The Daily Demarche
"Foreign Aid II-... First do no harm.
Great comments all, thanks for reading us and contributing.
Many of the points I planned to make have already been made. I closed yesterday by saying "I am not convinced that the aid we give is having the effect we want". To clarify: I think in a great many places it is having the exact opposite effect.
While a person, or people, in need, make take assistance, they are likely to forever more feel that the person or government who gave the aid saw them at their weakest, and to resent that moment. The clearest example of this, to me, is Western Europe. From the U.S. entry into WWII until at least 1989 the region depended on us for everything from force of arms and food during and immediately after the war (Spam!)
to funds to rebuild, followed by nearly five decades of physical protection in the shape of millions of troops and massed weapons. What do we have to show for it today? This.
The second negative effect is the cycle of poverty created by aid given from one government to another. The plain truth is in most cases the country receiving the aid is not equipped to make use of it at the federal level to bring about real change in their nation.
"Jake" in his comment may have engaged in a bit of hyperbole, but still hit the nail on the head: "foreign aid to goverments... is ALWAYS wasted. I am for micro aid projects where we deliver an end result." I too am a firm believer in micro-loans. Like FSO(r) I believe that micro-loans to women offer the most bang for the buck. I have seen firsthand the benefits these loans can reap. In Mexico, where towns have been depleted of young men (all gone to el norte), women are now receiving micro loans of up to $500 to start a business. As they succeed larger loans are opened up to them. In some cases men are returning to help grow the business. As a vice consul in Mexico I saw these programs work. Here is information about one in Oaxaca, and here is one in Mexico City.
In addition, if these loans can be U.S. financed and that information can make it's way effectively into the local population we achieve one of our most sought after goals: winning hearts and minds. Making a clear, personal loan to someone sends the message "We believe in you. We believe you can succeed and that you will pay us back."
While there will always be humanitarian cases where we will be compelled to send food, clothes, equipment and money, I believe that in most cases that is the wrong approach in the long term. I can't tell you how many women applying for visas brought in proof that they had repaid their micro-loan as a symbol of financial solvency and trustworthiness. In a great many cases it did the job, pushing their situation to one where granting a visa made sense. The power of personal pride in accomplishment can never be overestimated.
FSO(r) also made a few other very valid points. Large-scale foreign aid in many cases does damage local production, and can have a strong magnet effect, drawing even more people into an area that is already in dire straits. In addition countries dependent on foreign aid are unlikely to draw investors, promulgating the effects of poverty. Can anyone recall hearing that what Ethiopia needed at the height of famine was a Nike factory to give jobs? Is anyone rushing to Haiti today to build a semiconductor plant? Direct investment in local communities at the smallest of scales, coupled with education and perhaps medical aid (again tied into education and self sufficiency) is at least a part of the answer. First, do no harm.
This, to me, however, only applies to aid to countries facing starvation on a large scale, or intense long-term poverty. The other aid we need to examine is the kind we engage in most: aid to countries with no real trouble feeding their population, or providing clean water, but rather countries we want something from. Leaving Iraq aside for the moment, we give the bulk of our aid to Israel and Egypt. Since 1949 we have given over $91 billion in aid to Israel, and almost $51 billion Egypt. What have we gotten for it? We'll leave that to Part III, but as always welcome your comments, suggestions and ideas.
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Can't Buy Me Love- Foreign Aid
We've been asked to comment on foreign aid, and do we love requests! We are going to break this one up into at least two parts, please feel free to comment as the parts are published. Toni asked:
"Why are we (US) giving aid to any of these countries in the first place? ... I don't 'get it' as to why the US should be providing my tax dollars to foreign countries. Especially when I read about the anti American sentiment in some of these countries."
The short answer is that we give foreign aid in effort to buy goodwill, most of the time, or to support a regime that is balancing or causing trouble for another regime. Of course we also give genuine aid to alleviate human suffering, but clearly those cases are not our first priorities.
