Saturday, June 21, 2003

An optimist may believe that by simply promoting software development or nanotechnology in say, Burma, one hastens the day when the geeks and not the narco-Generals dominate that country. But what Magno neglected to mention is that a government captured by drug lords may tend to a Markovian "absorbing state" -- the mathematical equivalent of the Hotel California -- a place you can get to but never leave. Once captured by crooks, a nation will eventually be wrecked by the dysfunctional elite -- and Africa is full of examples -- the educational, legal and human resources infrastructure of the nation are destroyed beyond recovery and escape from hell becomes impossible. Magno's Philippines may be entering such a state now, with its declining educational standards, it's lower proficiency in English, etc.

Neither the United Nations (of course) nor the United States has ever explicitly addressed the issue of how to help reverse this downward cycle. Some aspects of the problem have been indirectly tackled by programs like the War on Drugs, or alternatively, the campaign to legalize drugs. But no program to systematically return Columbia to the hands of an electorate based on a legitimate economy has been more than desultorily attempted.

Winds of Change has a long exchange about the vital necessity to address the socio-political aspects of combat, the so-called "nation building" aspects of war. But the discussion revolves around simply improving and increasing support and reserve units in the US military. That's not enough to address the Magno effect.