Asset Publisher

International Reports 1/2006

Democracy, Democratisation, and Economic Development; Why democracy is central to prosperity and peace; Power Shifts in Asia and the Role of the USA; How to Make Democracy Work in the Arab World?; Democracy, Growth and African Development; Book Reviews

Show table of contents


  • Democracy, Democratisation, and Economic Development

    Not everyone is convinced of the socio-economic potential of democratic rule; far from it. There are even those who believe that autocratic governments maybe more successful in demolishing barriers to development. The opposite is true, in fact: Democratic rule draws a dividend in the form of development. Its economic advantages are obvious, although it entails enormous challenges, and the ultimate success of democratisation processes is by no means a foregone conclusion. The influence of political and institutional frame-work conditions on the socio-economic development of a society is crucial. Institutions reduce uncertainties. Contractual and legal certainty as well as political stability will boost the economic development of any society. Democratic rule not only promotes the development of a country’s national economy, it also invigorates other factors of development such as, for instance, the quality of public health. The reason lies in the competitive character that is essential to democracy. After all, the mechanisms of democracy aim to regulate the state monopoly on governance in conformance with the rules of competition – an objective that is served by free and fair elections as much as by the freedom of association and the press or the competition among political parties. Autocracies, on the other hand, are not exposed to competition. Instead, they formulate their own economic-policy rules to serve their own interests and generate economic privileges. The lack of any corrective impulse from competing policies that might express the economic interests of the citizens impedes– needless to say – the development of the economy as a whole. There is no dispute that the rule of law as well as democratic structures are capable of promoting socio-economic developments in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. However, consolidating democratic rule is fraught with challenges, and there are many young democracies that show considerable functional defects. Most outstanding among them are those that are illegitimate and characterised by intransparency, corruption, and a total lack of constitutional governance, leaving little room for the development dividend of democratic rule. But if a constitutional democracy is indeed so much more oriented towards the common good than any autocratic rule, and if its economic advantages are indeed as marked as they appear, why is it that the path from autocracy to democracy is so stony? Why are there so many challenges involved in the process of democratisation? Building a democracy calls for coordinating all players in the reform process. What is more, those players should be willing to create new rules for their game. At the same time, the disruptiveness of the coordination issue is enhanced by the problems of distribution that are inherent in any process of democratisation. After all, the groups that are disadvantaged by an autocratic regime will naturally endeavour to secure for themselves a share in there distribution of the economy, while the profiteers of autocracy will just as naturally fight to retain their privileges. If democratisation should be accompanied by decentralisation, similar distribution problems would occur between the central and the subordinate levels of government. Thus, the problem that arises when a pluralist system of interest management is introduced is related to collective action. There is a distinct danger of the players in the game pursuing short-term, particularist objectives instead of agreeing collectively on a set of rules. The consequence would be corruption, legal uncertainty, and intransparency, so that the development dividend of democratisation would fail to materialize. The misdirected developments described above are often most clearly reflected in the functional incapability of the political parties. Normally, it is their duty to represent the particular interests of a specific group, and to cast the interests of a large segment of society in the form of political programmes at the same time. This is exactly where problems arise whenever distribution conflicts increase in intensity. Needless to say, not all processes of transformation end in a defective democracy. Thus, for example, Uruguay, Chile, Botswana, Mauritius, and Taiwan symbolize the successful implementation of democratization processes and their related socio-economic benefits. There are three factors that should be named in this context. First, the intensity of the distribution conflicts that accompany any such transformation depends on the intensity of exploitation and favouritism under the late autocratic regime. Second, the success of any transition process depends on how many ,building sites‘ of reform operate in parallel. And third, the influence of external factors on the process itself should not be underestimated. Such factors include, for example, the inducements offered by the EU, the prospect of EU membership, and the benefits of international development cooperation as such. From all this, it is permissible to conclude that democratic rule promotes socio-economic development, while autocracies, on the other hand, are always confronted by endogenic stability problems, inertia in economic policy, and the reluctance of foreign investors. However, it is precisely the collective benefits of democracy that make related transformation processes so difficult. For the liberties acquired by the citizens in the struggle permit them to articulate their economic rights more extensively which, in turn, leads to disputes over distribution. Coordinating divergent interests becomes a problem, and democracy pays no socio-economic dividend. It would be both meaningful and desirable for the international community to support transition processes. However, any such commitment that is based on relations maintained with still extant authoritarian systems would be harmful; democracy promotion must be credible, meaning that any sanctions should reflect actual political changes but not short-term export-related and/or diplomatic interests. To provide any truly substantial impulses for the transition processes going on in countries that are striving for democracy, the international community would have to enhance the scope of its coordinated efforts far beyond the level shown in the past.

