Economic Cooperation's Poor Track Record

Mitchell, Lincoln A.

It seems as if whenever there is a disputed territory or ethnic conflict, regardless of where, the strategy of pursuing economic cooperation to ameliorate political and ethnic tension is enthusiastically pursued by foreign governments and international organizations. The rationale behind this is hard to question because Palestinians and Israelis, ethnic and Abkhaz and ethnic Georgians, Armenians and Turks and other similar pairings all value the opportunity to make money and do business. This is also approach is also consistent with the post-Cold War global consensus in Washington and elsewhere that markets solve all problems. The reality that these types of programs have rarely had a significant impact on resolving territorial disputes has not appeared to daunt proponents of the shared economic venture as path to peace approach. These programs have generally had a marginal effect as conflicts have either endured in spite of these programs, or more frequently these programs have failed to get off the ground because the conflict and rancor between the groups.


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Academic Units
Harriman Institute
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October 13, 2011