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TRANSCRIPT: Author, Economist Speaks to U.S. Africa Command Staff
<i>Dr. Paul Collier, a widely respected author and Oxford economist, spoke to U.S. Africa Command staff, March 3, 2010, on key political, economic, and security issues in post-conflict environments in Africa. <br /> <br />The presentation was
Dr. Paul Collier, a widely respected author and Oxford economist, spoke to U.S. Africa Command staff, March 3, 2010, on key political, economic, and security issues in post-conflict environments in Africa. The presentation was part of the Commander's Speakers Series, an initiative to bring in speakers with diverse viewpoints to the command to share ideas and thoughts. Collier, professor of economics and director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies, Oxford University, is the author of the 2007 book, "The Bottom Billion: Why Countries are Failing and What can Be Done About It," as well as the 2009 book, :Wars, Guns and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places." His talk reflected his own opinions, not those of U.S. Africa Command or its staff. See related article at The complete transcript is provided below: PAUL SAXTON: Good afternoon. Sorry that we're a little bit late, but we'll blame it on Gen. Ward because his meeting was a little late earlier, so the lunch is a little late. (Laughter.) We are tremendously pleased to -- GEN. WILLIAM E. WARD: Paul -- (off mike). MR. SAXTON: Well, you can blame the people who programmed everything too closely together is the reality. But it's just a testimony to the person that we have here today, who is in such high demand, that nothing is going to go on time; it's going to take a lot longer. We are very pleased and privileged to have with us today one of the foremost thinkers on political and economic development in Africa. His book of a couple of years ago, that many of you have read, "The Bottom Billion," was on almost everybody in the developmental world's must-read list. He's a professor of economics at Oxford University. He is an advisor to the IMF and to the World Bank. His most recent book, which is the title of his presentation, which is -- PAUL COLLIER: "Wars, Guns and Votes." MR. SAXTON: -- "Guns and Votes" -- (laughter) -- he's hawking today, and his next book he'll also preview a little bit. And to tell you how much of an honor it is for us, I learned today that this is going to be a preview of a presentation that he will be making to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in their annual Defense Senior Leader conference in June. So we're going to get to hear what the Joint Chiefs are going to hear in a couple of months. So without further ado, let me introduce Dr. Paul Collier. (Applause.) MR. COLLIER: Thanks very much -- (inaudible). These introductions always scare me rigid, you know. What am I going to say? Let me try and -- there are no experts in the area that I'm going to talk about, all right? The idea that I am an expert who can tell you your job; forget it, right? I will give you a bit of perspective from where I see things and you make of it what you can. I've tried to research the causes of insecurity. You're in the security business, so the cause of the insecurity kind of matter. Why is there an AFRICOM? There is an AFRICOM because Africa is kind of structurally insecure. Why is it structurally insecure? I think there are three characteristics which have made it structurally insecure, and they make anywhere in the world structurally insecure. There is nothing, as it were, picking Africa out about this. Where you find these features in conjunction, you find the problems of insecurity. And one is just sheer poverty. Low income in a country makes it just more prone to violence. And there are various reasons for that. You know, security -- the provision of security is a public good. If the country is dirt poor, the country can't afford a lot of security, especially if the country is small because security is an economy's business. So big countries tend to be actually safer than little countries. Little countries that are poor, they can't afford much security. Meanwhile, it's quite cheap for these people that are poor to come up with internal rebellions. Rebellion is cheap. Kabila -- Kabila I, Kabila the First -- who became president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, that inappropriately-named entity, as he was marching towards Kinshasa with his army, a journalist blocked him and said (inaudible) -- And he said to this journalist, oh, he said -- (speaks in foreign language) -- "rebellion is easy." He said, "What do you mean?" "It's $10,000 and a satellite phone." And he was exaggerating, but he explained. He said, "With $10,000 you can hire yourself a pretty decent small army, and with a satellite phone you can start to do the resource extraction things." And by the time he got to Kinshasa, he'd already reputedly done $500 million of resource extraction deals with companies trying to get hold of him and say, if you're in power, we want to do business with you. So poverty is a big trial and stagnation another big trial. And stagnation means no jobs, no hope, and then young men are easy fodder for recruitment activities. So poverty, stagnation, and finally, the presence of valuable natural resources because valuable natural resources give you something -- they do two things. One is they make the honey pot of power very attractive, and the other is that they give rebel groups ready means to finance their activities. And so, where you get this, as it were, all -- (inaudible) -- come up if poverty, stagnation and a lot of natural resources, you're prone to insecurity, and Africa -- most of Africa's countries have, over the last three or four decades, had that bundle of characteristics: poverty, stagnation, insecurity. Let's look forward. Let's look forward. How are things going to change? The past decade, growth rates have tended to go up, so that's good news. The next decade is very hard to read, but the one thing that I think is a certainty is that there will be very big resource extraction. Resource extraction is going to be -- natural resource extraction is going to be the -- (inaudible) -- in Africa. I'm going to give you the one number that you will remember from this talk. I should say professional speakers describe this hour, the hour kind of after lunch, as the graveyard hour as everybody falls asleep. (Laughter.) But you will remember this. We're going to take the average square kilometer of the rich countries. Let's call the OECD the rich world. So imagine the globe and we're going to take all the rich countries in the world and we're going to take the average square kilometer of the rich world. Now, I'm going to tell you that underneath that average square kilometer is about $120,000 worth of natural resources, some sort of assets to be taken out. And now we're going to move to Africa and we're going to take the average square kilometer of Africa and we're going to do the same thing. And to make it more interesting, you're going to tell me -- you're going to tell me what the number is. At least you're going to tell me within a range. I'm going to tell you that Africa, it could be less than $120,000, it could be more than $120,000, and you're going to vote. You're going to vote. You're going to vote. (Laughter.) Who wants to vote for less? And who wants to vote for more? And this is why you'll all remember it because you're all wrong except for one hand over there. (Laughter.) And the right number is about $23,000, about a fifth. Now, I've cheated because I said -- I didn't use the word "known." "Known" actual assets, eh? I just said natural assets. What I gave you actually were the figures for known actual assets. You know, I would've liked to give you the figures for unknown actual assets. I couldn't find them! (Laughter.) Now, there are two possible explanations for why this -- we're taking huge slices of the Earth's surface. And don't forget, geology was formed millions and millions of years ago. It's massively unlikely that by chance two huge areas of the world's surface, which have such different averages beneath them. So the chances of it just being bad luck are not very good. Much, much more likely what's riding it is there's been a