Latest Developments, September 18

In the latest news and analysis…

OWS birthday
The New York Times reports that the city’s police arrested over 150 people demonstrating to mark the first anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement:

“Demonstrators had planned to converge from several directions and form what was called the People’s Wall around the stock exchange to protest what they said was an unfair economic system that benefited the rich and corporations at the expense of ordinary citizens.

Several demonstrations took place outside financial institutions. Some people were arrested at a Bank of America branch opposite Zuccotti Park. Later the police arrested about a half-dozen people who sat down in front of Goldman Sachs headquarters on West Street while a crowd chanted ‘arrest the bankers.’ ”

Drone complicity
The Telegraph reports that Britain’s former chief prosecutor is calling on the UK government to address “pretty compelling” evidence it is providing intelligence support for US drone strikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan:

“The Foreign Office is already facing legal action over the alleged involvement of UK intelligence agencies in helping identify drone targets.
Lawyers for a Pakistani student have brought legal proceedings against the Foreign Office after his father was killed in an attack by an unmanned CIA drone in Pakistan last year.
Noor Khan insists his father was innocent, and the judicial review application could lead to the Government having to reveal whether its intelligence officers provide the US with information to help target drones.”

Debt forgiveness
The Associated Press reports that Russian media are saying the country has written off most of North Korea’s debt:

“Interfax quoted deputy finance minister Sergei Storchak as saying that Russia has written off 90 percent of the Soviet-era debt.
Storchak told Interfax that the remaining $1 billion would be used as part of the ‘debt for aid’ program in implementing energy, health care and educational projects with Pyongyang.”

Shoddy contracts
Reuters reports that Tanzania’s energy minister has ordered a review of all the country’s oil and gas exploration contracts:

“Tanzanian newspapers quoted Energy and Minerals Minister Sospeter Muhongo saying that the incoming board of the TPDC had until the end of November to complete the review of contracts.
‘Some of the agreements are really shoddy and they need to be revoked,’ Muhongo was quoted saying in the privately-owned Guardian on Sunday newspaper.
‘I can’t tolerate agreements which are not in the country’s interest but they benefit a few individuals.’ ”

De-dollarizing Africa
The Financial Times reports that a growing number of African countries are introducing measures to discourage the use of US dollars for domestic transactions:

“A new ruling from Africa’s biggest copper producer has banned the use of foreign currency in domestic transactions, with the threat of ten year imprisonment.

‘In the past we saw a country like Zambia with copper prices at record highs and the country not really benefiting from that, because a lot of those monies were circumventing the country,’ explains Mike Keenan, sub-Saharan African currency strategist at Absa Capital.
‘In terms of the country’s best interests you need to have a scenario where ultimately the country as a whole is benefiting from whatever you are selling. But the minute people are transacting in a parallel market, it makes it very difficult to institute credible and consistent policy measures. It becomes a lot more manageable if everyone is working in local currency.’ ”

Extending democracy
Inter Press Service reports that Argentina’s congress is considering proposed new legislation that would lower the voting age from 18 to 16:

“The governing faction of the Justicialista (Peronist) Party, the centre-left Frente para la Victoria, which has an absolute majority in the legislature, introduced a bill to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote if they want to – voting is compulsory between the ages of 18 and 70 – and to make it possible for foreigners to vote if they have lived in the country as legal residents for at least two years.
The sponsors of the bill say the aim is to build a stronger sense of citizenship among young people and immigrants, by ‘deepening the process of political participation.’ They also say it responds ‘to a growing demand for participation’ among young people.”

Getting rich off poverty
In a Daily Mail piece, veteran journalist Ian Birrell takes on the development industry’s profligacy and the way “the huge aid monies swirling around” have co-opted those who should be holding it to account:

“Increasingly influential are the big accountancy firms such as PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG, given huge contracts to manage and sub-contract aid work to smaller organisations.
Incredibly, KPMG helped set up Britain’s official aid watchdog — the Independent Commission for Aid Impact — and receives a monthly management fee even while it runs lucrative aid projects for the Government.
A spokeswoman for the watchdog said they were careful to ensure there were ‘Chinese walls’ within KPMG. But it’s hard to think of another sector where a watchdog is effectively policing its own work.”

