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Can Oil Money Be Spent Well? Alan Gelb on Resource Revenues and Development.

Alan GelbMany developing countries have found that large deposits of oil or other natural resources are more a curse than a blessing. My guest on this week's Wonkcast is Alan Gelb, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. Together with co-author Sina Grassman, Alan has written a paper that explores the options facing developing countries with abundant natural resources and draws on historical evidence to recommend best practices for dodging the 'resource curse.'

Beyond Gestures: A Trade Bill That Will Make a Real Difference in Pakistan

This is a joint post with Wren Elhai.

A frustrated David Ignatius chided Congress in yesterday’s Washington Post for its dithering in passing legislation that would create “Reconstruction Opportunity Zones” (ROZs) in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Ignatius calls the ROZ initiative a “modest boost for the good guys” and laments that it is caught up in a partisan food fight in the Senate. We share his frustration over the Senate’s inaction, but we are less optimistic about the bill’s potential impact. In the legislation’s current form (details below), ROZs would at best be a token gesture that would be well received in Pakistan; at worst, they risk having little (if any) economic impact and creating expectations that cannot be met. If Senators are serious about promoting U.S. national security interests through economic progress in Pakistan, they should be prepared to go to the mat for something that will actually make a difference. Expanded trade access for all Pakistani exports from all of Pakistan is the best way to ensure a meaningful economic boost to Pakistan’s “good guys.”

Satish Chand on the Challenges of Small Island States

Especially during the hot summer months, some of us might daydream about packing up and relocating to a small tropical island somewhere in the Pacific. From a development perspective, however, small island states face unique challenges—most obviously from rising sea levels, but also from the economic dynamics created by their small size and isolation.

The Gulf Gusher & Africa’s Offshore Oil Boom: Todd Moss and Vijaya Ramachandran

Todd Moss & Vij RamachandranAs the BP well in the Gulf of Mexico continues to spew thousands of barrels of oil each day, media attention has been focused on the toll on nearby economies and ecosystems and on the U.S. political response. On this edition of the Global Prosperity Wonkcast, we look beyond the Gulf of Mexico to explore what implications America’s biggest environmental disaster might hold for the new offshore oil boom getting underway in Africa.

SERGIO and the Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century

This is a joint post with Lauren Young.

A dashing Brazilian man who keeps a flakjacket in his midtown Manhattan office, two firefighters from New York and Miami, a terrorist attack, and an attempted rescue using nothing but a string and a ladies handbag. Would you believe that this is a film about the United Nations? Sergio, which premiered on HBO this month, is the story of Sergio Vieira de Mello, an extraordinary public servant who died in the 2003 bombing of the UN headquarters in Iraq. The film (based on the book by Pulitzer-prize winning author Samantha Power) is a tribute to his leadership and service in the world’s worst troublespots.

Sergio Vieira de Mello began his career with the United Nations in Bangladesh, at the age of 23, and continued to mediate conflicts for the next three decades in countries such as Sudan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Mozambique, and Lebanon.

Senator Lugar: Greater Transparency, Clear Objectives Needed for U.S. Aid to Pakistan

This is a joint post with Wren Elhai and Molly Kinder.

Senator Richard Lugar’s new opinion piece on Foreign Policy’s website lays out the case that a strong economic partnership with Pakistan is in U.S. national interests. Lugar argues that the recent failed bombing in Times Square and the subsequent arrest of Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-American who had received bomb-making training in Pakistan’s volatile FATA region, is only a further reminder of how critical cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistan remains.

Raj Shah Back from Pakistan, Sheds New Light on U.S. Plans

This is a joint post with Wren Elhai

Last week, USAID Administrator Raj Shah returned from his first trip to Pakistan since he took office at the beginning of the year. His trip followed close on the heels of last month’s high-level U.S.-Pakistan strategic dialogue in Washington, and was intended to signal that the optimistic words of the strategic dialogue will translate into concrete action. Transcripts of Shah’s press conferences for reporters in Pakistan and in Washington contain helpful information on the direction that the administration is taking in its development strategy in Pakistan. At the very least, it’s the first time we’ve heard Administrator Shah speak at any length about the details of U.S. aid programs to the country.

Fighting Corruption in Nigeria: Nuhu Ribadu

Nuhu RibaduCan a few brave souls make a difference in the fight against corruption? My guest on the Global Prosperity Wonkcast this week is Nuhu Ribadu, the former head of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission or EFCC and a visiting fellow here at the Center for Global Development.

Blurring the Line between Defense and Development

This is a joint post with Julia Barmeier.

In a little-noticed move in January, private military contractor DynCorp bought 100% of the shares of international development contractor Casals & Associates (the value of this acquisition was not disclosed). DynCorp says it plans to integrate Casals & Associates into its International Global Stabilization and Development Solutions division. In 2007, CGD research highlighted the Pentagon’s ever-expanding role in the development space. In the administration’s 2010-2011 budget proposal, 20% of the 2011 Department of State and Agency for International Development (USAID) budget is slated for “securing frontline states” (Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan). The DynCorp-Casals merger suggests a blurring of the line between development and defense in the private sector, as well.

Should we be worried?