But there’s also just a lack of knowledge. We have a number of great humanitarian aid success stories, where we fight disease in foreign countries or intervene in a famine. And we have a number of examples of countries who, having achieved a modicum of political stability and effective governance, set about on a course of sustained export-oriented growth. But there just aren’t a ton of instances you can point to of a place where the country was poor and then we sent in the USAID guys and development blossomed.
Of course beyond Yemen, all this applies to Afghanistan as well. It doesn’t follow from the fact that boosting economic development would help achieve our security objectives that we actually know how to do that. This becomes especially true if you think not only in terms of projects that help build local goodwill in the short-term, but about projects that really provide sustainable gains.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Honesty about Development
The process by which countries get rich remains mysterious. We don't really know why some countries are richer than others. We can point to things that we think are important, like strong legal institutions, education, and savings, but the exact equation remains unsolved. This needs to be kept in mind whenever somebody says that what we need to do in Afghanistan or Yemen is promote economic development. Ok, but how? Matt Yglesias: