Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Helping Developing Nations Learn the Rules

Thoman PM Barnett is a strategic thinker with a strategic theory - that the world is safer when countries trade and communicate with each other ; danger comes from isolation. He classifies the countries of the world in two groups: the integrating Core and the Gap. We are safer for each country that moves from the Gap to the Core. He make his case clearly in his book "The Pentagon's New Map." How about progress? He likes what President Bush has done with the Millenium Challenge Corporation (and he is no Bush cheerleader). Millenium Challenge makes grants to developing countries, but they are conditional. And the conditions communicate the rules for being involved in the developed world. It is good to communicate the rules, because it makes them clear; when they are understood each country can have a discussion about whether there is sufficient value for them to change how they operate to receive the MCC grant.
In 2005, on his first day as head of President Bush’s signature foreign-aid program, John Danilovich’s to-do list included the unpleasant task of telling Yemen’s president that his reform efforts had slipped so badly that the country was being cut off. Last month, Mr. Danilovich phoned Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh with better news: Yemen was back on the list of countries eligible for grants from the Millennium Challenge program. What happened during those 15 months is evidence of the potential ripple effects of the high-profile aid program--and the power of the threat to publicly shame countries that veer off the path of economic and political overhaul. In short, it’s all about being credentialed by the biggest aid donor (size, not per GDP) in the world. My favorite example to date: Lesotho previously treated women the same as kids in terms of legal rights, unable to buy land or borrow money. We told them no good if you want MCC credentials: With the Millennium Challenge Corp. pressing for changes, the Lesotho Parliament passed a law in November putting married women on equal legal footing with their husbands.

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