Friday, May 23, 2008

Regionalised Aid

Martin Jacques (h/t Mr E), writing on "Cretinous & Feeble", has produced considerable dissent with his "Hands Off Independent Myanmar, You Evil Imperialist Swine" diatribe. Not surprisingly, given his communist politics and work profile, he hasn't exactly made many friends.

More surprisingly, once you dig under the "I hate the West, the Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, and all it stands for1" nonsense, there are actually some limited but valid points there.

I believe that aid should, where possible, be provided from within the local region. Immediately neighbouring countries may not be entirely practical - regional enmities may make a wider focus more appealing but, as Martin states, there is ASEAN2. There are clear advantages with local culture, local food (remember American maize flour, from yellow maize, being rejected in Africa because it was so different from the local white maize - never mind US rejection of British emergency rations in the aftermath of Katrina, due to BSE concerns3 and, to localise it - the inappropriateness of possibly meat-based European rations in a largely Buddhist community) or merely not being white (let's be honest, the colonial record, whether we are British, Spanish, French, American or, especially, Belgian, is quite reasonably held against us in many parts of the world.)

He, among others, also has a point regarding the "invade and distribute" idiots. Burma is a military dictatorship - their Army may not be doing much on the disaster relief front but they seem to be doing a reasonable job at catching journalists and, I'm sure, could make any invasion quite a difficult proposition. And, given the success we are having at 'Military Aid to the Civil Power' in Iraq and Afghanistan (as opposed to simple military success against conventional or near-conventional opposition), recent history suggests that we would make such a great job of it.

Except, there is one important factor, for local aid to work, the local organisations or countries need to be able to provide it. Often, although it wasn't too bad in the specific case of Burma and Cyclone Nargis, they have suffered from the same disaster as the poster-child country. Very often, they also are poor and need the food, equipment and skilled people for their own projects and issues. And when they can deploy, they don't come up to standard. African (OAS) troops for African conflicts hasn't worked well. Third World troops on UN deployments have done the remarkable and worsened the reputation of the light blue beret / helmet.

The ICRC was founded in Geneva, Oxfam in Oxford, Médecins Sans Frontières in France. Aid, at the moment, means either the UN or the West. And the UN has all the problems of any large bureaucracy. The people of Burma need aid. The West should and should be both allowed and encouraged to provide it. And if that offends a Burmese General or two? Fuck them with a schiltron full of 15 foot pikes (either the not-quite-a-spear or the fish, I don't care!)

1. Except Marx and Stalin, of course, and, even then Mao and 'Brother No 1' did it better.

2. Go on, why .org? This sort of organisation is exactly what the .int domain is for. And it's even free!

3. Not fit for starving Yanks, therefore foisted on to the developing world - the mind-boggling (lack of) ethics of aid!

No comments:

HTTP Error 403: You are not authorised to access the file "\real_name_and_address.html" on this server.

(c) 'Surreptitious Evil' 2006 - 2017.