|Morton Halperin has served in the Nixon, Johnson and Clinton Administrations, most recently as Director of Policy Planning at the Department of State (1998-2001). He is currently a Senior Vice President of the Center for American Progress and is the Director of the Open Society Policy Center. Joseph T. Siegle is an Associate Director at the Center for Institutional Reform and the Informal Sector (IRIS), University of Maryland. Michael Weinstein is the Director of Programs at the Robin Hood Foundation. He is a former chairman of the Department of Economics at Haverford College and a former economist columnist for The New York Times where he also served on the editorial board.|
The Democracy Advantage: How Democracies Promote Prosperity and Peace
Morton Halperin, Joseph T. Siegle, and Michael Weinstein
Edited transcript of remarks, 03/17/05 Carnegie Council Authors in the Afternoon (Merrill House, New York City).
Introduction Remarks Questions and Answers
JOANNE MYERS: In November 2003, to celebrate the twentieth anniversary
of the National Endowment for Democracy, President Bush delivered a carefully
worded speech celebrating the values of democracy. Although the subtext was to
provide an acceptable rationale for the invasion of Iraq, the overriding message
of this speech was that democracy and development go hand in hand, and that the
prosperity, vitality, and technological progress of a people are directly related
to the degree of liberty which they enjoy in their everyday lives.
back over the past two years, I am sure there are many of you in the audience
who may take issue with the manner in which our President has promoted his vision
for democracy. Nonetheless, recent research, including that of our speakers this
afternoon, has shown that the predominant theme of that November 2003 address
has proven to be a good idea. That is to say, democratic governments have shown
themselves capable of doing a far better job of generating improved standards
of living and fostering social and economic development as compared with their
In reviewing forty years of hard empirical data from
such divergent locales as China and India, to Bulgaria and Belarus, our panelists
will make the case that the argument "development first/democracy later" is not
only wrong, but it has led to policies that have undermined international efforts
to improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the developing world.
In the end, they tell us, democracy is not the enemy of development, but rather
its essential ally.
At a time when our national leaders are extolling the virtues
of democracy abroad and foreign policy debates are invariably linked to development
issues, it is with great pleasure that I welcome our panelists, all of whom have
thought about these issues in both theoretical and practical terms, and are prepared
to present to us a new vision for our foreign policy that combines the best of
America's democratic and economic values.
Please join me in welcoming our guests,
Mort Halperin, Joseph Siegle, and Michael Weinstein. You will find their bios
attached to your guest list today.
MORT HALPERIN: Michael, Joe, and I have developed a vaudeville routine
in which I explain why we wrote the book, Joe tells you what we found, and then
Michael offers our policy recommendations.
We worked hard to make this very current, and so we have arranged for the President
to announce this morning that he is sending Paul
Wolfowitz to the World
Bank. The Washington Post ran a strange interview in which the reporter
accuses of Wolfowitz of going to the Bank with the intention of promoting democracy,
and Wolfowitz assures him that that is not true.
I was actually for him until I read that interview. But perhaps we can persuade him that he really ought to go to the World Bank and promote democracy, because, as you will see that is one of the conclusions we draw.
driven to write this study by noticing what seemed to be a paradox, which predates
the Bush Administration, and which has continued, notwithstanding the change in
rhetoric of the Bush Administration. That is, successive American presidents have
said, particularly since the end of the Cold War, that a major goal of American
foreign policy was to spread or enlarge or enhance democracy, and that our foreign
policy was geared to supporting those who were struggling to establish and maintain
Yet if you look at development assistance from the United States, from the international
financial institutions, and even from the Europeans and the European Community,
you find that there is no democracy advantage. That is, democratic countries, in fact, receive
less development assistance than do non-democratic countries. You also find in
the rhetoric, and even the charters, of development agencies a belief that democracy
is not their business. They increasingly talk about good governance as one aspect
of development, but not about democracy. The people who run USAID
believe that their job is to promote development, and not democracy. That permits
them to consider good-governance issues, but not to ask the fundamental question:
Is this a democratic society that we want to support?
Indeed, the international
financial institutions have, with one exception, charters which require them not
to take account of whether a country is a democracy, or as it is referred to in the charters, its political criteria.
