Introducing Liberation Theology

​Over the last decades, one of the sources of inspiration for new thinking in development practice has been liberation theology. Dr. Paul Farmer has utilized the ideas (in a less overtly religious form) and conveyed them to a broader audience, as the preferential option for the poor. What is liberation theology? Leonardo Boff and Clodovis Boff (1986, first in English 1987) authored "Introducing Liberation Theology" to provide insight. The book itself focuses quite a lot on the Biblical foundation, justification and purpose, while in this point I draw upon some of the practice-oriented lessons:

"The poor can break out of their situation of oppression only by working out a strategy better able to change social conditions: the strategy of liberation. In liberation, the oppressed come together, come to understand their situation through the process of conscientization, discover the causes of their oppression, organize themselves into movements, and act in a coordinated fashion. First, they claim everything that the existing system can give: better wages, working conditions, health care, education, housing, and so forth; then they work toward the transformation of present society in the direction of a new society characterized by widespread participation, a better and more just balance among social classes and more worthy ways of life." (p. 5)

"The first step for liberation theology is pre-theological. It is a matter of trying to live the commitment of faith: in our case, to participate in some way on the process of liberation, to be committed to the oppressed. Without this specific precondition, liberation theology would be simply a matter of words. So it is not enough here only to reflect on what is being practiced. Rather we need to establish a living link with living practice. If we fail to do this, then "poverty," "oppression," revolution," "new society" are simply words that can be found in a dictionary." (p. 22)

"liberation theology longs and fights for a new society in this world: an alternative society to capitalism, but really an alternative and therefore going beyond socialism as it exists today, embodying the hopes and needs of the least of all peoples and their intrinsic potential, a project with amble resonance in the tradition of faith." (p. 92)

(Still) Challenging Received Wisdom on the African Environment

​In the 80s and 90s an emerging set of research began to highlight that much of what we thought we knew about the environment in Africa, was, at best, only partially accurate. This had implications for policy and programs - and in some instances these narratives are still present. "The Lie of the Land: Challenging Received Wisdom on the African Environment" (1996) edited by Leach and Mearns is one important collection of works that challenges assumptions or partially accurate narratives. The book is a great reference point - and I would argue that Chapter 8 (on soil erosion) remains particularly relevant.

"The driving force behind much environmental policy in Africa is a set of powerful, widely perceived images of environmental change. They include overgrazing and the 'desertification' of drylands, the widespread existence of a 'woodfuel crisis', the rapid and recent removal of once-pristine forests, soil erosion, and the mining of natural resources caused by rapidly growing populations. So self-evident do these phenomena appear that their prevalence is generally regarding as common knowledge among development professionals in African governments, international donor agencies, and non-governmental organizations. They have acquired the status of conventional wisdom: an integral part of the lexicon of development. Yet as shown by accumulating research assembled in this book, these images may be deeply misleading." (p. 1)

Part of the accuracy issue is the origin of these stories, often generalized but of problematic nature: "What is the evidence for the doomsday scenario of environmental decline? Commentators from the first decade of the century through to the present wave of environmental furore have predicted an imminent collapse. The evidence presented in support of these arguments falls into two types: first, anecdotal reports; and second, quantitative data that has been selectively interpreted. Anecdotal information, especially if dressed up in the language of disaster, have been very influential..." (p. 46-47).

In other cases, the narratives simply appear inaccurate entirely: "Since the 1890s, scientists and policy-makers have considered the patches of dense, semi-deciduous forest found scattered in the savannas on the northern margins of Guinee's forest zone to be relics of previously more extensive forest cover. There are about 800 such 'forest islands' in Kissidougou perfecture alone, most concealing at their centre a clearing containing one of the perfecture's villages. The existence of forest patches amidst savanna has suggested the penetration of savannas southward into the forest zone as a result of vegetation destruction by farmers. A century after its first elaboration, this interpretation of a landscape half empty of forests continues to drive repressive policies designed to reform inhabitants' land-use practices.This received wisdom concerning the forest-savanna mosaic refers to historical processes, but is not founded on historical data." (p. 105)

