Friday, February 1, 2013

Self-interest drives foreign aid and foreign policy in Africa

“It’s an enemy that can disappear into the population and come out at will,” said Ayo Johnson, director of Viewpoint Africa, a think-tank in London. “The insurgents play the long game. They are not in a hurry, the French are.”

That leaves Malian and African forces facing new, daunting challenges: holding the cities and searching out the rebels in the vast desert surrounding the population centres. The well-armed Islamist extremists, who are from Mali and a host of other countries, are known to have recruited child soldiers and are expected to use the civilian population as human shields and to use suicide bombers.
The fight for Mali has barely begun, warn analysts.
(from "What happens in Mali now?" by Andrew Meldrum, The Associated Press, in Toronto Star, January 30, 2013 below)
It is an inescapable yet complicating truth that France (and the west generally) is in a hurry, especially after two wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, while the insurgents play the long game.
It is also an in escapable and complicating truth that, like radiation targeting body tumours, drones are the "treatment of choice" in the foreseeable future, so long as there is not too much noise in protest, on behalf of human rights of those innocents who will inevitably be killed by drone attacks.
The west's comprehension of and support for impoverished Africans, in many countries is based almost entirely on self-interest, and not on the long-term, sutainable development of the Africans' civilizations. Individual countries have, however, helped with roads in infrastructure needed for their respective industrial and commercial operations and we read of pockets of "success" defined as a mine here or a constitution there. Yet the garden of Africa is ripe for the picking by the terrorist insurgents.
Even the religious prosletyzing by western churches has been, by most accounts, self-interested and defined by the numbers of converts to the denomination and not by the long-term education, health and commercial development and security protections.
We are reaping the rewards of so much self-interest, and so little participation by the local citizens in whatever programs we have proferred.
Western governments, elected by voters who have an open insouciance, even disdain about things 'far away,' have not had to pay close attention to the rigours of the links between foreign policy and foreign aid. Consequently, the field has been left almost unimpeded to the corporations, which, as we all know, could care less about long-term development, so long as their profit margins on their balance sheets demonstrate green and not red ink for their investors back home.
It is long past time when western governments, spurred by their voters, need to take legitimate responsibility for the relationships that they develop, in conjunction with their indigenous corporate institutions, and integrate local perspectives, needs and aspirations into their African initiatives.
The national media need to foster more foreign bureaus, with additional reporters, not slash those already in the field, and that might mean that, for example, the Canadian government could require Canadian corporations to bump up their support for international African bureaus of Canadian publications and media outlets, as part of their check-list of requirements to build operations in those countries.
The theme, "we are all in this together" has never been more evident, and more threatened than in the evidence coming in drops and trickles from Mali, Algeria, Nigeria, Somalia. And the 'fog of war,' that barrier to both responsibility and accountability that keeps drone attack information classified, for example, in Pakistan and the regions to the north of that country, has to be lifted and one sure way to help lift it, is to increase the numbers of trained eyes and ears on the ground sending dispatches back home to the people here.
Clinical drone strikes, camouflaged and fogged by any barriers to disclosure will only impale the U.S. and the west generally, in the long run, increase recruitment by terrorists and produce an even greater chasm of distrust between the victims of the terrorists and the self-proclaimed protectors of those impoverished and desperate people, countries and regions in Africa, for starters, and elsewhere where western greed and self-interested narcissism has been allowed to run rampant.
Throwing money at refugees, as in the case in the conference to support refugees from Syria this week, after 60,000 innocent people have been slaughtered, is little more than a "guilt-band-aid" after the fact. We, collectively, need to be pro-active in preventing the slaughter in the first place...and that is a goal to which all self-respecting nations and peoples could subscribe....but will they?
What happens now in Mali?
By Andrew Meldrum, The Associated Press, in Toronto Star, January 30, 2013
JOHANNESBURG—French-led forces have wrested control of three key cities in northern Mali from Al Qaeda-linked militants, but the fighters have escaped with their weapons into a desert region the size of Texas and are poised to mount counterattacks.

When the French leave their former colony, armed extremists are still likely to remain. No one has yet publicly announced a campaign to hunt them down in the Sahara and in villages where they are believed to be slipping in among civilians.
“It’s an enemy that can disappear into the population and come out at will,” said Ayo Johnson, director of Viewpoint Africa, a think-tank in London. “The insurgents play the long game. They are not in a hurry, the French are.”
That leaves Malian and African forces facing new, daunting challenges: holding the cities and searching out the rebels in the vast desert surrounding the population centres. The well-armed Islamist extremists, who are from Mali and a host of other countries, are known to have recruited child soldiers and are expected to use the civilian population as human shields and to use suicide bombers.
The fight for Mali has barely begun, warn analysts.
“It’s a strategic withdrawal (from the cities) by the jihadists which means that the fight is not over,” said Alex Vines, head of the Africa program at Chatham House, a centre for international affairs in London.
Vines said drones already have a prominent role in intelligence gathering in the area but have not been used to fire on targets. “That could change,” he said.
The U.S. is considering setting up a drone base in northwest Africa to increase intelligence collection, said an American military official this week. Niger has accepted the idea of hosting unarmed U.S. drones but has not endorsed armed drone strikes or the launching of U.S. special operations raids from its territory.



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