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Wars, Guns, and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places [Format Kindle]

Paul Collier

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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

"Very important ideas based on extremely thorough empirical research...put him in the same camp as real heavyweights such as the Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz" (Misha Glenny Guardian)

"Collier comes up with very concrete proposals and some ingenious solutions" (The Times)

"Collier knows Africa intimately... It is hard to be unmoved by his anger about the world's blindness to realities, and his passion to do things better" (Max Hastings Sunday Times)

"With its verve, wit and lateral thinking, this is a book that changes its readers' horizons" (Observer)

"It is always a pleasure to discover Paul Collier's latest thoughts...always illuminating and grounded in rigorous social's gripping stuff" (Allister Heath Literary Review)

Présentation de l'éditeur

“Collier has made a substantial contribution to current discussions. His evidence-based approach is a worthwhile corrective to the assumptions about democracy that too often tend to dominate when Western policy makers talk about the bottom billion.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Before President Obama makes a move he would do well to read Professor Paul Collier’s Wars, Guns, and Votes. . . Unlike many academics Collier comes up with very concrete proposals and some ingenious solutions.” — The Times (London)

In Wars, Guns, and Votes, esteemed author Paul Collier offers a groundbreaking, radical look at the world’s most violent, corrupt societies, how they got that way, and what can be done to break the cycle. George Soros calls Paul Collier “one of the most original minds in the world today,” and Wars, Guns, and Votes, like Collier’s previous award-winning book The Bottom Billion, is essential reading for anyone interested in current events, war, poverty, economics, or international business.

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.4 étoiles sur 5  14 commentaires
40 internautes sur 42 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Hugely stimulating; deeply exasperating 28 juin 2009
Par D. Green - Publié sur
War, Guns and Votes builds on the strongest section of Collier's best selling `Bottom Billion' - his investigation of the `conflict trap' that afflicts a disproportionate number of the poorest counties, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa (Collier's real passion). The book is in equal measure hugely stimulating and deeply exasperating. Stimulating because he is an original thinker and a brilliant communicator, as well as a policy entrepreneur who always tries to get back to the `so what' on any issue. He defies easy left/right pigeon-holing - he is a free trader, yet admires Julius Nyerere (if not his economic policies) and is a fan of UN peacekeeping.

Frustrating because of his eccentric attitude to evidence: he looks for statistical relationships, runs dozens of cross country regressions, establishes correlations between different variables (income, conflict, geography etc) and plausible directions of causation, but then blithely ignores other disciplines or qualititative research methods and as he freely admits, `guesses' about the explanations for them. You could sum up his method as `correlate, then speculate'. To be fair, he may be doing all sorts of reading in other disciplines and just keeping it to himself, but the absence of footnotes makes it impossible to say.

So what's his basic argument? That the international community has got overly obsessed with elections, which can actually set back the process of post-conflict reconstruction (he wanted to call the book 'Democracy in Dangerous Places', but for some reason the publishers vetoed it), and that a new approach to international intervention is required to drag bottom billion countries, most of them in Sub-Saharan Africa, out of their various traps (poverty, conflict, commodity dependence etc).

Here's some of the detail:

Above a per capita GDP of $2700 per annum, democracy systematically reduces the risk of politial violence (riots, political strikes, assassinations, guerrilla insurgencies, civil war and coups). But below that level, democracy makes the society more dangerous. `Democracies get safer as income rises, whereas autocracies get more dangerous.'

Elections don't necessarily lead to democracy, not least because autocratic leaders in the bottom billion countries are increasingly adept at playing the system: `In the typical election in one of the developed (OECD) countries, the incumbent government has a chance of reelection of about 45%. In the average election held in a society of the Bottom Billion, despite the fact that voters usuallly have many more grounds for complaint, it is 74%. In the worst governed BB countries, it is 88%.'

Small and ethnically diverse countries are most at risk from conflict: `elections tend to work better in societies that have larger populations and fewer ethnic divisions. They also tend to work better in polities with checks and balances on the power of government, and in particular where the elections are properly conducted. Elections without properly enforced rules of conduct in small, ethnically divided societies, typically retard reform rather than accelerate it.'

Aid donors and others should pay particular attention to the months and years after a conflict ends: `the post-conflict decade is dangerous and there seems to be no clear political quick fix. In particular, elections and democracy, at least in the form found in the typical post-conflict situation, do not bring risks down. Economic recovery works, but it takes a long time. The one thing that seems to work quickly is international peacekeeping for the length of time needed for the economy to recover.....Post-conflict aid is significantly more effective than aid at other times.'