surge. Now, if we actually look then at things like the drilling data for oil, there's been a lot -- a surge in Africa. I was in Zambia recently. Did you know, there's never been a resource discovery more than 10 miles from a major travel road? And if you look at a map of Zambia, which I'm sure you have to do, there aren't many travel roads in Zambia. It's a huge territory but not many roads. So now, that's only to date. Why you all put your hands up, you're all in one sense, part right. The big story in Africa is already resource riches. Resource riches dominate the soil. Multiply it by five to get an approximation to what's actually there. Now, why hasn't it come out of the ground already? Because you've had a history of very bad politics and then low commodity prices. And now, it's the last frontier for resource discovery. We've discovered the other sites. We've discovered elsewhere. So the last frontier for resource discovery is Africa. Resource-extraction companies know it. That's why China, India, Brazil as well as America and Europe -- all the resource-extraction companies, over the next 10-20 years, those massive resources will be found. They will come out of the ground. And the question is, what will they do? Now, what will they do to win security? It's a two-edged sword. If the resource extraction can raise incomes, then higher income will build a more secure future. If the resource extraction doesn't raise incomes but just sits there as honey pots, it will increase insecurity. And so the future, security versus insecurity, to my mind, depends fundamentally upon how this wave of resource extraction is going to be harnessed. If it's business as usual then we've already got our answer. Business as usual means insecurity will go up. There are very fancy new statistical studies showing that, historically, when commodity prices have gone up, insecurity has gone up. So if history plays out again, just repeats itself -- and history's got a nasty habit of doing that unless something changes -- then we're in for an increase in instability. So to my mind, the real battlefront is trying to manage those natural resource extraction processes more successfully than in the past. And that's not your job. Your job will be to pick up the security consequences of however that plays out. But you should at least be aware of what's driving the demand for your job. Now, let me turn from the -- sort of the underlying causes of insecurity and that sort of prognosis of what's likely to play out and we're now going to back on ourselves and say, what's been the international community's business model for bringing security to Africa? And for the last 15 years, I would say that business model has been dominated by the idea that as long as we can have elections, elections will produce a legitimate and accountable government. And once you've got a legitimate, accountable government, the causes, the sources of insecurity will go away. And that's played out -- through the 1990s there was a wave of democratization in Africa. Two-thirds or more of African countries are now in some sense rather democratic in the sense that they hold regular elections. It played out most obviously in post-conflict settings. And in most of my talk, I'm going to talk about post-conflict settings, but I'll get to post-conflict gradually. The business model for post-conflict that the international community had was peacekeeping for a couple of years, hold an election, and then the election was the milestone for the withdrawal of the peacekeepers. And to my mind, the most spectacular example of that was the DRC, where -- I think I've got it right -- the election was planned for October the 29th, 2006, and the date penciled in for the withdrawal of all peacekeepers was October the 30th, 2006. So pretty confident of the model an election produces a legitimate and accountable government and that settles the peace. Remember, it didn't really work out in DRC. Instead of the peacekeepers all flying out, peacekeepers actually have to be flown in. And that turns out to be statistically pretty normal. I've looked to see what are the effects of these post-conflict elections on post-conflict security. And in the year before the election, it's true -- the risks of going back into conflict go down significantly. But unfortunately, in the year after the election, they go up. They go up more than they've gone down. So the net effect of the election is to make the situation more dangerous, not less. Why is that? I don't know. I could do the statistics. I can't -- I don't have to leap off the statistics to try and interpret it. It doesn't seem to me to be rocket science to interpret that result -- that before the election, everybody has got quite a strong incentive to take part in the election. I mean, you try and get to power by winning. And after the election, what is the distance after an election in a post-conflict country? Does the winner say, humbled as I am by the vote of the populace, I will govern -- (inaudible, background noise). They tend to say, we've won -- and does the loser say, we will -- we recognize the people voted for whoever has now won and we will be a loyal opposition? No. Do you know what the opposition usually says? They say, you cheated. (Laughter.) And you know what? They're right. And let's go into that a little bit, as to how incumbents have learned how to win. And this is, I think, the sort of sad evolution in the wave of democratization. It's that gradually governments have learned the full range of strategies by which you can go through the motions, the façade of holding an election and yet not actually jeopardize your power. The most enjoyable piece I've ever written is -- I think it's the opening chapter of "Wars, Guns and Votes" where I put myself in the position of an aging dictator who finally is persuaded by the donors and by the -- (inaudible) -- that he's going to have to hold an election. And the aging dictator thinks, first of all, how am I going to win? And then he wakes up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night and gets out his gold pen and he writes down a list of options as to how he might win this election. And option one is be a good governor. And he thinks about that. First of all, I'm only -- (inaudible). And second he thinks, my friends wouldn't like it. And third he thinks, he looks around and all of these treaty governments of America and Europe that come tell me, be a good governor, half the time, they lose their positions. He thinks -- (inaudible). We'll put option one on one side for a minute. Can we think of any other options to win the election? And he goes down to another option that's lie to the electorate. Well, the trouble is when it's achieved, maybe because you lied to the electorate is the reason why they don't trust you. So what else do we do? Well, you could restrict the field of opponents and you could ban the most likely opponents and you could accuse them of corruption; that would be great. It's probably true. And the nicest example of banning opponents I came across was General Abacha of Nigeria who invented a new form of polity. He set up five political parties all to compete against each other in the election, presidential election. And all five political parties happened to nominate General Abacha as their candidate. (Laughter.) So this was multi-party dictatorship. (Laughter.) Anyways, so that's enough options. And then we gradually work down the options to more and more attractive options culminating in bribery, intimidation, and fraud. And if you look at this sort of election -- not just in Africa -- I mean, think of the recent one in Afghanistan. What we see is unfortunately all of these features. Where you've got these features they don't even have to be decisive but where they're present that undermines the hope an election will produce which is a sense of legitimacy and accountability. Legitimacy goes out the window because the government, the incumbent stands -accused of using illegitimate methods. Even if it's not in fact been decisive, whilst these practices are present, nobody can trust them. Accountability goes out the window because if the government is able to win without actually having delivered popular support then it's not -- it's not held to the discipline of good policies. I've actually