Book Department

DOI10.1177/000271620157400115
Published date01 March 2001
Date01 March 2001
Subject MatterArticles
195
Book
Department
INTERNATIONAL
RELATIONS
AND
POLITICS
ASCHER,
WILLIAM. 1999.
Why
Govern-
ments
Waste
Natural
Resources:
Pol-
icy
Failures
in
Developing
Countries.
Pp.
ix,
333.
Baltimore,
MD:
Johns
Hopkins
University
Press.
$59.00.
Paperbound,
$17.95.
This
book
attempts
to
answer
two
im-
portant
questions:
why
governments
in
developing
countries
waste
natural
re-
sources,
and
what
can
be
done
about
it.
Obviously,
natural
resources
can
be
squandered
by
private
and
communal
re-
source
users
as
well
as
by
government
agencies
even
when
policy
failures
are
not
apparent.
However,
Ascher’s
atten-
tion
to
faulty
natural-resource
policies
of
governments
is
well
placed
since
govern-
ments
have
the
responsibility
to
oversee
the
use
of
resources
and
to
protect
them
from
abuse.
Based
on
the
premise
that
poor
resource
practices
are
largely
caused
by
government
policies,
Ascher
proposes
a
theory
to
explain
why
govern-
ment
officials
in
developing
countries
of-
ten
induce
and
engage
in
unsound
natural-resource
policies.
The
gist
of
the
theory
is
that
govern-
ment
officials
adopt
such
policies
in
order
to
pursue
various
political
and
economic
objectives.
Promoting
development
ini-
tiatives,
redistributing
wealth,
and
cap-
turing
revenues
for
the
central
treasury
are
among
the
most
important
objectives.
Others
include
creating
rent-seeking
op-
portunities
for
supporters,
capturing
and
maintaining
discretion
over
the
financial
flows
involved
in
resource
exploitation
at
the
expense
of
competing
government
agencies,
and
evading
accountability
through
reliance
on
low-visibility
re-
source
maneuvers.
Ascher
identifies
an
elaborate
list
of
broad
categories
of
natural-resource
pol-
icy
failures,
which
include
price
distor-
tions,
externalities,
insecurity
of
property
rights,
uncertainty,
direct
state
misexploitation,
and
absence
of
account-
ability.
After
a
detailed
discussion
of
how
these
policy
failures
are
related
to
the
po-
litical
and
economic
objectives
pursued
by
government
officials,
Ascher
provides
extensive
empirical
support
for
his
the-
ory
by
presenting
16
case
studies,
all
cho-
sen
for
the
importance
of
the
resources
involved.
The
cases
support
Ascher’s
proposition
that
faulty
resource
policies
are
related
to
the
political
and
economic
objectives
of
government
officials.
In
ad-
dition,
the
cases
reveal
that,
in
most
in-
stances,
governments
failed
to
attain
their
developmental
and
redistributive
objectives,
which
are
part
of
the
reason
why
they
adopt
faulty
natural-resource
policies.
On
the
basis
of
the
findings
and
his
conviction
that,
under
conditions
of
per-
fect
information,
competition,
and
secure
property
rights,
the
market
mechanism
sets
input
and
output
prices
in
a
manner
such
that
private
and
societal
interests
converge,
Ascher
proposes
a
number
of
policy
recommendations.
He
suggests
that
governments
(1)
restore
nongovern-
mental
resource
control
while
fostering
196
competition,
secure
property
rights,
and
the
availability
of
information;
(2)
re-
structure
resource
exploitation
by
state
agencies
in
order
to
ensure
that
they
are
accountable
and
apply
appropriate
rates
and
methods;
(3)
manage
externalities
in
such
a
way
that
private
resource
exploit-
ers
bear
the
indirect
costs
to
society
and
are
rewarded
for
providing
benefits
to
so-
ciety ;
and
(4)
separate
the
objectives
of
distributional
equity
from
the
production
process
in
order
to
promote
efficiency.
