Think Again

Think Again: Asia's Rise

Don't believe the hype about the decline of America and the dawn of a new Asian age. It will be many decades before China, India, and the rest of the region take over the world, if they ever do.

"Power Is Shifting from West to East."

Not really. Dine on a steady diet of books like The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East or When China Rules the World, and it's easy to think that the future belongs to Asia. As one prominent herald of the region's rise put it, "We are entering a new era of world history: the end of Western domination and the arrival of the Asian century."

Sustained, rapid economic growth since World War ii has undeniably boosted the region's economic output and military capabilities. But it's a gross exaggeration to say that Asia will emerge as the world's predominant power player. At most, Asia's rise will lead to the arrival of a multi-polar world, not another unipolar one.

Asia is nowhere near closing its economic and military gap with the West. The region produces roughly 30 percent of global economic output, but because of its huge population, its per capita gdp is only $5,800, compared with $48,000 in the United States. Asian countries are furiously upgrading their militaries, but their combined military spending in 2008 was still only a third that of the United States. Even at current torrid rates of growth, it will take the average Asian 77 years to reach the income of the average American. The Chinese need 47 years. For Indians, the figure is 123 years. And Asia's combined military budget won't equal that of the United States for 72 years.

In any case, it is meaningless to talk about Asia as a single entity of power, now or in the future. Far more likely is that the fast ascent of one regional player will be greeted with alarm by its closest neighbors. Asian history is replete with examples of competition for power and even military conflict among its big players. China and Japan have fought repeatedly over Korea; the Soviet Union teamed up with India and Vietnam to check China, while China supported Pakistan to counterbalance India. Already, China's recent rise has pushed Japan and India closer together. If Asia is becoming the world's center of geopolitical gravity, it's a murky middle indeed.

Those who think Asia's gains in hard power will inevitably lead to its geopolitical dominance might also want to look at another crucial ingredient of clout: ideas. Pax Americana was made possible not only by the overwhelming economic and military might of the United States but also by a set of visionary ideas: free trade, Wilsonian liberalism, and multilateral institutions. Although Asia today may have the world's most dynamic economies, it does not seem to play an equally inspiring role as a thought leader. The big idea animating Asians now is empowerment; Asians rightly feel proud that they are making a new industrial revolution. But self-confidence is not an ideology, and the much-touted Asian model of development does not seem to be an exportable product.

"Asia's Rise Is Unstoppable."

Don't bet on it. Asia's recent track record might seem to guarantee its economic superpower status. Goldman Sachs, for instance, expects that China will surpass the United States in economic output in 2027 and India will catch up by 2050.

Given Asia's relatively low per capita income, its growth rate will indeed outpace the West's for the foreseeable future. But the region faces enormous demographic hurdles in the decades ahead. More than 20 percent of Asians will be elderly by 2050. Aging is a principal cause of Japan's stagnation. China's elderly population will soar in the middle of the next decade. Its savings rate will fall while healthcare and pension costs explode. India is a lone exception to these trends-any one of which could help stall the region's growth.

Environmental and natural resource constraints could also prove crippling. Pollution is worsening Asia's shortage of fresh water while air pollution exacts a terrible toll on health (it kills almost 400,000 people each year in China alone). Without revolutionary advances in alternative energy, Asia could face a severe energy crunch. Climate change could devastate the region's agriculture.

The current economic crisis, moreover, will lead to huge overcapacity as Western demand evaporates. Asian companies, facing anemic consumer demand at home, will not be able to sell their products in the region. The Asian export-dependent model of development will either disappear or cease to be a viable engine of growth.

Political instability could also throw Asia's economic locomotive off course. State collapse in Pakistan or a military conflict on the Korean Peninsula could wreak havoc. Rising inequality and endemic corruption in China could fuel social unrest and cause its economic growth to sputter. And if a democratic breakthrough somehow forces the Communist Party from power, China is most likely to enter a lengthy period of unstable transition, with a weak central government and mediocre economic performance.

"Asian Capitalism Is More Dynamic."

Hardly. With the United States brought low by Wall Street and the European economy enfeebled by its welfare state and inflexible labor market, most Asian economies appear in great shape. It is tempting to say that Asia's unique brand of capitalism, by seamlessly weaving together strategic state intervention, corporate long-term thinking, and insuppressible popular desire for material betterment, will outcompete either the greed-devastated U.S. model or the hidebound European variant.

