By Max A. Joseph Jr.
Foreign aid is a political weapon rather than a means to alleviate suffering in the less fortunate corners of the globe. It is a fact that cannot escape the attention of anyone with a grain of common sense.
Foreign assistance corrupts unstable political systems; demeans and patronizes the recipients, helps create a false sense of self-righteousness among the donors, promotes cultural supremacy and economic subjugation and facilitates coercive measures.
The United States Senate Foreign Affairs committee recent amendment that conditions the disbursement of aid to Haiti to the Martelly government holding free and fair elections in the country is emblematic of this painful reality. It validates Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta’s assertion that “foreign aid often carries terms and conditions that preclude progress.”
“It is time to give it up,” the Kenyan president pleaded to his fellow African leaders in an op-ed, prior to the 25th African Union Summit held in South Africa in June.
I couldn’t agree more.
A pervasive but little-known fact about foreign aid came to light during the well-publicized scandal involving the American Red Cross, which allegedly squandered half-billion of dollars in donations to the victims of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
As per published reports, the American Red Cross got to keep a portion of the donations for administrative purposes and a bit more through a complex of “allegedly legal accounting maneuvers,” which entail charging sub-contractors a fee for contracts awarded to them by the organization.
This is racketeering by any definition, akin to the one that landed many foreign businessmen and several members of FIFA executive committee in hot water with the Swiss and U.S. authorities.
Is there really an ethical divide between subtracting a fee from an awarded contract and demanding or accepting payment before the contract is awarded?
Another example of the insidious nature of foreign aid was the five-year $13.7 million grant recently awarded to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Global office by USAID. It’s meant to “provide professional training and technical assistance that could help identify innovative research and extension models that work for the diverse agriculture landscape in Haiti.”
The grant could have been awarded to Haitian agronomists and undergraduates in the field, but the neo-colonialistic nature of foreign aid, which emphasizes absolute control over the recipients, eliminated that option. It also implies that Haiti agricultural methods are deficient and primitive; a view that is both simplistic and misleading.
The problem with Haiti agriculture originated inside the dark rooms of the IMF (the devil’s workshop) which, in exchange for burdensome loans that left the country fiscally on the edge, ordered successive Haitian governments to eliminate subsidies to Haitian farmers while lowering tariffs on imported foodstuffs.
The end result of this diabolical policy was swift and unforgiving. Hundreds of thousands of Haitian farmers, unable to compete with the subsidized imports, simply fled the countryside and headed for Port-au-Prince, which is now a case study of urban blight.
Nothing illustrates the perniciousness of foreign aid more than the situation in destitute, tormented and occupied Haiti, which is being used as a laboratory for a new concept of absolute control over dysfunctional or powerless societies. Case in point: the long-postponed electoral season in Haiti that has everyone, including the omniscient international community, crying foul. While the complaints from disqualified candidates can be considered genuine since they inadvertently highlight these poor souls’ gullibility as to the impartiality of the CEP and fairness of the electoral process, those emanating from the international community however are disingenuous, if not downright insulting.
For more than three years, the mechanism that could have prevented the current situation — holding of the constitutionally-mandated legislative elections– was frowned upon by the Martelly government with the implicit approval, some might argue, of the international community. It is surprising that the U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs committee, which normally approves the foreign appropriation budget on a yearly basis at the request and recommendation of the State Department, would now make the release of the aid allocated to Haiti contingent upon the Martelly government holding “free and fair elections” in that country. Shouldn’t the committee be investigating the possibility that it was deliberately mislead on the situation in Haiti by the bureaucrats at the U.S. State Department and associated think tanks?
Eric Farnsworth, vice-president of the Council of the Americas and Americas Society was philosophical about the U.S. Senate Foreign committee’s amendment. Quoting the Associated Press, he reportedly said: “Broadly speaking, the U.S. would not want to be in a position of being perceived to be taking sides in national elections in Haiti or anywhere across the hemisphere.
“The main interest is in ensuring a process, which allows Haitians themselves to choose their leadership freely and fairly.”
Well, I have just learned that the late emperor Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Haiti’s revered founding father, was actually a white man.
In light of the fact the executive branch is actually the only functional power in Haiti; no one really expects the electoral process to be fair to the candidates that the government holds in contempt. The situation is ideal for the type of coercive measures that foreign aid helps facilitate. It is time to give up on foreign aid and make do with what we have, as a repeat of the 2011 fiasco that saw the imposition of the international community-backed candidate on the unsuspecting and weary electorate might be in the offing.