Wars, Guns and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places

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ISBN 13: 9781847920225

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Economist Profile: Paul Collier

We will be sending you an email when or if a user is interested in buying your book! Submitting yhour listing 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.

Why are the African countries failing after achieving freedom from Western countries? Why are elected leaders consistantly staying in power year after year. In the Middle East we are seeing the effect right now, summer An excellent book. Paul Collier has previously written a host of academic papers on the subject, but this is a much more informal occasionally quite chatty monologue, where he explains why democracy doesn't work in poor countries and finally proposes a solution to the 'Africa problem'. His premise is simple: Democracy is good - but only if the elected government is accountable to the electors.

In poor ethnically diverse countries this doesn't work, and therefore elected presidents see office as an opportunity to enrich themselves and especially their cronies, upon whom they rely to stay in power. For the people, on the other hand, elections mean worse conditions, as the leader concentrates his energy on being re-elected rather than doing any public good.


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The main risk of losing power in a poor country is not loss at the election polls, but rather a coup by your erstwhile cronies in the army. Since decolonisation in the 's there have been 80 successful coups in Africa alone, but only a handful of president who have left office after losing an election. And coups are intrinsically dangerous, as they also increase the risks of new coups and civil war. His proposed solution is too complex to put forwards in great detail, but in short it's the following: - The main threat to a ruler is the constant risks of coups.

During the Dark Ages Europe descended into chaos, and regional warlords battled it out for several centuries before homogeneous nation-states started to coalesce around the stronger armies. In Africa the borders have been frozen in a post-colonial stasis, with 53 countries 54 with South Sudan , where half a dozen would be better.

The text is also interspersed with a very dry wit. He talks about the danger of doing research in some of these very violent surroundings, where people are being tortured and killed - because his grant might run out. From simple media domination, via more targeted propaganda to bribery, ethnic conflicts, violence, and declaring your opponents illegible. Here at Walmart. Your email address will never be sold or distributed to a third party for any reason. Due to the high volume of feedback, we are unable to respond to individual comments. Its immense oil wealth, which should be used to help the country develop, makes politicians particularly anxious to hold onto office.

They employ ever fouler means to do so, and elections thus become little more than organised gangsterism. The violent methods the politicians use become the modus operandi of their period in office, and the whole political system is corrupted. Mr Collier also analyses the other factors that militate against the successful functioning of democracy and which cause violence in poor countries. Ethnic identity is one; the presence of a large pool of underemployed, testosterone-charged youths is another. Rapid development, his research shows, is probably the most important determinant for maintaining peace.

Aid alone does not achieve this; encouraging a flourishing private sector does.

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Likewise, creating a national identity helps to trump the politics of ethnic divisiveness by persuading people not to vote blindly for the party of their ethnic group, as happened in Kenya at the end of Mr Collier dwells on the example of Tanzania, where Julius Nyerere, the country's first president, succeeded in building a strong sense of nationhood.

The result is a relatively long-standing peace, despite the historic differences that still prevail between the mainland and Zanzibar.

Wars, Guns, and Votes - Paul Collier - Paperback

Rwanda is another country where the president, Paul Kagame, is determined to eradicate ethnic identity in the name of a greater national one. But in Rwanda's case, is this necessarily such a good idea? Human rights and basic freedoms of expression are all suffering in Mr Kagame's authoritarian rush to end ethnic self-identification in Rwanda.

But will there be a price to pay for this further down the line? Mr Collier devotes the last section of his book to a few big-picture solutions to some of the problems he talks about. Here he is less convincing.


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  5. These amount to a more aggressive form of liberal interventionism, with all the usual drawbacks. He is a big fan of the sort of military commitments that enabled Britain, for example, to restore peace to Sierra Leone in early This leads him to propose that poor countries sign up to an international standard of democracy with the West, in return for which the West will intervene militarily if elected leaders are threatened by a coup.

    But this is exactly the sort of heavy-handedness that can rally a divided and fractious people behind an awful ruler.

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