The longer answer starts with a memory of mine. When I was still in training for the Foreign Service a retired Ambassador gave my class the best advice I've received in this job. He said "always remember a country exists to serve it's own best interests." I know that sounds like it should be common sense, but sometimes you just have to stop and remind your self of that, even when it is your own country.
In pure dollars the U.S. is the largest donor of foreign aid in the world. In 2003 the U.S. gave over $15 billion as measured by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). As a percentage of GNP, however, the U.S. ranks far down in the list of donors at number 21. That same $15 billion was .14% of the GNP in 2003. Norway, giving just over $2 billion in aid was the leading donor by percentage of GNP at .92% in 2003. This has prompted many (especially outside the U.S.) to say that the America should do more. A large number of polls, however, (search Foreign Aid here) indicate many Americans both overestimate the amount of aid we give as a percentage of GNP and feel that the amount is too large.
For the best possible overview of current Foreign aid spending we suggest reading Foreign Aid: An Introductory Overview of U.S. Programs and Policy by the Congressional Research Service, the Library of Congress. This is an excellent, up to date (Fiscal Year 2004) document that will answer many of your questions. It is not overly long (35 pages) and not too technical/dry. This paper breaks down who receives the most (Israel, historically) and how the monies are divided, dispursed and spent
Now for the real question- what do we get out of this, and should we give to countries that exhibit flagrant anti-Americanism? Opinions on this are predictably varied. We are all too aware of the aid monies or goods that end up in the hands of tyrants or warlords (see Somalia or Haiti). But what about when the aid gets through? We'll tackle this in part two, but here is a hint. I (Dr. Demarche) am not convinced that the aid we give is having the effect we want.
Friends- while we were on vacation a terrible blow was struck to America's Diplomatic corp.
The list of names on the plaque in the Sate Department lobby honoring those who die in the line of duty just got longer.
, senior advisor to the Iraqi ministers of Education and Higher Education, was gunned down in a car in Baghdad. Mollen was working to rebuild Iraq's 20 major universities and 40 technical institutes, research centers and colleges. His death is a reminder that there are many brave people, both military and civilian, who continue to risk their lives in Iraq. For those who continue to think that America's diplomats do nothing but wear pinstripes and sip cocktails, or try to subvert the American agenda, perhaps this event might serve as a small example to the contrary.
We did not know Jim Mollen, but we know many people like him, people who believe in freedom and liberty, and in helping to bring light to some of the darkest regions of the earth.
May he rest in peace.
No pay, no play.
I just read here
that Congress included in the most recent omnibus appropriations bill a provision that would dock countries’ foreign aid based on the amount of traffic fines their UN delegates rack up. According to the article, 110% of the amount of unpaid traffic fines from the period spanning April 1997 through September 2004 would be garnished from offending countries.
Good, I say.
While my friends are always impressed when I tell them that I have diplomatic immunity, the truth of the matter is, diplomatic immunity doesn’t exist so that someone can get out of parking tickets. It exists to protect foreign diplomats from being needlessly harassed by the host country. In my current post, staff has been told in no uncertain terms that they are expected to pay all parking/traffic fines they incur.
As well they should. Welcome to belonging to a nation of laws.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.
We'll be on the road until Sunday night, so might not be blogging. Hopefully the long post below will tide you over.
We give thanks for all the men and women around the world, both in uniform and in non-military roles, who dedicate their lives to keeping us safe and making the world a better place .
God bless you all.
"Let's call the kettle black..."
OK, I’ve said this before and I am going to say it again. There is no war against terrorism. We are not hunting down the FARC or ETA or Shining Path. We are not chasing the vestiges of the IRA. We are fighting Islamic extremism. I know this is not a ground shaking original thought, but it needs to be repeated. Islamic jihadists are the enemy, and terrorism is simply their weapon of choice. This post contains many links to full-length articles from around the globe. I hope they help to open some eyes.
