What happened to campaign-finance reform? Did the McCain-Feingold reform bill—and its successful defense in court—accomplish anything? President Bush is set to shatter all fund-raising records this year. Next time McCain and company set their sights on reform, they should learn from countries like Mexico, Latvia and Thailand that have appointed fair, nonpartisan oversight boards.
Countries with a combination of a large land mass and a sizeable population tend to be chronically unstable politically and economically. Allowing their problems to fester, the case all too often in the past, is a source of continuing hardship to their citizens and neighbors alike. The international community needs to consider a new approach to the problems of these nations.
Major oil producers in West Africa and Latin America can make an important contribution to US energy security, since they are not affected by the intractable problems of the Middle East. They have problems of their own, however, and to mitigate them, the U.S. should encourage transparency and democratic processes in the distribution of oil revenue.
The international aid field of law and development focuses too much on law, lawyers and state institutions, and too little on development, the poor and civil society. In fact, it is doubtful whether "rule of law orthodoxy," the dominant paradigm pursued by many international agencies, should be the central means for integrating law and development.