I’m currently reading William Easterly’s The White Man’s Burden, which is pretty well-written and reasonably argued. The most surprising content (for me) was Part III, which is an 80 page case against imperialism and nation building. As an economist, Easterly doesn’t wish to comment on the national security implications of “invading the poor,” but he analyzes the implications for the poor countries themselves.
Easterly opens chapter nine with a mockingly acerbic table. Selected entries:
|Intervention||Negative consequences||Silver lining for United States|
|Vietnam War, 1961-1975||58,000 American dead; Communists still rule Vietnam; one of poorest countries in world; millions of Vietnamese dead||Explosion of Vietnamese restaurants in United States|
|Cambodia, 1970-73; support of pro-American military ruler; American invading and bombing||Khmer Rouge genocide; Vietnamese invasion; today one of poorest, most corrupt, most tyrannized nations||Cambodian food is good, too|
|Backing Haile Selassie in Ethiopia against Soviet-backed Somlia||Military overthrows Selassie and aligns itself with Soviets; two decades of civil war; Ethiopia still one of poorest countries in world||Live Aid concert to help Ethiopia in 1985 gave valuable experience to Live 8 musicians to help Africa twenty years later|
|Switching to back Somalia against Soviet-backed Ethiopia||Devastation of Ethiopia-Somalia with war-famine; collapse of Somali state and descent into chaos; fiasco of American intervention of 1994||Black Hawk Down was great book and movie|
|Backing Jonas Savimbi against Soviet-backed Angolan government in 195 and again in 1980s||Government wins anyway; civil war continues after Soviet and Cubans leave and American aid ends; Savimbi is power-hungry warlord; land mines outnumber people; spectacular misery today despite great mineral wealth||Can’t think of any|