Spare the Rod

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I got to thinking about failed states recently, especially in Africa, what with the news that 12% of South Africans may be HIV positive, the massive debt relief negotiated by an Irish pop star, the continuing agony of Darfur, and brazen forays by Somali pirates.

For 50 or 60 years now, it seems as if a whole alphabet soup of governmental and nongovernmental charities (US AID, CARE, UNHCR and WHO) have been trying to wrest sub-Saharan Africa from the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

In October 2001, we dropped a handful of Green Berets and a battalion of Army Rangers into Afghanistan. Two weeks later, bang, civilization returned. Granted, Kabul and Kandahar aren’t yet likely to be mistaken for Beverly Hills or even Compton, but at least the police no longer whip you for shaving.

It makes me wonder if the governments of the poorest countries in the world might stand a little less hand-holding and a little more ass-kicking.

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