September 11th 2001 may have been the “shot heard around the world” in this war, but for many of our erstwhile allies the rumblings quickly faded away. The March 11th Madrid train bombings briefly re-awoke Europe to the threat posed by Islamofacism. Unfortunately Spain crumbled and the terrorists achieved their goal, giving them hope that their tactics could succeed. Sometimes, however, one man can make a difference. In this case that man was Theo van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker who was shot, stabbed, had his throat slit and another knife used to pin a note on his still bleeding body. All in the streets of Amsterdam by an adherent to the world’s fastest growing religion.
That letter, which can be read in its entirety here
, is as vitriolic a screed as one can ever hope to see. The letter is addressed to Ayaan Hirshi Ali, a member of the Dutch Parliament and the writer of the film Submission
over which van Gogh was murdered (shortly before he was killed van Gogh told Ali:"I am the village idiot, they won't do anything to me. You have to be careful, you are the apostate woman"). After the usual call for the blessings of the Prophet the letter is a mix of threats against Ms. Ali and rambling anti-Semitism. Tellingly, it closes with the following:
“I deem thee lost, O America. "
"I deem thee lost, O Europe. "
"I deem thee lost, O Holland. "
"I deem thee lost, O Hirshi Ali."
This is the crux of the threat: first America, then Europe, then a nation, last a person. Every Westerner and peace loving person on the planet should read this letter in full, along with Osama Bin Laden's "Letter to America
”, especially those who are too PC to believe Islamofacism is the enemy. OBL and al-Qaida want nothing less than 4,000,000 dead Americans and the destruction of the Republic. They are chipping away at Europe to get to us, and the Europeans may be starting to pay attention.
Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said earlier this week:
"Let's call the kettle black and admit that there are some young Muslims of immigrant origin who have not understood the principles of democracy, tolerance and freedom of expression on which Danish society is based. And there is something wrong when people leave school with such attitudes intact," reports the Middle East Online.
Geert Wilders, who as a member of the Dutch parliament was forced out of the VVD for refusing to back Turkey's bid to join the European Union, says Islam is incompatible with democracy and wants new curbs on immigration, particularly from Turkey and Morocco. He plans to found a party to clamp down on Muslim militants, and recent polls
show he would win 26 of the 150 seats in parliament if an election were held now, against 25 for Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's Christian Democrats (CDA). This is after he was quoted in the WSJ as saying "Bush was totally correct. This is war, a world wide war."
Everyone in Europe has a plan to "solve" the problem, even The Guardian
whose Will Hutton stated "Belgian and Dutch societies...are most convulsed by racism" and called the situation "a tinderbox". This story has been picked up by the Arab News website
The EU, however, now faces the problem of making a hodge-podge of national security and judicial systems work together to counter the growing threat. As Deutsche Welle reports
"Fighting terrorism in Europe is as varied as the continent's cultures and legal systems. And that, say investigators, could become a major problem." And that, my friends, could be a major understatement. The men and women who are charged with fighting terrorism in Europe know it, too. More from DW:
“The police don’t know what the police know,” said Bodo Franz, the Hamburg state police’s top terrorism investigator. “I think this is a problem for Europe,” said Rafael Gasso, the chief inspector for the Spanish police, and current president of the European Council of Police Unions in an interview. “If we don’t advance on this as we are in the Monetary area, or other areas, we already have problems and we will have problems in the future.”
The biggest threat to European safety, however, is complacency. Many Euro leaders fear being seen as overly aggressive, perfectly summed up by Bodo Franz’s closing comment: “I don’t think we should change our point of view, we should not make our laws more aggressive,” Franz said. “But that may change, depending on a threat or attack.” AFTER AN ATTACK!
Finally, the world needs to realize that there have been few in the "moderate” Muslim world to denounce all of these attacks, and terrorism in general. There are over ONE BILLION Muslims in the world. Where is the dissent? For all intents and purposes, there isn't any. The Asia Times proudly reports
the lack of Muslim outcry in Europe. The author (“Spengler”) goes so far as to compare the call for the modernization of Islam to the reforms of Christianity, and quotes Thomas Aquinas for support. Referring to a study by the American Enterprise Institute Spengler asks
"If he [the author of the AEI study] believes that 13th-century conditions justified the death penalty for heretics in Christian Europe, why should Muslims not apply the same logic to their own societies?”
