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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

1999, Vol. 2 No. 2 .

Policy Within and Across Developing Nations
Stuart S. Nagel

(Aldershot: Ashgate, 1999)
175pp. Index. Bibl. Hb.: ISBN 1-84014-019-4.

The study analyses economic, technology, social, political and legal policy within and across developing countries. USIA Win-Win Travelling Seminars seem to have provided much of the material for this book. The purported goal is economic development but the underlying politics of advancing US interests is the central theme.

Ethnic conflict in the contemporary world, especially in Bosnia, is seen as an opportune entrée for US intervention. A good summary of "Emergency Nations" (pp. 17-28) facing ethnic strife is provided but policy options suggested are designed to entrench US interests rather than assist development in these countries. The book offers a series of policy recommendations for American policy towards developing countries, especially those facing ethnic problems. Although the social and economic goals are consensual, the countries concerned will vigorously contest the envisaged extent of US intervention in their domestic affairs.

The study proposes a matrix to arrive at Super-Optimal Solutions (SOS) to policy problems in the developing world. It focuses on the "close positive relationship between peace, democracy, and prosperity" (p. xvi) in order to boost American trade, income and influence. In many fields the US model is advocated as a panacea to all ills! The Win-Win developmental administration model proposed to arrive at SOS in which everyone ends up ahead of their exceptions, is premised on a sanitised view of development administration.

David W. Felder's paper deftly sums up the state of the discipline of Peace Studies in the US and points out their emphasis on 'negative peace' without adequate focus on 'positive peace'. The chapter entitled "Exporting Democratic Rights as a Product" advocates a 'Win-Win alternative' of trade liberalisation to "help America's power in the world" (p. 84) with ideological exports bundled in. A queer logic of exporting free speech and human rights like cellular phones, irrespective of the political context, is advocated! The faith invested in the efficacy of market mechanism with international economic communities as the SOS, is put to severe test by ground realities.

Vasant Moharir's splendid paper stresses the importance of training policymakers from developing countries in the tools of policymaking. He contends that policies are not so much a product of technical excellence and modeling as of analytical understanding of the given situation with the political context defining the limits of the possible.

Bibliography by Robert Hunt on developmental studies and Craig Webster and David Cingranelli on human rights is extensive.

Dr. Amit Prakash
Centre for Policy Research

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