Charles Landow highlights a wide range of stories in this edition of Missing Pieces. Enjoy the selection.
- Pakistan’s Problems: An Economist special report last week examines Pakistan. It is young, populous, strategically located, and full of economic potential. It is also poor, dominated by its army, and beset by domestic and regional conflict. “Piety and anti-Westernism,” the report says, “have become inseparably fused,” while unreliable electricity and insufficient credit hobble the economy. Education, especially for girls, is an Achilles heel. Violence is rampant and water dangerously scarce. For matters to improve, the report concludes, the military must change its outlook, ceasing its “flirtation with terrorist groups,” making peace with India, and interfering less in politics. The list is daunting.
- Funding Foreign Assistance: Foreign assistance fares reasonably well in President Obama’s fiscal year 2013 budget request, released last week. Amounts for “economic support, democracy, and development assistance” and USAID operations are up from FY2012; the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Peace Corps are unchanged; global health, humanitarian assistance, and the National Endowment for Democracy face declines. Among the budget’s highlights are a new Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund, worth $770 million, to promote democracy, civil society, and economic reforms in transitioning countries and those willing to change “proactively.” Connie Veillette of the Center for Global Development offers a largely positive take on the request, and the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition provides an exhaustive analysis.
- G20 Development(s): In a blog post last week, CFR’s Stewart Patrick proposes a global development agenda for the G20, whose leaders summit this June will be hosted by an emerging country (Mexico) for the second time. Using Mexico’s stated priorities as a basis, Patrick first suggests steps to boost “green growth” and link the G20 to this summer’s Rio+20 conference, which will aim to help “integrate the economic, social, and environmental aspects of development.” Also on the G20 agenda should be development and humanitarian aid to fragile states, Patrick writes. He calls on G20 countries to endorse the “New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States” and bolster existing funds and governance initiatives.
- Asian Lessons for Egypt: As Egypt struggles to build a democracy, John Sidel analyzes its similarities to Indonesia on ForeignPolicy.com. Indonesia’s experience, he argues, should assuage fears that Islamist parties or sectarian conflict will derail Egypt’s progress. Rather than effectively advancing their religious views, Indonesia’s Islamist parties have engaged in “compromise, coalition-building, co-optation, and corruption.” However, Sidel highlights two other warnings from Indonesia’s history: an overbearing military and the infiltration of moneyed business interests into politics. In a Markets and Democracy Brief, CFR’s Josh Kurlantzick offers lessons from another Southeast Asian case, Thailand, for Middle East democratizers.