investigated that statistic and we find that elections do work to improve policy, economic policy, but only where the elections are properly conducted. Where you have misconducted elections, there is no discipline on the policy -- which is not surprising. So I think we've -- as an international community -- overinvested in this strategy of elections, elections, elections. The bitter reality that I think we're now actually waking up to is that democracy depends on a lot more than elections. Democracy depends on functioning institutions which actually have to precede the elections. You can hold elections anywhere. They are events. You can do it in Iraq, Afghanistan -- you can hold elections anywhere. But institutions that are checks and balances on power, institutions are not events; they are processes and they take a long time to build up. And if you hold the events before you've got the processes in place you get the crooked event. And then, once the government has come to power through a crooked election, there's no incentive for building processes which preserve the integrity of the election. Far from it. So we've overinvested in this, the magic potions of elections as the solution to the security problem, I think. Let me turn then to the heart, then, of the security problem, which I think of as post-conflict situations and say how I think they might get a better handle. And I'll start with the politics and I'm going to be heretical here, but this is a great virtue of being a professor. It really doesn't matter, right? (Laughter.) I think that the politics in a lot of these post-conflict environments is likely to start off pretty bad. And so looking for early political solutions seems to me a bit overambitious. Elections are one aspect of looking, investing heavily in political solutions. Why is the politics likely to be an issue? I think two reasons. One is, who are the political actors? Who is the political class that comes to power during a long period of armed conflict, of armed internal conflict? Well, the political class tends to be people who've learned how to succeed with a political business model of violence for money or gaining money through violence. And that unfortunately is the business model of the successful political leaders during long periods of internal conflict. And typically internal conflict is a long period -- a typical civil war goes on 10 times as long as an international war. So the class of political actors you start off with are not the -- tend not to be the sort who are ambitious to build the nation. They tend to be ambitious to build their own advantage. And the entourage which they've surrounded themselves with tends to have been successful in a context of violence and they have to be kept happy through a patronage system. So that's one reason why the early politics, I think, is likely to be rather difficult. You've just got the wrong class of actors in all these societies. And the amazing thing about working in them is that in all these societies there are brave people of integrity who are willing to stand up courageously and try to make things different. And the tragedy is that usually those people lose and they lose because they haven't got the money; they haven't got the guns. Our role as outsiders is to try and level the playing field enough that they have a hope. We can't do their work for them but we can at least make their work feasible. They will be the agents of change but we can enable them to have a hope again. So that's one reason why the early politics is likely to be dysfunctional: just the wrong class of political actor. Then the second reason is that the mindset, both of the leaders and of the population, if it's coming out of a long period of stagnation, the mindset is of the zero-sum game. Zero-sum game means -- if we're in a zero-sum game, the only way I win is if you lose. And the problem with that is if you view everything from the perspective as a zero-sum game, there's really no basis for cooperation. And yet politics, healthy politics, is all about cooperation, finding win-win solutions. So I have the radical proposition -- I assure you nobody wants to hear -- that in post-conflict situations, I think the politics lags the economy. If you can get the economy moving -- and it's actually rather easy to get the economy running -- if you get the economy running then the politics improves. What do I mean by getting the economy running? I mean three very simple things. I mean keeping the money flows clean; I mean jobs; and I mean basic service provisions. Those simply are the central economic tasks, post-conflict: clean money so that the politicians can't loot the public purse. If the politicians can't loot the public purse then the patronage systems of the old crooks wither away; they can't be held in place. So keeping the money clean, public money clean. Jobs. Jobs because the dangerous entities in these societies are young men without anything to do. And so providing jobs for low-skilled young men is vital for them. The sector that is going to be most able to do there is usually the construction sector. There's a lot of construction needs doing post-conflict and that's the big opportunity for mass employment. You may have heard the international development community and the United Nations has dreamed up these things called the Millennium Development Goals. (Inaudible.) And as a guide for what to do in fragile states and post-conflict, they are, to my mind, pretty well worthless. Why are they worthless? First of all, there's too many of them. There's a long list of Millennium Development Goals. You can't do a lot of things where there isn't capacity to do much. So you've got to radically simplify your objectives. If you have comprehensive objectives, you fail on all fronts. So have the discipline to simplify your objectives. Too many goals in the Millennium Development Goals. Even though there were too many, they are the wrong goals! Do you know, on that whole long list of them, employment, jobs, isn't one of them? Yet in an environment of insecurity, I'd put jobs as number one. If you're not providing jobs, you've got a problem. So clean government, jobs and then the final element is basic services. Basic service provision: It's important that the government is seen to be doing something useful for its citizens rather than just the predator. Typically governments in these contexts have a whole history of being seen as predatory. Now, it's easier said than done, getting the government to provide -- getting involved in the provision of basic services in these environments because it doesn't have a functioning network on the ground; it doesn't have a functioning civil service. And it takes a long time to get one. And so myself, my favorite -- an intermediate solution, a sort of -- a design -- that does equal like the 1950s European state. And across Africa, decade after decade, African governments have been trying to build something that looks like the 1950s European state. And by the European state of the 1950s, I mean a centralized ministry of this-and-that, which does everything -- (inaudible). So the sort of service provision, I think, is much more realistic in environments, sort of, Liberia or Sierra Leone or the DRC. It’s one in which on the ground at the retail end, services are provided by whatever works -- NGOs, charities, private sector, local communities -- whatever works. But that they are funded not individually, but they’re funded through some public agency -- a public agency with a lot of international involvement, like all these public service agents, where the donor money goes into the agency and is supervised closely and then funds the retail service provision. And what the ministries need to do is lay down the policy framework. So the ministries don’t actually try and provide all of the stuff on the ground. But in return for this public money, the NGOs and whathaveyou then have to co-brand the services as been provided by the government. So that seems to be a realistic way of scaling up basic service provisions. Potentially, you can get very fast growth in post-conflict situations. And often, you do because it’s a rebound. You can easily get 10 percent growth a year through that post-conflict state. And if you do that, again, that gradually helps the