Showing posts from February, 2009

Zakaria on The Curse of Oil Wealth

In Fareed Zakaria's book The Future of Freedom , he makes an extended argument for why the possession of oil resources has historically been a barrier to liberalization and freedom. He made a condensed version of that argument in an essay in Newsweek back in April 2003 when the Iraq war was just beginning: A 'SIGNIFICANT ADVANTAGE' Vice President Dick Cheney recently remarked that Iraq's oil resourcesóthe second largest in the world--will be a "significant advantage" when building democracy. This is a common refrain, echoed by many within and without the administration. Unfortunately, the opposite is closer to the truth. With the exception of Norway, virtually all the worldís oil states are dictatorships. This is not an accident. Oil--like other natural resources--does not help produce capitalism, civil society and thus democracy. It actually retards that process. Countries with treasure in their soil don't need to create the framework of laws and policie