Many
readers
are
not
likely
to
share
Ascher’s
notion
of
what
constitutes
opti-
mal
resource
policies
that
maximize
soci-
etal benefits.
He
defines
optimal
policies
in
terms
of
dynamic
efficiency.
The
tech-
nical
problems
of
identifying
input
and
output
prices
that
represent
dynamic
ef-
ficiency
aside,
efficiency
considerations
rarely
account
for
distributional
issues.
Furthermore,
policies
that
are
geared
to
advancing
efficiency
only
are
not
always
the
best
policies.
Ascher’s
suggestion
to
exclude
issues
of
distribution
from
defining
best
re-
source
practices
is
certain
to
concern
many
readers.
He
considers
distribu-
tional
equity
to
be
&dquo;extraordinarily
im-
portant.&dquo;
However,
he
views
it
to
be
a
matter
of
value,
and
he
believes
that
dis-
tribution
policies
should
be
pursued
at
the
level
of central
budgeting
and
outside
the
production
process.
It
is
doubtful that
issues
of poverty
alleviation
and
distribu-
tive
equity
would
be
effectively
ad-
dressed
through
budgets
in
an
era
of
globalization.
Global
competition
has
ex-
erted
pressure
on
governments
to
lower
their
tax
rates,
and
conditionalities
set
by
the
IMF-
and
World
Bank-sponsored
Structural
Adjustment
Programs
have
forced
governments
to
restrict
budgetary
expenditures.
A
healthy
balance
between
the
goals
of
safeguarding
resources
and
meeting
the
developmental
needs
of
people
in
de-
veloping
countries
is
essential
for
appro-
priate
management
of
resources.
Striking
such
a
balance
is
not
likely
to
be
attainable
without
addressing
the
issues
of
poverty
and
maldistribution
of income.
Thus
what
is
needed
is
theories
and
pol-
icy
options
that
safeguard
natural
re-
sources
without
neglecting
the
goals
of
poverty
alleviation
and
distributive
eq-
uity.
This
book
does
not
quite
strike
the
necessary
balance,
but
it
contributes
con-
siderably
to
the
search
for
theories
that
strike
the
balance.
The
richness
of
the
cases
and
the
meticulous
analysis
of
the
evidence
are
among
the
many
strengths
of
the
book
from
which
readers
will
greatly
benefit.
KIDANE
MENGISTEAB
Old
Dominion
University
Norfolk
Virginia
DESCH,
MICHAEL
C.
1999.
Civilian
Control
of
the
Military:
The
Changing
Security
Environment.
Pp.
xiii,
184.
Baltimore,
MD:
Johns
Hopkins
Uni-
versity
Press.
$34.95.
Through
his
work
with
the
John
M.
Olin
Institute
of
Strategic
Studies,
his
or-
ganizing
of
conferences,
and
his
stimula-
tion
of
others’
thinking,
there
would
scarcely
be
a
more
influential
scholar
of
civil-military
relations
than
Michael
C.
Desch
even
if
he
had
not
written
this
summation
of
his
ideas.
With
Civilian
Control
of
the
Militczry,
Professor
Desch
assures
his
place
at
the
top
of
this
field.
The
book
offers
the
most
persuasive
theory
of
the
structural
determinants
of
civilian
control
that
I
have
found.
It
is
of
great
current
interest
because
of
its
co-
gent
explanation
of
the
deterioration
of
civilian
control
in
the
United
States
since
the
end
of
the
Cold
War,
but
in
addition
Desch
applies
his
theory
to
a
wide
range
of specific
situations
including
the
transi-
tion
from
the
Soviet
Union
to
the
Russian
Federation
of
Republics,
the
German
197
Empire
during
World
War
I,
France
during
the
Algerian
crisis,
and
Brazil,
Argentina,
and
Chile
from
the
1960s
to
1990s.
Desch
presents
the
essentials
of
civil-
ian
control
simply:
&dquo;The
best
indicator
of
the
state
of
civilian
control
is
who
pre-
vails
when
civilian
and
military
prefer-
ences
diverge.
