Browsed by
Category: Foreign Policy

Why Doesn’t the U.S. Invade Burma?

Why Doesn’t the U.S. Invade Burma?

I write quite a bit in this journal about Burma (you might know it as Myanmar).  That is because when I traveled there a while back the country left a strong impression on me.  My last day in the country was the first day of Thingyan, the water festival that marks the Buddhist New Year.  362 days of the year the people are repressed, but during these three days they all seem to cut loose.  I knew a few ex-pats…

Read More Read More

Aid vs. Investment: Stop Sending Your Old Shoes

Aid vs. Investment: Stop Sending Your Old Shoes

At a blog called “Friends of Ethiopia,” a fellow by the name of R. Todd Johnson has a serious bone to pick with the aid crowd in Africa: Outside of direct relief aid and some of the amazing health and education research and development, much (perhaps most) of what is done in the developing world through non-profits and NGO’s, could actually be accomplished through a business model, even if it would be harder to raise investment funding. Instead, someone begins…

Read More Read More

China’s Governing Philosophy

China’s Governing Philosophy

A window into China’s approach to politics and governance: Confucian reformers generally favor more freedom of speech in China. What they question is democracy in the sense of Western-style competitive elections as the mechanism for choosing the country’s most powerful rulers. One clear problem with “one person, one vote” is that equality ends at the boundaries of the political community; those outside are neglected. The national focus of the democratically elected political leaders is assumed; they are meant to serve…

Read More Read More

China in Africa: Maybe the West Is Wrong

China in Africa: Maybe the West Is Wrong

For decades, the Western world has viewed Africa as a basket case in need of charity, giving huge amounts of aid to corrupt dictators who steal much of the money and squander the rest.  Critics of aid say it creates dependence, undermines the competitiveness of local industries, and keeps cruel dictators in power by giving them the financial wherewithal to secure their position.  Aid is a $40 billion a year business in Africa, and there isn’t too much to show…

Read More Read More

Pastor Rod: A Christian Evangelist’s Strange Role in the Sudan

Pastor Rod: A Christian Evangelist’s Strange Role in the Sudan

A month ago I got cable television for the first time in 8 months so that I could watch the World Cup, which airs in the Philippines at 2:30 AM.  And lately, I find myself stopping at Daystar – “faith-based TV for today’s generation” – for a lot of different reasons.  For one thing, it is difficult to comprehend just how easy it is for these guys to ask for huge amounts of money.  For another, whenever I see these…

Read More Read More

The Development Umbrella: Systems Trump Solutions

The Development Umbrella: Systems Trump Solutions

William Easterly is a development economist who runs the blog Aidwatchers.   When I read his posts, I imagine an exasperated and pragmatic man who has had it up to here with people misunderstanding and oversimplifying the problems he has devoted his life to solving.  His latest post, titled “The Answer is 42! Why Development is About Problem-Solving Systems, Not Solutions” fits this category well.   He explains exactly why some things work and some things don’t, and reveals the key to…

Read More Read More

Golfing in Burma’s New Capitol

Golfing in Burma’s New Capitol

Burma is a strange country.  It feels like the clock stopped in the 1950’s, and most forward progress along with it.  In the capitol city of Rangoon, everything is old – the cars, the buildings, the infrastructure, the money.  And this is the capitol, where most of the wealth in the country is concentrated.  Very little has been invested in modernization, mostly because it is tightly controlled by an authoritarian military junta that keeps the country isolated from the rest…

Read More Read More

China and Poverty Alleviation: The Case for a Strongman

China and Poverty Alleviation: The Case for a Strongman

On Monday, the Philippines will hold a national election.  It is the first time the country will be using an automatic voting system, and nobody knows what is going to happen.  It seems appropriate to include this post before the election is over.  For more on the candidates, check out this BBC News primer. Over the last four decades, the economic landscape in Southeast and East Asia has shifted.  After World War II, the Philippines had the second largest economy…

Read More Read More