08 November 2010

Indifference to Democracy

"The international aid system has a dirty secret. Despite much rhetoric to the contrary, the nations and organizations that donate and distribute aid do not care much about democracy and they still actively support dictators. The conventional narrative is that donors supported dictators only during the cold war and ever since have promoted democracy. This is wrong.

[. . .]

In any case, dictators have received a remarkably constant share—around a third—of international aid expenditures since 1972. The proportion of aid received by democracies has remained stuck at about one fifth (the rest are in a purgatory called “Partly Free” by Freedom House). As for US foreign aid, despite all the brave pronouncements such as the ones I’ve quoted, more than half the aid budget still went to dictators during the most recent five years for which figures are available (2004–2008)."
This, from William Easterly, "Foreign Aid for Scoundrels," NYRB (25 November 2010). So, why the discrepancy between this pattern and what economists like Amartya Sen and Dani Rodrik and Pranab Bardhan would tell us about the ways democracy contributes to development? And, worse, why the discrepancy between this pattern, and the neo-conservative blather about spreading democracy by waging illegal wars?

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2 Comments:

Blogger bastinptc said...

And how many times in the last fifty years has this practice blown up (sometimes literally) in our faces?

09 November, 2010 02:00  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

B ~ I am unsure of absolute numbers - those are pesky state secrets, after all - but I'd wager it is roughly 99% of the time. Call me an optimist on the residual. J

09 November, 2010 10:53  

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