But though Asian economies-with the notable exception of Japan-are among the fastest-growing in the world today, there's little real evidence to suggest that their apparent dynamism comes from a mysteriously successful form of Asian capitalism. The truth is more mundane: The region's dynamism owes a great deal to its strong fundamentals (high savings, urbanization, and demographics) and the benefits of free trade, market reforms, and economic integration. Asia's relative backwardness is a blessing in one sense: Asian countries have to grow faster because they're starting from a much lower base.

Asian capitalism does have three unique features, but they do not necessarily confer competitive advantages. First, Asian states intervene more in the economy through industrial policy, infrastructural investment, and export promotion. But whether that has made Asian capitalism more dynamic remains an unresolved puzzle. The World Bank's classic 1993 study of the region, "The East Asian Miracle," could not find evidence that strategic intervention by the state is responsible for East Asia's success. Second, two types of companies-family-controlled conglomerates and giant, state-owned enterprises-dominate Asia's business landscape. Although such corporate ownership structures enable Asia's largest companies to avoid the short-termism of most American firms, they also shield them from shareholders and market pressures, making Asian firms less accountable, less transparent, and less innovative.

Finally, Asia's high savings rates, by providing a huge pool of indigenous capital, undeniably fuel the region's economic growth. But pity Asia's savers. Most of them save because their governments provide inadequate social safety nets. Government policies in Asia penalize savers through financial repression (by keeping deposit rates low and paying household savers measly returns on their savings) and reward producers by subsidizing capital (typically through low bank lending rates). Even export promotion, ostensibly an Asian virtue, seems overrated. Asian central banks have invested most of their massive export surpluses in low-yielding, dollar-dominated assets that will lose much of their value due to the long-term inflationary pressures generated by U.S. fiscal and monetary policies.

"Asia Will Lead the World in Innovation."

Not in our lifetime. If you look only at the growing number of U.S. patents awarded to Asian inventors, the United States appears to have a dramatically receding edge in innovation. South Korean inventors, for example, received 8,731 U.S. patents in 2008-compared with 13 in 1978. In 2008, close to 37,000 U.S. patents went to Japanese inventors. The trend seems sufficiently alarming that one study ranked the United States eighth in terms of innovation, behind Singapore, South Korea, and Switzerland.

Reports of the death of America's technological leadership are, to paraphrase Mark Twain, greatly exaggerated. Although Asia's advanced economies, such as Japan and South Korea, are closing the gap, the United States' lead remains huge. In 2008, American inventors were awarded 92,000 U.S. patents, twice the combined total given to South Korean and Japanese inventors. Asia's two giants, China and India, still lag far behind

Asia is pouring money into higher education. But Asian universities will not become the world's leading centers of learning and research anytime soon. None of the world's top 10 universities is located in Asia, and only the University of Tokyo ranks among the world's top 20. In the last 30 years, only eight Asians, seven of them Japanese, have won a Nobel Prize in the sciences. The region's hierarchical culture, centralized bureaucracy, weak private universities, and emphasis on rote learning and test-taking will continue to hobble its efforts to clone the United States' finest research institutions.

Even Asia's much-touted numerical advantage is less than it seems. China supposedly graduates 600,000 engineering majors each year, India another 350,000. The United States trails with only 70,000 engineering graduates annually. Although these numbers suggest an Asian edge in generating brainpower, they are thoroughly misleading. Half of China's engineering graduates and two thirds of India's have associate degrees. Once quality is factored in, Asia's lead disappears altogether. A much-cited 2005 McKinsey Global Institute study reports that human resource managers in multinational companies consider only 10 percent of Chinese engineers and 25 percent of Indian engineers as even "employable," compared with 81 percent of American engineers.

"Dictatorship Has Given Asia an Advantage."

No. Autocracies, mainly in East Asia, may seem to have made their countries prosperous. The so-called dragon economies of South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia under Suharto, and now China experienced their fastest growth under nondemocratic regimes. Frequent comparisons between China and India appear to support the view that a one-party state unencumbered by messy competitive politics can deliver economic goods better than a multiparty system tied down by too much democracy.

