Govern Like Us: U.S. Expectations of Poor Countries
M. A. Thomas
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In the poorest countries, such as Afghanistan, Haiti, and Mali, the United States has struggled to work with governments whose corruption and lack of capacity are increasingly seen to be the cause of instability and poverty. The development and security communities call for "good governance" to improve the rule of law, democratic accountability, and the delivery of public goods and services. The United States and other rich liberal democracies insist that this is the only legitimate model of governance. Yet poor governments cannot govern according to these ideals and instead are compelled to rely more heavily on older, cheaper strategies of holding power, such as patronage and repression.
The unwillingness to admit that poor governments do and must govern differently has cost the United States and others inestimable blood and coin. Informed by years of fieldwork and drawing on practitioner work and academic scholarship in politics, economics, law, and history, this book explains the origins of poor governments in the formation of the modern state system and describes the way they govern. It argues that, surprisingly, the effort to stigmatize and criminalize the governance of the poor is both fruitless and destabilizing. The United States requires a more effective foreign policy to engage poor governments and acknowledge how they govern.
76, 91–93; plundering neighbors, 97; printing money, 76, 93–94; rich versus poor countries, 76; sale of government offices, 95; undermining rule of law, 94; undesirable side effects, 99 rich liberal democracies: assuming responsibility for poor governments, 186–187; attempts to govern poor countries, 186–191; governance strategy, 10; impersonal rule-based governments in, 130; implementing vision of governance ideal, 21; legal transfers from, 140; past reliance on cheaper governance strategies,
working over hours, I suppose, to be Clerk of the Rolls in Ireland, for which he pockets �3500 a year more! … They whisper, that he neither keeps the Rolls of Ireland, nor attends to the affairs of India, nor knows anything about the Cinque Ports; and that a deputy does all his work at the Treasury for a few hundred a year which is also paid by the country!19 A line was drawn between public and private offices and roles.20 Government salaries were tied to the performance of government duties,
3.2. “The World: Colonial Possessions and Commercial Highways 1910.” From Sir Adolphus William Ward, G. W. Prothero, Sir Stanley Mordaunt Leathes, and E. A. Benians, eds., “The Cambridge Modern History Atlas” (London: Cambridge University Press, 1912). (Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin) Economy If the colonial powers did not look ahead to statehood when claiming and conquering territory during second wave colonialism, neither did they do so in
that democratic idealism will be enough. It is interesting to note that in a survey of Africans asked to identify the single most essential characteristic of democracy, about a quarter of respondents picked “Government narrows the gap between the rich and the poor,” roughly the same percentage as those who identified democracy with freedom of expression.2 It was the most common answer given by people who had no formal schooling. In chapter 1, I argued that poor governments, like all governments,
as new laboratory equipment or computers. Other consumable items were quickly in short supply, including hygiene and cleaning equipment, gas, paper, or ink cartridges for photocopiers. Staff saw their workload increase because of the additional effort to get reimbursements from the central government for expenditures that had previously been paid for with user fees. Lacking medicine, hospitals had to charge fees for patients under five years old or require patients to purchase medicine outside of