  • Why democracy is central to prosperity and peace

    During our lifetimes, the major part of the world’s citizens have come to life in democracy. And since the late 1970s, more than 90 countries have made progress in establishing a democratic system. However, and despite this transformation, there still persist notions of an „authoritarian advantage“. Three main tenets can be pointed out. First: Poor countries can expand their economies more rapidly under some form of authoritarian system. Second: Economic growth favorizes democratic transitions. And third: Autocratic governments can better ensure stability in volatile environments. The empirical bases to these tenets are worth to be looked at. Categorizing regime types presents certain challenges. In our context, democracy can be defined as a system that employs mechanisms of shared power, established institutions for the selection of the community’s leaders and protected channels for public participation in the political process. Let’s turn to the three tenets mentioned above.1.)„Authoritarian governments oversee more rapid growth in the developing world.“ Reviewing the economic growth performance of all developing countries since 1960, it appears that democracies have attained rates of per capita GDP growth equivalent to autocratic systems. So, there is no empirical evidence of authoritarian growth advantage. And there will not be any evidence even when looking at the exceptional autocratic growth experiences in Asian countries such as China, Singapore, Indonesia, South Korea, and Taiwan. Outside of East Asia, developing country democracies have a growth rate that is 51 percent higher than that of autocracies. Countries such as Botswana, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Senegal may serve as good examples. Apart from the economic growth rates, anthropometric indicators are worth to be examined. On these human development measures, developing country democracies also excel relative to authoritarian countries. Here, citizens have, for example, life expectancies that are nine years longer, infant mortality rates that are 21 percent lower and secondary school attainment levels that are 40 percent higher than those in autocracies. All these superior outcomes are obtained without massive social spending. Processes internal to democracies are responsible for them.2.)„Economic growth leads to democracy.“ It is assumed that once countries reach a middle-income threshold and the reduction of poverty, expanded middle-class, literacy and urbanization, they will automatically start transitioning to democracy. This notion is repeated so often that it is taken as true. However, the assumption lacks empirical grounding. Research shows that economic decline, rather than growth, is a more powerful impetus for democratic transition. Everywhere, people become more restless for change when their living conditions worsen.3.)„Democratization is destabilizing.“ Of course, democratization is a process far away from being without a risk. But this risk has to be weighed against the relatively greater danger of conflicts associated with governments that resist political reforms, relying on repression to stay in power. A look at these three tenets does not imply that all developing country democracies grow more effectively than autocracies. To make it clear, there are nine authoritarian systems that have sustained economic growth for at least one decade since 1981: Bhutan, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Tunisia, and Vietnam. China is even a poster child for the autocratic growth argument. And in former times, the Soviet Union, Romania and Yugoslavia were held up as models for authoritarian growth.What is the explanation for democracies’ impressive track record of steady and broad-based development? There are a variety of interrelated reasons belonging to three categories – accountability, openness and adaptability. Accountability is what drives democracies developmental superiority. Democratic systems tend to be stronger systems of checks and balances, independent media, and rule of law than other systems. Openness, that means the greater access to information in open societies, fosters more informed policy debate and analysis. Adaptability is essential for any democratic system. Political competition gives leaders incentives to identify new ideas that will address public priorities. Over a wide range of development measures, democracies have performed consistently better than other governance regimes. Democracy is central to development and conflict mitigation. As a result, it should be taken into account when development policy is designed and implemented. Some suggestions shall be made: Developing countries that have „self-selected“ their way towards a more transparent and accountable government should receive more aid. This is not the case at the present time. Even low-middle income democracies do not receive an edge in aid. Bilateral donors should explicitly make democracy a criterion in their funding decisions. Recently, some donors have given special emphasis to „good governance“. However, this term is often interpreted as economic government, rule of law, or corruption. How reliable can „rule of law“ be if it is contingent on the discretion of leaders who stand above the law? This does not mean, that developing country autocracies should not receive international assistance. Allocutions for humanitarian assistance and transnational threats – HIV/AIDS, avian flu, or polio –should be made. However, it should be ensured that these resources are used for the purposes defined and not to promote the regime as such. The international financial institutions (IFIs) –World Bank, IMF, and regional development banks –should amend their charters in favour of the affirmation of democracy. Countries with transparent and participatory political systems should be given priority in funding decisions. Moreover, they should afford more flexibility to democratically elected governments. One regional developing bank, the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, already cites democracy as one of its two principal objectives. Development responds to incentives, too. However, the incentives created by current development financing practices are rather ambiguous. 93 percent of all development assistance goes through national governments. Trouble starts where undemocratic governments are part of the problem the solution of which is urgent. Here, the flow of aid resources only serves to perpetuate their hold on power. The funding should be diversified through a variety of actors with different approaches. Diversification is not destined to undermine the capacity and authority of national governments. Democratic space should be encouraged. Even autocratic governments try to be perceived as meeting international expectations and norms. Clear signals from established democracies that legitimacy is valued will encourage more space for independent voices. Finally, the initial months and years are essential for the success of the opening process of developing and democratizing countries. As a result, international actors are not as influential in ensuring a democracy dividend is realized. Here, the creation of„democracy response accounts“ may be helpful. We live in a historic and hopeful time. The expansion of democracy and its implications for development and security throughout the world are encouraging. If we don’t want to put at a risk what we have reached so far, we should no longer treat democracy as a secondary objective.

