- 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 (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,211,951 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Fixing Failed States: A Framework for Rebuilding a Fractured World 1st Edition
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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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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.
The talk is amazing--I said to myself "finally, here is somebody with novel, systemic insights into international development--what works and what doesn't work." So I was very excited to get the book.
I found the book to be a somewhat tough read. In the first half the commentary wanders more than it needs to. It's clear that the authors know a lot about the history of related events, but the focus jumps around such that I struggled to pull out the key points, or find a clear line of thought. The bright spots are the stories sprinkled throughout.
The second half of the book (Parts 2 and 3) is a fairly straightforward description of the "Ten Functions of a State" that they define. It's all very sensible, although I wish there was more talk of "how to get there from here," more examples of how to actually put it into place.
I kept wishing for focused chapters on specific countries, or even situations, that would take the ideas from the book and apply them, rather than a few paragraphs here and there.
By sheer coincidence, I started reading this book at the same time as the book "The Waxman Report: How Congress Really Works" by Henry Waxman. I found that book to be an amazing read. It is one gripping story after another, with just the right amount of commentary and structure around it to give perspective. I couldn't put it down--read it in a few days, and am still talking about what I learned.
The ideas underneath this book are important and brilliant. The way it's written just didn't work for me, and I suspect for a broad audience. If these ideas were presented differently, for instance as a set of stories (like Waxman did), this would be riveting.
I hope the authors take another crack at this in a different format because the ideas are important--perhaps a different publisher?
If you care about international development, this is worth looking at--the ideas are very good.