polity because it changes their mindset. A long period of stagnation -- remember, the mental frame of a long period of stagnation is the -- (inaudible). And after a period of rapid growth, then gradually, mindsets might shift towards belief in positive somethings. So I suspect that the -- if as long as the economy goes well, clean government and growth, the politics gets easier. I have to say, that’s exactly the opposite of the sequence which has normally been followed. Everybody is interested in the politics, so everybody tries to design the perfect constitution of holding elections, perfect elections. And the economics has just been relegated to the backburner. We’ll worry about that down the line. (Inaudible, background noise.) Okay, so we looked at the politics, we looked a little bit about the economics of post-conflict; now, let’s look at security, which is where you fit in. What can we say about security? Well, remember, the election is not itself a solution of the security problem. It may go well, it may go badly, but it’s unlikely to actually be the solution to this. Is there a security problem in post-conflict? There sure is, and we should note that the risk of reversion to conflict during that first post-conflict decade historically has been 40 percent. Historically, these post-conflict reversions have been responsible for half of the worst civil wars in the world. So yes, there’s a very heightened security problem. What can be done to address that security problem? Well, I’ll tell you what’s normally done. What’s normally done is that the post-conflict government is all too well-aware of the dangers involved. So the post-conflict government behaves almost as if it’s still at war. In other words, it has very -- (inaudible, background noise) -- military spending. During civil war, military spending on the part of the government typically approximately doubles. And in the post-conflict decade, it usually drops around 20 percent. So it looks much more like war than like peace. So post-conflict governments know they’ve got a reason to be scared, and they spend money accordingly. It doesn’t work. The simple reason why it doesn’t work is that -- think what’s happening, post-conflict. You’ve got a government army and then you try and gradually -- the rebel army is either integrated or decays. The normal state for a governing army is, after all, peace. So you can keep the government army together. There’s only one state in which you can sustain a rebel army, and that’s war. So when you get to post-conflict peace, what’s happening is, gradually, rebel forces are sort of diminishing and the government army is whatever the government chooses it to be. And now, put yourself in the position of the rebels. Your forces are gradually waning and the government is choosing to keep the -- (inaudible). And the government has said, come to peace, come to peace -- (inaudible); peace will be an opportunity for us both to be better off. And it is, as long as the government sticks to the deal. And what are -- (inaudible) -- they’ve got to say, when you decide, give me a call. We’ll wait while their forces dwindle. Well, guess what? The government will wait. And so at some stage, the risk is that they’re pre-emptively -- some of the rebel forces say, for goodness sakes, we’ve got to go back to what we know works. How can that be avoided? Well, one way in which that could be avoided is where the rebel -- (inaudible, background noise) -- is to try and tell whether the government means what it says. (Inaudible) -- if they have any sense at all, they will talk the talk of being nice in the future, whether they mean it or whether they don’t. And the rebel problem is to try and tease out some evidence as to whether you can trust them. Economics has actually got a whole fancy apparatus of theory developed to show what are you going to do in order -- if you want to -- suppose you’re a good government; suppose you really mean what you say. What are you going to do? There’s nothing you can say that will work, because anything you can say can be copied by the government which doesn’t -- (inaudible, background noise) -- at all. So what can it do? Economics has this concept that’s called signaling. You’ve got to come up with some behavior which, if you were the other sort of government -- if you were the government that really is just trying to sucker the rebels, that sort of government would not do this action because it would be too costly for them. Now, what is that action? The action is deep cuts in military -- deep cuts in military. If you really mean that you’re going to stick to these post-conflict settlements, you want to have an inclusive power-sharing government, you want to share the benefits of power, then by cutting the military a lot, you’ve signaled that we’re not the sort of government that’s playing to renege on the deal. Because if you were the sort of government that’s planning to renege on the deal, the last thing on Earth you’d do would be to really ruthlessly downsize your army, because that’s not the -- (inaudible) -- action. And when you renege on the deal, you’ll need a big army. You’ll need that pressure. So to my mind, you sort of uniquely in post-conflict situations -- this is not a recipe for all the situations in Africa; it’s a recipe for whatever post-conflict -- the post-conflict governments should actually strongly downsize their army. A good example of one which did that was Mozambique -- radical, radical downsizing in the army post-conflict. Now, the problem with radical cuts in your army is that you’ve still got a security problem. There are still an awful lot of guns out there; there’s an awful lot of people who learned how to make a living through -- very successfully, often -- through violence. There are still dangers involved. And so what’s needed is something that addresses that security problem until the politics is improved, the economy is growing, and there’s an expectation for change. That’s the external military. That’s peacekeeping. That’s people like you. And it’s an irreducible worry. And it’s quite a long worry. I’ve looked to see whether, during the post-conflict period, is it just a matter of survival first couple of years and then you’ve settled? And it isn’t. The whole of the decade is basically dangerous. It gets gradually a little bit less dangerous. When you’re into the second decade, typically, things are calmed. So what’s the message? The message is that external militaries have an important role; a complementary role to economic development and the gradually infringement of politics. Without it, you may never get the economic recovery because the security situation is not safe enough to get the investment. So there’s an irreducible role, and what is the exit strategy -- the real exit strategy? For the external military involvement, it’s economic development. As the economy grows, so you grow out of the danger zone. And so the exit strategy, the real milestone, is not holding elections; it’s grow the economy. I think I’m going to stop there and open up to questions. MR.: Gen. Ward, do you want to ask a question first? GEN. WARD: (Inaudible.) Q: (Inaudible, background noise.) MR. COLLIER: In fact, let me say that in two sentences because even the security has to evolve. You need more than one exit strategy. You need an exit strategy, but what’s got to be left in place -- and I think the missing ingredient in a lot of this is the police because proper evolution of security in post-conflict, really, if all sprung from military security to policing security. And unfortunately, that’s a missing piece in both your national architecture and the international architecture. The French do police. The French do police because they’ve got a national gendarme. And neither the Americans nor the British have a national police force. And the United Nations, while there it has military peace keeping, it’s got no equivalent to the level of police. And so for the security level, that evolution of -- what would be a healthy evolution of on-the-ground security kind of has a bit of missing architecture, which I hope will be addressed. Now, to turn to your question about who is responsible for the economic recovery, unfortunately, it’s a zoo of different actors. And there are too many actors; not too few. So it’s the opposite