If
the
military
does,
there
is
a
problem;
if
the
civilians
do,
there
is
not.&dquo;
He
then
explores
the
effects
upon
ci-
vilian
control
of
four
possible
situations
in
which
a
state
might
find
itself:
a
high
external
threat
to
its
interests
combined
with
a
low
internal
threat
to
its
stability;
a
low
external
threat
combined
with
a
high
internal
threat;
high
threats
both
external
and
internal;
low
threats
both
external
and
internal.
He
posits,
and
his
historical
case
stud-
ies
seem
to
confirm,
that
civilian
control
tends
to
be
most
secure
when
there
is
a
high
external
and
low
internal
threat.
In
response
to
the
high
external
threat,
the
interests
of
civilian
and
military
leaders
converge,
and
there
also
is
likely
to
be
maximum
cohesiveness
within
each
group.
Thus
during
World
War
II
and
the
Cold
War,
the
American
civilian
leader-
ship
could
reliably
count
on
the
military’s
doing
what
it
wished.
During
World
War
II,
there
were
many
instances
of
civil-
ian-military
disagreement,
for
example,
over
the
invasion of
French
North
Africa;
but
there
was
never
a
question
of
the
ef-
fectiveness
of
civilian
control.
During
the
Cold
War,
in
spite
of
military
discontent
with
much
civilian
decision
making,
par-
ticularly
concerning
Vietnam,
civilian
control
also
functioned
effectively.
The
same
pattern
prevailed
in
the
Soviet
Union.
Since
the
end
of
the
Cold
War,
in
con-
trast,
with
the
United
States
experienc-
ing
low
levels
of
threat
both
externally
and
internally,
civilian
control
has
been
less
assured.
External
threats
have
not
disappeared,
but
as
they
present
them-
selves
at
a
less
acute
level,
the
military
feels
freer
to
act
in
its
own
bureaucratic
interest
and
to
resist
civilian
control.
Desch
stresses
that
he
is
not
envisaging
military
resistance
on
anything
like
the
scale
of
a
coup
d’6tat.
What
has
already
occurred,
however,
is
that
the
military
has
asserted
a
policymaking
role
in
deci-
sions
on
when
to
use
military
force,
and
sometimes
in
relation
to
its
own
adminis-
tration,
that
is
foreign
to
the
American
tradition
of civilian
control.
It
has
done
so
in
asserting
abstract
principles
of
when
to
go
to
war,
as
in
the
Powell
Doctrine,
and
in
specific
situations,
as
when
Gen-
eral
Colin
L.
Powell,
as
chairman
of
the
Joint
Chiefs
of
Staff,
led
military
resis-
tance
to
intervention
in
Bosnia
that
de-
layed
action
there,
with
the
military
subsequently
dragging
its
feet
on
the
ar-
rest
of
war
criminals.
The
current
Russian
situation
is
not
altogether
dissimilar.
But
there
the
lack
of
a
democratic
tradition
of
civilian
con-
trol
along
with
much
more
severe
inter-
nal
threats
to
the
state-as
in
Chechnya-have
led
to
occasional
out-
right
defiance
of
the
civilian
leadership
by
the
military
Germany
in
World
War
I,
like
France
in
the
1950s
and
Japan
between
the
world
wars,
presents
an
instance
of
high
threats
externally
and
internally.
In
such
cases,
where
the
structural
pattern
of
ex-
ternal
as
opposed
to
internal
threats
is
indeterminate-they
roughly
balance
out-Desch
believes
that
the
doctrine
embraced
by
the
military
tends
to
shape
responses
to
civilian
control.
During
the
mid
to
late
years
of
World
War
I,
for
ex-
ample,
until
remarkably
close
to
the
end,
the
German
military
believed
Germany
was
winning
the
war
and
thus
controlling
the
external
threat,
but
the
military’s
doctrine
of
the
necessity
to
wage
total
war
created
a
perception
of
a
severe
internal
threat
to
the
requisite
unity;
so
the
military
responded
by
rejecting
civil-
ian
control
and
establishing
a
military
dictatorship.

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