Browsing articles from "June, 2010"
Jun 30, 2010
Center for Democracy and Civil Society

Here’s a hypocritical and ineffective idea

Readers of the blog know that I am not a real big fan of the war in Afghanistan. That being said, the House appropriation’s subcommittee on foreign affairs decision to cut $4 billion in aid to Afghanistan, but not cut the $110 billion military funding request is both hypocritical and ineffective. I am not sure which angers me more. The subcommittee claims they want to cut aid to reduce corruption, yet because aid is such a small part of the budget for Afghanistan and because most of the corruption comes from military spending, cutting aid will have a negligible effect on corruption.

If the subcommittee really cared about ensuring US taxpayer funds don’t fuel corruption in Afghanistan, it would cut defense appropriations. The DOD’s response would likely be that “corruption is a part of doing business in Afghanistan, so we can’t fight the war without bribing people.” This is exactly the point and it seems a little unfair to single out USAID for wasting taxpayers’ money there. The US is in Afghanistan because the Taliban poses a national security threat to the US (according to the US Government), yet the Government in Afghanistan it is trying to build is very corrupt. How does raking USAID over the coals help fix this problem? (Banging head on desk.)

FWIW, I don’t think aid to Afghanistan will be cut because DOD wants these projects.

Jun 30, 2010
Center for Democracy and Civil Society


The solution to too much bureaucracy is less bureaucracy, not more bureaucracy.

Jun 29, 2010
Center for Democracy and Civil Society

Don’t question authority, just obey

Kartik Athreya is getting a well deserved pummeling for his arrogant whining. Trust us, we’re smarter than you is a pretty lousy argument for shutting down debate since it fails on its own terms. In fact, Athreya ought to welcome the debate in order to hasten the day that will prove him right. If he is right and most economics bloggers are a bunch of troglodytes, he has nothing to worry about because they will be exposed for being charlatans sooner or later and Athreya will be vindicated. The only thing Athreya has to fear is that the knuckle draggers are right and that he is wrong, an outcome he has ruled out by assumption.

There is an anti-democratic element to this as well. A fundamental principal of a free society is that people can say what they want (i.e., even dumb ideas are protected). Don’t question the technocrat is an argument for dictatorship. If this is an outcome Athreya prefers, perhaps he can be more explicit.

Jun 29, 2010
Center for Democracy and Civil Society
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Petraeus talks to grumpy old white men

I watched a bit of Petraeus’s hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee today. The hearing really made clear that Obama’s too-clever-by-a-half Afghanistan strategy, starting to pull out of Afghanistan in July 2011 if conditions in Afghanistan warrant, isn’t holding any longer. There was no middle ground (Democrats wanted to know if July 2011 meant July 2011 and Republicans wanted to know if facts on the ground meant facts on the ground).

I don’t blame the grumpy old white men for this. It’s Obama’s fault. He is trying to have it both ways (to dems: yes, we’re leaving; to the GOP: but not quite yet). This problem is not going away, rather its going to intensify as July 2011 (just a short 12 months away) nears.

Jun 29, 2010
Center for Democracy and Civil Society

Conventional wisdom

I don’t think Thomas Friedman and Fareed Zakaria set public opinion, I think they reflect it and this sounds about right to me.

Founded in 2004, Democracy and Society is a biannual print journal published by the Center for Democracy and Civil Society at Georgetown University. The D&S Blog provides web-only content, including special reports and investigative series, on issues relating to democracy and development.

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