of the problem of police. The problem with police is there’s nobody there; no agency there. With development, there is the United Nations, UNDP, IFCC, itself, is the post-conflict or the struggling states recovery entity that World Bank likes to see itself as having a role; the African Development Bank likes to see itself as having that role; and USAID; British DFID. So there’s a lot of different actors. And at the present state -- (inaudible, background noise) -- the government itself. And typically the government itself has got limited capacity and it’s very distracted by political argument. So it’s not in a position, itself, to coordinate, to orchestrate, the other actors. We’re in a phase where all the language -- the politically-correct language -- is ownership, not donorship, by which the donors mean, over to you, you decide. And in the better governments in a lot of states, that is absolutely the right role. But in the fragile state, post-conflict situations, it’s a bit of a copout that you’re handing over to an entity which isn’t in a position to give up any deals. I suspect it’s sometimes based on dishonesty because -- (inaudible, background noise). And that remains each day; they’re just going to do the same thing. And so it’s a convenient piece of record, which will then ask each agency just to do its own thing. It avoids the need for the donors actually to coordinate. In the great language of coordination and partnership, everybody wants to coordinate and nobody wants to be coordinated. Q: Dr. Collier, my name is -- (inaudible). I’m one of the social scientists here at AFRICOM. And in my other life, I was a professor of political science and used your work in a lot of my classes. And one of the questions that has always sort of seeped in when reading your work has been these states, these fragile states, that I would call a lot of them rentier states -- the ones that are funded from outside. Isn’t that sort of, in a way, the donor-funded states -- isn’t that kind of what you’re suggesting to proliferate? And second, what’s the incentive -- you say, clean flow of money, economic development. What’s the incentive for the governments of these states to have a clean flow of money? I mean, there has to be an incentive first for them to do it. And I’m just wondering how a state that has not provided services in the past towards people all of a sudden switches to doing so. MR. COLLIER: Yeah, first of all, I think you’ll admit in a lot of these fragile states and post-conflict situations, there’s no alternative to international money. And the only big domestic money that’s available is from natural resource extraction. And if that’s done early on, it’s likely to take a form of looting, plunder. And so resource extraction has to be, done really, very carefully. Until you get some structures of decent governance, the first answer in resource extraction is to hold off, if at all possible. So no resource -- (inaudible, background noise). Now, so what are the incentives for clean governance? And I think it’s two comments here. One is, as you imply, the incentives are pretty weak. But, where’s the money coming from? It’s coming from the international actors. So, in the end, the international actors can call the shots. And is that unreasonable of the international actors to demand that there are systems in place, support systems in place which prevent the money being looted? Is it unreasonable? I really don’t think so, you know. And I would say, on the contrary, if we close our eyes and put money into systems which we know will get looted we’re behaving irresponsibly. It’s not that the money is wasted. It’s far worse than the money being wasted. It’s being captured by the very patronage and politics that is the problem. And so whilst we connive at looting of the public purse, we’re actually empowering the very people who have -- (inaudible). So I would want to see a robust economic approach to clean governance. Now, I would also say that the amazing thing about these environments, as I mentioned, is that in all of them, there are decent people, often in government as well as out of government. Government is not the monolithic entity of crooks. And there are good people who -- (inaudible) -- and by insisting on clean governance, we’re -- the good people are being empowered, and they come forward and say so. And I should say, America doesn’t do assistance with budgets. European governments will do budget support, which is handing money over to governments. And American government doesn’t do it because it doesn’t trust handing money over to governments without conditions. I’ve been trying to get a compromise between European and American governments in which there is an independent certification process where a budget system would be inspected and certified as either being worth budget support or not, suitable for budget support or not. And I’ve tried this idea in Africa with my friends in Africa. And the response has been, please go and sell this idea because, as my friends say -- and they are friends that are right up at the top. Homeland secretaries and ministers of finance and that sort of thing say, we know our systems are not good enough. And we know if there was a certification system, that would provide us with the political power to make them good, because any sensible president would do what it takes to get certified. So a more robust approach to clean governance would actually be welcomed by the people we should be trying to help anyways. Q: (Inaudible, off mike.) And I was a U.S. peacekeeper in -- (inaudible, background noise) -- how things were. And the area that I was in was actually out in Ghana where -- (inaudible). So I saw a lot of the post-war, you know, people getting -- (inaudible, background noise) -- people being -- working very closely with both the police and government agencies in that area. And so I have a couple of questions for you, actually. One of them is, as far as your speaking to putting more money into other areas, and also backing up individuals who have a lot of integrity, but maybe don’t come from that that power structure or -- (inaudible) -- be effectively elected in these conditions, how would you suggest us talking to those kinds of people come up in the government? The other question I have is, the United States provides about 85 percent of the budget for the United Nations, as you may know. And how do we encourage -- and this may be an internal question -- other countries to provide more up front so that we can broaden our peacekeeping operations and actually -- (inaudible) -- civilian? Because I saw the same thing that you see, where basically, the post-election time is the most critical. Because this is after the election -- (inaudible) -- people think things should be happening much faster than they actually are happening and they become frustrated. And this is when they start thinking about rebelling again and starting another war and deteriorating the economy or the government even more than it is at that current state. MR. COLLIER: Yeah, okay, so there’s two questions. One is, how do we do what we can to help the good guys come up? I should say, there’s a limit to what we can do. There’s severely poor countries, where these societies will be saved or not saved by their own people. Fundamentally, these are internal struggles. So we have to always remember that and recognize the limits of it. But sometimes, we can help shape the evolution of the politics. I’ve given you examples of where, why are there 30 elections in these societies? Not because the governments want them. It’s because we want them, right? So that’s an example of shaping things. But I think shaping things not very well. I would tend to see the way that a more democratic system might evolve more healthily, maybe start from the bottom up. Start with local elections, local institutions way before you get to national elections. So I would tend to build it -- (inaudible). And your other question was about the degree to which you can get better coordination of buying amongst the different international actors. I’m quite optimistic there. I think there’s a widespread recognition that -- to where the business model needs to be improved -- widespread recognition. You know, I think, paradoxically, Afghanistan has done an awful