Could actions have been taken prior to September 11 th to prevent the formation of a strong and resilient al Qaeda ? Might alternative development policies have prevented the World Trade Center attacks and forestalled the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq? Paradise Poisoned draws crucial lessons from Sri Lanka's civil wars to demonstrate that violent conflict and terrorism are both predictable and preventable .
John Richardson's study - carried out over nearly twenty years - employs rigorous political and economic analysis and a multi-disciplinary engagement of the systemic linkages between development, governance, and civil conflict. The author - a noted development professor and practitioner, applied systems theorist, and South Asian scholar - traces ten development failures that spawned conflict and terrorism in Sri Lanka, and he proposes a comprehensive prevention strategy summarised in ten key imperatives.
Thus, while contextually rich in its examination of Sri Lankan political history, the policy relevance of Paradise Poisoned extends also to cases like Kosovo, Kashmir, Palestine, Sudan, Afghanistan and now, in particular, Iraq.
Of special utility are 3 policy leverage points discussed at length by Richardson: meeting the needs and expectations of young men, increasing police effectiveness, and prioritizing business community involvement.
Political leaders often say they 'had no choice' when implementing policies such as the US invasion of Iraq or earlier Sri Lankan government interventions, yet this is rarely true. Multiple choices are usually available, and the longer the time horizon, the greater the range of choices. Paradise Poisoned demonstrates that deadly conflict and terrorism are both predictable and preventable.
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