But Asia also has had many autocracies that have impoverished their countries-consider the tragic list of Burma, Pakistan, North Korea, Laos, Cambodia under the murderous Khmer Rouge, and the Philippines under Ferdinand Marcos. Even China is a mixed example. Before the Middle Kingdom emerged from self-imposed isolation and totalitarian rule in 1976, its economic growth was subpar. China under Mao also had the dubious distinction of producing the world's worst famine.

Even when you look at autocracies credited with economic success, you find two interesting facts. First, their economic performance improved when they became less brutal and allowed greater personal and economic freedoms. Second, the keys to their successes were sensible economic policies, such as conservative macroeconomic management, infrastructural investment, promotion of savings, and pushing exports. Dictatorship really has no magic formula for economic development.

Comparing a one-party state like China with a democracy such as India is not an easy intellectual exercise. Obviously, India has many weaknesses: widespread poverty, poor infrastructure, and minimal social services. China appears to have done much better in these areas. But appearances can be deceiving. Dictatorships are good at concealing the problems they create while democracy is good at advertising its defects.

So the autocratic advantage in Asia is, at best, an optical illusion.

"China Will Dominate Asia."

Not likely. China is on course to overtake Japan as the world's second-largest economy this year. As the regional economic hub, China is now driving Asia's economic integration. Beijing's diplomatic influence is expanding as well, supposedly thanks to its newfound soft power. Even China's once antiquated military has acquired a full plethora of new weapons systems and significantly improved its ability to project force.

Although it is true that China will become Asia's strongest country by any measure, its rise has inherent limits. China is unlikely to dominate Asia in the sense that it replaces the United States as the region's peacekeeper and decisively influences other countries' foreign policies. Its economic growth is also by no means guaranteed. Restive secession-minded minorities (Tibetans and Uighurs) inhabit strategically important areas that constitute almost 30 percent of Chinese territory. Taiwan, which is unlikely to return to China's fold anytime soon, ties down substantial Chinese military resources. The ruling Chinese Communist Party, which views perpetuating its one-party state as more important than overseas expansionism, is not likely to be seduced by delusions of imperial grandeur.

China has formidable neighbors in Russia, India, and Japan that will fiercely resist any Chinese attempts to become the regional hegemon. Even Southeast Asia, where China appears to have reaped the most geopolitical gains in recent years, has been reluctant to fall into China's orbit completely. Nor would the United States simply capitulate in the face of a Chinese juggernaut.

For complex reasons, China's rise has inspired fear and unease, not enthusiasm, among Asians. Only 10 percent of Japanese, 21 percent of South Koreans, and 27 percent of Indonesians surveyed by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs said they would be comfortable with China being the future leader of Asia.

So much for China's charm offensive.

"America Is Losing Influence in Asia."

Definitely not. Bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan and mired in a deep recession, the United States certainly looks like a superpower in decline. Its influence in Asia has apparently receded as well, with the formerly mighty dollar in less demand than the Chinese yuan and the North Korean regime openly flaunting Washington's will. But it is premature to declare the end of U.S. geopolitical preeminence in Asia. In all likelihood, the self-correcting mechanisms in its political and economic systems will enable the United States to recover from its current setbacks.

America's leadership in Asia derives from many sources, not just its military or economic heft. Like beauty, a country's geopolitical influence is often in the eye of the beholder. Although some view the United States' declining influence in Asia as a fact, many Asians think otherwise. Sixty-nine percent of Chinese, 75 percent of Indonesians, 76 percent of South Koreans, and 79 percent of Japanese in the Chicago Council's surveys said that U.S. influence in Asia had risen over the past decade.

Another, perhaps more important, reason for the enduring American preeminence in Asia is that most countries in the region welcome Washington as the guarantor of Asia's peace. Asian elites from New Delhi to Tokyo continue to count on Uncle Sam to keep a watchful eye on Beijing.

Whether it's over blown or not, Asia is poised to increase its geopolitical and economic influence rapidly in the decades to come. It has already become one of the pillars of the international order. But in thinking about Asia's future, let's not get ahead of ourselves. Its economic ascent is not written in the stars. And given the cultural differences and history of intense rivalry among the region's countries, Asia is unlikely to achieve any degree of regional political unity and evolve into an EU-like entity in our lifetime. Henry Kissinger once famously asked, "Who do I call if I want to call Europe?" We can ask the same question about Asia.

