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Submitted by christopher williams on

In addition to all the variables mentioned in this article, I would add the question of information being opened up, both by some degree of press freedom and by social media at the individual level. This has had a dramatic impact on the politics in many countries, such as in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya etc. "Be careful what you wish for" seems to be the message out of many of these countries, where democracy has been shown to be less than perfect, particularly when so little is understood by outsiders as to the ethnic and tribal base of 'converted' countries.
In a similar vein, human rights are shown to be very different in some countries - recently in Sudan and Pakistan where horror stories have shocked the West - all of which impact the economic growth and business appeal generally.
Our appreciation of a particular country's method of governance is as affected by stories of brutality in policing of unrest as it is by human abuse on an individual case of rape or tribal penalties. And these factors can change so fast as to alter the whole investment and business climate with a country.
News coverage is a fickle factor, for example in Syria and Ukraine. What was so important a few months ago has faded into the background as soon as the cameras move onto new countries. Is the Assad government any less repressive than a year ago? No; but we are more concerned about whether any assistance to the rebels may come back to bite us in the hands of Al Qaeda. Is anyone thinking about taking back the Crimea? No, as long as Russia does not go too far in the rest of Eastern Ukraine - and we can do a deal on oil and gas for next winter for Europe.
The world is made more complicated by the short-termism of political thinking and reporting. It becomes harder to sleep comfortably in dealing with regimes that could be the subject of the next expose - but at the end of it all, the world is better off than it has ever been, the number of major confrontations is lower, and the spread of knowledge is helping more inclusive thinking and the widening of opportunity for billions of people.
Is it all worth the effort to expand international trade and assistance? Absolutely, warts and all!!