Sunday, January 23, 2011

Why Bad Guys Matter
Leaders matter, for better or, more likely, for worse. Sure, some of Asia's "benign" autocrats have turned their ambitions to building strong national economies. But not in Africa and many of the other countries that I call the bottom billion -- quite a number of which crowd the upper reaches of the Failed States Index. There, the most common form of autocracy is anything but benign. These leaders not only neglect to build the economy, they actively avoid doing so. The best-known instance is President Mobutu Sese Seko's order to "build no roads" in the vast country then known as Zaire. Why? Because without roads, it was harder for opponents to organize a rebellion against him.

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