Is Africa doomed to be a perpetual basket case of kleptomaniacs, famine, disease, and war? It sometimes seems so, and there is precious little helpful thinking about the problems of that large continent. One interesting exception is this op-ed by Paul Theroux in yesterday’s NYTs. Theroux criticizes the rock star approach popularized by Paul Hewson, or “Bono”, which is now backed by the Gates fortune. This approach calls for ever greater floods of Western money, food aid, volunteers, and debt relief. But, as Theroux argues, this has been tried for many years, and it has failed. For example, large amounts of money and many thousands of volunteer foreign teachers, nurses, and doctors have not prevented Malawi from becoming a failed state; indeed, in some ways they have been an obstacle to the development of a corps of native Malawi teachers, nurses, etc. The “Bono” approach undermines the development of African self-reliance and blinds us to Africa’s most crucial need – good government. Theroux ends with the intriguing suggestion that Ireland, a place with which Africa has some surprising similarities, points to a better approach. Read the piece for details.