He's a big fan of peace-keeping by the UN and other organizations: `An annual expenditure of $100m on peacekeepers reduces the cumulative ten-year risk of reversion to conflict very substantially from about 38% to 17%. The ratio of benefits to costs is better than four to one. Peacekeeping looks to be very good value.'

He's particularly impressed by what he calls `over the horizon guarantees' such as Britain's role in Sierra Leone, or the old French `informal security guarantee' to its former colonies. The French guarantee reduced the risk of conflict by about 75%.

Coups are a much cheaper and preferable alternative to war (he's long abandoned his youthful fascination with `armed struggle') - they cost on average about 7% of GDP before the economy reverts to normal, whereas wars cost far more. `Unless the rebels are unquestionably a whole lot better than the government, then the cost inflicted on the society for the one-in-five chance that the rebellion will lead to the government being overthrown is far too high, and so the rebellion should be discouraged. But coups are a different matter: they have to be judged predominantly by whether they improve governance.'

He has a fascinating historical essay on the rise of European states (which suggests he does in fact read pretty widely), arguing that hundreds of microstates came together through war. The only way to fund wars was through taxation + borrowing. The only way to raise that money was by conceding successful greater levels of political accountability to tax payers or lenders - `the consequence of warfare was the spread of fiscal accountability.' So the evolution of the modern state was driven by the twin logic of violence and fund-raising. `Step by step, the predatory ruler of the mini-state had evolved into the desperate-to-please, service-promising, modern vote -seeking politician.'

Contrast this with Africa's post-colonial proliferation of ministates, with fragmentation more common than amalgamation. Why have they not followed the Europe's path of integration through war and accountability? Perhaps easy access to natural resources and aid has obviated the need to raise taxes and concede accountability. Even when Mobutu or Mugabe run out of cash, they prefer the printing press to taxation, for that very reason.

But these days, following the European war-driven route to state building with modern military technology would be a bloodbath. `So what are the realistic options? Surely the best is the route taken by President Nyerere of Tanzania: political leadership that builds a sense of national identity. Astonishingly, Nyerere achieved this without resorting to the notion of a neighbouring enemy: indeed, he emphasized a Pan-African as well as a national identity.' But `unless the states of the Bottom Billion can forge themselves into nations, they will need some deus ex machina that introduces accountability.'

And so we come to Collier's proposals for what should be done about all this:

1. Smart external intervention: For countries below the $2,700 per capita threshold, `key members of the international community [US, UK, France] would make a common commitment that should a government that has committed itself to international standards be ousted by a coupe d'etat, they would ensure that the government was reinstated, by military intervention if necessary.' [comparing with post-war Europe, the proposal is more NATO than Marshall Plan].

And conversely, if the government reneges on its promises, the international community would rescind its promise, essentially sanctioning a coup against the government.

2. Privatization of essential services by separating overall policy (which stays with government), the allocation of money to specific activities (by a new independent agency bringing together donors, government and civil society), and the actual supply of activities (open to churches, NGOs, local communities, philanthropists and presumably - though he doesn't specify - the private sector).

3. Donors should tax military spending by bottom billion governments `each dollar of increase would be taxed by a 40% reduction in aid, which would be redistributed to other countries, and each cut in spending would be correspondingly rewarded.'

Of the three proposals, (1) has been rubbished as `deeply dotty' by Peter Preston in the Observer and worries the boss of Human Rights Watch too, but I think is at least worth thinking about. Option 3 is interesting but surely there's a level of military spending which is legitimate for any government? (See this recent Oxfam paper on what this might be). But I'm very concerned at number 2, simply because history shows that in the end universal essential services have to be steered, but also largely provided by, the state, and there seems no plausible exit strategy for folding Collier's proposed `independent services authorities' back into the relevant ministries. Instead the proposal would create honeypots for the powerful and corrupt, and create new constituencies that would then lobby like mad to prevent that happening (look at the opposition President Obama currently faces on his health care reform proposals from the US health industry).

This Review first appeared on Oxfam's From Poverty to Power blog, [...]
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Security and Accountability 4 novembre 2009
Par Charles A. Wagoner - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Here's an excerpt from an article I wrote comparing Collier's book with one by Fareed Zakaria ('The Future of Freedom'):

Collier's main argument in his book is that a successful transition to democracy requires the supply of two basic public goods--security and accountability--and that such should be supplied internationally since most developing countries lack adequate internal checks and balances and security mechanisms that guarantee the provision of both. Furthermore, security and accountability can mitigate the three factors listed above that undermine democracy: lack of economic growth, large ethnic diversity, and the abundance of natural resources as a hindrance to accountability.

