GettingTruth

RandallJones

Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror

Review of Mahmood Mamdani book by Howard French

from The New York Times, March 29. 2009
Source http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/30/books/30fren.html

Clearly, the African disaster most in view today is Sudan, or more specifically the dirty war that has raged since 2003 in that country’s western region, Darfur.

Rare among African conflicts, it exerts a strong claim on our conscience. By instructive contrast, more than five million people have died as a result of war in Congo since 1998, the rough equivalent at its height of a 2004 Asian tsunami striking every six months, without stirring our diplomats to urgency or generating much civic response.

More interestingly, the author maintains that much of what we see today as a racial divide in Sudan has its roots in colonial history, when Britain “broke up native society into different ethnicities, and ‘tribalized’ each ethnicity by bringing it under the absolute authority of one or more British-sanctioned ‘native authorities,’ ” balancing “the whole by playing one off against the others.”

Mr. Mamdani calls this British tactic of administratively reinforcing distinctions among colonial subjects “re-identify and rule” and says that it was copied by European powers across the continent, with deadly consequences — as in Rwanda, where Belgium’s intervention hardened distinctions between Hutu and Tutsi.

In Sudan the result was to create a durable sense of land rights rooted in tribal identity that favored the sedentary at the expense of the nomad, or, in the crude shorthand of today, African and Arab.

Other roots of the Darfur crisis lie in catastrophic desertification in the Sahel region, where the cold war left the area awash in cheap weapons at the very moment that pastoralists could no longer survive in their traditional homelands, obliging many to push southward into areas controlled by sedentary farmers.

He also blames regional strife, the violent legacy of proxy warfare by France, Libya and the United States and, most recently, the global extension of the war on terror.

This important book reveals much on all of these themes, yet still may be judged by some as not saying enough about recent violence in Darfur.

Mr. Mamdani’s constant refrain is that the virtuous indignation he thinks he detects in those who shout loudest about Darfur is no substitute for greater understanding, without which outsiders have little hope of achieving real good in Africa’s shattered lands.

Here’s an article by Keith Harmon Snow with more information about Darfur that is not discussed in the mainstream media http://www.allthingspass.com/uploads/html-264THE%20WINTER%20OF%20BASHIRS%20DISCONTENT.htm

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April 4, 2009 Posted by | Africa, aid, charities, Christianity, Congo, Darfur, Europe, genocide, human rights, Islam, media, news, Not On Our Watch, politics, religion, SaveDarfur.org, Sudan, terrorism, Uganda, United States, weapons | Leave a comment

The Tragedy of Aid to the Third World

From The Tragedy of Afghan Aid by Andy Rowell at http://www.dissidentvoice.org/2008/04/the-tragedy-of-afghan-aid/

… in September 2002, the United States launched what would become an aggressive effort to build or refurbish as many as 1,000 schools and clinics by the end of 2004. However, Congressional figures showed that they managed to finish and hand back to the Afghan government only 40 schools by late 2005.

As Ben Jackson wrote in his book Poverty and the Planet published in 1990, “Aid is commonly thought of as handing over money to Third World governments for development. In fact, aid largely consists of funding from Western governments for services, machines, technical experts and consultants to be supplied by companies in rich countries, frequently their own.” The bottom line was that “most aid money is actually spent in the rich world.” Of the $20 billion the World Bank handed out in 1988, $15 billion went to its own contractors or consultants.

… there is a huge disparity between what America spends on war and what the international community spends on aid. The US military currently spends nearly $36 billion a year in the country, some $100 million a day; yet the average volume of aid spending by all donors since 2001 is just $7 million per day. Whilst the military budget is vast, 2.5 million Afghans face severe food insecurity, and one in five children still dies before five. Life expectancy is woefully low at 45 years. Thirdly, over half of all aid to Afghanistan is tied, by which donors often require procurement of services or resources from their own countries. Rather than go to help Afghanistan, the money just lines the pockets of Western contractors and companies. So of the aid actually spent, a staggering 40% has returned to donor countries in corporate profits and consultant salaries.