On the implications: "In the wake of the 1985 famine, the Ethiopian government launched an ambitious programme of environmental reclamation supported by donors and non-government organizations and backed by the largest food-for-work programme in Africa. Over the following five years, peasants constructed more than one million km of soil and stone bunds on agricultural land and built almost half a million km of hillside terrace. They also closed off more than 80,000 ha of hillside to most forms of use to foster regeneration of naturally occurring species, and planted 300,000 ha of trees, much of it in community wood-lots. Today, in retrospect, it is clear that much of this effort was wasted or counterproductive." (p. 186)

On the negative incentives that continue false narratives: "Scientists are just one set of actors in the 'soil erosion game', a game in which it is advantageous (a) not to admit you do not know the answer; (b) to make unverifiable assumptions so that, if your answers provide bad advice, blame does not attach to the professionals; and (c) to exaggerate the seriousness of the process in order to gain kudos, prestige, power, influence and, of course, further work." (p. 141)

This book was long before social media, but some relevant reflections on the new ways information is shared and accessed: "Paradoxically, the more rapid circulation of information may actually increase the tendency towards simplification and convergence in the substance of popular discourse about environment and development, as a way of dealing with information overload." (p. 26)

A Socialist Peace? Explaining the Absence of War

​Recently published as: Cochrane, L. (2018) Review: A Socialist Peace? Explaining the Absence of War in an African Country. Progress in Development Studies 18(3): 214-215.

McGovern, Mike. 2017. A Socialist Peace? Explaining the Absence of War in an African Country. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 249 pp. $ 30.00 (paper). ISBN: 9780226453606

Many studies have sought to understand the causes of conflict, few have done the same for peace. Mike McGovern offers a detailed country study of Guinea in A Socialist Peace? enriched by the author's long-term experience as a practitioner and researcher. The book seeks to understand why Guinea has remained peaceful, or at least why it has experienced the absence of war, despite having many of the same divisions and challenges faced by its neighboring countries, which have all experienced conflict. Building upon ethnographic research, this conundrum is analyzed from anthropological, historical and political perspectives, and specifically focuses upon the legacy of the nation's socialist period (1958-1984).

McGovern argues that it was the socio-cultural and political processes of the socialist period that fostered attitudes and 'orientations toward the future' that cultivated a national identity and thus delegitimatized of the use of violence to achieve domestic aims. During this period, the government envisioned an ideal future, and a pathway to reach that objective, while also requiring collective sacrifice to achieve it. The narrative created a sense both of self-sacrifice and of national unity, and the author argues, a strengthened resilience to overcome difficult challenges. This book builds upon the author's earlier book, Unmasking the State (2013), which focuses upon the socialist period itself. This work expands upon that foundation, inquiring into the legacy the socialist era. Specifically, McGovern analyzes one critical moment in time in 2000-2001, wherein conflict seemed highly probable. The author provides a first-hand account, having lived within that moment wherein people opted for peace, and against war.

As McGovern describes, the Guinean 'socialist' state was not typical in terms of its religious orientation and engagement with foreign investment. It was, however, similar to socialist states in that it exerted a heavy hand into nearly all facets of everyday life to enforce political, economic, social and political change. These included laws and policies (e.g. standing at attention for the raising of the flag), institutions (e.g. trade unions), social norms and psychological ideas (e.g. food taboos) and language (e.g. repetitive use of slogans). Dissent was not tolerated. The processes of the socialist period challenged and created imagined communities, which led to stronger national sentiments, but also fostered divisions. It was not the linguistic, ethnic or religious of the domestic that constituted the 'other', but the external; the colonial, imperialist, refugee, exile.

The author does not explore the role of foundational political experiences as a process to foster greater collective cohesion comparatively. As a country study, that was not expected. However, the theoretical idea raises questions for further study. Tanzania and Kyrgyzstan had similar socialist periods, and similarly have been peaceful in regions that have experienced waves of conflict (the author references these two nations, with more focus on the former). Algeria, Angola, the Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Mali, Mozambique, Sudan and Zambia demonstrate socialist periods can have diverse outcomes. While McGoven makes clear that this 'is not an explanation that trumps or supersedes all others' (p. 221), future research should look into processes that enabled the development of types of (post)socialist 'habitus' (McGovern draws on Bourdieu) that led to greater cohesion and peacefulness. Studies might also compare historical processes of state driven 'unification' efforts, such as Weber's research on the turning of peasants into Frenchmen. This approach of study may challenge the dominant sub-national (often ethnic and religious) focus on identity, and analyze the roles played by national cultures. McGovern's book thus serves as an important resource, as well as the basis for new directions of theoretical and comparative research on peace and conflict.