All told, Asia's rise should present more opportunities than threats. The region's growth not only has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, but also will increase demand for Western products. Its internal fissures will allow the United States to check the geopolitical influence of potential rivals such as China and Russia with manageable costs and risks. And hopefully, Asia's rise will provide the competitive pressures urgently needed for Westerners to get their own houses in order—without succumbing to hype or hysteria.

Want to Know More?

  • In “The Dark Side of China’s Rise” (FOREIGN POLICY, March/April 2006), Minxin Pei examines the corruption and waste threatening China’s dizzying economic growth.

  • Well before the “Asian century” fervor exploded, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn predicted in Thunder from the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia (New York: Knopf, 2000) that the “center of the world” would eventually “settle in Asia.” Kishore Mahbubani’s The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East (New York: PublicAffairs, 2008) has become the foundational text of the Asian-century school of thought.

  • The China vs. India debate shows no signs of abating. In “The Next Asian Miracle” (FOREIGN POLICY, July/August 2008), Yasheng Huang makes the case that India’s democratic institutions will give it a long-term growth advantage over China. Razeen Sally dismisses that suggestion in “Don’t Believe the India Hype” (Far Eastern Economic Review, May 1, 2009) on the grounds that India continues to neglect its labor-intensive sectors and avoids reforming its institutions. University of California, Berkeley, economics professor Pranab Bardhan has been one of the few respected analysts to reject both the China hype and the India hype, for reasons he lays out in “China, India Superpower? Not So Fast!” (YaleGlobal Online, Oct. 25, 2005).

  • Not everyone thinks that Asia’s rise implies an inexorable decline in American influence. Anne-Marie Slaughter argues in “America’s Edge: Power in the Networked Century” (Foreign Affairs, January/February 2009) that the 21st century will, in fact, be an American one because the United States enjoys unrivaled “connectedness.”

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Think Again

Think Again: South Africa

It emerged from apartheid a bright young democracy, but Mandela's South Africa is today a fading miracle. As voters go to the polls on April 22, the country's most trying days may yet be ahead.

South Africa Is a Vibrant Modern Democracy.

Not entirely. Democracy has rarely had such a bright start as it did in South Africa, emerging from 46 years of apartheid in 1994. The country's Constitution became the world's most democratic, including rights to water, food, education, security, and healthcare. But former President Nelson Mandela was indeed prescient in titling his biography Long Walk to Freedom, for as South Africa approaches its fourth national elections, its democratic credentials are far from clear.

During the last 15 years, South Africa's politics have increasingly fallen into an elite system more intent on patronage than provision of services. As convicted criminals and fraudsters populate party lists with little public outcry, leading figures of integrity have all but given up, eschewing public service and leaving the door open to those who view politics as an opportunity for personal enrichment. Mandela's vision -- to build a democracy based on one people with a common destiny in [its] rich variety of culture, race, and tradition -- appears to have been lost on successive generations of South African politicians across the ideological spectrum.

The news for opposition parties is equally troubling. Although elections are held and contested freely, South Africa is today a de facto one-party state ruled by the African National Congress (ANC). Recent events paint a disturbing picture of how the line between the ruling party and the state has blurred. In December 2007, then President Thabo Mbeki was ousted as head of the party by his former deputy and political rival, Jacob Zuma, despite corruption charges against the latter. Less than a year later, Mbeki was gently forced to resign the presidency -- humiliated -- from his weakened position. Instead of formally putting forward a motion of no confidence to Parliament, the ANC's National Executive Committee pressured Mbeki to go quietly out the back door.

The Mbeki-Zuma fissure, which began as an internal party squabble, soon became the country's divide. So deep was the conflict that, for the first time in South Africa's post-apartheid history, a credible nonracial opposition party emerged from the ranks of disaffected ANC members. Still, it will take years for the Congress of the People (COPE) to penetrate the one-party structures that have come to dominate mainstream politics. A recent survey conducted by market research firm Plus 94 projected that the ANC will retain eight of the country's nine provinces, losing only the Western Cape to a coalition of opposition forces. COPE garnered only 8.9 percent of public support in a recent Ipsos Markinor poll.

