’m reminded that some countries go to great effort to prevent their citizens from leaving. A border between one like that and once trying to keep people out might easily convince the former to pay by pretending they will be friendly to defectors instead.

After all, which built the wall in Berlin?


A rough draft for Chancellor Vater's policy speech:

"Otherlanders are sneaking into Securia every day. They're bringing crime, they're turning our communities into a total disaster, and some, I assume, are good people. We fly 'em back every day and they walk across our border the next day. So you know what? We keep them from walking. I'm talking mines, people, the kind they have between North Eastland and South Eastland. Just lay 'em down. Some Otherlander tries walking across our border - BAM! Not anymore. And we're gonna make the Otherlanders pay for it."

"How do we do it? It's simple. We make the mines. We have factories, yuge factories, all over Securia. Lots of mines come out of there. Mines and guns, yuge guns. It's what makes Securia great. So here's what we do. We round up the worst of the worst and say we're gonna drop em off in Otherland. Thing is, we don't know where. We don't know when. All we know is, get some bad guys, let 'em loose in Otherland, not our problem anymore. But Otherland, Otherland has good people. Look at my Otherlander over there. Isn't he great? But Otherlanders, the smart ones, the ones that follow the rules, they won't want the bad ones. That's why they let them come over here. They don't want 'em either. So we put the bad ones to work and make them plant the mines. Someone gets blown up? Not our problem. Some bad Otherlander causes a disaster back home, big problem, but not for us."

"It's easy folks. Otherlanders pay for the mines, we don't send criminals back. It's that simple."

I'm assuming Securia doesn't have a strong tradition of checks and balances.


Tax commerce with Otherland. Borrow money from them and then default on the loan. Print money in your own currency while getting Otherland to buy up your currency to maintain the exchange rate.

  • $\begingroup$ 1) Means that your own upper class that benefits from comerce with Otherland will come against you. And of course, Otherlan may recipricacate and hurt you more. 2) will mean that nobody in the world will loan to you without hefty interest rates to edge the risk that you do that again. In fact they probably will try to stop accepting your currency for trade due to the (now) evident risk of the government acting like prepotent d/o/ckheads. $\endgroup$
    – SJuan76
    Sep 3 '16 at 16:24
  • $\begingroup$ 3) Again the world will refuse your currency, and you need a way to force Otherland to buy (and keep) your extra money; short of an ultimatum I cannot think of anything strong enough (and if you are strong enough to issue a successful ultimatum, why print more money? Just extort them what they already have). $\endgroup$
    – SJuan76
    Sep 3 '16 at 16:25

Hard task, according to history records the world renowned experts at building great walls haven't tried to make nomad tribes to pay for that.

Was the Chancellor irresponsible enough to specify some time frame for his great project?

Ok, so that's your chance. It does not have to be built all at once, before the next election designing everything and built a well looking part, while claiming that everything is on the track.

There is a problem of drastically increasing tariffs, actually starting a trade war, even if you are stronger may end up being a net lose for you. So make them some long term repayment plan, that would involve really minor tariff at start, and some slow rate increase in some really long term. For propaganda reasons you can claim that they are paying that, keep the rate clearly too low to start the trade war. In the meantime, either Chancelor (or you) would look for another job (term limits?), voters would forget about the whole idea, some other politician would cancel the tax and serve as scapegoat or the political situation would change so much, that the tax could be cancelled because of new, unforeseen factors.


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