This book offers a carefully-made and thoughtful argument about the processes and legacy of the socialist period. As an era long past, McGovern also raises a question about the longevity of these foundations. Reflections are offered on the reasons for the decline of nationalist unity in the most recent decade (2006 onward). This is particularly timely for two reasons. Firstly, post-colonial states with socialist foundations are reaching the potential end of their influence, as their half-life diminishes further with the generations. This might draw attention to the political processes involved in the (re)creation of sub-national identities and divisions. Secondly, many nations in the Global South have taken a turn to the 'developmental state', which offers a similarly future-oriented perspective involving collective sacrifice for the greater good. McGovern's study offers perspectives for alternative pathways to peacefulness (or at least the absence of war) beyond the 'democratic peace' that has become dominant since the Cold War era.

McGovern has written a detailed country study that is accessible to readers who are not familiar with Guinea or West Africa, a formidable task nobly accomplished. A Socialist Peace? is well suited for undergraduate and graduate students in anthropology, history and political science, and should become standard reading material across the social sciences.

The Origins of Political Order

Francis Fukuyama's "The Origins of Political Order" (2011) is already standard reading, and should be read by all students of development studies. For those unfamiliar with the work, it focuses on the development of government institutions. This post picks up on a few points that resonated on a recent reading:

The background: "Political institutions develop, often slowly and painfully, over time as human societies strive to organize themselves to master their environments. But political decay occurs when political systems fail to adjust to changing circumstances. There is something like a law of the conservation of institutions. Human beings are rule-following animals by nature; they are born to conform to the social norms they see around them, and they entrench those rules with often transcendent meaning and value. When the surrounding environment changes and new challenges arise, there is often a disjunction between existing institutions and present needs." (p. 7)

In agreement with a recent work on China, Fukuyama argues that a "parsimonious theory of political change, comparable to the theories of economic growth posited by economists, is in my view simply not possible. The factors driving the development of any given political institution are multiple, complex, and often dependent on accidental or contingent events." (p. 23) Again: "Social order was not, according to Hayek, the result of top-down rational planning: rather, it occurred spontaneously through the interactions of hundreds or thousands of dispersed individuals who experimented with rules, kept the ones that worked, and rejected those that didn't. The process by which social order was generated was incremental, evolutionary, and decentralized; only by making use of the local knowledge of myriads of individuals could a working "Great Society" ever appear" (p. 252). But, Fukuyama also cites examples of alternative pathways, such as conversion to Christianity or Islam, as a means to introduce rapid, sometimes top-down social order (see p. 256).

The author contrasts cultural relativism with evolutionary theory, arguing that human societies also evolve like biological evolution. ("…why one level gets superseded by another…"). While the author avoids labeling better/higher or lower/worse, the values he does chose to assess societies – complexity, richness and power – are themselves value judgements. If one society is able to wipe out another, is this a valuable metric equating with biological advancement? Similarly, if one society is able to deplete the resources of humanity rapidly and usurp the wealth of others, thereby becoming richer than others, is this a valuable metric equating with biological advancement? I am not convinced by Fukuyama's narrative on these points. I also strongly oppose the ease with which Fukuyama switches between comparisons of chimp societies and certain human societies he views as being less complex, powerful and rich, such as "Like chimp bands, hunter-gatherers inhabit a territorial range…" (p. 53).

On wealth and inequality: "There is something like an iron law of latifundia in agrarian societies that says that the rich will grow richer until they are stopped – either by the state, by peasant rebellions, or by states acting out of fear of peasant rebellions." (p. 141).

On unity: "A second perhaps more important reason by China reunified has implications for contemporary developing countries… there was a strong feeling that China was defined by a shared written language, a classical literary canon, a bureaucratic tradition, a shared history, empirewide educational institutions, and a value system that dictated elite behavior at both the political and social levels. That sense of cultural unity remained even when the state disappeared." (p. 149)

On methods: "Putting the theory after the history constitutes what I regard as the correct approach to analysis: theories ought to be inferred from facts, and not the other way around. Of course, there is no such thing as pure confrontation with facts, devoid of prior theoretical constructs. Those who think they are empirical in that fashion are deluding themselves. But all too often social science begins with an elegant theory and then searches for facts that will confirm it." (p. 24)