After the elections, South Africa will have to continue on its very long walk toward freedom under the rule of Zuma, whose leadership divides the country and instills concern, not confidence.

South Africa Has Overcome Racism, Ethnicity, and Violence.

At the polls. Certainly, South Africa is home to an increasingly mature polity. The ANC and opposition parties include figures from a rainbow of races, and the ethnic violence that left 12,000 dead in KwaZulu-Natal province before the 1994 election has not returned. But political apartheid -- white rule over a black majority -- has proven much easier to end than economic and social separation.

Ghosts of racism past are still evident on the richest city streets and in the most impoverished township neighborhoods. South Africa has one of the highest Gini coefficients, a measure of inequality, in the world -- and studies suggest the economic divide is only growing. The government's policy of black economic empowerment has created an emerging black middle class of some 2.6 million South Africans, colloquially referred to as black diamonds. Yet, though nearly half of this new elite now lives in formerly white suburbia, for much of the country's remaining 44 million people, poverty still follows racial lines.

Nor has the apartheid mind-set been fully exorcised from South Africa. The country's Human Rights Commission receives a plethora of complaints about racial inequality each year. Examples include an incident at the University of the Free State a year ago in which a group of young white male students tricked older black female employees of the university to eat urine-laced meat stew, or a young white teenage boy's shooting rampage in the Skielik informal settlement that killed four and wounded six people. Such cases remind South Africa of darker days.

HIV/AIDS Is the Biggest Problem Facing South Africa.

If only. After years of bad news on HIV/AIDS, South Africa is actually making progress in fighting back against the epidemic. Throughout much of his administration, Mbeki and his now notorious health minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, advocated only one policy toward AIDS: flat denial. The minister's recommendations -- for AIDS patients to eat beet roots and avoid poisonous antiretroviral (ARV) drugs -- became a rallying point for local and international activist communities. Dr. Beet Root is gone, and today at last, the government has a comprehensive action plan to combat HIV/AIDS, including a commitment to paying for patients' ARV drugs. The plan and its budget have consistently grown every year. And a visionary new minister of health, Barbara Hogan, has significantly boosted hopes of bringing help to the country's 5.6 million infected people.

The country's other epidemic, however, remains largely a silent one. The education system in South Africa is abysmal, and it has failed to deliver the skills that the economy requires to grow. According to research by the South African Institute of Race Relations, of the students who completed their secondary education during 2008, only 20 percent attained the marks necessary to enter university. New outcome-based curricula have failed to stop the slipping scores. Among this 20 percent, many who enter university do not complete their studies -- whether for financial or other reasons. Exceptionally low levels of information technology use compound the crisis, preventing South Africa from tapping into the modern global economy.

Indeed, though unemployment rates are high across the board (estimated between 35 and 45 percent in 2006, an increase of about 5 percentage points from 1994's rates), the vacancy rate for highly skilled positions is only growing across the country. In areas of science and mathematics, South African students today perform worse than peers in more impoverished neighbors Mozambique, Botswana, Swaziland, and Tanzania.

The more the education system fails, the more it exacerbates inequality. Many wealthier South Africans can afford private schools, while the majority must make due with the public system. Because class divides are still unfortunately racial, lack of high-quality education remains the foremost obstacle to upward economic mobility for South Africa's majority. Poor schools are stunting both the country's economic and social development.

South Africa Is Getting Safer.

Not really. Between April 2007 and March 2008, 18,487 murders were recorded in South Africa. And that is an improvement. From 1997 to 1998, the murder rate was 59.5 per 100,000 compared with last year's 38.6 per 100,000. Still, the nature and number of rapes, robberies, assaults, and murders paint a picture of a violent society that struggles to ensure the safety of its citizens. Organized crime -- including human trafficking, cigarette smuggling, the narcotics trade, and sophisticated forms of fraud and identity theft -- is a growing threat.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) is woefully unprepared to deal with all this crime. Training is insufficient, equipment is substandard, and the country lacks a proper forensic capacity as well as laws to facilitate DNA evidence gathering. Recent arrests of SAPS officers for involvement with drug dealers confirmed concerns about the high levels of corruption in the force. The country's elite organized crime and corruption-busting unit, known as the Scorpions, was dissolved in 2008 for taking its job a little too seriously.

