Two weeks ago, a little-known Canadian gold mining company that has developed or operated exactly zero mines over 17 years announced to its investors that it had initiated international arbitration proceedings against the government of Romania for failing to permit what would be the largest open-pit gold and silver mine in Europe.
It's no surprise that the powerful both set the rules and break the rules with impunity. The world system isn't presided over by Miss Manners. For small countries like Greece, there's not much room for maneuver between the regulations of the EU and the general parameters established by globalization. There isn't much room for democracy either, as Greek citizens discovered when they voted in Syriza and attempted to vote out austerity in the more recent referendum. Iran, a larger country that plays a strategic role in the Middle East, has considerably more room for maneuver than does Greece. But it too cannot unilaterally remake the rules of the game. It can only negotiate the best deal it can. In the end, it must open itself up to the kind of inspection regime that more powerful countries would never tolerate.