Development Blindspot: Children & Environmental Toxins

​Robert Chambers recently highlighted corruption, entomophagy, neglected tropical diseases, cookstove air pollution, climate change and ocean ecology as blindspots in his "Can We Know Better?" (2017) book. I think we ought to add environmental toxins and child health. Consider the following quotes from "Children & Environmental Toxins: What Everyone Needs to Know" (2018) by Landriagan and Landriagan (an overview book for non-experts published by Oxford University Press). As a background, it is worth noting that there have been rapid rises in infant and childhood cancers, asthma, allergies and autism in recent decades:

  • "Research in children's environmental health and epidemiology shows us that infants and children are exquisitely vulnerable to toxic chemicals. Exposures during pregnancy and in early childhood to even very low level of lead, methylmercury, organophosphate pesticides, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have all been proven to cause damage to children's developing brains that presents as IQ loss, shortened attention span, and disordered behavior. Early-life exposure to air pollution causes asthma, pneumonia, impaired lung growth, and sudden infant death. Prenatal exposures to solvents and pesticides are linked to childhood cancer. Endocrine disruptors, such as phthalates and bisphenol A, are associated with birth defects, diminished reproductive function, and disordered behavior." (p. xix)
  • "A fundamental problem is that often little or no assessment is made of the safety or potential toxicity of new chemicals before they are brought to market. This failure to exercise due diligence makes it impossible to know which chemicals will be beneficial and which need to be treated with caution." (p. 11)​
  • "The majority of the 3,000 high-production-volume chemicals have not undergone even minimal assessment for safety or potential toxicity. Only approximately 20% of high-production-volume chemicals have been screened for their potential to disrupt early human development or to cause disease in infants and children. Accordingly, we have no knowledge of the possible dangers to children of most of the synthetic chemicals in the world today." (p. 13)​
  • "Only 10% to 20% of cancers in children are considered to be genetic. The remaining 80% to 90% are due to environmental factors - chemical and physical factors in the environment called environmental carcinogens." (p. 48)

Listening to the Grasshoppers: Field Notes on Democracy

​Arundhati Roy's "Listening to the Grasshoppers: Field Notes on Democracy" (2009) is a collection of essays, written during the 2000s. The topics span a range of issues, largely occurring in India. While the "field notes on democracy" were present, they were often implicit - which is somehow expected as the content was not written as a book, but a series of disconnected essays. A few noteworthy, often very witty and wise, reflections:

  • "The system of representative democracy - too much representation, too little democracy - need some structural adjustment." (p. x)
  • "The space for nonviolent civil disobedience has atrophied. After struggling for several years, several nonviolent people's resistance movements have come up against the wall and feel, quite rightly, they have to now change direction. Views about what that direction should be are deeply polarized. There are some who believe that an armed struggle is the only avenue left... Others are increasingly beginning to feel they must participate in electoral politics - enter the system, negotiate from within." (p. 37)​
  • "A political party that represents the poor will be a poor party. A party with very meagre funds. Today it isn't possible to fight an election without funds. Putting a couple of well-known social activists into Parliament is interesting, but not really politically meaningful. Not a process worth channeling all our energies into. Individual charisma, personality politics, cannot effect radical change." (p. 39)​
  • "We need vision. We need to make sure that those of us who say we want to reclaim democracy are egalitarian and democratic in our own methods of functioning. If our struggle is to be an idealistic one, we cannot really make caveats for the internal injustices that we perpetuate on one another, on women, on children... If opportunism and expedience come at the cost of our beliefs, then there is nothing to separate us from mainstream politicians. If it is justice we want, it must be justice and equal rights for all - not only for special interest groups with special interest prejudices. That is non-negotiable. We have allowed nonviolence resistance to atrophy into feel-good political theatre, which at its most successful is a photo opportunity for the media, and at its least successful is simply ignored." (p. 41)​
  • "What we;re experiencing now is blowback, the cumulative result of decades of quick fixes and dirty deeds. The carpet's squelching under our feet. The only way to contain - it would be naive to say end - terrorism is to look at the monster in the mirror." (p. 197)

War in 140 Characters

​If you have been following the problematization of social media over the years, the stories in "War in 140 Characters: How Social Media is Reshaping Conflict in the Twenty-First Century" (2017) by David Patrikarakos might not be all that surprising. For those who are interested in how these processes actually take place - beyond the headlines, abstract or theory - the author presents some insightful qualitative examples, from multiple perspectives on the war fronts.

