Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lloyd J. Dumas's "The Peacekeeping Economy"

Lloyd J. Dumas is Professor of Political Economy, Economics and Public Policy at the University of Texas at Dallas. Dumas has published eight books and over 120 articles in 11 languages in books and journals of 7 different disciplines. He has discussed the policy implications of his work on more than 300 TV and radio programs in the U.S., China, Russia, Canada, Europe, Latin America and the Pacific.

He applied “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Peacekeeping Economy: Using Economic Relationships to Build a More Peaceful, Prosperous, and Secure World, and reported the following:
The idea that military strength is virtually synonymous with security is deeply entrenched and widely held. In the dogged pursuit of security by primarily military means, we have spent many thousands of lives and trillions of dollars. But while the threat or use of military force may sometimes be necessary, it cannot keep us as safe as building relationships that replace hostility with a sense of mutual purpose and mutual gain. The central argument of this book is that economic relationships can offer far more effective means of maintaining security that are also much less costly in blood and treasure.

Having earlier defined the right kind of economic relationship for peacekeeping – one that is balanced and non-exploitative, emphasizes development, and minimizes environmental damage, page 99 is the second page in a key chapter that addresses pragmatic approaches to establishing and maintaining such relationships. The preceding page raises an important question:
If it is true that the four [peacekeeping] principles are really as compatible with market capitalism as I have argued, then it is reasonable to begin this discussion by asking why capitalism hasn’t already created a peacekeeping international economy. The first part of the answer is that much of what is needed to make a peacekeeping economy work is already in place. We do not need an entirely new economic or political system. The principles… are designed as guidelines to help correct some of the most serious conflict-generating tendencies of the present international economic system, while greatly enhancing the positive incentives that system already creates to keep the peace within nations and among them…. The greater part of the answer is that the narrow short-term interest of those who run market enterprises often diverges from what is in the short and long-term interest of the wider society.
Page 99 goes on to say,
This can lead to the adoption of practices that run counter to the peacekeeping principles. For example, establishing unbalanced exploitative economic relationships with suppliers in other countries violates the first principle of a peacekeeping economy. But it serves the short-term interests of the firm by allowing it to pay less for the resources it requires, and thus presumably make a greater short-term profit. The fact that this exploitation might generate hostility that is counterproductive to the security interests of their home country does not necessarily enter into the firm’s decision-making process. In an economist’s terms, it is a “negative externality” --- a side effect of the actions of one party that imposes an unintended cost on another….

…we cannot simply rely on the ordinary, unrestricted operation of the market system to create forces that will ultimately lead to the evolution of a highly effective peacekeeping economy. But neither do we have to unduly interfere with the operation of the forces of self-interest that…
The thought then finishes on page 100:
...propel the market system forward and give it its creativity, flexibility, and vigor. Instead we have to try to create the right context by finding ways to establish and encourage adherence to “rules of the game” that allow for the motivational advantages of self-interested economic activity, while embedding the peacekeeping principles that lead naturally to the development of a full-blown peacekeeping economy.
The remainder of the chapter elaborates on those “ways to establish and encourage adherence to those ‘rules of the game’. And the rest of the book elaborates on the challenges and advantages of the transition to a peacekeeping economic security system.
Learn more about The Peacekeeping Economy at the Yale University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue