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October 01, 2007

Clinton Global Reading List
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

I've been away for a week working as a table facilitator at this year's Clinton Global Initiative.  Sadly, we sign a non-disclosure agreement as a condition of participation, so I can't blog about it.  Instead, I'm going to recommend a few books and presentations from the most impressive speakers I heard -- all focused around poverty alleviation, the track I worked in.  Think of it as your chance to get the CGI experience in your own home, without the risk of running into Richard Branson in the men's room.

Hands-down the most impressive person I encountered was Ashraf Ghani, the former Finance Minister of Afghanistan and now head of the Institute of State Effectiveness (and chancellor of Kabul U.)

He has a book coming out -- The Framework:  Fixing Failed States. Meanwhile here's his "Agenda for Harnessing Globalization" (his co-author and partner at the Institute for State Effectiveness, Clare Lockhart, is also very impressive).  And this 2005 video gives you a great flavor of his eloquent and informed but also very direct critique of how foreign aid is given, including this line:

"Technical assistance is the worst form of the ugly face of the developed world to the developing world."

Paul Collier, the Bottom Billion author, was on the same panel.  I was wondering whether he would be someone more interested in goring sacred cows than effective change, but in fact he was also very good -- provocative but not just for the sake of being provocative. 

In fact, I see that his book garnered raving reviews from the right (Niall Ferguson here) and the left (the Guardian's Heather Stewart here).  Nice work.  It would be fun to compare the two reviews in more detail and try to decide whether there's some new emerging consensus... although I cynically suspect that the consensus would be that the elites are tired of the mass anti-poverty campaigners and happy for excuses to bash them.

Meanwhile Amartya Sen has a new book called Identity and Violence.  (Podcast here.)


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Did the experts engage each other at all? If so is the CGI going to publish it at some point, because I'd love to hear details.

What reason on Earth is there for you to sign a non disclosure agreement about an event that's presumably being held in the public's interest?

That's an excellent question, but my understanding is that Ms. Hurlburt is not at liberty to answer it.

I would take a lot more interest in the Clinton Global Initiative if it were not Clinton who was leading it.

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