lot of good in that regard. They thought they knew what they were doing and they discovered differently than that. And that’s been very salutary. And so there’s a lot of rethinking going on. And to give you some examples, the European Community just did its first in what will be a series of annual development reports on the developing world. The first subject they chose was fragile states. That was the theme, because they knew they wanted some rethinking there. The British government just brought out what’s called a white paper, which is the big rethinking of this. And the centerpiece was fragile states, and what was the decision to come out of the British government was that at least half of the entire development budget, which is a big budget, go to fragile states -- at least half. Huge swing in resources. World Bank -- every year, it does one flagship report called the World Development Report. This year, its being done on fragile states. And that will probably orchestrate quite a lot of rethinking. A couple of months ago, I was in the U.S. Treasury Building. I did a seminar. What did they want me to talk on? Fragile states. So there’s a lot of -- there’s certainly an awareness that there is a need for rethinking. And there’s a decent chance that everybody will converge on a more sensible, more realistic set of precepts, one of which is that quite a lot of money has been -- (inaudible). Q: I’m Dean Bland (sp). You talk about roles for external security forces in that post-conflict society -- an important role for external security forces. To you, does it -- in the context of Africa, does it make a difference whether that external security force is an African security force or a Western or non-African, more developed security force? Secondly, if the exit strategy for the external security force is tied to economic development, that could entail a great deal of patience from the society that provides that security force. What would you recommend to help the society build that kind of patience? And lastly, if I may ask, within the context that you speak, what is the role of human rights? If there is an external security force and they ignore political development, can they also stand by and potentially ignore abuse of people in the name of stability? MR. COLLIER: Patience, human rights -- and what was the -- just remind me what the first was -- just one word? Q: The African versus -- (Cross talk.) MR. COLLIER: Yeah. So let’s start with how its -- (inaudible). Here’s the -- (inaudible). This is the mantra: “African solutions for African problems,” which is actually a South African mantra and is heard in the rest of Africa as “South African solutions to African problems.” And it’s not always that welcome to them. (Laughter.) So let’s not get totally carried away with this mantra. And here’s the paradox: You’ve got 53 countries in Africa. And that creates what is known as an intense free-rider problem. It’s very hard to get collective action when it costs anything to do it, because, just, let’s leave it to someone else, right? And the only two countries in Africa that are really big enough to aspire to leadership are South Africa and Nigeria. But they’re not actually big enough, either of them, to be, kind of, Latin America’s Brazil, you know. And they’re big enough to be resented, but not big enough to dominate. (Laughter.) (Inaudible.) Now, who actually has the incentive to act? Who doesn’t want a free ride, apart from these two, would-be hegemons, Nigeria and South Africa? Well, unfortunately, if there’s a problem, it’s the neighbor that wants to act. And the neighbor partly wants to act for good reasons. The neighbor has the most legitimate interests in a good neighborhood. But unfortunately, also, neighbors have potentially illegitimate interests. And we saw that play out with Somalia, where in trying to get an African force to move into Somalia, if you remember, one hand went up as the volunteer. And it was Ethiopia. And anybody who knew anything about Somalia would have said, the one country where it’s really not a good idea for it to send in troops is, guess what, Ethiopia, right? And so that had, kind of, disaster written all over it. But that as it were, the problem with sticking to this mantra -- “African solutions for African problems” -- is that the two would-be hegemons are, kind of, not big enough to be there. And as I said, they’re big enough that they’re resented, but for what they aspire to be, they’re not big enough to actually deliver. The 53, as an entity, faces this intense free-rider problem, and so nobody’s actually willing to put any resources into the pot, which is the African Union, simply. And the countries that really do volunteer are the ones that are least appropriate -- the neighbors. Now, how to get around that? Obviously, the agent of legitimacy is the African Union and its overwhelming problem is this free-rider problem; there’s no resources going into the pot. And this is where you can help. You can help. You can partner with the African Union -- (inaudible). You can encourage -- the coordination problem, the free-rider problem, can sometimes be gotten around with a lot of coordinated coaxing. So you can -- because you’re represented everywhere, you’re in good position to encourage the important players to actually support African Union efforts. Another approach, which I think is probably more feasible, is to go sub-regional. For example, the East African community has some aspirations for security improvement and I think that would be a very, very health development, if the East African community would build up into having the sub-regional security. Now, potentially, that sub-regional security role could be out of sub-regional. The hope is that, if the five East African nations get together, that potentially, they could do something in Somalia or wherever. And I understand you’re working with the East African community, and it’s very appropriate that you do. So how external? The more African, the better, subject to these caveats, right? And we’ve got to be realistic about the great -- (inaudible) -- to African involvement, African aspirations. The aspirations of the African Union exceed its grasp. Patience was your second point, wasn’t it? And you posed, I think, it as, how can, sort of, civilian populations be patient for long enough? Actually, I tend to think of the most impatient actors as not the civilian populations, but the international community. Because it’s the international community that wants to say, done that, you know; let’s get out. This is no longer post-conflict. We cut the money; we take the troops out. So I think it’s actually the international community that most needs to learn that there is no quick fix in this, that this is a long haul. I think it’s much easier, really, for building a credible discourse with the civilian population. Throughout -- now, you think of the last 150 years of economic development around the world, it’s full of stories of poor people taking the long view. I bet a lot of your ancestors moved to America in the late 19th century, as you obviously know, also. My grandfather was born close to here, the oldest son of a drunken village gravedigger, and when he was 16, he worked out very sensibly he’d better get out. (Laughter.) And if he had any money at all, he’d have done what your great grandparents did and gone to America. But he had no money at all, so all he could get was across the channel to Britain, which is why I’m British and not American. (Laughter.) But your grandparents and great grandparents, they went to get to America. And do you know what happened to them, very often? They stayed poor for the rest of their lives. You look at those photographs of late-19th-century sweatshops of New York or poor farmers, you know. People worked bloody hard for very little for the rest of their lives. But they did it in the sure knowledge that things would be different for their children. Now, there was nothing magic about our ancestors. Thus, giving hope to poor people does not have to mean next month, things are going to be a lot better. It can mean, your children are going to grow up in a transformed environment. The key thing is making that credible. The wonderful thing about America, essentially, was it was the first environment to make that prospect