Underlying this policy of governments and international financial institutions
is a belief about how democracy relates to development. There is a widely held
view that poor countries need to delay democracy until they develop. Back when
I was in college, this was the Scandinavian view of democracy, that only Scandinavian
countries were capable of being democratic, and that you needed to have a solid
middle class before you could contemplate democracy. The argument went —
as presented in the writings of Samuel
Huntington and Seymour
Martin Lipset — that if a poor country became democratic, because of
the pressures in a democracy to respond to the interests of the people, they would
borrow too much, they would spend the money in ways that did not advance development
— arguments that the current president of Mexico is making about his possible
successor. These poor decisions would mean that development would not occur; and
because people would then be disappointed, they would return to a dictatorship.
Therefore, the prescription was, get yourself a benign dictator — it was never
quite explained how you would make sure you had a dictator that spent the money
to develop the country rather than ship it off to a Swiss bank account — wait
until that produces development, which produces a middle class, and then, inevitably,
the middle class will demand freedom, and you will have a democratic government.
That proposition was wrong. We discovered two views on this. One is that nobody
believes that anymore and therefore we didn't have to write the book. But this
seemed to be contradicted by the fact that policy reflected this proposition.
The other view was that the proposition was true, and therefore it was a waste
of time to write this book because if we did it honestly, we would discover that
people should wait; the arguments for it were irrefutable, and therefore this
exercise was a waste of time.
We had a hunch that it was not true. We also believed
that, for the first time, the data was available to look at this question empirically
and ask the question: Is there a democracy advantage or disadvantage for poor
countries that want to both develop and solidify their democracy?
From our examination
of the data, we came to some policy conclusions.
JOSEPH SIEGLE: Three underlying assumptions have driven this thesis about
an authoritarian advantage and remain very prevalent today:
1) Poor countries
do better under authoritarian governments in terms of economic development, because
authoritarian systems are better able to manage and marshal the limited resources
in those countries.
I will organize my comments around
those three assumptions, and clarify a couple of our own assumptions as we went
2) Once these countries reach some middle-income level of
development, they are in a better position to make a transition to democracy,
and do so successfully.
3) Efforts at premature democratization are highly likely
to result not only in underdevelopment, but in civil conflict. They will expose
the various fractious differences that you have in these often ethnically diverse
societies and result in political instability.
One, our analysis focused on poor countries with per capita incomes
below $2,000 a year. We did this because there isn't any debate that wealthier
countries are better off as democracies, and that wealthy democracies have the
most sterling track record at accumulating assets and wealth over time. The debate
is, how do you get there? Should economic growth come first?
We also tried to
be as comprehensive as possible. We looked at all poor countries, as far back
as we could get data, from 1960 until the present. We did this to avoid the anecdote
focus of the debate that has largely driven how we have been thinking about these
issues for the last fifty years, where individual cases were being held up as
the model for how development should occur.
Third, we used a very robust definition of democracy. We wanted to go beyond the
traditional litmus test of elections as being the defining characteristic and
look at what we often assume in our understanding of democracy to be other important
qualifying criteria — namely, that there are institutions of shared power,
checks on the chief executive, and institutions of popular participation, including
protections for civil liberties. We have operationalized our definition using
a couple of independent indices: one, the Polity
Index, created by Ted Gurr at the University of Maryland; and second, Freedom
House's annual index on freedom.
With that background, let me turn to the three assumptions and
how we analyzed them empirically.
First, the notion that authoritarian countries
do better in their development. In the last forty-five years of actual performance,
there is no evidence that poor authoritarian countries have grown any more rapidly
than poor democracies. If you leave out East Asia, you see that poor democracies
have grown 50 percent more rapidly, on average, during this period. The Baltic
countries, Botswana, Costa Rica, Ghana, and Senegal have grown more rapidly than
the Angolas, the Syrias, the Uzbekistans, and the Zimbabwes of the world. This
is the case even though fully 25 percent of authoritarian countries don't report
their economic information. One of the defining characteristics of this regime type
very much factors into how we can even analyze this information. Presumably, if
those countries were included, the autocratic growth track record would be even
The records when we look at social dimensions of development — access to
drinking water, girls' literacy, health care — are even more starkly divergent.