War of terror
Monash University’s Irfan Ahmad argues that the US-led War on Terror and its underlying nationalist ideology have established a “hierarchy of human lives”:

Clinging to ‘national interests’, terrorism experts suggest tightening ‘homeland security’ as an antidote to terrorism. This suggestion is less likely to succeed because that from which emanates terror can’t be its antidote. We need to shape a humane world that abolishes the dehumanising logic of ruthless pursuits of ‘national interests’.

After 9/11, Salman Rushdie issued a priestly call for the Reformation of Islam to counter terrorism. Perhaps it is time to also initiate a Reformation of the West, which, as Judith Butler correctly points out, splits humanity into ‘destructible’, ‘ungrievable’ lives on one hand and ‘preserving’, ‘grievable’ lives on the other and fashions symbolic terror of multiple kinds. 

Latest Developments, May 1

In the latest news and analysis…

Drone admission
The Washington Post reports the Obama administration has, for the first time, “formally acknowledged” its use of drones to conduct targeted killings abroad.
“[White House counterterrorism adviser John] Brennan’s speech was also noteworthy, however, for what he withheld. He did not disclose how many people have been killed, list all the locations where armed drones are being flown or mention the administration’s increasing reliance on ‘signature’ strikes, which allow the CIA to fire missiles even when it doesn’t know the identities of those who could be killed.

Brennan cited respect for the ‘sovereignty’ of other countries, even though a CIA drone strike in Pakistan on Sunday came just weeks after that country’s Parliament voted unanimously to demand that such operations end.
In a question-and-answer session, Brennan declined to discuss the use of signature strikes, which are based on intelligence showing suspicious behavior rather than confirmation of the location of someone on the CIA or military target list.”

May Day test
Reuters says that protests planned for May 1 will provide a “crucial test” of ongoing support for the Occupy movement in the United States.
“Dozens of actions are planned across the country, though there is some skepticism over how many people will turn out and whether it will spell Occupy’s resurgence. The event was first billed as a ‘General Strike,’ but organized labor declined to sign on to that call.

‘If you look closely at movements, they don’t follow a sort of straight trajectory upwards. They stumble, fall, have reverses – sometimes, they’re crushed,’ [former journalist Chris Hedges] said. But Hedges cautioned that writing off Occupy based on the success of May Day would be ‘short-sighted.’ ”

Swiss arrest
The Wall Street Journal reports on the latest legal troubles for Canadian engineering giant SNC-Lavalin, as a former executive has been arrested in Switzerland over his dealings in North Africa where he helped his ex-employers “win billions of dollars in projects” from Libya’s deposed Gadhafi regime.
“SNC is under investigation by Canada’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which executed a search warrant against the company on April 13, raiding its Montreal headquarters. The World Bank temporarily debarred a unit of the company as it investigates alleged corruption in a project it funded in Bangladesh. S&P lowered its outlook on the firm earlier this month, citing, among other things, the scandals engulfing the company.”

International justice
The Guardian’s George Monbiot argues that by punishing only “crimes committed by vassal states,” international law fails ordinary people everywhere.
“The bid for power, oil and spheres of influence that Bush and Blair launched in Mesopotamia, using the traditional camouflage of the civilising mission; the colonial war still being fought in Afghanistan, 199 years after the Great Game began; the global policing functions the great powers have arrogated to themselves; the one-sided justice dispensed by international law. All these suggest that imperialism never ended, but merely mutated into new forms. The virtual empire knows no boundaries. Until we begin to recognise and confront it, all of us, black and white, will remain its subjects.”

Media death
Arizona State University’s G. Pascal Zachary points to a recent photo of a dead African boy on the front page of the New York Times as the latest evidence of a double standard in the way American news media display death.
“The disturbing photo might seem appropriate — unless one considers that the children killed by, for instance, American drone attacks in Yemen or Pakistan, never receive similar photographic display. So even on the narrow grounds of newsworthiness, the contradictions are evident and ample: for mysterious ‘reasons,’ dead Africans can be displayed in lavish fashion — this photo of this dead boy was in color! — while death inflicted by Americans cannot be displayed. Neither are the deaths experienced by Americans in combat suitable for front page photographic treatment (or inside the paper either).

This sort of Western bias against Africans remains unconscious, embedded in a set of corrosive meta-narratives that deserve critical engagement with a goal of, someday, replacing them with tropes that do not demean and diminish Africans under the guise of promoting sympathy for them.”