"This book is about war. But it is also about stories, the narratives of conflict and the conflict of narratives" (p. 3) writes the author. While some aspects of war and conflict remain the same, Patrikarakos argues that we "are in need of a new conceptual framework that takes into account how social media has transformed the way that wars are waged, covered, and consumed. (p. 5). How has conflict actually changed? "First, power has shifted from hierarchies or institutions to individual citizens and networks of citizens. Second, the narrative dimensions of war are arguably becoming more important than its physical dimensions. And third, the conflicts I am examining were not "traditional" state-on-state wars" (p. 5). The conclusion? "Our information environment is sick. We live in a world where facts are less important than narratives, where people emote rather than debate, and where algorithms shape our view of the world" (p. 264). 

One of the most interesting examples I found in the book was how the "troll factory" actually operates and its objectives. "The goal was twofold. The first was to shore up the Kremlin's own constituency by giving them a narrative to hold on to and subsequently disseminate. The second, more bemusing to him, was to simply sow as much confusion as possible: to counteract the realities on the ground with counternarratives made forceful not by the strength of their content, which was blatantly false, but by their sheer volume" (p. 144). 

Other problems of social media - on echo-chambers and cocoons: "As we cocoon ourselves in online bubbles of like-minded friends and followers posting content we find agreeable, so the Facebook algorithm feeds us yet more content that, based on our online habits, it calculates we will like. This is designed to keep us on their forums for as long as possible to allow companies to advertise specific products to us users based on what they know we like." (p. 12)

From Poverty to Famine in Ethiopia

​Rural live in Ethiopian history is largely absent in the historical record – historians are able to work with a wealth of material from the long written record in the country, but these tends to only reflect a small segment of society. James McCann's "From Poverty to Famine in Northeast Ethiopia: A Rural History 1900-1935" (1987) provide important insight into the everyday lives of rural people, as well as the conditions and changes that pushed people living in poverty into famine. A unique contribution made by the author is the role of the state – not its absence per se, but its presence in over taxing rural residents.

The book begins with a series of questions: "What accounts for Ethiopia's vulnerability to famine when it boasts one of Africa's most efficient agricultural systems who technology has sustained sophisticated state systems for millennia? To what extent did northern Ethiopian patterns of property, marriage, and ideology resist or contribute to the overall impoverishment of the rural economy? Did crises in the rural economy as a whole affect the distribution of labor and productive resources between classes or within households?" (p. 5-6) Through a series of short, readable chapters, McCann grapples with answering these questions amidst sparse available data.

On daily life: "Farmers in northern Wallo who daily shouldered their plows and drove their oxen to the field or collected fuel for cook fires regularly faced a labyrinth of decisions with determined the success of their farm expertise. The obstacles in the form of a shrinking resource base, a capricious environment, and obligations to feed a ubiquitous aristocracy have already been outlined. Yet the resilience of their way of life and the expansion of their agricultural system suggest that as workers and consumers highland men and women were effective managers of the resources at their disposal." (p. 68)

On gender: "Given the preference for virilocal residence and frequency of divorce, a pattern of vulnerability for women becomes clear. On divorce many women in peasant households retained few if any resources. Older women or those with young children had fewer prospects because they were liabilities unless they owned livestock. Whether they or their husbands initiated divorce, women almost always left the homestead because the land belonged to the husband. Women could retain rights to land their genealogical claims had brought to a marriage, but those rights were meaningless without oxen and mature male labor to cultivate the land" (p.54)

On taxation: "Over the course of the next two decades [from the 1920s], competition over rural revenues between the state and local elites intensified and caught peasant households in much of northern Ethiopia in a precarious squeeze that likely threatened the margin of surplus needed for social and physical reproduction or rural society and subtly shifted political and social relations between classes. I believe that these pressures, combined with difficult environmental conditions, spurred the frequent rebellions in the north and cemented a cycle of economic decline." (p. 134)

On resistance: "What was the root cause of such widespread resistance? Close examination of the patterns and timing of resistance suggests that environmental factors provided an important, and possible casual, backdrop to political events. The 1917-18 period was one of extreme environmental dislocation in Tigray and Lasta. Generalized conditions of drought, insect invasions, and influenza created severe economic strains locally well into 1920. These conditions threatened peasant subsistence and increased the willingness to resort to violence to provide the means for the survival of the household" (p. 120-121) Again: "Peasants were willing to take up arms and challenge state or local authority out of a sense of desperation" (p. 142).