credible. And it’s doing that in this context of ours. It’s not that everything’s got to get wonderful quickly. It’s that there’s got to be a credible prospect of change. There was a third. Q: Human rights. MR. COLLIER: Human rights. I don’t know what to say there. I think -- (pause) -- I don’t know what to say. I’m torn, and here, let me just be frank. On the one hand, this is an area where there can be some clear, red lines, where government -- where a post-conflict government should not step over the line. I think of post-conflict Burundi in the late-’90s, or early 2000s, where very quickly, the government kicked out the U.N. and started torturing political opponents. In fact, it started torturing even whilst the U.N. was still there and running out. So having some robust red lines on human rights, I think, is appropriate. But not too many. This is where I’m torn. I think we must be very careful of imposing our agendas on these societies. I think in Afghanistan, we did that. We imposed too many of our agendas. We kind of wanted it to look like 21st-century Scandinavia -- (laughter) -- which would be very nice, but it was a massively overloaded agenda in Afghanistan. Just think about it. It was -- (inaudible). You know, they were going to fix our drug problem by not growing heroin, right? These things were kind of a madness. And so human rights is our -- (inaudible). It’s not -- usually, it’s not theirs, right? (Inaudible.) You don’t want your opposition tortured. There have to be some red lines, but not many. Q: (Chuckles.) Sorry, there were two. Professor Collier, first of all, thank you very much for taking the time to visit the command and share your thoughts with us. You’ve obviously focused your presentation on talking about politics and economics and security in post-conflict environments, but I wondered if you could also share some of your thoughts on major efforts in terms of conflict prevention and the potential roles of the United States and organizations like Africa Command in conflict-prevention efforts? MR. COLLIER: Yeah -- (inaudible) -- is obviously better than a cure. The problem is that it’s hard to predict where the most at-risk environments are. And so prevention agenda is kind of more diffuse. The neat thing about the post-conflict agenda is it’s in a very limited number of countries where you know the risks are very high. Look at -- you know, the -- (inaudible) -- that’s looming right now. (Inaudible) -- in my mind, is really an example where the international community did not get things right -- just did not get things right -- failed all the way down the line in getting decent economic development, good governance -- just failed. So it was insufficiently serious in a context which was very predictably going to be high-risk. And as a result, it’s still high-risk. So the advantage of these -- of preventing further conflict in environments which have already been subject to conflict is, in a way, it’s -- you know it’s uncontroversial. When you get to, sort of, deep conflict prevention in environments which have not been subject to recent conflict, it’s actually pretty -- it’s paradoxical. But no country wants to be described as a pre-conflict environment, as it were -- a potential pre-conflict environment, and for good reason, because it would be self-fulfilling. And so even that basic first step of saying, oh, we’ve got to focus here because it looks as if -- you know, it’s not had conflict, but it looks as if it might, is kind of politically sensitive within the recipient governments, as it were. So in that sense, the prevention hasn’t moved. The only way around that is to make it pretty diffuse -- to do it everywhere. And the price of that is, then you kind of lose focus. And so it’s not that there’s nothing you can do, but it just -- in a way, it becomes a part of, just, the generalized agenda for economic development. Now, can I say anything more helpful than that? Let’s go back to where I started. I see the big risk factor, over the next decade, as being to do with resource infrastructure. I think the bigger risks will be in the countries which have new discoveries of natural resources. And so building an agenda around the better economic management of those resource discoveries and better governance of those resource discoveries seems to me probably the single most useful thing we can do for deep prevention that, if we don’t do that, these situations are going to be the high-risk environments. MR. : I think we have time for one last question or comment for Dr. Collier. (Inaudible.) Q: Thank you. I’d like to do two things -- one is to give you a chance to wrap up. But before that, I’d like to turn your attention back to issue of timing. I thought I wasn’t even going to have to ask this because someone else had beaten me to it, but in your exposition on patience and people’s ability to defer their own gratification for the sake of their children and to sacrifice presently for -- if there’s a reasonable expectation that things will evolve positively. But you opened up that answer by talking about the disconnect between patience on the part of the outsiders -- the international community, the donors. And as I think about the couple of decades or three that I’ve been working on Africa, it seems to be a real recurring theme -- the disconnect between not only the expectations, but political arrogance of the U.S. government, in our case, but the international community, for quick results, in part because of the high price tag of remaining engaged in a meaningful way, and the lack of political will or commitment on the part of our constituents, or the democratic voters in the democracies that are providing this engagement and this financing, and the need to get in and out quickly, as perceived by our political leadership. What -- how do you see any possibility of reconciling the inherent long-term nature of the challenges facing Africa. Fragile states are just generally undeveloped states, and with a four-year election cycle and a one-year budgetary cycle inside the U.S. government? And then let me add onto that, just because this is going to be the final question. I mean, I spoke, Keith (sic), with you in the middle of the morning. Clearly, you have a much better understanding of who we are and what we do -- what we can do and what the limitations are -- the resource limitations, the political limitations. But from what you’ve seen during the course of the day, what do you think -- where do you think we might best direct our limited resources and very deep, but fairly narrow experience to achieve or to make a significant contribution to the end states that you would like? MR. COLLIER: Okay. So first, the time horizon of the international actors. As you quite rightly say, the time horizon of the international actors, such as the U.S. government -- first and foremost, the U.S. government; let’s be frank -- and that time horizon can be no better than the time horizon that voters permit. This is why I wrote “The Bottom Billion,” and I wrote it when I did -- because I got increasingly frustrated with the way policy was being conducted in the developed countries -- policy towards developing countries. I felt it was gesture politics. It was things that looked -- that took a good photo op, but which then sacrificed effectiveness for that good photo op. And actually, I remember one particular sacrifice for a photo op was once, when I flew into Nairobi, I flew in with a load of camera crews. And it was the first -- it was the U.S. move into Somalia, back in 1991. And I flew with all of these camerapeoples. I remember waiting in a mass of camerapeople. Now, I had to wait while the camera crews were unloaded, but the U.S. troops actually had to wait until the camera teams managed to get ashore in Somalia, if you remember. The whole move of U.S. troops into Somalia was delayed until the camera crews were ready to film you coming onshore. And that’s the sacrifice of operational effectiveness for a good photo op, if ever there was one. (Laughter.) More seriously, I think that it was actually possible to build a critical mass of more informed opinion, which wasn’t inevitable, but it means just that. Once governments realize that there’s a critical mass of voters who are not going to put up with gestures, who are going to be