Beyond 0.7%
The Overseas Development Institute’s Jonathan Glennie contends that the ongoing dispute over the Falklands/Malvinas is “a much bigger test of the UK’s commitment to development” than is its willingness to allot 0.7% of GDP to aid.
“The reason the Malvinas issue is felt so keenly across Latin America is that it is a reminder of Britain’s history of economic imperialism in the region. The role Britain played in extracting resources and wealth from Latin America over the past two centuries, with little benefit to the local population, is well known, even if it is the Spanish who are most associated with colonialism. As [Argentinian foreign minister Hector] Timerman puts it: ‘We have 21st-century challenges, and Argentina is still fighting against a 19th-century power.’ Of course, British people have next to no knowledge of this, just as they know little of their imperial history in general.”

Eating plants
The University of the Basque Country’s Michael Marder argues that new evidence suggesting plants communicate with each other and form memories raises questions that lead us to the “final frontiers of dietary ethics.”
“The ‘renewable’ aspects of perennial plants may be accepted by humans as a gift of vegetal being and integrated into their diets.
But it would be harder to justify the cultivation of peas and other annual plants, the entire being of which humans devote to externally imposed ends. In other words, ethically inspired decisions cannot postulate the abstract conceptual unity of all plants; they must, rather, take into account the singularity of each species.”

Export processing zones
The Guardian’s John Vidal writes that foreign corporations operating in Bangladesh’s Chittagong export development zone are treated “royally” while providing questionable social and economic returns.
“Bangladesh has a deep energy crisis, with demand massively outsripping supply, yet companies in the zone get cheap, reliable power, as well as generous 10-year tax holidays, freedom from red tape, duty-free imports, immunity from national laws, cheap labour and low rents. In Chittagong, companies pay just $2.20 monthly to rent a square metre of space, and I was told that the annual rent paid to the Bangladesh government by all the factories on the giant site was just $4m a year.

Their critics say [EDZs] favour the export market rather than the domestic market, exploit poor countries, and allow relaxed environmental and safety standards.”

Latest Developments, January 25


In the latest news and analysis…

Business rules
Amnesty International is calling on governments to take on the global lack of corporate regulation it says is having a “devastating impact” on the world’s most vulnerable populations.
“Governments are legally bound to consider how the policies and programs they implement affect human rights. In reality, many governments do not conduct even rudimentary assessments of the potential impact of their economic policies on rights.

Governments are consistently failing to regulate the corporate sector, trusting in their false promises of self-regulation, creating a toxic environment that is showing signs of boiling over as people take to the streets demanding an end to corruption, corporate greed and injustice.”

Trade imbalances
World leaders gathered in Davos for the World Economic Forum must focus less on “the imbalances in developed countries’ debt-to-GDP ratios” and more on “the wider imbalances generated by unfettered globalization,” according to UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier de Schutter.
“Trade and investment agreements are the gateways through which globalization passes on its way to redefining a country’s economic landscape, and they are increasing at an impressive pace. There are 6,092 bilateral investment agreements currently in force, with 56 concluded in 2010 alone.
That growth reflects the flawed economic model of the pre-crisis years, which relied on indifference to where growth came from, how sustainable it was, and who was benefiting from it. If we are to learn anything from the ongoing crisis, it must be to start asking the right questions.”

Coal black box
A new report by the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) argues electricity companies operating in the Netherlands are not coming clean about the source of the coal they use.
“None of the energy companies analysed in the report – E.ON, Vattenfall/Nuon, GDF Suez/Electrabel, RWE/Essent, DONG Energy and EPZ (DELTA) – are transparent about the specific mines where their coal comes from. ‘If companies are open about the coal chain, human rights violations and pollution in the coal chain can be prevented. But the electricity companies refuse to publish this information and as a result are not following recommendations laid out in international standards for supply chain transparency such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Companies’, says Joseph Wilde-Ramsing, Senior Researcher at SOMO.”

