Jason Barton

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Archive for the ‘Confessions of an Economic Hit Man’ tag

Supporting Despotic Regimes for their Resources Is Not New

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It has been called “The Resource Curse” by economists. When a region has stores of petroleum, metals, arable land, or even spices in earlier days, it behooves the powerful to keep those regions stable, and open to extraction of these valuable resources. This often comes at the expense of the people whose wages are kept low and the lands whose protection is sacrificed to ensure cheap prices.

Eduardo Galeano wrote poetically, heart-breakingly, of this phenomenon and the price paid by people for centuries in his book, Open Veins of Latin America. John Perkins wrote about it more recently in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. The article below continues this discussion in terms of oil and Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi.

These discussions should bring home to all of us the often unseen costs–economic, human, and ecological–of our consumption on distant people and places. If this isn’t shocking enough, you can read more about it here. This is the kind of depressing information with which I used to spend far too much time.

I’m much happier focusing on the positive and the possible solutions, rather than on the problems themselves, but it’s important to be reminded from time to time how pressing are the reasons why we need to change, and the costs if we continue irresponsible use of precious resources.

Qaddafi and his ilk

Blood and oil

The West has to deal with tyrants, but it should do so on its own terms

Feb 24th 2011 | from the print edition

LESS than two years ago, at the G8 summit in L’Aquila in Italy, prime ministers and presidents sat down to talk about world trade and food security with Muammar Qaddafi. Today Libya’s tyrant is paying mercenaries to shoot his people in the streets like “rats” and “cockroaches”.


…but sometimes cynicism can be deeply naive

This is not an argument for callousness. The lesson from the Arab awakening is an uplifting one. Hard-headed students of realpolitik like to think that only they see the world as it truly is, and that those who pursue human rights and democracy have their heads in the clouds. In their world, the Middle East was not ready for democracy, Arabs not interested in human rights, and the strongmen the only bulwark between the region and Islamic revolution. Yet after the wave of secular uprisings, it is the cynics who seem out of touch, and the idealists have turned out to be the realists.

Read the entire article here.