Alliance Curse: How America Lost the Third World

Brookings Institution Press
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In Alliance Curse, Hilton Root illustrates that recent U.S. foreign policy is too often misguided, resulting in misdirected foreign aid and alliances that stunt political and economic development among partner regimes, leaving America on the wrong side of change. Many alliances with third world dictators, ostensibly of mutual benefit, reduce incentives to govern for prosperity and produce instead political and social instability and economic failure. Yet again, in the war on terror and in the name of preserving global stability, America is backing authoritarian regimes that practice repression and plunder. It is as if the cold war never ended. While espousing freedom and democracy, the U.S. contradicts itself by aiding governments that do not share those values. In addition to undercutting its own stated goal of promoting freedom, America makes the developing world even more wary of its intentions. Yes, the democracy we preach arouses aspirations and attracts immigrants, but those same individuals become our sternest critics; having learned to admire American values, they end up deploring U.S. policies toward their own countries. Long-term U.S. security is jeopardized by a legacy of resentment and distrust. A lliance Curse proposes an analytical foundation for national security that challenges long-held assumptions about foreign affairs. It questions the wisdom of diplomacy that depends on questionable linkages or outdated suppositions. The end of the Soviet Union did not portend the demise of communism, for example. Democracy and socialism are not incompatible systems. Promoting democracy by linking it with free trade risks overemphasizing the latter goal at the expense of the former. The growing tendency to play China against India in an effort to retain American global supremacy will hamper relations with both—an intolerable situation in today's interdependent world. Root buttresses his analysis with case studies of American foreign policy toward developing countries (e.g., Vietnam), efforts at state building, and nations growing in importance, such as China. He concludes with a series of recommendations designed to close the gap between security and economic development.
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About the author

Hilton L. Root is a professor at George Mason University's School of Public Policy and a senior fellow with the Mercatus Center. He has served as adviser to the U.S. Treasury and the Asian Development Bank and has taught at Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania. Root has a number of books to his credit, including Capital & Collusion: The Political Logic of Global Economic Development (Princeton, 2006), Governing for Prosperity, edited with Bruce Bueno de Mesquita (Yale, 2000), and The Key to the Asian Miracle, with J. E. Campos (Brookings, 1996).

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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
Nov 1, 2009
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Pages
286
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ISBN
9780815701514
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / International Relations / General
Political Science / Security (National & International)
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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"Easily the most informed and comprehensive analysis to date on how and why East Asian countries have achieved sustained high economic growth rates, [this book] substantially advances our understanding of the key interactions between the governors and governed in the development process. Students and practitioners alike will be referring to Campos and Root's series of excellent case studies for years to come." Richard L. Wilson, The Asia Foundation

Eight countries in East Asia--Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia--have become known as the "East Asian miracle" because of their economies' dramatic growth. In these eight countries real per capita GDP rose twice as fast as in any other regional grouping between 1965 and 1990. Even more impressive is their simultaneous significant reduction in poverty and income inequality. Their success is frequently attributed to economic policies, but the authors of this book argue that those economic policies would not have worked unless the leaders of the countries made them credible to their business communities and citizens.

Jose Edgardo Campos and Hilton Root challenge the popular belief that East Asia's high performers grew rapidly because they were ruled by authoritarian leaders. They show that these leaders had to collaborate with various sectors of their population to create an environment that was conducive to sustained growth. This required them to persuade the business community that their investments would not be expropriated and to convince the broader population that their short-term sacrifices would be rewarded in the future. Many of the countries achieved business cooperation by creating consultative groups, which the authors call deliberation councils, to enhance accountability and stability. They also obtained popular support through a variety of wealth-sharing measures such as land reform, worker cooperatives, and wider access to education.

Finally, to inhibit favoritism and corruption that would benefit narrow interest groups at the expense of broad-based development, these countries' leaders constructed a competent bureaucracy that balanced autonomy with accountability to serve all interests, including the poor.

This important book provides useful lessons about how developing and newly industrialized countries can build institutions to implement growth-promoting policies.

An innovative view of the changing geopolitical landscape that draws on the science of complex adaptive systems to understand changes in global interaction.

Liberal internationalism has been the West's foreign policy agenda since the Cold War, and the West has long occupied the top rung of a hierarchical system. In this book, Hilton Root argues that international relations, like other complex ecosystems, exists in a constantly shifting landscape, in which hierarchical structures are giving way to systems of networked interdependence, changing every facet of global interaction. Accordingly, policymakers will need a new way to understand the process of change. Root suggests that the science of complex systems offers an analytical framework to explain the unforeseen development failures, governance trends, and alliance shifts in today's global political economy.

Root examines both the networked systems that make up modern states and the larger, interdependent landscapes they share. Using systems analysis—in which institutional change and economic development are understood as self-organizing complexities—he offers an alternative view of institutional resilience and persistence. From this perspective, Root considers the divergence of East and West; the emergence of the European state, its contrast with the rise of China, and the network properties of their respective innovation systems; the trajectory of democracy in developing regions; and the systemic impact of China on the liberal world order. Complexity science, Root argues, will not explain historical change processes with algorithmic precision, but it may offer explanations that match the messy richness of those processes.

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