Press freedom
Reporters Without Borders has released its latest Press Freedom Index, which ranks nine African countries ahead of the US following the “crackdown” on the Occupy movement.
“The worldwide wave of protests in 2011 also swept through the New World. It dragged the United States (47th) and Chile (80th) down the index, costing them 27 and 47 places respectively. The crackdown on protest movements and the accompanying excesses took their toll on journalists. In the space of two months in the United States, more than 25 were subjected to arrests and beatings at the hands of police who were quick to issue indictments for inappropriate behaviour, public nuisance or even lack of accreditation ”

Circumcision silence
Paris Descartes University’s Patrick Pognant decries the lack of debate over the UN’s advocacy of mass circumcision in sub-Saharan Africa as a means of reducing the spread of HIV.
“At the very least, those who are to be circumcised ought to be informed objectively of the irremediable effects of this surgical act, which they have the right to expect from humanitarian organizations that are meant to protect them and improve their living conditions. If we celebrate progress in the field of medicine, we must also remember that it can make mistakes and it harbours extremists and ideologues, overcome, in this case, by a passion for surgery (just as their predecessors from earlier centuries, bistoury in hand, ravaged large populations, especially male ones). The time will come, one hopes, when international authorities will condemn all forms of physical mutilation committed without proper consent, whether the motivation be medical, moral or religious.” (Translated from the French.)

Strange bedfellows
War Child’s Samantha Nutt asks if new partnerships between international NGOs and Canadian mining companies will “nudge along good practice” or “buy silence in the case of bad practice.”
“Under the deal, World University Services Canada, Plan Canada and World Vision Canada will receive CIDA funding totalling $6.7-million for projects with Rio Tinto Alcan, Iamgold and Barrick Gold, respectively. The largest share was for the Plan Canada-Iamgold project, which will take all but $1-million of the CIDA funding over the next five years. For their part, the three mining companies will contribute additional support just shy of $2-million. The combined annual net profit for these firms is more than $4-billion.

Two of the participating mining firms have recently been involved in labour and human-rights disputes related to their operations abroad.”

Arming the Middle East
The Buck Institute for Research on Aging’s Raja Kamal takes issue with recent American and British arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
“These deals have been presented as useful arrangements to promote stability in a Middle East, allegedly threatened by Iran’s ambitions. However, seen through a different lens, it appears that arms-producing nations such as the United States and the United Kingdom are using Saudi Arabia as an automated teller machine, from which billions of dollars can be secured to bolster their troubled economies.
It is unfortunate that the U.S. Congress did not seize the opportunity to block the F-15 sale on the grounds that arming the Arab world is in the best interests neither of the region nor of the U.S. or the West in the long run.”

Negotiating change
Panteion University’s Alexios Arvanitis calls for negotiators at international talks to bring more than the pursuit of national interests to the table.
“In casting his veto at the European Union’s December summit in Brussels, British Prime Minister David Cameron said, ‘What is on offer isn’t in Britain’s interests, so I didn’t agree to it,’ as if agreement solely depended upon whether or not interests were satisfied.
Then again, reaching an agreement might never have been Cameron’s goal. While so-called “win-win” outcomes are increasingly considered to be the ultimate purpose of every negotiation, what if the negotiating parties contemplate a win-win outcome that actually harms non-participants to the talks, or is against the law? What if the outcome is beneficial but contrary to the principles of the negotiating parties?”

Latest Developments, January 13

In the latest news and analysis…

Violent hemisphere
The Washington Post reports on a new study suggesting 45 of the world’s 50 most violent cities are located in the Western Hemisphere, many of them caught up in the tension between an insatiable American market and prohibition policies.
“[Honduras’s] San Pedro Sulla tallied 159 homicides per 100,000 residents last year, followed by [Mexico’s] Ciudad Juarez, with 148 killings per 100,000. Both cities are major operational and strategic distribution points along the billion-dollar drug pipeline that funnels narcotics to consumers in the United States.”

Apple opens up
Reuters reports Apple has made public its “closely guarded” list of global suppliers in the face of criticism over perceived indifference to worker abuses.
“The audit conducted by Apple of suppliers found a number of violations, among them breaches in pay, benefits and environmental practices in plants in China, which figured prominently throughout the 500-page report Apple issued.
Other violations unearthed included dumping wastewater onto a neighboring farm, using machines without safeguards, testing workers for pregnancy and falsifying pay records.”

German banks vs. financial transaction tax
Bloomberg reports that Germany’s banks have expressed their opposition to a tax on financial transactions in the euro zone.
“ ‘If a financial-transaction tax cannot be introduced internationally, you have to do without it,’ Hans Reckers, managing director of Germany’s VOeB association of public banks, said in an e-mailed statement today. ‘We firmly oppose the creation of tax haven in the EU.’