And there it is. Islam is stuck in the 13th century, and supporters of terrorism proudly proclaim it to be so. Spengler then claims that Christianity has had thousands of years to modernize, and that Islam is being called on to do so on the spot. And just where has Islam been for those same thousands of years?
The death toll rises and liberal hand-wringers around the globe continue to ask why they hate us. One of my favorite bloggers has the short answer
: “They're told to.” That my friends, is it. Why they are told to is not a question for today. Today we must square our shoulders and resolve to properly identify and defeat the enemy. We call on those Muslims who do oppose terrorism to speak out and work on the why problem, or realize that guilt by association can be a terrible thing.
Our favorite demarche.
The Simpsons are on, and it is the "Blame it on Lisa" episode where they go to Brazil. This episode ticked off the Brazilians so much they threatened a lawsuit
, and are said to have demarched the U.S government over it (but I can't confirm that). Oh the joys of being a Brazilian diplomat!
If you need a good chuckle read the old Washington Post coverage of the story here
Thoughts on Dr. Rice- by a recovering Democrat.
Note: from time to time we will run pieces that include a bit of the old "what makes us tick". This is the first, by your friend and mine, Smiley.
Greetings from the Far Abroad.
My name is Smiley, and Dr. Demarche has invited me to contribute to this blog. I'm probably not a true member of the State Department Republican Underground, but then again, I'm probably not a true Democrat either (I used to be, but I find it harder and harder to align myself with the party of Moore). I suppose I'm what someone once termed "metropolitical
." I believe that the State Department, in spite of its flaws, is a good institution, not some traitorous fifth column that a few have made it out to be, and I'm tremendously proud to serve my country as an FSO.
But enough about me.
Lately, a lot of my non-FSO friends, and many in the Blogosphere, have asked me about the relative merits of our Secretary-nominate, Condoleeza Rice. Liberals tend to believe that she is a hard-line stooge of the President, and will merely act as a yes-(wo)man, rubber-stamping his policies. Conservatives tend to hope that she will bring a supposedly "off the reservation" State Department back in line. Over at the Council on Foreign Relations, James Lindsay
has it pretty much right.
To me it appears that, at least from a policy perspective, Rice will be good for the State Department, for American foreign policy, and by extension, for the country. It is fair to say that she has the trust of the President. The President has said that he intends to pursue a variety of multilateral foreign policy initiatives in his second term, notably the Middle East Peace Process (or Road Map, if you're nasty), bringing more countries on board in terms of Iraq reconstruction, and repairing the transatlantic relationship. It seems evident to me that by putting a close confidant in charge of our country's foreign policy, the President is effectively putting his money where his mouth is.
I take Rice's appointment to mean that the President is serious about effective multilateralism (I'm prepared to argue that Bush's reputation for"unilateralism" is much more the product of an abrasive style than any of his actions, but not in this post). Putting a firm ally of the President in the hot seat at Foggy Bottom sets up the President for a series of "Nixon-to-China" moments, particularly vis-a-vis the Israeli-Palestinian issue and the remaking of the Middle East in general. As any Arab leader will tell you, solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the key to addressing all the other issues in the Middle East (not that I believe that, mind you- but solving it would remove the most obvious figleaf covering the true problems of the Middle East, and take one major excuse for failing to reform out of play).
If Bush, with Condi pulling strings for him, can bring about a solution (and that is a big "if") he will have gone a long way towards his accomplishing his objectives in the Arab world, particularly if he is able to stabilize Iraq and pull off relatively fair elections in the process. Given that all these items (and much more) appear be on the agenda for Bush in his second term, the appointment of his most trusted advisor as our nation's chief diplomat would indicate that he intends to use the State Department to further this mission- and that he trusts Condi enough that he will listen if she should, in the course of heading the Department, develop some points of view that differ from his own.