Ongoing struggles within the ruling party have only made this situation worse. The country's top crime-fighting leadership post remains effectively vacant since the national police commissioner, Jackie Selebi, was suspended on special leave in January 2008. He is accused of corruption and thwarting justice. But his absence from duty, and the failure to install a successor, has further demoralized a weak and poorly equipped national police force.

For many, the government has performed so poorly that private security is the only remaining refuge. The vast majority of middle-class South Africans opts for private services, which now literally outgun the South African Police Service 2 to 1.

The judiciary system hasn't helped, and the ANC's internal succession battle during the course of 2007 caused considerable institutional damage. Zuma's corruption trial called into question the political independence of certain judges, with accusations flying from both the Zuma and Mbeki camps that the other was meddling with the courts. Regardless, criminal charges against Zuma were dropped in early April, as the National Prosecuting Authority's acting head, Mokotedi Mpshe, called the prosecution neither possible nor desirable. The news came as scandal engulfed the country's intelligence agencies, which are accused of passing classified, intercepted conversations to Zuma's legal team. South Africa's inspector-general for intelligence is probing this accusation further.

South Africa Is a Regional and Continental Leader.

Only when it wants to be. There is much to praise in the international efforts undertaken during the Mbeki era. South Africa took on leadership roles in negotiations in conflicts ranging from Burundi and Rwanda, to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to Kenya. The country contributed to U.N. and Africa Union (AU) peacekeeping operations. Economically, too, it was a leader in both liberal reforms and financial heft.

But more recently, South Africa's leadership has disappointed, calling into question the country's ability to inspire Africa toward a more democratic future. South Africa's quiet diplomacy in Zimbabwe has been a certain disaster. For months, while ruling President Robert Mugabe denied that a cholera epidemic had infected 91,000 Zimbabweans (4,000 of whom died), Mbeki subtly attempted to arrange a forced marriage between the president and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. His efforts created a unity government that hardly warrants the name. The deeply flawed administration will not be able to correct human rights abuses, halt ongoing farm invasions, or bring the country back from the economic brink as long as its leaders tussle for control.

South Africa's record on the U.N. Security Council has also disappointed anyone who expected the country to embody the human rights legacy of the Mandela era. South Africa has blocked substantive debates on Burma and Zimbabwe -- both clear cases of human rights abuses -- on technical grounds. Nor has the country made any effort to reverse the AU's opposition to the indictment of Sudan's president for genocide by the International Criminal Court.

And though one might expect South Africa to expand its regional role in the coming years, for example by lobbying for a permanent Security Council seat, the opposite may be true. The Zuma administration will be forced to focus on domestic questions, particularly the country's growing internal disparities and socioeconomic challenges. The financial crisis has only added to the mess and will make an inward turn ever more likely.

With the internationalist Mbeki gone, unsavory figures are likely to fill the continental leadership void. The new African Union president is none other than Libyan strongman Muammar el-Qaddafi, a well-known Mbeki rival. Qaddafi has already begun to show his undemocratic colors, recognizing coup-created governments in Mauritania and Madagascar against the AU's consensus.

The World Can Claim South Africa as a Success Story.

Yes, but the end of apartheid was only a fleeting victory. The global anti-apartheid movement helped catalyze South Africa's democratic transition, yet some areas of international involvement failed to last beyond the euphoria of the initial years.

In the 1990s, vast amounts of bilateral and multilateral assistance poured into South Africa to ensure a smooth transition of power between the apartheid and democratic regimes, peaking at $541 million in official development assistance in 1999. International expertise and financing helped foster a strong civil service, legislature, civil society, and independent media.

But the world's attention soon waned. South Africa was too rapidly deemed a full-fledged democracy, and various forms of assistance dropped off between 1999 and 2002. Newly created South African institutions were left to their own devices. Even the country's courageous trade liberalization program met with less reciprocation than hoped for abroad.

Recent political events have proven that the South African state was more fragile than we thought. Increasingly majoritarian rule has put new pressure on the very legitimacy of the South African state. Once again, various bilateral and multilateral donor agencies are committing assistance -- $718 million in 2006 -- to South Africa to shore up the gains that have been made. The country they have found is far different from the democratic paradise they might have hoped for a decade ago.

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