The European Commission in September suggested a tax of 0.1 percent on equity and bond transactions and 0.01 percent on derivatives, which it said could raise 55 billion euros ($70 billion) a year. European Union finance ministers are due to discuss the levy in March.”

Diminishing solidarity
Le Monde reports on the contentious debate over whether a financial transaction tax, if one is ever adopted, would have much in common with Robin Hood.
“The NGO Oxfam worries about the change in [French President] Nicolas Sarkozy’s position, noting that he had said at the G20 summit in early November ‘a significant portion, the majority or the totality of the revenue must go to development.’ But he has since changed his mind, according to Oxfam’s Luc Lamprière: ‘His reference to the European Commission directive is a bad sign since it calls for the tax to ‘progressively replace national contributions to the EU budget,’ leaving the idea of financing development and the fight against climate change as a mere footnote.’ ” (Translated from the French)

Rio+20 agenda
The International Institute for Environment and Development’s Emily Benson grades the just-released draft agenda for the Rio+20 summit, finding it stronger on sentiment than specifics.
“Mention is made to ‘innovative instruments of finance’ for building green economies and reference is made to public procurement, fiscal reform, the removal of subsidies that undermine sustainable development, all of which the [Green Economy] Coalition has been promoting. It calls for International Financial Institutions to ‘review their programmatic strategies to ensure the provision of better support to developing countries for the implementation of sustainable development’. This is all encouraging stuff. However, the text steps rather delicately around the question not only of how much the transition is going to cost, but how we are going to leverage additional funds. From our past experience of Rio 1992 we know that governments alone will not be able to pay for the transition so we need to think a lot more creatively about how to leverage additional finance. So, the question we would like to see tackled in the next draft is:  How are we going to kick-start the finance of a green and fair economy in order to create long-term investor confidence?”

Burma beware
The Institute of Development Studies’ Gabriele Köhler argues Myanmar must be wary, as it opens up to the world beyond Asia, of the West’s conquering friendship.
“We can hope that the west’s sudden enthusiasm stems from genuine support for peace and the rights of the population. But in reality, the change in stance probably has at least as much to do with pursuit of their own national interests. For several decades, US and European sanctions have kept western businesses out of Burma, while firms from Thailand, Singapore, India and especially China eagerly exploited the country’s natural gas, hydropower potential and gemstones.
History has shown time and again that popular movements for civil liberties, democracy and human rights are often hijacked by a drive to introduce neoliberal capitalism or prise open a country to foreign investors.”

Carbon fixation
The Land Institute’s Stan Cox argues that current schemes to reduce carbon emissions could actually make it harder for future generations to provide for themselves.
“To value everything in terms of carbon and treat the myriad benefits of ecologically sound agriculture as mere byproducts of climate protection is to invite all kinds of threats to soil and food. Perhaps the most menacing threats are those posed by connecting food and soil more tightly to global capital markets through carbon-trading schemes and tying them more closely to volatile energy markets by putting already fragile soils to work growing biofuels.

Occupying Occupy
Author and blogger Carne Ross warns that the appropriation of Occupy slogans, by mainstream politicians and crockery shops, has begun.
“As the ‘68-ers manifestly failed to do, Occupy must move from words to action, for relying on the platform of words will see the ground cut from under our feet. In contrast to the ease with which they can steal the words of Occupy, the [Newt] Gingrich’s of this world will not be able to appropriate actions consonant with the ideals of Occupy for this would be to enact Occupy’s sought revolution.  And that won’t happen in a century of Sundays.”

Latest Developments, January 11

In the latest news and analysis…

Rio+20 leak
The Guardian reports a leaked agenda for June’s Rio+20 conference suggests countries will be called upon to agree to 10 new sustainable development goals but overall, the meeting promises to be much less ambitious than the original earth summit.
“Unlike the 1992 earth summit when over 190 heads of state set in motion several legally binding environment agreements, leaders this time will not be asked to sign any document that would legally commit their countries to meeting any particular targets or timetables. Instead, they will be asked to set their own targets and work voluntarily towards establishing a global green economy which the UN believes will reduce poverty and slow consumption.”

