Monday, August 24, 2009

Lessons from failed states

I encountered this article from BBC reporter Humphrey Hawksley. He seems to share my doubts about "democracy" as the solution for everything and to share my belief that "good government" is more important. With Khalilzad he doubts whether the elections in Afghanistan were a good idea: it leads to rising ethnic tensions and harmful populist policies. His latest book “Democracy Kills: What’s So Good About Having the Vote?” will be released in September.

What may be interested for Balkanians is his opinion about international rule. He compares Liberia - where the internationals took over - with Sierra Leone:

For examples of missions still in progress, one can look at West Africa where interventions in Sierra Leone in 2000 and neighbouring Liberia in 2003 have stopped wars, but have yet to secure enough confidence for a lasting peace. Given the ethnic and religious mixes, the poverty, corruption, collapse of institutions and infrastructure and a tendency toward warlordism and violence, these two countries present us with important tests in dealing with the failed state — and all it implies for the security and welfare of their citizens and that of the wider world.

Most Liberians and Sierra Leoneans bought into the interventions and stopped fighting. As in Bosnia and Kosovo, Liberians accepted infringement of their sovereignty — albeit to a lesser extent. The Governance and Economic Management Assistance Programme (GEMAP), initiated by Liberia and international institutions, gave foreign technocrats budgetary control of government ministries. The aim was to ensure that corruption did not hamper rebuilding.

GEMAP was not implemented in Sierra Leone which, arguably, is facing more problems in its transition from emergency conflict-prevention to long-term nation-building. Corruption continues to strip main hospitals of essential medicines. Roads to the eastern area where the civil war began are virtually impassable. Young men, who used to be child soldiers, have no jobs.

In Liberia, most hospital pharmacies are well stocked. Lawyers and administrators in remote places have trained at some of the best Western universities. Officials have canvassed at the grass roots to determine exactly what the people want.


stories said...

Any reason why you removed some articles you had on Israel and their occupattion of Palestinans. I was reading two op-eds, one i LA Times and one in Haaretz, written by Israeli academics and they both ascertain what I wrote about Israel being an apartheid.,0,1126906.story

Wim Roffel said...

You mean this one:
It is still there. The sidebar shows the 10 most recent posts and then much older posts. So you should click the tenths post and look at what is then the top-10 history, etc.

What is your point about Israel being an apartheid state? Kosovo and Croatia are to a certain extent apartheid states too at the moment. After or during an armed conflict it is very easy to develop the habit of mistreating the "others". And it may be quite difficult to stop the habit when some people have friends or family who where killed by those "others".

The discussion is how to end such apartheid systems. In the Balkan we try it with peacekeepers. In Israel the US and Europe have too long been silent. Boycott actions help to make the Israeli public aware that we don't agree. But we should stay aware that the "apartheid" in Israel has more similarities with the Balkan than with South Africa. Only a very small percentage of the Israeli believes in a racist justification.

Stories said...

Kosovo and Croatia are not and are not even close to being apartheid states, especially when you compare it with the official policies of Israel and White South Africa.

If you can bring me any evidence of any insitutional discrimination (or segregation) in Kosovo or Croatia I will start a discussion with you, otherwise your words will only remain undocumented allegations.

Anonymous said...

Israel is nothing like an apartheid state, either. The constant aggression from the Palestinian government (which currently states that its goal is extermination of the Israelis) forces Israel to occupy the "occupied territories".

However, there is very strong international opposition to the idea of Israel annexing these lands. Thus, Israel is forced to occupy lands that it can and will not annex.