Monday, May 9, 2011

Political Economy of Conflict Prevension

The Economist argues that Ghana blocked AU forces from resolving the Ivorian conflict because Ghanaian cocoa smugglers benefitted, while Nigeria was preoccupied with its own election.

Mamdani on Cote d’Ivoire:
When it came to Zimbabwe and Kenya, power-sharing arrangements were put in place, with a helping hand from SADC in Zimbabwe and the UN in Kenya. The objective in both cases was to avert a full-blown crisis. …  In the Ivory Coast, however, the UN insisted on an election, and … [then] came in with guns blazing to force a military implementation of its preferred solution.
Blattman on Mamdani:
1)      “Outside influence is strong, but this is not a nation that complacently follows the orders of an international agency.”
2)      “Mamdani also holds up power-sharing as a means to avoid crisis. But crisis in what space of time? What one wants is a political equilibrium stable in the long term. I’m less confident that the power-sharing route is a successful one–in terms of either growth or stability.”
3)      “So, for the hundreds of elections yet to come in Africa, what message do you want to send to incumbents or opposition rulers who lose the poll: stand and fight for a power sharing agreement, or accept the outcome?”
4)      “If the 2010-11 violence was the only life lost for legitimate future elections, Cote d’Ivoire could count itself among history’s least bloody democratic transitions. I think Mamdani’s point is that this will not be the last blood shed. He is probably right. But the historian and the economist alike ought to ask: what is the counterfactual? Fewer deaths? Less uncertainty? Lower poverty? Lesser oppression? Personally, I think not. But that is just a guess.”

De Mesquita has another argument for why bad economic times would promote terrorism, even though most terrorists are better educated and have higher income than average. First, if terrorist cells screen for skills that do well in the labor market, they will be more interested in hiring the better educated. Second, if economic downturns increase mobilization, that will increase size of the pool from which terrorists can recruit, enable them to further select from the top.

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