Transforming governance
The Inter Press Service reports on growing calls for radical changes in global governance in order to address issues such as poverty and environmental destruction.
“ ‘We need to have a “constitutional moment” in world politics, akin to the major transformative shift in governance after 1945 that led to the establishment of the United Nations and numerous other international organisations,’ said Frank Biermann of VU University Amsterdam and director of the Earth System Governance Project.

Transforming international governance will be challenging since nation-states are almost entirely concerned with their own short-term interests, [Biermann] acknowledges. However, countries give up some of their power when they join the World Trade Organisation.
‘We ought to be able to do this for the protection of the planet and act as a community of nations,’ he said.”

Guardians of the future
The University of East Anglia’s Rupert Read argues that true democracy must take into account the interests of future generations, and to that end, he proposes the integration of  “guardians” into Britain’s existing parliamentary system.
“The members of this body would be selected by sortition, as is current practice for jury service, in order to ensure independence from present-day party political interests.
The Guardians would have a power of veto over legislation that were likely to have substantial negative effects for society in the future, the right to review major administrative decisions which substantially affected future people and the power to initiate legislation to preserve the basic needs and interests of future people.”

Immigration assistance
The Center for Global Development’s Michael Clemens argues the US, by tweaking its immigration policies, could provide significant assistance to earthquake-ravaged Haiti without spending any money or increasing the number of immigrants coming to its shores.
“First, the administration could reverse the current ban on Haitian participation in the U.S.’s largest employment-based visa program, the H-2 temporary low-skill work visa. All Haitians are currently ineligible to receive these visas. If even a few thousand Haitians at a time participated in that program over the next decade, it would generate more money for Haitian families than the entire U.S. infrastructure reconstruction allocation for Haiti. Fiscal cost: zero. It would even generate net positive U.S. tax revenue. Effect on Americans’ jobs: none. Removing the ban on Haiti would simply allow employers already seeking laborers to draw from Haiti instead of being limited to the 53 currently-eligible countries like Guatemala and Mexico.”

Acting together
Norwegian development and environment minister Erik Solheim argues “poverty is about politics” and its solutions lie beyond aid.
“As Norway’s minister for both the environment and development since 2007, I meet with other countries’ ministers with both portfolios, and it has come as a shock to see how the two groups lead such separate lives. Each has its own important agenda, its own analysis of the challenges ahead, its own strategic plans, and literally its own language. While each recognizes the importance of the other’s agenda, unless they talk and act together, neither group’s goals will be achieved.

We must be careful not to fool ourselves into believing that the MDGs can be achieved through development aid alone. The wider politics of poverty must be placed at the top of the international agenda, along with the three factors most critical to development: climate, conflict, and capital.”

Western corruption
Inuka Kenya Trust’s John Githongo argues rich countries have fallen behind their “developing” counterparts in terms of awareness of and mobilization against high-level corruption.
“We live in an increasingly multipolar world where graft is concerned. It’s the turn of the developing world to watch how the west handles fraud and corruption at the highest levels in their corporate and other sectors. I would like to argue that the organic youth-heavy movements in the west, such as Occupy Wall Street, are part of this shift, except the “c” word isn’t being used – yet. This is a pointer to what I predict the fight against corruption will look like in 2012.”

Social cohesion
Oxfam’s Duncan Green issues a “fuzzword alert” over social cohesion and critiques the treatment given to the term in a new Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report.
“Whenever a new idea becomes popular like this, the danger is that instead of looking afresh at what it contributes to our understanding of development, we just recycle our existing set of ideas and say ‘because of complexity/ social cohesion/ climate change, you should do exactly what we’ve being saying all along’. I think the OECD is in danger of going down that road in this report – building social capital, supporting social mobility, and promoting social inclusion are fine, but they were standard demands long before anyone started talking about cohesion. The more interesting question is what we should be doing that’s additional or different because of a social cohesion ‘lens’, and I didn’t find that here.”

Southeast Asian exceptionalism
Alpha International Consulting’s Seth Kaplan uses the example of Southeast Asia to question orthodox thinking on the prerequisites for economic development.
“Indonesia, for instance, reduced poverty from 60 percent in 1970 to 22 percent in 1984. Vietnam reduced it from 58 percent in 1993 to 14 percent in 2008.
Yet, the region does not meet the standard model for economic success, at least as defined by the World Bank and the rest of the Western development community. Governments have historically not been held in check by elections. Corruption is widespread. Governance has rated low on most indicators.”