  • Power Shifts in Asia and the Role of the USA

    Peaceful power shifts between states or regions have been rare in history. Similarly, it is to be feared that the power shifts going on within the international system today will not take a peaceful course because they require striking a balance between the interests of political and cultural traditions which could hardly differ more than they do. For it is mainly the populous states of Asia that are demanding a greater role in global politics these days. The changes initiated by the end of the Cold War were profound not only in Europe but in Asia as well. Next to powerful China, it is mainly India which keeps trying to enhance its influence in Asia and even extend it beyond the region. In the space of no more than a few years, China has moved into the centre of international politics. The country is growing stronger not only in economic but also in political terms, advancing to the status of a world power and, by the same token, rivalling the USA. While China’s foreign policy mainly focusses on east and south east Asia in geographical terms, it also shows a growing interest in other regions, such as central Asia and the Near and Middle East, because of its growing energy needs. The impact of China’s rise is felt everywhere. By now, the country ranks first among the trading partners of Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, and occupies rank three in the USA. To be sure, Beijing is confronted by great challenges, but the economic boom continues unbroken despite the baleful prophecies of the past – the country has become a global player. India is another economic heavyweight that became the talk of the region a while ago. China’s rapid rise helped to invigorate Delhi’s economic and political endeavours. Today, India is fully integrated into the global economy, and its national economy is one of the most dynamic to be found anywhere. And since the end of the Cold War, when the country’s former nonalignment policy was called into question, many things have changed in the political field as well. Today, India’s foreign policy follows a realistic approach that is guided by the country’s own national interests. Asia’s rise has only just begun, and if its great powers manage to hold on to their stability, its growth might endure. China was stronger than Japan for along time, but in the last 200 years, Japan gained ascendancy. Today, both countries are powerful, a fact which represents a particular challenge to the endeavours to maintain security and stability. Relations between India and China are characterized by a traditional rivalry over status and influence within the region, with China claiming a leading role for itself without ever recognizing India as a partner of equal rank. Thus, for instance, the Chinese turned a deaf ear to Nehru’s vision of an Indian-Chinese axis. Beijing and Delhi are still locked in a dispute over open border questions. Bilateral relations began to grow more relaxed only recently, although it does appear likely that the rivalry between India and China will persist. Another factor in the region’s power fabric is the USA, whose influence began to extend across the Pa-cific as well as the Atlantic 150 years ago. Washing-ton’s Asian policy focusses mainly on three objectives: First, there are the country’s traditional economic interests in the region. Second, it is pursuing security-policy interests that go back to the time of the Cold War. And third, it wishes to promote the spread of American values within the region. The network of economic contacts between the USA and the national economies of Asia is growing denser by the day. For half a century, Asia’s growth has been underpinned mainly by exports, and its most important export market is the USA. At the same time, Asia’s culture is being increasingly moulded by the Americans. A considerable proportion of Asia’s elites is taught at American schools and universities. And finally, many countries in the region enjoyed decades of relative peace because of Washington’s guarantees of security – a peace which allowed their national economies to flourish in its shadow. Today, however, stability is threatened as Asia now harbours quite a number of international hotspots. The two Asian shooting stars are entangled in hazardous territorial conflicts. In addition, they are confronted by grave challenges including, for instance, domestic problems, ossified leadership structures, ethnic conflicts, and ubiquitous corruption. Because of all this, the interest of the US in preserving stability in Asia is urgent indeed. In Washington’s Asian strategy, east and particularly north east Asia are regions of outstanding importance. Together with North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, the risk that the economic and social system of the People’s Republic might collapse presents a great challenge. The Korean peninsula has been a persistent security problem both for the region and for Washington ever since the end of the Second World War and the division of Korea. The alliance with Japan forms the core of America’s Asian policy. In Washington’s political relations with Beijing as well as with south east Asia, it is an enduring constant. China’s ambitions to enhance its role in regional and global politics will very likely entail a conflict with the USA, in which the Taiwan question will probably be of particular importance. At the same time, the two countries share certain interests, and fields of cooperation are opening up. Since the events of 9/11, south east Asia’s importance for the US has grown as well: There, the focus of attention is on Indonesia, the world’s most populous Islamic country and a stage for anti-western terrorist attacks. While relations between Indonesia and the US are by no means free of problems at present, those with other countries in the region, such as the Philippines and Singapore, have been improving. Another region of importance for Washington is south Asia. Here, the US tries to prevent any destabilizing developments such as a renewal of the war between India and Pakistan in which, at worst, even nuclear weapons might be employed. However, it appears doubtful whether American politics will ever succeed in bringing the conflict over Cashmere closer to a solution. It is becoming increasingly clear that a new triangle of power consisting of China, India, and the US is emerging in the Asian region, although the US will go on playing a dominant role. In this development, each player is haunted by the concern that the two others might band together against him. The construction of the power triangle itself is asymmetrical in two respects: On the one hand, China and India are more concerned about the aforementioned possibility than the American side. On the other hand, Washington’s and Beijing’s interest in mutual relations is greater. China’s political and economic rise will probably be unstoppable in the years to come. India, too, belongs to those states within the region that powerfully strive for greater influence. Nor should Japan be written off entirely, and the Asian interests of the USA as the only remaining world power continue unbroken. Given this dynamism, the importance of this power constellation is bound to grow in the years to come, both in Asia itself and in the world as a whole. It would be fatal for Europe to do nothing more than take note of this development.