For example, in terms of life expectancy, poor democracies typically enjoy life
expectancies that are nine years longer than poor autocracies. Opportunities of
finishing secondary school are 40 percent higher. Infant mortality rates are 25
percent lower. Agricultural yields are about 25 percent higher, on average, in
poor democracies than in poor autocracies — an important fact, given that 70 percent
of the population in poor countries is often rural-based.
There are many reasons
for this, which we can talk about in the question-and-answer period. One characteristic
that seems particularly prominent is that democracies do a far better job at avoiding
catastrophes of all types. If we look at financial catastrophes for each of the
last four decades and look at the twenty worst performers over each of those decades,
we find that of eighty cases, only five are democracies. Similarly, if you look
at a 10 percent contraction in GDP per capita on an annual basis, you find that
poor democracies are half as likely to experience this sort of acute recession
as are autocracies.
We see similar patterns with regard to humanitarian issues.
Refugee crises are almost invariably a result of the politics in authoritarian
systems. If you look at the volume of refugee flows for the last twenty years,
you have to go up to the eighty-eighth case to find a situation that wasn't an
autocracy. This was Sierra Leone in the late 1990s.
the Nobel laureate economist, famously noted that no democracy with a free press
has experienced a major famine.
One of the immediate assumptions made is that
this is because of the populist pressures that democracies face; therefore, they
are investing much more in their health and education sectors, leading to other
macroeconomic problems. In fact, that is not true. To our surprise, poor democracies
don't spend any more on their health and education sectors as a percentage of
GDP than do poor autocracies, nor do they get higher levels of foreign assistance.
They don't run up higher levels of budget deficits. They simply manage the resources
that they have more effectively.
So the secret of democracies' success, in many
ways, is their consistency over time. Perhaps there is no better example of this
than the United States, which, throughout its history, has rarely been the fastest-growing
country or had the fastest-growing economy in the world, but, by averaging just
over 2 percent of GDP growth a year, it has systematically accumulated the most
massive wealth base of any country in history.
Let me move on to the second assumption,
the notion that once autocratic countries reach a middle-income range, they will
make the transition to democracy. Given the limited growth that we have seen under authoritarian
systems, relatively few authoritarian countries actually reach this middle-income range.
In fact, since 1960, only sixteen autocratic countries have reached a per capita base above
$2,000 a year.
Zakaria's book argues, in a repostulation of the Lipset and Huntington theses,
that we shouldn't be pushing democracy until these countries reach per capita
incomes of $6,000 a year. If we were to do that, of today's eighty-seven democratizers,
only four would qualify as being ready. That would exclude the Baltics, Costa
Rica, Poland, South Africa, and many others.
We are not saying that all poor democracies
perform better than all poor autocracies. Clearly, there are some exceptions.
However, even among those poor autocracies that have grown, they are no more likely
to make the transition to democracy once they have grown or once they have reached a middle-income
status than they were when they were poorer. As we look at the exceptionality
of these growers, most of which are in East Asia, we need to ask why they are
so different from other authoritarian systems and what is distinctive about them.
We should then compare them against the sixty-five to seventy authoritarian countries
that have had abysmal development track records to keep their performance in perspective
— to learn from it, but to recognize that it represents a poor basis for a development
The third and final assumption is the notion that premature democratization
is a recipe for instability. We find empirically no strong basis for this reasonable
hypothesis. What we do see, borne out in much of the conflict literature of the
last fifteen years, is that the prevailing factor that influences conflict — and
today most conflict is civil conflict — is poverty. Poor countries are more likely
to be in conflict than wealthier countries. Countries of per capita incomes below
$2,000 have been in conflict, on average, one year out of five since 1980. Above
$4,000 a year, it is one year in thirty-three.
When you control for that and you
look at countries that are going through political transition, you find that democratizers
are no more likely to be vulnerable to conflict than are other poor countries.
Since the end of the Cold War, they are somewhat less likely to be conflict-prone.
In sub-Saharan Africa, where most of the civil conflict has taken place in recent
years, democratizers have been half as likely to experience civil conflict as
have other poor countries in that region.
All of this has important ramifications
for international security issues. Thirty percent of civil conflicts spill over
across their borders. Civil conflict in one country tends to reduce the per capita
growth levels among neighbors by, on average, a rate of 0.5 percent a year. This
increases the likelihood of political instability and economic turmoil. Poor countries
with weak governance structures are inherently better locations for international
terrorist organizations to set up shop and conduct their operations.
