Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wars, Guns, and Votes - A Review of Paul Collier

If you have not read Paul Collier’s Wars,Guns, and Votes, I encourage you to read it. It complements his previous book TheBottom Billion by expanding on the aspect of democracy as it relates, in large part, to those bottom billion countries and to those countries coming out of conflict situations. We have good examples to watch today: Egypt, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, maybe Syria in the not too distant future. While I have issues with the universality of Collier’s arguments, as they apply to countries not necessarily in the bottom billion, I tend to favor his analysis that new democracy influences new violence.  
            One of the summary theses Paul Collier suggests is that, "Democracy…does not seem to enhance the prospects of internal peace." In fact, Collier suggests that the contrary is more so the case with the introduction of democracy, that states are more likely to experience conflict, initially, rather than experience peace. At first glance, his notion seems to fly in the face of the pursuit of democracy and the good that democracy should represent. However, from a purely technical analysis, Collier's point bears truth in many cases. In fact, the United States suffered a rather long period of internal fiscal, political, and social conflict lasting several decades even producing a civil war. Arguably, some of those political and social conflicts have even extended well into the 20th century.