The Strange Case of Western Aid to Eastern Europe

Janine R. Wedel
Winner, 2001 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order

Published amidst both controversy and widespread praise, Collision and Collusion by Janine Wedel is the first book to tell the story of U.S.attempts to aid the former Soviet bloc and the damage and corruption these failed policies produced.

Wedel's gripping volume explains that when the Soviet Union's Communist empire collapsed in 1989, the West rushed to help the nations of Eastern Europe reconstruct themselves as democratic, free-market states. A mood of euphoria took hold in the West and in Eastern Europe.

Backfired policies
But that was before Western governments set their poorly conceived programs in motion.

Collision and Collusion tells the bizarre and sometimes scandalous story of Western governments' attempts to aid the former Soviet Bloc.

Wedel shows how by mid-decade, Western aid policies had often backfired, effectively discouraging market reforms and sometimes stoking anti-American sentiment. Collision and Collusion is the first book to explain where the Western dollars intended to aid Eastern Europe went, and why they did so little to help.

Taking a hard look at the bureaucrats, politicians, and consultants who worked to set up Western economic and political systems in Eastern Europe, the book details the extraordinary costs of institutional ignorance, cultural misunderstanding, and unrealistic expectations.

Harvard lawsuit
The updated Collision and Collusion is issued at a timely juncture. In September 2000, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a $120 million lawsuit against Harvard University and two Harvard scholars who were under federal contract to provide economic and legal advice to Russia.

The suit alleges that the Harvard scholars used "their positions, inside information, and influence, as well as USAID-funded resources, to advance their own personal business interests and investments."

"The U.S.-Russia experience is disturbing," said Wedel, "because it exemplifies the growing trend towards the privatization of foreign policy and the thriving club of global elites who conduct policy with little accountability."

Grawemeyer Award winner
Collision and Collusion is the winner of the prestigious 2001 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order, a $200,000 prize whose previous winners include Michael Gorbachev and Samuel Huntington.


© Chris Suddick Neiburger

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