In sum, the
three core assumptions that have underpinned the authoritarian advantage thesis
over the years aren't borne out through our empirical analysis. What we find is
that the form of government that is in place in the developing world has a huge
difference on the development performance realized, and that by holding onto these
notions that we should defer democracy until some later point, we are, in effect,
perpetuating underdevelopment and higher levels of political and sectarian conflict,
as well as deferring the point at which people can govern themselves.
MICHAEL WEINSTEIN: Our book offers seven major policy recommendations.
I would like to focus on the three most important suggestions.
1) Whether aid is
bilateral, multilateral, quadrilateral, let's give it to the democracies and democratizers,
and not to poor autocracies.
The analogy is the environment. As anybody who walks into Economics 101
learns early on, if you have a silent victim, it will be victimized. In this country,
when we wanted to take the environment into account, we passed a law that said
that when Congress does anything interesting, they had better do an environmental
impact statement; they had better tell the builders that they are about to trample
on the environment and by how much. Environmental impact statements became deeply
embedded into federal policymaking, and in many state and local policies.
Some people will object, "How could you not help
poor people who live in Zimbabwe?"
Our answer would be the following: A poor person
is a poor person. I don't have any particular reason to want to favor one set
of poor people over another. Since the amount of aid we give to help the poor,
particularly in the United States, will not reach all the poor people in the world,
why not give money to the countries in which there is a chance that the aid will
help poor people, rather than wasting it on countries and governments that don't
have a prayer of helping their poor? I have no problem refusing aid money to Zimbabwe,
when we know the money will be wasted on a corrupt and inept government, when
we could give it to an "ept" and non-corrupt government — or at least a democracy
— and have a much higher probability that that assistance will actually do what
we want, which is help the poor. Why not favor democracy when you have a choice?
When we get to the point where we cure all poverty in poor democracies, then we
can have a conversation about what the best policy is toward aid for non-democracies.
2) There is a powerful argument to be made for not having the U.S. Treasury dominating
where aid policies go. So we recommend that aid flow out of a coordination panel,
where you have the Secretary of State, the head of USAID, and the Treasury join
together to make important aid decisions. The point is to have the State Department's
political and democracy issues on a level playing field with green-eyeshade economists
counting up dollars and cents.
3) The third policy implication is somewhat more
novel. We argue that development policies have been anti-democratic. They have
trampled on the incipient groups, such as civil groups inside poor countries, anmd run roughshod
over them to force countries to follow policies drawn up by Washington D.C.,
and not by the countries involved. Democracy can be a victim in lots of silent
advocate the same for democracy. It is so clearly connected to growth and prosperity
that we say, highlight it, so that whenever a government like the United States, an agency
like USAID, a bilateral or multilateral organization begins to contemplate aid
policy, it would issue a democracy impact statement. Give us a good prediction
of how the policy as proposed and implemented will trample on democratic forces
within the poor countries to receive the aid.
JOANNE MYERS: Thank you very much. I would like to open the floor to questions.
Questions and Answers
QUESTION: Would you address the question of why democracy helps development
more than authoritarian governments?
JOSEPH SIEGLE: We synthesize our response into three major categories.
The first is the notion of shared power. In democracies, you have mechanisms of
both vertical and horizontal accountability. Horizontal accountability reins in
a chief executive who may want to pursue a radical course of policy much more
than would take place in an authoritarian system. Vertical accountability gives
incentives for any political leader to try to appeal to the median voter. You
have moderating effects through those checks and balances.
The second is the idea
of openness that is a key defining criterion of democracy as opposed to autocracies.
With more openness, you get better information that is directed into policy decisions
than you do in authoritarian systems. You must consider unwanted information in
a democratic system, where it can be more easily excluded in authoritarian structures.
When things go wrong after a decision is made in democracies, an alarm bell sounds
more quickly than in authoritarian structures. Political leaders are pressured
to reverse or adjust course, so that the negative effects of decisions are reined
in, whereas in an authoritarian system, these problems tend to continue for much
longer, leading to crises.
The other dimension of openness gets into a discussion
about efficiency of markets. When there is more symmetry on all sides of a market,
buyers and sellers, you usually get more efficiency, more willingness for people
to participate. That doesn't happen if people are unsure if they have all of the
facts on the table.
