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Fixing Failed States: A Framework for Rebuilding a Fractured World 1st Edition

14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195342697
ISBN-10: 0195342690
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ghani and Lockhart, both former U.N. advisers to Afghanistan, spotlight the critical problem of failed states: countries where governments have all but collapsed, basic services go unprovided and terrorism and criminality reign unchecked—or even abetted—by a corrupt and predatory state. The authors do a fine job in emphasizing the centrality of a strong, accountable state in addressing poverty and underdevelopment. Unfortunately, their analysis suffers from its heavy reliance on management theory. Abstractions (such as the power of networks, flows of information and capital, webs of value creation) and business-school truisms (underlying a sound management system is an effective supply-chain management) litter their turgid discussion. Fixated on New Economy conceits, they say little about the crucial task of quelling violence and lawlessness; instead they dwell on globalization-oriented development strategies drawn from Ireland, Singapore, Oregon and other regions that are not failed states. (Fatuously, they even liken Sudan's travails to those of troubled conglomerate Tyco International.) The authors do offer a persuasive critique of the ill-conceived, incoherent aid complex run by the U.N. and other agencies, which, they argue, undermines and supersedes weak states instead of stabilizing them. Aid officials could learn from these insights, but they don't amount to a comprehensive fix-it. (May)
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"Clear, taut language makes it accessible at almost any level of education...a roadmap to a groundbreaking new solution to this most pressing of global crises."--United Press International

"Ashraf Ghani is a practitioner turned theoretician. Drawing on his background at the World Bank and as the first post-Taliban finance minister of Afghanistan, he together with Clare Lockhart develops a comprehensive framework for understanding the problem of state-building. He argues persuasively that this will be the central challenge underpinning world order in our globalized age, and offers practical solutions for meeting it."--Francis Fukuyama, author of State-Building: Governance and World Order in the 21st Century

"This book is an important and timely alarm bell for the world's next crisis-and proves that no one knows more about how states function (and don't) than Ghani and Lockhart. We ignore their remedies at our peril."--Hernando de Soto, author of The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else

"Fixing Failed States provides a brilliantly crafted and extraordinarily valuable analysis of what makes states fail and what makes them succeed. Everyone concerned about improved governance-and particularly public officials at all levels in industrialized, emerging and developing nations alike-will benefit enormously from reading this and studying the great insights it provides."--Robert Hormats, Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs (International)

"Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockhart have filled a critical gap in our understanding of development, security and state-building. By combining an insightful analysis of weak and failed states with a clear-eyed proposal rooted in practical experience, the authors provide the international community with both a better understanding of the challenges we face and a solution."--Gayle Smith, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and former Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council

"Ashraf Ghani has held one of the toughest jobs on earth: the Finance Minister responsible for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. This experience grounds the analysis of failed states in a rare sense of realism. Here, he and Clare Lockhart cover the full array of problems that beset failed states, which range far beyond the conventional remit of development agencies."--Paul Collier, author of The Bottom Billion

"The authors...offer a persuasive critique of the ill-conceived, incoherent 'aid complex' run by the U.N. and other agencies, which, they argue, undermines and supersedes weak states instead of stabilizing them."--Publishers Weekly


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (May 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195342690
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195342697
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.1 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,078,099 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an utterly brilliant book that has held my attention all morning. Although the authors do not integrate the thinking in the ten books below, I am totally, deeply, impressed by their intelligence, knowledge, and good intention.

They set out to develop understanding in five areas:

1. What State needs to do
2. How international community can help
3. How timelines and interdependencies should define sequencing
4. Why one size does NOT fit all
5. Why we must accept our shared responsibility and recognize the need for both proactive intervention, and coproduction (and sharing) of wealth.

I started with the endnotes and index, which is where I begin the most intelligent books in my reading program. I immediately detected the gaps that I address with the ten annotated links, but I was also immediately won over in seeing their appreciation for the report of the High Level Threat Panel of the UN, for Singapore under Lee Kwan Yew, for the balanced score card approach (some call for a triple bottom line), for Paul Collier's focus on the bottom billion, for Paul Hawkin's et al on natural capitalism.

Within the notes, I was shocked to learn that it has been reported that the United Nations deprived Afghanistan of the first two and a half years of all donor contribution, "by agreement" with US Government and World Bank. Since one of the author's has served as Finance Minister in Afghanistan, not only do I believe this--it must never happen again.

I find in this book one of the most original, refreshing, relevant, and therefore essential reviews on the matter of the State.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Ken M. on April 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is an important, easy-to-understand look at why rebuilding failing states should be the at the top of our country's priority list. The authors provide clear cut examples of why previous efforts to curb corruption and terrorism have failed, and offer a viable "framework" for fixing these systems.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By M. Werner on June 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I would recommend reading this book to gain a rather general sense of the important issues in addressing failed states. I think the authors make a strong case for the desperate need for a more strategic/management-based approach to statebuilding.

My criticism is that I felt that the authors were often randomly picking and choosing examples that seemed to "nicely" fit their thesis while overlooking more complex cases of state failure (such as the DRC or Somalia) where their approach appears almost too clean to implement. I would have really appreciated a deeper assessment of a difficult case study where the authors attempted to implement their approach while discussing the myriad of complexities and shortcomings of their own strategies.

Though the authors do a decent job critiquing the UN and the failures of Western government interventions, I think they needed to go farther in addressing the issue of resource extraction and how the interests of the developed world in continuing such policies (or ignoring such activities all together) contradict directly with true sustainable development. If the market model is really the answer, as the authors contend, then which agency (or group of states?) can effectively serve as the honest broker in the battle between market profit/development vs. sustainable state building? This is a very important issue to address given the power imbalances between the key actors in the international system. Such imbalances exacerbate failed interventions and perpetuate state failure.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By D. Green on June 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Fixing Failed States left me with a mixture of excitement and frustration - excitement because it sets out some good ideas on state-building, frustration because it doesn't quite live up to the title and is sloppily edited, with whole chunks repeated verbatim, wandering narrative etc (shame on you, OUP!).

But let's focus on the interesting stuff. The authors have a go at a `kicking away the ladder'-style trawl of some historical examples of state-building, citing Singapore, the Southern US, European Union and Ireland. Not bad, especially when showing how Singapore went from fragile case and predicted basket case to statist development superstar. As always, there is a nobel prize-winning economist on hand (in this case Gunnar Myrdal) to pronounce that the country is doomed, just as it begins a stellar take-off.

But the real substance is drawn from Afghanistan, where the authors first met and worked together when Ghani was Finance Minister after the fall of the Taliban, and Lockhart was an adviser to the government. I previously blogged on their account of this in Prospect.
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