Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

International development experts share their ideas on how wealthy countries can promote prosperity in developing countries. Follow at

Sep 12, 2011

Johnny West is a man of many talents. An expert on oil, civil society, and governance in the Middle East who works as an advisor to the UNDP, he is fluent in Arabic, spent more than two decades in the Middle East as a journalist for Reuters, and has just published a highly readable book recounting his journey through the Arab Spring. On this week’s Wonkcast, we catch him between his travels to discuss a new working paper he’s written for CGD: Iraq’s Last Window: Diffusing the Risks of a Petro State. Johnny’s experience in the Middle East makes him think that the region just might be ripe for an Oil 2 Cash revolution that could help foster improvements in governance and reduce poverty.

He tells me that on a recent trip to Libya, while bouncing across the country on half-built dirt roads in the back of a pickup, he reflected on some startling calculations about the country’s oil industry. During the 42 years of Gaddafi rule, the dictator accumulated over $1 trillion in oil rents. At the same time, much of the country remains poor and a startling number of Libyans can neither read nor write.

If you would like to read a full description of the show please visit