Re: US/Foreign AID

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Thu Dec 20 2001 - 04:44:41 MST

"Robert J. Bradbury" wrote:
> On Thu, 20 Dec 2001, Neil Blanch wrote:
> > Regardless
> > of a country's GDP, major life enhancing projects like improving electrical
> > or telco infrastructure & even real basics like clean water cost big bucks,
> > and it is countries with low GDP's (like Afghanistan) that need the most
> > help and the most money to make real improvements in the lives of their
> > citizens.
> Huh? I *hate* to tell you this but electricity and telephones are the
> last things people in the 3rd world need to improve their lives. Equality
> between women and men, access to credit, supportive educational systems
> and rule of law (not dictators or warlords) is what 3rd world contries
> need. (I base this on 20 years of reading the literature supplied by
> The Hunger Project ( who have worked in the trenches of 3rd
> world countries trying to provide people with the necessities of life.)
> I'd have to side with Lee -- a free press, or perhaps free and open
> access television (groups of people can watch satellite TV powered by
> solar cells, pedal generators, etc.) is perhaps the best way to
> get the things they *really* need (education, knowledge of funding
> sources, debate about political corruption, etc.).

Well, all those things are needed but don't you think you better
make sure there is enough fresh water, food and shelter before
you start having them watch satellite TV? Afghanistan in
particular was hugely dependent on basic food aid for some 1.2
million of its people to not starve even before the war. Now
that number of people needing basic food aid to survive is
quadrupled. So please, let us start with the true basics.

> The current situation in Afghanistan follows directly from the cold war.
> Russia wanting to expand its sphere of influence and the U.S. trying to
> prevent that. Whether the current Afghan situation is "good" depends
> on how you balance it against the progress of democracy in Eastern Europe
> and Russia over the last decade. Could we have done a better job?
> Most probably. But as they say hindsight is 20-20.

I don't think it was at all that simple or benign or our part
but I will not go into it now.
> > The propping up of mad dictators & inhumane juntas MUST stop.
> So should we bomb Uzbekistan and Tajikistan into rubble as well while
> we are at it? Or would you prefer that we not have bases from which

How on earth do you get that from the above? Not propping up
mad dictators doesn't require you have to bomb anyone.

> military rescue operations can be conducted while the U.S. tries to
> cleanup the mess in Afghanistan? I'll note that it is *highly*
> unlikely the Uzbekistan-Afghanistan Friendship Bridge would now be

What "military resuce operations" do you have in mind?

> open (supplying food to people facing starvation) had the U.S.
> taken a "hands off" policy with regard to Afghanistan or not
> gotten its hands "dirty" by dealing with Uzbekistan politicians.

Actually there were quite cleanly operating trucking operations
into Afghanistan from Pakistan that brought in the majority of
the food before this war iirc. We shut them down on or about
Sept. 16. You can't insinuate that we made the ability to get
aid into the country better when in fact we have refused to let
much of the aid in for most of this war. It was Gen. Tommy
Franks who kept the above bridge closed for so long. As far as I
know we still have some aid operations shut down for fear they
might also be of aid to Al Qaeda or make our search for bin
Laden harder. If so we may be condemning quite a lot of people
to death by starvation and exposure this winter. That has been
a continuing worry of mine. Dealing with and "propping up" are
also not necessarily the same thing.

- samantha

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