Monday, 18 July 2011

Aid to Africa not Missiles.

The UK is to give £52.25m in emergency aid to help millions of drought victims in the Horn of Africa.
Ahead of a visit to Kenya, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said the money would be used in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.

This is most welcome but ,,,

.In the opening days of the assault on Libya, the United States and the United Kingdom launched a barrage of at least 161 Tomahawk cruise missiles to flatten Moammar Gadhafi’s air defenses and pave the way for coalition aircraft.

.Each missile cost about £875,046

Britain's involvement in the Libya conflict will cost the taxpayer as much as £1bn if it continues into the autumn as expected, according to expert analysis and data gathered by the Guardian.

So the £52.25m whilst better than most other Europeans is as nothing compared th what has been a relatively short conflict in which no ground troops are involved .

As Patrick Cockburn put it yesterday's Independent
 The horrible Foreign Office cliché, used for decades by diplomats and politicians to justify Britain's military alliance with the US, claims that "it enables Britain to punch above her weight internationally". A moment's reflection on this dictum should lead to the conclusion that a boxer who persists in getting into the ring with bigger opponents is likely to end up in hospital.
Britain has become involved in wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya over the past decade and none has gone well politically or militarily. The Iraq war divided Britain far more and for longer than almost any conflict, including the Suez crisis. The British Army spent years failing to get control of Basra and the area around it. For all this commitment, Britain never had much influence on US policy in Iraq or the rest of the Middle East.
I would love to see a n Independent Wales punching above its weight. But I hope that this would be by be an example of providing aid to those who are suffering from man made  or natural disasters not trying to convince itself or the rest of the World it was major gameplayer in World Politics by following the US blindly into conflicts which have dubious legitimacy..

Sadly even the much vaunted Live Aid in 1985 raised. only £150m for famine relief as a direct result of the concerts.

 Don't get me wrong this was a tremendous achievement  and the organisers deserve our praise and gratitude  for raising our awareness and providing the Aid they did. But compared to the military expenditure of the UK even when we are at peace (and it's been along time since we were) this is peanuts.

If you launched an appeal for paying for another cruise missile to launch on dubious targets, in a war which we are there not to take sides but under the UN mandate to protect civilians in what was supposed to be an humanitarian intervention, to stop Gaddafi's tanks reaching Benghazi,  which rapidly transmuted into an expanded war aim of overthrowing the Tripoli regime. How much from the general public would you raise?



  1. How about Condoms for Africa.

    Since the last big famine in 1985 the population of Ethiopia has almost doubled.

    The population now stands at about 82 million, up from 74 million in 2007.

    Unlike the population explosion in Europe of 19th or 20th century, there has been no real revolution in production and commerce. The GDP of the whole of southern Africa (below the Sarah) is about the same as Belgium.

    The Total Fertility Rate is around 6.07 child per woman. So, it seems, Western policies are keeping a lot of people alive but also contributing to a huge enviornmental and economic and political problem.

    Until the birth rate comes down, women will live lives of dangerous child birth, a huge pool of unemployed men are being created, soil erosion will continue.

    Education, female education in particular and contraception is what's needed, not bombs ... nor food packets.

    I won't be supporting the Aid Industry until the Aid Industry starts takling in plain language and facts and not taking the tired, failed line.

  2. One reason for the pro democracy revolutions in the Arab world is that the big population bulge is now in its twenties and thirties are educated, have no work but are aspirational. Crucially too, the birth rate has decreased dramatically which means women are freer and those of 'child-baring' age have other priorities and freedoms. As Iran are finding out, it's going to be impossible to fight against this democraphic reality.

    This is the West's window of opportunity to support democracy. If it doesn't take this route now then we could have 'Metternich' back in power.

    Unfortunately, Ethiopia and sub-Sahara Africa (with the exception of Botswana) still have incredibly high birth-rates which makes for a very volatile area and future. Until the birth-rate comes down in Africa then I can't see any future for the continent.

    I hope an independent Wales would support military action in places like Libya (as Norway and Denmark do) and not trot out the unsual pacifist line.

  3. Anon 11:48

    I agree with you about birth control but clearly there' a role for both Aid and Education including sex education. But large families are often synonymous with poverty and it seems to me that we should try to eradicate poverty as a major goal.

    Anon 12:12
    I have yet to be convinced of the "Democratic" credentials of those who are now opposing Gadaffi and we must remember the UN mandate is not to remove him or take sides but to protect civilians.

    I would love to see Gadaffi and all the authoritarian regimes in the World replaced including Bahrain and Saudia Arabia and others such as Burma and even China but as Gwynfor Evans argued in his booklet"Non-Violent Nationalism the use of violence even in a good causes can lead to those on the right side being corrupted and just replacing one authoritarian government with another.

    I initially (though reluctantly) supported the idea of no fly zones in Libya but clearly this has now moved on to virtually fighting along the rebels.

  4. "... but clearly this has now moved on to virtually fighting along the rebels."

    - Good! At last NATO are taking the side of the good guys. When Gadaffi goes, the pressure on Syria will be greater, when that changes, the pressure on gulf states increase, when they change, the pressure on Saudi will increase.

    If Gadaffi stays, all the tinpot dictators stay. If USA don't back Saudi, China or Russia will.

  5. Anon:

    Are you sure who the good guys are? Clearly we have some idea if the "Bad Guys" but just because you want to replace Gadaffi does not make the side that seeks to replace him are on the side of democracy just another power bloc.

    "New Boss same as the Old Boss" and yes we get fooled again.

    But anyway the UN mandate is not one of regime change and unless NATO are prepared to adhere to this then they cannot claim to act in the name of the UN but are deciding policy themselves.