    by Heinrich Kreft

  • How to Make Democracy Work in the Arab World?

    Ideas about Democracy Problems and Reform Obstacles in the Arab World

    Does democracy have a chance in the Arab world? If the answer is yes, what problems would emerge if an attempt were made to make it work? Reform and change have indeed been debated in the region ever since the terrorist attacks of September 11, and even a plan was drawn up which aimed to improve governance, empower women, and secure the rule of law. In view of their disastrous level of development, the Arab countries are entirely in agreement on the need for reforms, although their precise meaning is still under dispute. This is why any concrete steps to implement reforms have failed to materialize so far. Instead, most regimes in the Arab region are busy inventing reasons for delaying that process. In addition, purely cosmetic steps are undertaken to alleviate the growing pressure from outside. The arguments produced by local regimes to cover up their delaying tactics are many and varied. The first reason invoked is the Arab-Israeli conflict which, while it certainly does obstruct modernization in the Arab world, was used often enough as an excuse for decreeing emergency laws and suspending civil liberties in the region. Unfortunately, the efforts undertaken by Arab governments to disrupt progress in their own countries coincide with analogous manoeuvres by American groups. Washington should change its attitude towards the conflict, so that the Arab nations no longer feel threatened by initiatives like the Broader Middle East Project. Resolving the conflict would certainly boost the process of reform in the Arab countries. Second, national sovereignty is used as an excuse for rejecting calls for reform from abroad. While domestic opponents are silenced by accusing them of endangering the security of the nation, the self-same regimes hardly ever think about national sovereignty as they offer concessions to foreign powers. The third reason for rejecting democratic reforms that is commonly mentioned is the uniqueness of Arab culture. To be sure, the Arabs’ cultural heritage, with Islam as its backbone, forms an obstacle on the path towards augmenting democracy in more ways than one. At the same time, Islam is susceptible to various interpretations. A much more difficult obstacle on the path towards transformation is the insistence of many Arab governments on conventional forms of rule that largely preclude public participation. Another obstacle is the development initiated by the military coups of the ’50s and ’60s. When the blessings and evils of the oil boom began to manifest themselves in the ’70s, leading to the present uneven distribution of the newly-won wealth in the countries concerned, the problems confronting the forces of modernization in the Arab region grew even more difficult. The fourth argument against change is that reforms lead to chaos, civil division, and greater power for Islamic fundamentalism. While this is certainly true, the argument has been inflated so much that it now forms a bugbear. What is more, the fact that the regimes themselves provoked fundamentalist movements is never mentioned. What would be needed is a policy that deals responsibly and sensitively with national, ethnic, and religious groups within the country. The fifth and last point relates to the political, economic, and social developments within the Arab region which, so the argument runs, cannot be reconciled with democratic reforms. What would be needed in this instance is pressure from the inside coinciding with pressure from the outside. After supporting dictatorial regimes for decades in order to combat communism, as in Afghanistan, for example, the West now would be well advised to show solidarity with the forces of civil society and modernization in the Arab world. There are two approaches to reform which have recently been implemented in the region that may repay a closer look – the reform projects initiated by Washington after the occupation of Iraq and the Euro-Mediterranean partnership. The first approach: In America, many believe that the events of September 11 imperatively demand that terrorism must be fought at its roots and sources. Thus, terrorism was used in the Arab countries to justify the imposition of severe restrictions on the freedom of opinion, an action that was tacitly tolerated by the USA but did little to help democracy in the region. The occupation of Iraq by the USA, which was done without international legitimation, and the country’s disastrous governance after the overthrow of Saddam did not exactly transform Iraq into a gateway for change in the region. Neither transformation nor democratization were supported in any way; instead, the policies pursued by the US government in Iraq served to strengthen religious and conservative forces as well as the authority of other Arab regimes. Finally, the behaviour of the Americans at Fallujah, Ramadi, and Abu Ghraib recalled the actions of the Israelis at Gaza, Rafah, and Nablus – a fact which certainly did not help to mitigate the Arabs’ image of their enemies. The second approach: Because of their history and their geographical proximity to the Arab world, the Europeans seem to understand it far better than the Americans. For the same reason, Europe recognized the threats building up in the Middle East and North Africa at an early stage – the growth of Islamist movements, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and the growing number of illegal immigrants. In response to these new challenges, the Euro-Mediterranean partnership was created in the mid-’90s which, among other things, highlights certain values, such as human rights, democracy, the rule of law, and the empowerment of women. It is awkward, however, that some EU member states do not adhere to the standards which they themselves laid down in the Barcelona convention and go on maintaining splendid contacts with corrupt dictatorships. Even so, Europe did not side with the hawks in Washington who wanted to enforce change, instead supporting the forces of moderation in all governments. This is why the South now apparently wishes for more European commitment in the region, not only in solving conflicts but also in providing support for reform movements. There is no uniform pattern of change and reform in the Arab region; rather, the countries there may be broken down into a variety of groups. Thus, there are countries where change will begin as soon as tyranny is overthrown, others where regime change is predicated on policy change, and yet others where the ruling regime is quite capable of coexisting with changes in politics and governance. To which of these groups an Arab country must be assigned depends on its development. It is certain, however, that there is no country which will not have a long way to go on the path towards transformation, reform, and democracy.