I'm going to address the management issues that Rice might face in future postings. For more on that now, our gentle readers should check out our brethren over at The Diplomad
The Green Side
Unless a veteran is willing to trash the President or America the msm pays almost no attention to him or her. Michael Moore may steal a few seconds of video and manipulate the context to use the pain and suffering of our men and women, but that is about all the coverage they can expect. It does not have to be, and should not be, that way.
A reader from Troy, MI recently sent us a link to The Green Side
. The site is "dedicated to the Troops involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In particular, to three Marines involved in the front lines of providing freedom and protection to both the American citizens and the Iraqis. Major David G. Bellon, Major Greg Hallinan, and Captain Joseph V. Cosentino were deployed together in January 2003 and have been involved in front line combat and relief efforts... ". Made up of photos, letters and e-mails this site provides a glimpse into the life our uniformed men and women lead as they fight the war on terror. This series of quotes from "Email from Dave - Nov 19, 04" speaks volumes.
As he was getting triaged, the doctor told him that he had been shot through the arm. Cpl Mitchell told the doctor that he had actually been shot "a couple of days ago" and had given himself self aide on the wound. When the doctor got on him about not coming off the line, he firmly told the doctor that he was a squad leader and did not have time to get treated as his men were still fighting.
The enemy ...actually hid behind surrender flags only to engage the Marines with small arms fire once they perceived that the Marines had let their guard down. I know of several instances where near dead enemy rolled grenades out on Marines who were preparing to render them aid. It was a fight to the finish in every sense and the Marines delivered.
All I can say is that even with everything that I knew and expected from the last nine months, the brutality and fanaticism of the enemy surprised me. The beheadings were even more common place than we thought but so were torture and summary executions. Even though it is an exaggeration, it seems as though every block in the northern part of the city has a torture chamber or execution site.
Every American should read this website and say the Prayer for Our Troops before they retire for the night. If you'd like to leave a few words of thanks and praise for the men The Green Side is dedicated to please do so here.
Major David G. Bellon, Major Greg Hallinan, Captain Joseph V. Cosentino and all the men and women keeping America safe around the globe, we salute you, and thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Iran flexes some muscle.
Sort of. Al Jazeera reported
today that Iran will attend the Sharm al-Shaikh conference, beginning Monday in Egypt. Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi is quoted as saying "We will take part in the Sharm al-Shaikh conference with force" and that Iran will "protest against the methods of the United States, insist on the necessity of withdrawing US troops from Iraq and the organization of elections on schedule."
Meanwhile the Tehran Times crows "Concerted efforts to undermine Iran falling flat
". Full of awesome phrases such "Enraged by the recent nuclear pact between Iran and the European Union, the U.S. administration..."
and "Unable to contain his fury... U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said..."
and my favorite "...Iran has patiently and wisely succeeded in clearing up most of the ambiguities about its nuclear program..."
the article is almost too funny to take seriously.
Unfortunately this is an extremely serious matter, and could have long lasting implications for US-EU relations and for the region. Let's not forget that France once sold Iraq everything Saddam needed for nuclear weapons production; only Israeli intelligence and force of arms spared the world that horror. Iran, like Iraq, is sitting on huge crude oil reserves (in fact the Bushehr field is the second largest in the world). They claim they want nuclear energy for electrical production, and that they "are preparing to stop" the process by which uranium can be enriched. This posturing on the global stage and use of US-EU frictions bears close watching. Let's hope the msm does its job and provides the information we need as it comes out of Iran.
What should we (Europe) ask of Bush II.2?
Reading The Guardian today I found an article
(from last Thursday) by Timothy Garton Ash, with a byline of San Francisco. After a few paragraphs detailing how "everyone" he talks to (in San Francisco...) wants to move to New Zealand, or Canada, and quoting signs he has seen "Sorry World (we tried) - Half of America" he laments the next four years in typical Euro we're-not-anti-America-only-anti-Bush fashion. He goes on to end with "We are all blue Americans now. "
Following the article was a link to his website
, which contained this gem of a discussion board: What Should we ask of BushII.2?