Now for the first public good, security. When a Third World dictator announces that he wants to transition his country to democracy, the usual carrot used by the international community is that of aid. However, as Collier demonstrates, the increase in aid often increases violence as aid money leaks into funding armies, and the embezzlement of aid along ethnic lines foments jealousy and conflict. (Collier 2009, 121-123) Rather, he asserts that a more effective carrot is a security guarantee, specifically against coups, on the basis of clean elections. "Key members of the international community [should] make a common commitment that should a government that has committed itself to some international standard of elections be ousted by a coup d'état, they would ensure that the government was reinstated, by military means if necessary." (Collier 2009, 204) The main objection to this idea, especially by non-interventionists, is that security guarantees obligate countries to go to war when it is not clearly in its interest to do so--no "clear and present danger," as it were. However, the likelihood of costly intervention decreases if security guarantees are credible, and could also be potentially less costly than the usual carrot of financial assistance. This works in two ways. First, a rebel movement would be less likely to undertake a coup if the regime is protected by a more powerful patron state. Further, the opposition, knowing that such protection rests on the regime's adherence to election standards, would be more likely to choose running for office over a coup, knowing that it lacks the resources to fight a more advanced foreign military and that there is always the chance that it might even win the election. Violence, then, appears less savory. Second, if the regime commits itself to hold an election and transfer power to whoever wins, but in the end does not honor the election results, then the patron states are under no contractual obligation to come to the rescue of the regime in the subsequent event of a coup. Given that sham elections tend to foment coups, it is in the interest of the regime to honor the election and transfer power rather than be left alone to deal with a potentially violent opposition. Thus, democracy becomes more savory than autocracy.

The second public good, accountability, in order to work effectively must also be provided by the international community during the interim in which the budding democracy develops economically. One of the problems with accountability in poor countries is that the bureaucracy is often so tightly controlled by an elite group, usually along ethnic lines as is the case for much of Africa. The minister of finance or the director of the central bank, for example, may have been appointed by the president by virtue of family relation or tribal affiliation. This often results in long-term monetary policy taking a back seat to embezzlement through various forms of patronage; or to put it another, their policies take on the form of "spend it while you got it," for it is never certain how long the regime will continue to have exclusive access to the public purse. According to Collier, if a country chooses to accept foreign aid, it should be willing to separate the creation of policy from the allocation of resources to ensure proper oversight and mitigate embezzlement. "The ministry should be responsible only for overall policy. Indeed, only once policy is separated from the spending of money is the ministry likely to give policy serious consideration: at present attention is often driven by the scope for kickbacks." (Collier 2009, 216-217) Once policymaking is given adequate attention by the heads of ministries, aid donors can help governments put proper systems of accountancy and allocation into place through technical assistance, or the supply of skilled people. This serves as a reversal of the historical trend whereby aid agencies like the World Bank and the IMF set policies for a struggling country and bind the flow of money into that country to their adherence to such policies. Rather, it gives the policymakers breathing room to be creative and design the policies themselves, while the donors ensure that aid does not leak into patronage. If the policymakers have no oversight over the allocation of funds, the lack of temptation to cheat the system and embezzle money gives way to a distribution of funds not subject to ethnic identity. This in turn removes many potential obstacles to forming common national identity since policymakers are now beholden not just to the interests of their own ethnic group but to an entire nation of constituents. Nor are they under the thumb of the IMF or the World Bank in setting policy for them, but they do get to enjoy the benefits of outside expertise in economics and finance that they may lack domestically.

For the full article, go here:
9 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Using political violence to help the poor? 7 avril 2010
Par John Gibbs - Publié sur
The political violence inherent in the societies of the poorest countries in the world should be harnessed as a force for good, according to this book. The book draws numerous inferences about democracy, wars and violence from a broad range of statistical research to explain why democracy is dangerous for the poorest countries; incumbent governments prefer vote-rigging whereas oppositions prefer intimidation; readily available cheap guns make wars more likely; 11% of development aid leaks into military spending; and coups almost always have bad outcomes.

These inferences have an air of credibility, even if the book does not include footnotes referencing the data from which they are derived, but then the author goes on to make three surprising proposals. Firstly, countries should be encouraged to submit to an international standard for conducting elections; if they comply with the standard, the international community provides security against coups, but if they do not comply the international community declares that it will not contest a coup, thereby essentially encouraging the country's military to take things into their own hands. Secondly, donors should enforce probity in public spending using governance conditionalities. And thirdly, to discourage military spending, donors should reduce their aid in proportion to increases in a country's military spending.