  • Democracy, Growth and African Development

    The African Policy Challenge

    Two changes left their mark on Africa in the last few years. First, democracy is now the accepted form of government in most African states. Second, the, Washington consensus‘, an agenda for economy and governance reform, has become the ruling political orthodoxy without, however, producing political elites or generating enthusiasm among the public. Both these shifts merit a closer look. Ways and means of accelerating growth in Africa have been considered for a long time. In that context, the endeavours undertaken in other continents were consulted as well. In the period from 1960 to 2000, the gap between the richest and the poorest fifth of the global population widened from 30:1 to 74:1, with the sub-Saharan states hardest hit by the process. However, much more meaningful information comes from the endemic poverty that is evident in the shantytowns of Luanda or the slums of Nairobi – and it is always the women and children who suffer most. Even so – there is no universal answer to the question of why Africa should be so poor. Mauritius provides a good example of a country that has successfully mastered the transition from a purely agricultural economy to an economy that is underpinned by a manufacturing and a service sector. Botswana, on the other hand, demonstrates how natural resources can be used to advantage. At the same time, it is a fact that the record of most other commodity producers in Africa has been poor so far. In Nigeria, for instance, the number of people living below the poverty line (1 US $ per day) grew from 19 million in 1970 to 90 million in 2000. To find a short and telling answer to the question about the reason for Africa’s poverty, we would have to focus on politics or, in more concrete terms, on the weakness of public institutions that is death for the development of any national economy. In Europe, the path towards industrialization lay through the agricultural revolution of the 17th century. Moreover, those countries that developed quickly were receptive towards pluralism, the freedom of information, and the willingness to take personal risks. The celebrated economic miracle that happened in Asia late in the 20th century was the fruit not only of hard labour and high productivity but also of sound policies that aimed to promote public welfare. In Africa, on the other hand, undemocratic governments are responsible for misguided development policies and infringements of human rights. In point of fact, the history of development assistance in Africa and India proves that money alone is not enough to make a country flourish. The success of any ,growth solution‘ rests on a combination of diverse factors, including appropriate political, economic, and social structures, skills, and leadership qualities. The states of Africa are not poor because other states are rich. Geographically speaking, they are situated on the periphery, cut off from the world’s markets. What is more, they are poor because they are unable to profit from globalization. It is crucial for the development of a country that its leadership should be prepared to grant certain freedoms to the individual, as in Europe, and to intervene strategically in emergencies, as in Asia. Africa must confront the inevitable process of change. What is needed is a fresh political mindset, qualified labour, and a legal and technical infrastructure that is able to absorb new technologies and serve international markets – next to a meritocracy, new ideas, and new information. Ghana may serve as an example. 25 years ago, it was a failed state, although it was free from endemic violence. Today, it may look back on three successful multiparty elections and a peaceful change of government, while in terms of macroeconomic reforms it is now a model country. Located at the ‘geographical centre of the world’, as its president, Mr Kufuor, put it a short while ago, Ghana is the best gateway to the populous market of west Africa. Its rate of inflation hovers around 15 percent at the moment, its currency is stable, and many things have changed on the surface. But will Ghana be able to increase its rate of growth to the east Asian level of eight percent? According to experts, this would require a fundamental break with the country’s present strategy of economic management. During the period in which Ghana rebuilt itself, it was found that a year of recovery