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    by Robert C. Orr
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    Wars, Guns, and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places
    by Paul Collier
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    The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-first Century
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett
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    State-Building: Governance and World Order in the 21st Century
    by Francis Fukuyama
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    When States Fail: Causes and Consequences
    Princeton University Press
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    Building States to Build Peace
    Lynne Rienner Publishers
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    Making States Work: State Failure And The Crisis Of Governance
    United Nations University Press
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Entries in Stabilization (3)

Thursday
Jan132011

Back to Iraq

Over a month ago I published my most recent blog post and since then a lot has changed.  In December I was at Duke’s Sanford School and studying for a Master’s in International Development while consulting for a start-up called Statecraft.  Now I’m in Fort Benning, Georgia, and getting ready to fly to Iraq where I’ll be working as an instructor at the U.S. military’s Counterinsurgency and Stability Academy in Baghdad.

 

In the interim, a couple cool things have happened. . .

 

My friend Paul Miller published a piece in Foreign Affairs on how to “Finish the Job” in Afghanistan.  We’ve known each other since our time as undergrads at Georgetown and happen to share very similar career paths.  He’s the only one of my friends from college who does the kind of work I do.  He also blogs on Foreign Policy’s Shadow Government and teaches courses on state-building at the National Defense University. 

 

The Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review was also released.  For those of you tracking issues related to stabilization and state-building, plus humanitarian aid and international development, this is a very important event, though what actual impact it will have is up in the air.  The QDDR is the State Department’s and USAID’s version of the Quadrennial Defense Review, which the Pentagon uses to guide its operations and express its thinking about current and future conflicts.  As expected, the best commentary comes from the folks at the Center for Global Development and the numbers crunchers at the Stimson Center’s blog The Will and the Wallet.  Josh Rogin at Foreign Policy also has a good summary of the document and can be relied on for updates on all things development and diplomacy related.  The QDDR is about a month old, but something folks planning on working for the U.S. government foreign policy positions should get to know, especially if they’re involved in D3. 

 

As for me, I plan on returning to Duke, most likely for the spring 2012 semester.  My teaching job is supposed to last until August, but rather than going back for the fall, I’ll see if I can hop over to Afghanistan.  If not, I’ll spend the rest of my time in Central or South America where I’ll travel, surf, write, and learn as much Spanish as I can.    

 

I hadn’t planned on taking a leave of absence and heading back to Iraq, especially since I was enjoying living in the U.S. again.  In the middle of finals the position came up and I realized the experience of teaching and traveling the country (when classes aren’t in session we visit units on the ground to evaluate operations, local conditions, and what lessons can be learned) is something I can’t pass up, especially since the U.S. military presence in Iraq is supposed to end later this year.  While I’ve enjoyed my time at Duke studying international development, I’m looking forward to spending some time with a group of people whose lives revolve around thinking about things like stabilization, counterinsurgency, and state-building. 

 

Plus, for some weird reason, I really do love being in Iraq.

 

Wednesday
Oct132010

Paul Collier on Stabilization

He makes the point I've been making for a long, long time.  Specifically, nothing you do really matters unless you have security, or something approximating it. 

 

 

Second, you need economic growth.  Both of these come before politics.  It sounds nice to say there are multiple "lines of operation" that must be carried out simultaneously, but that's not true.  You can have security without economic growth or democracy, but you can't have either of those two without security.

 

For those not familiar with him, Collier is a heavyweight in the development community.  His two books The Bottom Billion and Wars, Guns, and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places are considered required for development and stabilization practioners. 


Monday
Oct112010

Development and Dependence

One more nugget from Obama's UN Speech the other week:

 

"Our focus on assistance has saved lives in the short term, but it hasn't always improved those societies over the long-term.  Consider the millions of people who have relied on food assistance for decades. That's not development, that's dependence, and it's a cycle we need to break. Instead of just managing poverty, we have to offer nations and peoples a path out of poverty."

 

I appreciate the clarification of terms.  Perhaps we can stop using "nation-building" too.