Like so many other writers on poverty and the plight of the world's poor, the author is in my view reasonably accurate with his diagnoses of the problems but unrealistic with his proposed solutions. The book is well written and interesting, but I am not convinced that the author's political and sociological observations are as well grounded as his statistical skills.
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Great Book for the Boots on the Ground 23 février 2010
Par J. Schulze - Publié sur
As a soldier on the ground during the Sunni Awakening in Iraq in 2007, this book is perfect for bridging the gap between academia and field work in post-conflict areas.

My team focused on micro-loan programs, encouraging local government to fight corruption, and finding funding for a canning factory to get back on its feet to re-employ hundreds of out of work Iraqis. If I would have had this book back then, I could have convinced more higher-ups to follow our lead and focus on economic and political stability in our area instead of 90% security focus.

Kudos to Paul Collier. He backs up this qualitative approach with many quantitative studies, explaining the results without dumbing it down or getting lost in the numbers. Very difficult balance to achieve, and Collier pulls it off.

As military, we need "this is what works, this is what doesn't work, and this is why" information to conduct post-conflict stability operations. "Wars, Guns and Votes" provides exactly that.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 An insightful and provocative analysis of Third World elections 27 avril 2010
Par Graham - Publié sur
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
It seems natural that introducing democracy should be a key step along the way to better governance and more prosperity in the Third World. But is this true in practice?

Collier is a Professor of Economics at Oxford who has performed detailed statistical analysis on the practical consequences of elections. He asserts that introducing elections in poor nations tends to leads to increased political violence and misgovernance. The opposite is true for wealthier countries: there democracy tends to lead to more responsive and honest governance. This difference in outcomes is rather dismal news for the Third World, but as Collier carefully points out, we need to understand what is actually happening, which may be very different from what we would like.

His analysis is that when a poor autocratic government decides to hold elections it is heavily motivated to win them. In countries without adequate checks and balances, elections tend to be winner-takes-all affairs, with few constraints on the victors. The autocratic incumbents reluctantly realize they are not popular and will need to "adjust" the electoral balance. To do so, they resort to a variety of techniques, including various forms of bribery, electoral fraud, coercion, elimination of opponents (by dubious legal trickery, or worse) and last but not least, by playing the ethnic identity card to rally the majority ethnicity against its "enemies".

Unfortunately the net effect of these maneuvers is to make a bad situation worse. The regime retains power, but their tactics reinforce popular skepticism and distrust, and increase internal tensions.

After a civil war, the international community typically insists on post-conflict elections to put the seal on the new settlement. Unfortunately such elections suffer from all the issues above and risk inflaming the situation. Typically the situation improves ahead of the elections, as they provide a temporary focus for orderly conflict, but the elections themselves tend to reflect the same issues that drove the civil war. So the losers do not accept the legitimacy of the winners.

Collier reports that a variety of factors influence the likelihood of political violence. Bad elections are one. But so is poverty and small country size. (Smaller countries have more trouble meeting security goals.) Unfortunately a prior civil war makes a subsequent one more likely. Similarly with coups.

Collier observes that one of the key vehicles for introducing true democracy seems to be increased prosperity. As countries become wealthier they seem to accept more of the package of legal norms that allows for more honest elections and eventually for regime change. Collier also argues that investing in building a strong sense of national identity (as Nyerere did successfully in Tanzania) can help diminish regional and ethnic tensions.

However Collier's core analysis is extremely disheartening for the poorest countries. In an effort to end on a positive note, Collier suggest three solutions. Unfortunately all three seem rather speculative. First, he proposes international guarantees to defend governments against coups in countries which hold fair elections. He argues that coups are an even greater threat to most Third World Presidents than elections. I'm sorry, but I can't see a corrupt regime accepting imminent electoral defeat in order to obtain such a future guarantee. Collier also proposes an elaborate scheme for managing government spending, to avoid corruption and redirection. Finally he proposes a complex scheme for collective security. Perhaps all three should be tried, but they seem optimistic at best.

Overall, while I found Collier solutions very weak, his statistical crunching and subsequent analysis are extremely useful and provocative. Collier writes well in a very lucid style, and leavens his bad news with occasional rueful wit. We may not like his conclusions, but they are useful to understand, and strongly suggest that the West needs to be much more thoughtful about how and when to force elections on a recalcitrant regime.
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