Saturday, November 15, 2008

Blattman, double blind reverse blood diamonds and military/aid imperialism

Blattman's involved with a very interesting randomized experiment in Liberia on DDR methods. Also check out his posting on Easterly's attack on Collier's Bottom Billion.

Also check out the panel Blattman spoke on yesterday. Great experiments on deliberative democracy/campaigning in the developing world (Benin) and the use of mass media for post-conflict reconciliation (impact on norms in Rwanda).

Easterly's framing both aid and military interventions as imperialistic I think helps clarify why even if the US were to leave Afghanistan tomorrow, clarifying that NGOs are not there in support of the US, many NGOs would still find them self at risk of becoming Taliban targets (e.g. gender equality projects, government capacity building). Yes I know many were there for decades before the US invaded- but at that time the Taliban was not competing with a central government, they were the government.

But I also think Blattman makes the realist's point:

"As someone off to just such a intervention this afternoon--Liberia, here I come--I'm worried that Bill's advice will be taken too literally and simplistically by those who would advocate a divorce of the humanitarian and the military. For Liberians to rebuild a nation without security and order is an impossibility, and they are only slowly able to provide that monopoly on violence themselves."
Cant against imperialism is a useful cautionary, but looking at the concrete challenges fragile states and the people living in them face demands more than that.

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