tolerant, and indeed, welcome, and indeed, ask for more sophisticated policies. Then governments start to get real and start to deliver. And I said, well, I’d better write a book that actually has influence, and that means it better be readable. So I sacrificed the habits of a lifetime and tried to write this little book. (Laughter.) Now, there are more than 100,000 copies of “The Bottom Billion” out there -- I think editions now out there in 15 languages. So it worked. And the amount of take-up that’s been sought by these -- it’s not just for me. But I think that there is a move to a more sophisticated understanding amongst electorates. Nowhere is that truer than the timescale for -- (inaudible). I think the message that there is no quick fix is now very widely accepted. And so -- MR. : (Inaudible.) MR. COLLIER: I felt -- I think it -- (inaudible) -- sometimes, it translates into, didn’t try. And I think what it can translate into is, have a credible strategy. That’s what I feel voters are impatient about, is they don’t see governments proposing credible strategies. Okay, you do a surge; well, what happens after the surge? Just lay out a vision of how, over the course of a decade or so, the society is going to get back on its feet, or indeed, get on its feet for the first time. These are not complicated things to do, because most societies, after all, have been through these processes of getting from poverty to -- (inaudible). So they’re not rocket science, but it does need some sort of coherent coordination. The message of “The Bottom Billion” was that there were four elements to development policy. There’s security. Without security, you can’t get going. There’s governance. And governance can be improved with a lot of international rules and standards and codes. And one of the best things America did for Africa, it did completely inadvertently. After 9/11, the U.S. government, naturally enough, got worried about violence and terrorism, and it put together a financial action taskforce, which drew up a list of countries, which -- not which were financing terrorism, but where governance of the financial sector was so weak that you couldn’t really tell. They wouldn’t know whether they were financing terrorism. Nigeria was on that list. President Obasanjo of Nigeria -- his mission in life had been to clean up Nigeria’s image. And there was Nigeria on this list. President Obasanjo said we’ve got to do whatever it takes to get ourselves off this list. And so he turned to a policeman, Nuhu Ribadu, and he created a unit called the economic and financial crimes unit, and put Nuhu in charge of it. It was -- (inaudible, background noise). Nuhu said, my entire power came from that American action. What did Nuhu do with his power? He went around jailing the big -- (inaudible). And he did a really big thing -- he arrested the president of the senate. He jailed his boss, inspector general of the police. That must have been really fun. (Laughter.) He discovered that by carefully saving his salary, the inspector general of police had accumulated $150 million in his bank account. So remember, first of all, this was the biggest government cleanup that Nigeria ever had. And secondly, where did it come from? It came from this international standard set by America. And finally, remember the third thing: You didn’t even need to do it. (Laughter.) Imagine what it would do if you actually put your mind to it and tried to help on governance. Just imagine it. If you were just fixing your own problem, but inadvertently, you fixed theirs. So security, governance, trade policy. America’s done quite a lot on trade policy for Africa. You’ve got something called the Africa Growth and Opportunity Pact. A lot of my time is devoted to trying to get Europe to do the same as you. And so -- (inaudible). That’s part of the solution, probably; it’s not part of the problem. Security -- everything begins with security. Without security, you can’t get going. Governance -- you can do a lot -- a lot to help the internal struggles within these societies. Trade -- you’re already doing it. The task there is to get others started and share the burden. And finally, money. (Inaudible) -- voters see money, but going down the drain. They see soldiers putting their lives on the line, but no coherent strategy for what it needs to be. And so no wonder they’re restive. Is that unmanageable? No. You had some other -- Q: So our contribution, based on what you’ve said. MR. COLLIER: Yeah, that’s right. First of all, let me generally say I’ve been impressed by the -- you’re a new organization, but you’re actually doing a lot. I was amazed at just how much you’re doing, and how seriously, moreover, you’re learning, as well as doing. But it’s a two-way process. You’re hoovering up understanding and, at the same time as you’re operating. Now, where do I see the big payoffs for you, given the constructs? And let’s go back to this business of how it’s done. And I think, realistically, there are all sorts of little reasons why the external should at least begin with an African involvement. And then we come back to all those impediments to African involvement. The only ones that are really willing to put serious resources in are the neighbors, and they’re the wrong people. And African Union has this huge free-rider problem. And by partnering, I believe, sub-regionally with the African Union, and by using America’s influence around Africa, you can reduce that free-rider problem. You can provide the logistics, the capacity building and the coordinating -- the catalytic mechanism -- that gets the African solution to be more than a slogan. You can build the reality. And I don’t think we should be, at all, shy of saying, we want to be part of that solution. Africa is part of the world, and so the idea that you should be exclusively African solutions to African problems -- why should it? But that it should be African-led -- that seems to be a very sensible aspiration. MR. : Well, on behalf of the -- (inaudible) -- I’d like to thank you very much for your very illuminating presentation and the time you gave to the question-and-answer period. Thank you very much. Can we have a big -- (applause). GEN. WARD: (Inaudible.) MR. COLLIER: Thank you very much. GEN. WARD: I add my thanks to that of the team here for your presentation and the thoughts you provided on how we may move ahead on things that we clearly want to take -- (inaudible, background noise). MR. COLLIER: Sorry, that’s me. (Laughter.) GEN. WARD: I thought something was falling out of the ceiling there. (Laughter.) Thanks a lot, and we look forward to -- now, you told me that you had another book coming. MR. COLLIER: Yeah, that’s right, although I hesitate to advertise my own books. (Laughter.) GEN. WARD: That’s okay, I -- (inaudible). MR. COLLIER: The thing I feel most passionately about, though, is this looming opportunity, but it’s also a looming risk -- the extraction of natural resources in Africa. And I’m doing two things to try my best to contribute a bit to making sure that the opportunity gets harnessed, rather than the risk get realized. And so in May, I’ve got a book coming out called, “Plundered Planet,” how to reconcile the disparity of nations. And “Plundered Planet” is all about harnessing natural resources. And together with a team of people, I’m trying to implement one of the ideas that was quoted in “The Bottom Billion,” which is the idea of building a natural resource charter. That is now a Web site. It’s a Web site led by Ernesto Zedillo, the former -- the one clean former president of Mexico. (Laughter.) He’s now a professor at Yale. And he said, I saw oil destroy my country; I don’t want it to destroy yours. So you can all visit that Web site. It’s called -- And it’s pitched for ordinary citizens -- predominantly for ordinary citizens in resource-rich countries. And it’s part of the process of trying to help build a critical mass of informed citizens. Just as we need a critical mass of informed citizens in America and in Europe, we need a critical mass of informed citizens in Africa. What they need to understand is the decision chain in harnessing this opportunity of natural resources, and how disastrous it could be if history repeated itself. So I commend you to take a look, share it. Thank you very much. (Applause.) (END)