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In budget cutting, how to make foreign aid less vulnerable

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No better example can be found of the need to put rights and security first than in the current uprising in the Middle East and North Africa. Many of those nations already have sufficient economic growth. Protesters are mainly demanding reform in rights, police, and corruption. Egypt’s emergency law and heavy-handed security apparatus, for example, were prime targets of the youth in Tahrir Square.

The United States, too, has had to learn in Afghanistan – after 10 years of conflict there – that building up local police and connecting local leaders to their citizens is the main bulwark against the Taliban.

The World Bank report points to success stories in Chile and East Timor where political frameworks were built up after repressive rule. Those countries included many political actors – before the country headed straight to elections whose results may not be accepted. It also cites Rwanda, Mozambique, and Ethiopia as examples of countries that developed civil institutions after violent conflicts.

One reason for the bank’s call for change is that the nature of conflicts has shifted. “Twenty-first century violence does not fit the 20th century mold,”the report states.

Now conflicts tend to be within borders rather than between countries, driven by ethnic strife, religious tensions, or organized crime like drug trafficking (as in Mexico and Guatemala). They also tend to spill over into other countries in the form of refugee flows or resource disruptions. The 9/11 attacks were in part a function of religious tensions within Saudi Arabia.

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