Openness also contributes to higher levels of transparency
and lower levels of corruption. Data show that corruption cuts heavily into GDP
growth on an annual basis.
The third point is adaptability. Democracies not only
have a self-correcting mechanism, but also mechanisms for a systematic means of
changing ineffective leadership. This allows for a stable transition to a new
policy framework that might allow for a more effective process of addressing the
problems that a country is facing, one that is appropriate for its particular
circumstances. Because of this process of succession, you don't have the same
instability in democracies that heavily cuts into growth in other systems, either
because of the political uncertainty or the civil conflict that results.
MICHAEL WEINSTEIN: We see powerful differences between the economic circumstances
of a democracy versus a non-democracy in that democracies don't suffer famines.
This is related to the means of shared power and the forces of resistance that
can bubble up in a democracy, but not in an autocracy. Democracies don't fall
off the edge of the cliff and hit bottom in the way autocracies do.
QUESTION: The administration has been working with the Millennium
Challenge Corporation now for several years. How do you judge it, and where
is it going?
MORTON HALPERIN: We are big fans of the Millennium
Challenge Account. In my day job, I work for the Open
Society Institute running their lobbying program in Washington. We have been
lobbying hard for the creation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, for funding it, and are working
with the corporation to have it fulfill its intended purposes.
Because we lobbied
based on the results of this book for changes in what the President originally
sent up, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, as it is structured, very closely follows our recommendations.
It has objective criteria for countries which are eligible, based on indices produced
outside the U.S. Government. They relate to good governance, including democracy,
to addressing the basic needs of the people, such as education and health. These
policies are all consistent with what we found to be important.
The word in Washington
is that it is getting off to a slow start. It hasn't yet disbursed any money.
If you look at the history of new institutions and you consider all the institutionalized
opposition, it is remarkable that it is up and running at all. It has identified
some countries and begun negotiations with them. In the end, it will be a very
We would like it to be multilateralized, for the United States to encourage the
G8 countries, the
Union, and the World Bank to adopt similar criteria. I would like to see us
reach the point where countries qualify for all of these entities with one single
agreement, so they don't have to negotiate twelve different times. The money would
flow in, consistent with a plan that the country owns; the money would go, as
in the Millennium Challenge Corporation, to private groups and local governments,
as well as to the national government. We would also give money, as the MCC can,
to countries that almost meet the criteria, to help them figure out how to get
One of the reasons why this is the right way to go
is that we want to use development assistance, even though it is very small, to
create an incentive towards democracy of the kind that the European Union has
created in Europe. The countries of Central Europe have had a powerful incentive
to democratize, because they want to get into the EU to protect democracy or to
improve their standard of living. By making democracy an essential criterion for
membership, the EU has encouraged countries, whether it is Ukraine or now Belarus,
to become democratic.
We need to offer the same incentive to countries in the
rest of the world. The way to do that is to channel development assistance through
a process like the Millennium Challenge Account, but to channel not just the U.S.
development assistance, but the development assistance from the rest of the world,
in a single, unified way.
QUESTION: The perception remains that some democratic countries, by their
foreign policy and their geopolitical outtake of the world, are not providing
for prosperity, democracy, and stability.
My second question is related to Latin America. A number of countries that went
down the democratic path ten years ago are today facing huge challenges of democratic
rollback because of corruption, instability, and lack of institutional strength.
Because of corruption, these democracies are not able to deliver. If you look
at the last Latinobarometer
poll, where most of those polled say that, yes, they support democracy as a form
of government, the moment you ask the question, "Are you willing to give up some
of the virtues of democracy to get food, the services you need, public security,"
a sizable portion of the population is saying, "I'd rather give up that to get
Did you tackle either one of these issues in the book?
MORTON HALPERIN: I think that is a false choice. The book demonstrates
that you are much less likely to get the desired amount of prosperity if you turn
away from democracy. Yes, many democracies have not delivered as much as people
had hoped for, but the way to get what you want is to strengthen the democracy
to deal with the issues of corruption and inequality, and not to think that if
you turn away from democracy, you will do better. The evidence is overwhelming
that you will do worse.
JOSEPH SIEGLE: We don't argue that all democracies have performed better.
