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Berger, Mark T. and Heloise Weber. Rethinking The Third World: International Development and World Politics.

Berger, Mark T. and Heloise Weber. Rethinking The Third World: International Development and World Politics. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

Mark Berger and Heloise Weber, in their book Rethinking the Third World: International Development and World Politics, argue that third world countries should adopt a new framework of development, which they term as "regional development-security framework for progress" (p. 149). The authors state that this regional cooperation amongst the third world countries would be more effective in achieving development. The authors define development both in terms of economic growth and human security issues such as education and gender-based development. In the regional development-security framework proposed by the authors, regions would be regarded as the primary unit of development as well as security (p. 150). Political authority would be multi-tiered in a nature similar to that of the European Union (p. 135).

Cooperation would also help reduce inequality amongst the nation-states of that region. The region as a whole would act as a bargaining platform during international trade. The authors state that market-based economic efforts by the World Bank and the United Nations have failed to bring about development in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is mostly because development was imposed from outside and it failed to integrate the economy of these countries with that of the region. In the post 9/11 world, economic development of third world countries has become synonymous with the concept of security (p. 129). This has led to the development of concepts like 'failed states' with the belief that nation-based economic development would help to achieve security (p. 129). Using the example of Latin America, the authors show that both state-based capital development and economic liberalization has failed to achieve economic growth. Over-focus on the individual nations of Latin America has been an important reason for this failure. Regional cooperation would ensure the achievement of economic sustainability. Economic aid by international institutions would focus on the development of regional cooperation and not the economic growth of any particular country.

The strength of the book lies in its focus on the concept of regional cooperation. According to the authors, regional cooperation for the third world countries has to go beyond the concept of the political sovereignty of nation states. Only then will it be able to address the issues of identity and cultural differences within third world countries. The book aims at theorizing an institutional set-up similar to that of the European Union. Hence, the authors adopt a broader definition of development that goes beyond measuring economic growth. The book highlights the difference between the concepts of nations and states that have played an important role in the development of third world countries. Though most of the third world countries have been able to develop into politically independent states, nationalistic feelings are still absent. According to the authors, this has proved to be an important impediment in the process of development. By focusing on the concept of regional cooperation, the book shows that the development of a state also depends on its neighbors. Similarly, by tracing the history of economic development in the third world countries, the authors have been able to show that both state-based and market-based economic growth by itself will not be able to ensure development.

In spite of the above-mentioned strengths, a number of drawbacks can be pointed out. The book states that post 9/11 development has been synonymous with security, but they fail to question whether development would at all be able to achieve security or not. The authors also do not define the concept of security. It remains unclear whether they are focusing at the national, regional, or international level of security. The book states that regional cooperation would be able to achieve development for third world countries. Although it does mention the case of the African Union, it fails to highlight the reasons as to why regional development has failed in the case of Africa. A regional cooperation of third world countries would also have to address the issue of multiple religions, which the book fails to mention. The book also does not highlight the problems of having a hegemonic state and the issue of power politics within a region. Questions remain as to whether such a hegemonic state would allow the equal economic development of the entire region. The authors believe that states should give up a part of their national sovereignty in order to make regional co-operations more effective. A world based on such nation-states and regional co-operations seems a bit too idealistic. The book does not deal with the role of powerful external countries and its impact on regional cooperation. It also fails to mention the impact that organizations such as the World Bank, the United Nations, and the International Monetary Fund might have on regional cooperation.

In conclusion, the book does provide a new framework of development for third world countries based on increasing regional cooperation that goes beyond the socialist or the capitalist economic development models. The focus on regional cooperation can also prove to be more effective for the development of third world countries. Hence, this book could be useful for students and academic scholars interested in the politics of development, political economy, and international relations.

Preya Bhattacharya

Kent State University
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Author:Bhattacharya, Preya
Publication:Journal of Third World Studies
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 22, 2015
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