Click on that link and see how the question morphs to what should we demand
of Bush. The posts that follow are a mix of American and European responses. Some of the best are below.
- "Demand" is not a word that Europeans use to Americans.
- All these horrible crimes you´re talking about have nothing to do with religion. Oh, they´re committed in the name of religion of course....Actually, they´re a pretty good example of what happens when you don´t respect other people´s faith.
- What has taking school children hostage got to do with anything? I can only presume you're referring to Beslan, which clearly has nothing to do with a clash of values between Western and Islamic values.
- his resignation?
And on and on and on.
Is Musharraf the leader Islam is looking for?
Pakistan's major English language paper (DAWN) reported Saturday that President General Musharraf "speaking at a gathering of eminent Muslim scholars from various parts of the world" called on Islamic leaders to work together to regain control of Islam from the small but violent extremist section that has taken control of Islam in recent years.
"The Muslim world has to reject extremism and go for socio-economic development, but at the same time, the West must resolve political disputes affecting Muslims with justice and help in addressing the root causes of extremism including poverty and illiteracy, other than political deprivation and human sufferings."
(Full story here
We certainly welcome any attempt by any Muslim in a position of power to reign in the extremists who are murdering aid workers and film producers, policeman, tourists and commuters around the world. We are afraid, however, that Musharraf has fallen into the common trap apologists for the islomofascists have so long adored. Poverty and illiteracy are not the root causes of extremism. Just look to the 19 September 11th terrorists for proof- highly educated and most certainly literate men. Musharraf and others like him who truly seek change must look inward, not outward.
What is being taught in the religious schools, and what are the qualifications of the teachers? Who is it being taught too, boys only? How does the ability to recite verses of the Koran apply directly to the need to feed oneself and family? America should indeed seek to help the Arab world lift itself out of poverty- but not through direct infusions of cash. The Arab world needs an infusion of ideas, and we are growing those in Afghanistan and Iraq as we speak. When those crops are ripe we must help to export them to those who would use them best.
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Saddam's Ba'ath Party Finds a home- in Paris.
First- for those of you who do not already know about MEMRI
, the Middle East Media Research Institute, it is a top-notch translation and news gathering source for what the Arab (mainly) media is saying.
MEMRI also offers excellent analytical pieces, we highly recommend Anti-American Ba'th Activities in Paris
. Setting aside the French decision to not assist the coalition in the removal of Saddam Hussein, they are now hosting the remnants of that brutal regime. The National Council for the Iraqi Resistance, headquartered in Paris, openly links itself to jihadists, calls for an "international defense committee" for Saddam Hussein and threatens the future peace of any elected government in Iraq.
Not surprisingly a search of Google News for "National Council for the Iraqi Resistance" failed to return a single hit as of the time of this posting. Your media, and our oldest allies, at work.
Germany, tell us what you really think...
The Euro press has been in a frenzy since the election. Many of us here expected a more resigned Germany, a nation ready to face reality for the next four years. Seems we were wrong. This gem was put out as soon as it became clear who the winner (and loser) was.
Opinion: The World's Bush Dilemma
Will he be as divisive during his second term?
Americans have decided George Bush is the best man for the helm of the world's only superpower in these difficult times. While he may be the pick of US voters, the world, unfortunately, deserves better.
In a democracy, it has often been said, the people get the government they deserve. After a bitter and divisive election, America has handed George Bush the popular mandate for the presidency he failed to get four years ago. To many non-Americans, that means US voters have now accepted the man, as well as the consequences of his often extremely polarizing actions.
The United States may prefer Bush, but it's no secret most of the world's population would have rather seen John Kerry in the White House. Many around the globe had taken hope from Kerry's promise to move away from Bush's "arrogant" foreign policy. That hope is, of course, now gone.
Read the full article here