Some have struggled. We do talk about Latin America because it is a fascinating,
evolving process that is at the epicenter of many of these questions. Despite
all of the rancor regarding the region, only three countries in Latin America
have lower per capita incomes today than they did in 1990. Incomes are 25 percent
greater today than they were in 1990, on average, in Latin America.
open societies, people talk more often about problems, about corruption, and about
their disgust with the failings of their political leaders. It is not that the
corruption and abuses are new. There is an inverse relationship in these early
stages of transition, where you have a period of worsening perceptions, even though
the actual processes are improving. Transparency is a necessary prerequisite.
MICHAEL WEINSTEIN: There is certainly an analogy between Latin America
and Eastern Europe, say, after 1990. Economics invariably bites and produces less
success than was promised. The result is a backlash, as we have seen in Eastern
Europe, where there has been an ebb and flow of political orientations and expectations.
Latin America is a classic case in point.
MORTON HALPERIN: What I found most surprising is how infrequently poor
economic performance leads to the end of a democratic regime. That occurs much
less frequently than I had feared and assumed.
We have an obligation to help countries
that have taken that path to succeed in democracy. Part of that is more assistance.
Part of that is backing off the Washington consensus of the advice we give these
countries about how to develop, which turns out to be a model that no country
has ever succeeded in following.
QUESTION: Democracy does work, mostly because people who couldn't do their
thing before can suddenly do their thing. The statistics suggest that large amounts
of aid from the World Bank and USAID go from our government to theirs, and that
somehow this creates more democracy. In fact, it does not. It merely leaves in
power or puts back in power the very people who were running the government ten
years ago, but now are called Republicans or Democrats, or whatever the Eastern
European equivalent is, instead of Communists. The growth of these countries will
not come from those people.
Where democracy can be helpful, though, is at very
low levels of the economy. In Armenia, we were giving tiny bits of working capital
to people who were living in hovels. With that working capital, they were able
to expand very small businesses. You get a welling up of economic activity from
the depths, which can be significant, both for democracy and economic growth.
A young man brings in television sets from the West and repairs them in Romania
and then turns around and sells them again locally, creating hundreds of jobs.
That under the Communist Party you couldn't have done that, but under a more democratic
system you can, is where the promise lies.
We need to change the direction of
aid, from giving money government to government — to the very people who caused
the problem fifteen or twenty years ago — to giving to people at the very low
level, who will be the wave of the economic future. I would like to see a shift
of aid away from the traditional paradigm thave we have used to something which is much more related to very poor people, who can really benefit from having a little extra money in their pockets.
MICHAEL WEINSTEIN: There is always a danger in flopping from one generality
to another in search of systematic evidence. The literature on development is
pretty weak, about whether microenterprise or any other such tactic can leave
a deep footprint on the economy of a country. It doesn't mean it is not true,
but we certainly don't have a literature to that effect.
A substantial part of
the book talks about aid, what it should and shouldn't go for. We provide a lot
of aid that isn't really aid at all. It is a payoff to Pakistan in the terrorism
battle, for example. Let's not call that money economic aid. Let's have it given by
the Defense Department; have it be temporary, have an exit strategy. But let's
not call "aid" something that doesn't have anything to do with economic development.
Part of the problem that we run into in measuring the impact of aid is that we
use the same label for flows of money that have completely different goals and
intentions, and we expect completely different outcomes.
JOSEPH SIEGLE: One of the problems and barriers to growth is when you have
both the political and economic monopolization of power in a single set of hands.
This is often one of the characteristic traits of authoritarian systems. To the
extent that you can separate economic opportunity from political authority, you
will be in a better position to develop. By channeling all of our assistance through
central governments, we tend to perpetuate the consolidation. That undercuts the
opportunities for development.
QUESTION: Faced with various shades of democracies today, where would one
draw the line in extending aid and financial support? You mentioned some criteria
that you developed as to what connotes democracy. Would three out of five be sufficient?
Would just one be sufficient? What criteria would we develop to extend support?
JOSEPH SIEGLE: Of the criteria we mentioned, all three of the three would
be required. We try to use a relatively robust standard. At the back of the book,
we have listings of the indices, to give you a sampling of the types of countries
that would qualify.
There are no perfect democracies. Even among industrialized
democracies, there are deficiencies. It is an ongoing process. Countries that
have established these checks and balances on power, that have rules that protect
civil society and give opportunities for popular participation more successfully
use the resources. They have demonstrated superior economic and social development,
and thus are the best bets for our assistance.