is needed to make up for a year of decline. Today, after 22 years, the endeavours of the country’s leadership are paying a dividend. The Blair Commission similarly asked itself how Africa’s growth could be enhanced. Tanzania, currently the recipient of development aid in the amount of one billion US $, demonstrates how difficult it is to break through the six-percent ceiling. Since the old socialist collectivization theory was abandoned, liberal reforms have presented the country with fiscal and monetary stability. What it needs today, however, is reforms that aim at structures rather than macro-economic stability, reforms that might serve to increase productivity, employment, and capital stocks. The most important target for such reforms would be Tanzania’s agriculture, which accounts for half of the country’s gross domestic product, 85 percent of its exports, and two thirds of the jobs on the market. Further causes of concern include the overvaluation of the national currency, the state of the rural infrastructure, and the country’s legislation on land tenure. Until land is seen in Africa as a commodity which can be owned, sold, and efficiently utilized by anyone, the series of food crises will go on without interruption, exacerbated by erratic rainfall patterns to which agricultural technology does not really have an answer. Further problem areas that urgently need resolving include the slow progress of privatization in the utility and infrastructural sectors, administrative and judicial corruption, and the defective range of services provided by the government. It is entirely justifiable to ask questions about the role played by governments, for that role is being challenged by globalization and market deregulation. However, the World Bank found that first, an effective state is vital for economic performance; that second, the role of the state needs to be modified with regard to its fundamental duties; and third, that the capability of the state is not a matter of destiny, and that countries can indeed build up their capacities. At this point, Morocco provides a suitable example. In implementing its policy of reform, Rabat must walk a narrow path between liberalization – to promote a society that is driven by ideas – and the need to contain Islamist forces. The cases of Dubai and Singapore, to name but two examples, show that it is indeed possible to find the right blend of innovation, capital, culture, behaviour, and location. To be sure, the cultural inertia that prevails in Morocco is an obstacle that does hamper attempts to motivate people to think and act independently. Is Morocco, and are other African countries really in a position to say about themselves what Jeffrey Sampler and Saeb Eigner wrote about Dubai, that growth there is not simply a matter of economic indicators, it is part of the culture? Months after the efforts of Tony Blair as well as numerous celebrities and artists, Africa is not receiving any more help, only promises. Yet these efforts perpetuated the impression that Africa might be helped by a ,big push‘. This prescription, however, is anything but promising because it ignores four factors. First, the 54 states on the continent differ widely, and their problems cannot be solved by the same approach. Second, it is unrealistic to assume that the states of Africa will begin to recover as soon as democracy is strengthened. Third, it is wrong to believe that money can solve all problems, or the sums that have already been expended would have transformed Africa into a flourishing continent long ago. And fourth, it is indispensable for the African elites to confront globalization if they want their countries to advance. No paradigm change is necessary for Africa to develop. What is needed is a fresh quality of governance and leadership. As the World Bank put it, the biggest African challenge is the total responsibility of some of its leaders. Many know how to talk-the-talk to foreigners but do things differently at home‘. Allowing the economy free play is another important element. Africa’s future depends less on help than on self-help, less on external than on internal factors. Instead of bewailing their woes, the leaders of the continent should devote their energy to promoting the economy and building the requisite democratic institutions. To be sure, it would be unrealistic to expect immediate success even then, but then again, nobody ever predicted such a thing.