New Publication: Large-Scale Transdisciplinary Collaboration for Adaptation Research

Abstract: An increasing number of research programs seek to support adaptation to climate change through the engagement of large-scale transdisciplinary networks that span countries and continents. While transdisciplinary research processes have been a topic of reflection, practice, and refinement for some time, these trends now mean that the global change research community needs to reflect and learn how to pursue collaborative research on a large scale. This paper shares insights from a seven-year climate change adaptation research program that supports collaboration between more than 450 researchers and practitioners across four consortia and 17 countries. The experience confirms the importance of attention to careful design for transdisciplinary collaboration, but also highlights that this alone is not enough. The success of well-designed transdisciplinary research processes is also strongly influenced by relational and systemic features of collaborative relationships. Relational features include interpersonal trust, mutual respect, and leadership styles, while systemic features include legal partnership agreements, power asymmetries between partners, and institutional values and cultures. In the new arena of large-scale collaborative science efforts, enablers of transdisciplinary collaboration include dedicated project coordinators, leaders at multiple levels, and the availability of small amounts of flexible funds to enable nimble responses to opportunities and unexpected collaborations.


A Diplomat’s Memoir of South Sudan

​When I first came across Nicholas Coghlan's "Collapse of a Country: A Diplomat's Memoir of South Sudan" (2017), I passed it up. Memoirs can be interesting, but not always great (unless you are interested in the day to day activities and experiences, often without in-depth contextualization). However, while on route to South Sudan myself, I read the book, and highly recommend it. It is a fascinating read, and quite well contextualized in issues well beyond a typical memoir.

On governance, one of the journalists he speaks with explains "Yes, there is a tendency towards dictatorship in South Sudan," he admit. "But you know what? This will never be a dictatorship like Eritrea's. To be a dictator you have to be efficient and you have to have a vision. Neither apply in our case." (p. 47).

On conflict resolution: The resolution of the Jonglei Crisis had followed a well-worn pattern. A Big Man becomes dissatisfied with the status quo and finds himself unable to get his way by peaceful means. He takes to the bush and assembles an armed militia. He creates mayhem. In the end, he accepts an offer of cash and promotion and comes back in. Until next time. The practice often brought peace in the short term, but over the medium to long term, It encouraged and rewarded rebellion." (p. 70). See also De Waal (2015) on this point. There are some challenging reflections on the future, such as Coghlan's reflection that "it would take more than a generation for South Sudan to get over this situation [lived experiences of conflict]" (p. 32). As the peace negotiations enter into new rounds, with similar faces making few compromises, the prediction continues to be a likely one.

On aid and priority setting: "A particularly interesting finding of the in-country surveys was that most communities identified inter-ethnic reconciliation as their top priority for donor support (this with the caveat that polling and surveys are notoriously problematic in South Sudan). I was intrigued but not surprised by this after years of observing the civil war, which as often as not pitted southerners against each other rather than against northerners. But for newcomers to South Sudan, this seemed aberrant. More to the point, how could you achieve "reconciliation" and how did you establish benchmarks? When we huddled with the government to reach a consensus over priorities, reconciliation shifted near the bottom of the list" (p. 108).

On the (lack) of accountability: "A very large convoy of World Food Program trucks carrying mainly food supplies north to the POC camp in Bentiu was hijacked and looted near Mundri, Western Equatoria State. When they were released, the drivers described their assailants as armed and uniformed. There was no doubt about where at least three of the trucks were taken; GPS tracking showed them to be inside the SPLA barracks in Yei. WFP supplied all donors with a list of the value of their goods that had been stolen; in the case of Canada, the total was US$ 300,000. But WFP insisted that we not a make public statement, let alone press the government for an explanation. They were more concerned with getting the trucks back in tact – forget the food seized – and not endangering further their already difficult relationship with the government." (p. 199)

On Canada and staffing challenges (and some self-reflection): "It seemed that the younger generation in the Canadian foreign service were not motivated by what had attracted me: the prospect of travel to exotic places, a whiff of danger and excitement, and being a big fish in a small pond. They preferred the classic "cushy" posts – London, Rome, Washington – if they wanted to go abroad at all." (p. 197)

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