The report notes: “Vast sums of aid are lost in corporate profits of contractors and sub-contractors, which can be as high as 50% on a single contract … A vast amount of aid is absorbed by high salaries, with generous allowances, and other costs of expatriates working for consulting firms and contractors — each of whom costs $250,000-$500,000 a year.” In contrast, an Afghan civil servant is paid less than $1000 per year.

April 27, 2008 Posted by | Afghanistan, Africa, aid, charities, media, natural resources, news, politics, war | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Those who blow whistle on contractor fraud in Iraq face penalties

Corruption has long plagued Iraq reconstruction. Hundreds of projects may never be finished, including repairs to the country’s oil pipelines and electricity system. Congress gave more than $30 billion to rebuild Iraq, and at least $8.8 billion of it has disappeared, according to a government reconstruction audit.

Despite this staggering mess, there are no noble outcomes for those who have blown the whistle, according to a review of such cases by The Associated Press.

”If you do it, you will be destroyed,” said William Weaver, professor of political science at the University of Texas-El Paso and senior advisor to the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition.

”Reconstruction is so rife with corruption. Sometimes people ask me, ‘Should I do this?’ And my answer is no. If they’re married, they’ll lose their family. They will lose their jobs. They will lose everything,” Weaver said.

They have been fired or demoted, shunned by colleagues, and denied government support in whistleblower lawsuits filed against contracting firms.

”The only way we can find out what is going on is for someone to come forward and let us know,” said Beth Daley of the Project on Government Oversight, an independent, nonprofit group that investigates corruption. ”But when they do, the weight of the government comes down on them. The message is, ‘Don’t blow the whistle or we’ll make your life hell.’

”It’s heartbreaking,” Daley said. ”There is an even greater need for whistleblowers now. But they are made into public martyrs. It’s a disgrace. Their lives get ruined.”

Bunnatine ”Bunny” Greenhouse knows this only too well. As the highest-ranking civilian contracting officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, she testified before a congressional committee in 2005 that she found widespread fraud in multibillion-dollar rebuilding contracts awarded to former Halliburton subsidiary KBR.

Soon after, Greenhouse was demoted. She now sits in a tiny cubicle in a different department with very little to do and no decision-making authority, at the end of an otherwise exemplary 20-year career.

People she has known for years no longer speak to her.

complete article here http://www.newspress.com/Top/Article/article.jsp?Section=NATIONAL&ID=565074540867487317  It’s written by DEBORAH HASTINGS, AP National Writer, August 24, 2007

August 25, 2007 Posted by | aid, democracy, George W. Bush, Iraq, natural resources, oil, politics, Saddam Hussein, terrorism, Uncategorized, United States, war, war criminal, war on terror, weapons | Leave a comment

U.S. aid to Africa does more harm than good

I first heard about this in a radio interview with Michael Maren, author of The Road to Hell: The Ravaging Effects of Foreign Aid and International Charity published in 1977. To see a review of the book click here.
Here is more current information about this, where one charity organization is seeing the ligjht.

“…Care, one of the world’s biggest charities, has announced that it will boycott the controversial policy of selling tons of heavily subsidised US produced food in African countries. Care wants the US government to send money to buy food locally, rather than unwanted US produced food.
The US arm of the charity says America is causing rather than reducing hunger with a decree that US food aid must be sold rather than directly distributed to those facing starvation. In America, the subsidies for corn in particular, help underpin the junk food industry, which uses corn extracts as a sweetener, creating a home-grown a health crisis.
The farm lobby meanwhile has a stranglehold on Congress, which has balked at making any changes that would interfere with a system that promotes overproduction of commodities.
Critics of the policy say it also undermines African farmers’ ability to produce food, making the most vulnerable countries of the world even more dependent on aid to avert famine.”

from http://news.independent.co.uk/world/politics/article2871490.ece

August 19, 2007 Posted by | Africa, aid, charities, natural resources, Somalia, United States, war | Leave a comment