  • Book Reviews

    Since the East-West conflict ended in the failure of communism, the debate on development policy has undergone a paradigm change. No longer does the scope of development aid depend on a country’s ideological proximity to one of two hostile blocks confronting each other across the world; instead, decisions are now increasingly informed by a potential beneficiary’s political performance with regard to the quality of its democratic, constitutional, and market-economy order. Because of this paradigm change, and because of the threats to the global order arising from international terrorism and other sources, technical literature at the start of the 21st century is increasingly addressing itself to the triumph of liberal democracy, described so impressively by Francis Fukuyama in the early ’90s as a system capable of responding sustainably to any global challenge. Knowledgeable observers and commentators all, the three authors whose books will be presented in this article describe this new global order which revolves around the creation of democratic structures that span the world. Bill Emmott, the British editor-in-chief of the Economist, outlines the beginnings of this new global order in his book 20:21 Vision, an order that is currently dominated by the USA as the sole remaining superpower together with its economic system of global capitalism. Analyzing lines of economic and political development that reach from the 20th well into the 21st century, he demonstrates future opportunities and risks in the interplay between the global powers. In addition, Mr Emmott devotes some time to considering the probable roles of three other players in global politics – China, Japan, and the EU. Placing each in relation to the US as a global power, he shows clearly that potential dangers exist throughout the first half of the 21st century, particularly in southeast Asia, due to the presence of ambitious China and vulnerable Japan. The EU, so Mr Emmott believes, will not be a powerful independent player in foreign politics on the global plane because that voluntary union of 25 or more states, though enviable, will remain all-too fragmented even in the 21st century. Nevertheless, an increasingly close-knit Europe will be able to hold its own as a guardian of stability and prosperity, particularly as democracy and capitalism develop in the states of central and eastern Europe. In his book, Mr Emmott devotes adequate space to an appreciation of the role played by capitalism in the form of a free-market economy in overcoming totalitarian and illiberal societal orders. In his opinion, capitalism clearly won the ,contest of ideas‘ with Marxism and its derivative philosophies after the end of the Second World War. In doing away with myths and legends about the alleged liberation of the masses from the yoke of capitalism in Russia, China, and elsewhere during the 20th century, Mr Emmott does not mince his words. The upheavals in these countries did not result in freedom for the people, nor in their participation in the means of production; rather, they brought fresh suffering, the death of millions by murder, and corrupt systems headed by men whose contempt for humanity had no equal in the 20th century. At the end of his discourse, Mr Emmott proposes an attitude of ‘sceptical optimism’. In his view, the USA will go on being the leading global power in the 21st century, defending peace, democracy, free markets, and the rule of law throughout the world to serve its own interests. To be sure, differences and disputes with allies and partners are bound to crop up occasionally, causing incomprehension and irritation on both sides. Ultimately, however, there will be no alternative to this US-dominated global order within the foreseeable future. According to Mr Emmott, the same holds true for capitalism. A look at history suggests that the pendulum has always been swinging back and forth, and will go on doing so. The strong points of capitalism, flexibility and adaptability, are confronted by two other characteristics, greed and pitilessness, which lead to popular resentment. However, Mr Emmott believes that there is reason enough for optimism about the future perspectives of America’s leadership and of capitalism. All over the world, the decline of communism led to an unheard-of triumph of democracy, not least because America is so convinced of its mission and inflexible in its belief in the defining power of the free market, both clearly expressed in the Bush doctrine following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The same approach is used by Natan Sharansky in his book The Case for Democracy. A convicted dissident, Mr Sharansky was himself caught up in the pitiless machinery of an authoritarian regime in the Soviet Union of the ’80s, whose decline he witnessed later on. After pressure exerted by the Reagan administration had secured his release from a Gulag camp after nine years of imprisonment, he emigrated to Israel, where he served as cabinet minister in different capacities under various governments, including minister of trade, deputy prime minister and, under Ehud