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Epilogue This book was written before the attacks of September 11, 2001. After that date, I wondered if those events had altered my conclusion that we need less development assistance money, less direct foreign aid, not more. As the book goes to press, what is happening in the world and in the development industry remains completely consistent with what I have been saying in this book, in some respects so much so that even I am surprised. In early 2002, the subject of development assistance began to be discussed on newspaper front pages and in op ed pieces, a prominence development aid had not had for some time. The gist of the discussion has been that the deep cause of September 11 lies with the problems of underdevelopment, and if we do not pay more attention to those problems by substantially increasing development assistance funding, the United States and many other countries will continue to be at risk. I believe that the complex problems of underdevelopment are behind what happened on September 11. Poverty is only the tip of the iceberg; that is a mere condition. More challenging is that many people in the third world are poor because of their position in society, a position they are usually not free to alter. They are excluded from opportunities to improve their lot because of their ethnicity, gender, or caste or because they lack a secure title to their property or for many other reasons. And to the extent that they live under regimes and institutions that discourage the rule of law, equal justice, tolerance, and political freedom, not only is their position reinforced but the condition of their poverty is exacerbated as well. I do not believe that more money for foreign aid programs will solve those problems—for all the reasons I offer in the preceding chapters.1 Some months after September 11, calls for more aid money by the president of the World Bank and the secretary general of the United Nations were to be expected. But I was surprised to hear people I would have guessed to be either opposed to or cool toward foreign aid (not always for the right reasons), such as George W. Bush, ask for large increases over the 295 1. Humanitarian relief is another matter entirely. As I have said in the book, relief for people affected by disaster of whatever origin must continue. coming years. Otherwise tough-minded commentators, like Thomas Friedman , chimed in.2 So “politically correct” has support for increases in foreign aid money suddenly become that the long record of our ineffectiveness seems to have been forgotten. But it is more disturbing that the players in the dev biz—it must be said— have begun to take advantage of September 11 as an opportunity for growth in the industry. I hear talk from colleagues right now (April 2002) that hotel space in Kabul is hotly sought after by scores of NGO and bilateral and multilateral organization representatives from many of the advanced economy countries. They are there to help, yes, but they are also there (and stepping over each other) because Afghanistan is a hot new “market” for an industry seeking “market share.” I see evidence within the dev biz of a rosy (if not gleeful) anticipation that for the first time in years there will be more money available for development projects, along with a sense of relief: many of our critics have fallen silent; we may not have to change much now; we may have a new lease on life. The danger is that with more money, we will be free to continue doing what we have been doing. Old habits of thought and deep organizational imperatives will be reinforced. And with the sense that we are again needed will come the delusion that we are useful. But, ironically, if there is a time when the notion of fostering change with less money and more conceptual rigor and subtlety should come into its own, it is post–September 11, 2001. 296 Epilogue 2. Thomas Friedman, New York Times, March 17, 2002. ...


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