Category Archives: Central Asia
In his landmark study of the civic traditions of Italy, Robert Putnam showed how differences in the norms and patterns of behavior that drove societies in northern and southern Italy had profound influence on development outcomes, governance, innovation, and the prospects for democracy. As he explained,
Some regions of Italy, we discover, are blessed with vibrant networks and norms of civic engagement, while others are cursed with vertically structured politics, a social life of fragmentation and isolation, and a culture of distrust. These differences in civic life turn out to play a key role in explaining institutional success.
These patterns are deep-seated, and can be traced back as much as a millennium. Governments had come and gone. Economies had evolved tremendously. Lives had changed enormously, especially in the last few decades. But the basic underlying dynamic that drove how people interacted with each other, how officials behaved, and how government acted retained an important essence that had deep influence. Path dependence was hard to break. Why? (more…)
Cross-posted at Global Dashboard.
Corruption is generally vilified as an unmitigated evil. It disenfranchises the poor, weakens public services, reduces investment, and holds back whole societies. And yet, in some instances, corruption can actually be very useful, lubricating business in a way that promotes growth, creates jobs, helps smooth the introduction of needed reforms, and reduces poverty.
What explains this paradox? (more…)
- Central Asia (including Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan)
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Kenya / Somalia
With the exception of #2, which fits into a more conventional state versus state conflict, all the others involve countries that are fragile states. Kenya is vulnerable because of its intervention in the failed state of Somalia.
All these fragile states suffer from sectarianism and weak government, the two primary drivers of fragility. Sectarianism is not limited to ethnicity and religion: clan divisions matter in places such as Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Weak government comes in many shades: Pakistan’s works reasonably well; Somalia has been without a state since 1991.
For some reason, Libya and Iraq are off the list even though both are vulnerable to a renewal of conflict in some form in the next 12 months. And the type of low level violence that infects parts of Russia, India, Africa, and Central America does not seem to be considered even though the number of dead may be greater than in many of these places.