Much of the [U.S. Afghanistan] aid effort was premised on the assumption that development would foster stability. Young men with jobs wouldn't plant roadside bombs. Communities with growing economies would reject the Taliban. This assumption was based on the modern prejudice that bad behavior has material roots. Give people money and jobs and you will improve their character and behavior.Yet there are glimmers of hope.
In Afghanistan, as elsewhere, this assumption seems not to be true. A conference of experts brought together last year in Wilton Park in Britain concluded that there is a "surprisingly weak evidence base for the effectiveness of aid in promoting stabilization and security objectives" in Afghanistan.
Violence doesn't stem from poverty. It stems from grudges, tribal dynamics and religious fanaticism — none of which can be ameliorated by building new roads. The poorest parts of the country are not the most violent.
Meanwhile, the influx of aid has, in many cases, created dependency, fed corruption, contributed to insecurity and undermined the host government's capacity to oversee sustainable programs.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Capital, not aid
When it comes to laying groundwork for economic growth and stability, international aid (money for nothing) has "as many negative, unintended effects as positive ones."