Barak, minister of the interior. In his book, Mr Sharansky discusses the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in detail, praising vociferously the, moral clarity‘ with which Ronald Reagan confronted illiberal and totalitarian systems at the time. In Mr Sharansky’s opinion, it was this attitude which ultimately led to the collapse of communism, and it is the same attitude that will force those regimes that encourage international terrorism to their knees today. In Mr Sharansky’s view, this principle must be pursued consistently even though less severe infringements of constitutional standards in democratic societies might have to be approved tacitly, such as those that happened in the US or Israel. Mr Sharansky believes that democracy curbs the violent urges of both individuals and regimes, and that consequently the export of democracy by any means to hand should be a key element in any national security agenda. In Mr Sharansky’s world, faltering political resolve is not least among the elements that hamper the further triumph of democracy. ‘Pacifists’ and ‘realists’ are working hand in hand with tyrants. They prefer making peace with despots over entering into an open conflict with them. Having read the two books by Mr Emmott and Mr Sharansky, both insistently pleading for the global implementation of democracy, the monograph The Future of Freedom published by the editor-in-chief of Newsweek International, Fareed Zakaria, reads like an antithesis. Mr Zakaria’s provocative theory is that life, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness are hampered by the increasing application of democratic principles in the private as well as in the public sector. Contrary to conventional wisdom, democratization is not a panacea; rather, we are suffering from an overabundance of democracy. One of the results of this development is the growing number of illiberal democracies. However, Mr Zakaria does not wish to see his book interpreted as an argument against democracy but as an appeal to take time out for a look at its ‘dark side’. The author uses historical arguments against the speedy democratization of developing countries by the West, pointing out that constitutionalism and capitalism took a long time to evolve in Europe and North America. Any society that cannot build on living structures such as these runs the risk of degenerating into an illiberal regime. Unlike Mr Sharansky, Mr Zakaria is convinced that certain economic conditions must be created in any country before the implementation of democracy as a sustainable societal model may begin. To support his argument, he quotes social scientists Seymour Martin Lipset, Adam Przeworski, and Fernando Limongi, whose research led them to the conclusion that the higher the per-capita income is in any country, the longer its system of government is likely to endure. The sociologists’ findings suggest that democratic systems are more likely to evolve in countries with a per-capita income of more than US$ 3,000, and that they become almost impossible to destabilize if the per-capita income exceeds US$ 6,000. In this context, Mr Zakaria is more concerned with embedding democracy durably and permanently and less with implementing short-lived democratic structures. In his opinion, the key lies in guaranteeing and securing stable prosperity, the prerequisite that provides the soil in which the tender seedling of democracy can grow and thrive. What is interesting is what Mr Zakaria has to say about the ‘special case of Islam’, particularly in the Middle East. The author recommends the West not to be too persistent in its demands for implementing democratic standards in the region. Rather, its strategy should be to begin by gradually liberalizing the Arab world, throwing open its economy and democratizing it only afterwards. This calls for profound economic and institutional reforms. As political framework conditions for the development of a market economy and a capitalist environment are created, a middle class of citizens and entrepreneurs will form which will ultimately generate the pressure that will produce further political reforms and put the country on the way towards sustainable democratic structures.

Asset Publisher

About this series

International Reports (IR) is the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung's periodical on international politics. It offers political analyses by our experts in Berlin and from more than 100 offices across all regions of the world. Contributions by named authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editorial team.

Ordering Information

Our periodical on international politics is published four times a year. We provide you with background information on what is happening in the world – free of charge. Use our registration form and with just a few clicks you can read the digital version of our political journal or order the print version in German or English.


Dr. Gerhard Wahlers



Benjamin Gaul

Benjamin Gaul

Head of the Department International Reports and Communication +49 30 26996 3584

Dr. Sören Soika


Editor-in-Chief International Reports (Ai) +49 30 26996 3388