QUESTION: Can you say a bit more about the East Asian exception which seems
to come up in almost every development/democracy debate? Looking forward at China
versus India, which one will do better? Lastly, please don't channel aid to Pakistan
through the Defense Department. That way, none of it will go to development.
MORTON HALPERIN: The Defense Department already has enough money. We want
to get our hands on some of that money, rather than give it more money for this
We used to be taught that the China and India comparison shows that you
need to be an autocratic government in order to develop. What I think it actually showed is that you need sensible policies in order to develop. India is now growing very quickly
because it has changed its economic and governance policies.
One of my favorite
stories about the impact of enhanced democracy on how development works is a story
about the Freedom of Information Act in India. An advocate for the Act came out
to a local village. He had obtained a report on how much money had been given
by the government to this village for development and what it had been spent on.
A huge crowd came out and squeezed into a structure with four walls and no roof.
He told them, first, how much money had been given. They were all astonished,
because they couldn't figure out how it had been spent. Then he said, "Let's look
at what it's been spent for. The first item was building a roof for the school."
Everybody started laughing. He looked up and asked, "Why are you all laughing?"
They said, "We're in the school right now." The money had not been spent on the
roof, but had gone into somebody's pocket.
JOSEPH SIEGLE: It is fascinating to compare the authoritarian East Asian Tigers,
which have grown, to other authoritarians, because the distinctions are quite
stark. To list a few, the East Asian Tigers created space early on for the private
sector and free markets. This was, for the most part, distinct from political
considerations, which is typically not the case in most authoritarian systems.
Similarly, there were relatively more checks and balances on the chief executives
in these Tigers than there are in the often neo-patrimonial systems that you have
in Africa, Central Asia, and Latin America, which has also helped contribute to
their more moderate, encompassing policies. That they started with relatively
more equitable populations also created a greater sense of responsibility and
compact between rulers and the general populations.
Many of the Tigers had democratic
origins and extensive democratic influences. Through the British colonial structures,
the institutions of democracy were set up in Indonesia which provided mechanisms
for them to maximize governance structures for growth. Taiwan and South Korea
had heavy U.S. influences — political, military, financial — which steered their
direction, both economically and politically. Their access to U.S. markets certainly
contributed to their growth as well.
MICHAEL WEINSTEIN: What we learned in sifting through scores of cases is
that they are the exception. If you can clone the East Asian miracle, go right
ahead and do it. But when many countries have tried, they have failed miserably.
We don't need to explain every instance. We don't have that kind of deterministic
notion of predicting success or lack thereof. We would merely note that if you
go down that road, the overwhelming probability is that you will be worse off.
QUESTION: Is it possible for overwhelmingly Muslim societies to develop
MORTON HALPERIN: Some years ago when I was in the government, I participated
in a panel discussion in preparation for the first Community
of Democracies meeting in Warsaw. Paul Wolfowitz was an NGO representative
from the board of Freedom House. Being a good government official, I read what
I was given to say. In response to this question, I said that data indicate that
a majority of the world's Muslims live in democratizing countries or in democracies.
Paul Wolfowitz passed me a note saying, "Where did you get this from? It's clearly
wrong." I said I didn't know, that I was a government official, and I read what
I was told, but I would go back and find out. So I went back to my office, and
I said, "Paul Wolfowitz says this is wrong. Where did it come from?" They said,
"It comes from Freedom House."
I sent Paul a note saying, "It turns out that we
got this from you, so you need to check your facts, not me."
Indonesia is doing
remarkably well in its democratic tradition. Nigeria is not doing quite so well,
but compared to many African countries, it remains more or less on the path of
democracy. The Muslims in India support democracy in no way different from the
Hindus in India.
I see nothing to suggest that Muslim culture or religion stands
in the way of democracy.
The current debate is over whether the people in the
streets of Lebanon are the same as those in the streets of Ukraine. We know, from
many anecdotes, that the people in Lebanon watched the people in Ukraine on their
television. Free Arab television was much more important in exposing them to Ukraine
than it was to events in the Middle East. The Lebanese believe that they are doing
what the people of Ukraine did, and out of the same passions and convictions.
JOANNE MYERS: Thank you all for advancing the argument that democracy furthers
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