What the hell are we (westerners) doing in Africa?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by StrictlyAvg, Oct 22, 2009.

  1. StrictlyAvg

    StrictlyAvg Member

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    Link to:
    Michael Maren - The Might Interview




    " without a doubt, some
    of the most sanctimonious assholes I have ever met in my life, some of
    the worst people, and I mean really bad people, work for charities and
    aid organizations on the ground." .. in Africa
     
    #1 StrictlyAvg, Oct 22, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2009
  2. Bbucko

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    Imperialism's a bitch: and expensive, too.
     
  3. B_Enough_for_Me

    B_Enough_for_Me New Member

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    Great post. I am always amazed at all the examples we have of inefficient/ineffective government hurting people while claiming that they are helping humanity.
     
  4. Jason

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    Africa poses all sorts of questions which the West would rather not ask. With the end of European colonialism in Africa there was an expectation that African democracies would emerge able to develop their countries for the good of Africa and the rest of the world. In fact we have seen in most countries flawed democracy or no democracy, we have seen famine in many, and in Rwanda and Darfur we have seen genocide. How can we respond?

    I don't think the West knows how to respond. Instead we tickle at issues. We provide some famine aid - presumably we will provide something for Ethiopia's present appeal. We offer condemnation, for example of Sudan. The UK apparently got as far as considering military action in Zimbabwe to get rid of Mugabe, but didn't do it. None of this tickling does much good.

    Then we have the organisations working to support education and health and build infrastructure. They don't solve the problems of Africa. But I do think that they do some good. At the level of people working in Africa most mean well and most will help individuals and communities. At the level of Western awareness of Africa they achieve a lot. I think the link in the first post in this thread misses these benefits. It is easy to criticise the organisations for not solving the problems of Africa; nonetheless they do something which is of benefit.
     
  5. SpeedoGuy

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    What the hell are we (westerners) doing in Africa?

    Probably looking for oil.
     
  6. B_Mister Buildington

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    White man's burden?
     
  7. SilverTrain

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    Regardless of the explanation you eventually put forth for this comment, it's just indefensibly awful.
     
  8. Principessa

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    Systemic change almost always works better if it occurs from the bottom up. Anytime you have an outside or superior/upper-level group come in and try to change things something gets screwed up. Things don't work the way the committees thought they would from the flow charts in the meetings they had. Things, the help, trickle down if at all. IMO :biggrin1:


    Really? I thought we were just exploiting them for their diamonds. :mad:
     
    #8 Principessa, Oct 22, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2009
  9. Ericsson1228d

    Ericsson1228d Member

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    Are you describing the USA since Obama took over? :smile:
     
  10. B_Mister Buildington

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    OK :smile: I won't try to defend it then.

    edit: :usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa::usa:
     
    #10 B_Mister Buildington, Oct 22, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2009
  11. StrictlyAvg

    StrictlyAvg Member

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    The link in this thread is from someone who's been there, done it and got completely jaded with it. Note the publish date of 1997 though.

    But at some point, an organisation trying to do the right thing always seems to get big enough to be noticed as a player by the governments of the countries they're trying to assist. Then they have to get into a relationship with them. That relationship inevitably seems to be what we in the west would class as graft. It's only avoidable if ALL the organisations buy into that avoidance. Or stay small enough to stay under the radar.
     
  12. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    Indefensible or not, that seems to be the unspoken conventional wisdom. We hear Blair and Bush and other leaders talk about the need for western action in Africa yet few seem to realize how patronizing that is. "Oh you poor continent! We'll be down your way to help you again (since you obviously can't manage it yourselves)."

    Western interests in Africa are entirely in the realm of economic exploitation. There is little strategic interest in Africa save for Morocco (geography), Egypt (geography), Somalia (geography/terrorism), and South Africa (geography/nuclear weapons). The true western interests are large multinationals which seek to exploit the continent's rich resources and those large multinationals influence western political policy. With the invasion of the Chinese, the west is looking to step-up efforts to continue their control on the monopoly of African resources, not relieve any suffering.

    Post-colonial nations were drawn along European guidelines of who used to own what, not what ethnic groups wanted, needed, or considered traditional homelands. Many African nations are comprised of various tribes which may or may not hate each other and this sort of ethnic division is next to impossible to manage without a strongman dictator. Africa has no history of democracy, no real identification with western culture, and its people have no control over the resources the west blatantly and easily rapes the land and exploits the people to get at. These companies back the dictatorships.

    I think the one true solution to Africa is to hold a pan-African council comprised of all the ethnic groups and then re-draw the borders of virtually every single country on the continent. Get people where they're supposed to be and then revert to the tribal systems of government however they want it to be. Africa would be a radically different place and each ethnic group would be empowered to guide itself as a sovereign nation. I think the ANC could act as an economic enforcer, properly guided, essentially creating a cartel for African resources to make sure they're exploited properly and that the monies derived from these projects end-up going to the people of their nations and not the latest President-for-Life. It means smashing the western cartels and forcing them to go through an African resources controls scheme.

    If you really want Africa to have a chance, we need to shoot ourselves in the foot. No more cheap resources for us! So long as they remain cheap, the west is in control.
     
  13. SilverTrain

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    Conventional wisdom or not, I reiterate that I find it indefensible. I understand what you are saying. And you said it all without invoking that trite and patently offensive phrase.

    The White Man's Burden - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  14. D_Fiona_Farvel

    D_Fiona_Farvel Account Disabled

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    Other than in reaction to aggression, care to give examples of real, sustained social change occuring form the "bottom up"? And, I am not needling, just curious as I can think of reactionary change, but none from the bottom up that persists. :shrug:
     
  15. Sergeant_Torpedo

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    It is easy to blame the colonial and post colonial administrations on the European powers. Re-reading the opening threat I can see that the statement has been manipulated to suit the correspondents needs; beware the question posited is a veritable hall of mirrors.

    Europeans in Africa are doing exactly the same as Africans in Europe or the "West" : they are there for financial gain. Call it exploitation if you may. Don't lay the blame at others doors when we invest (through our savings and pension funds) in gleaning from the vast resources in Africa. Mugabe is there because his fellow African leaders know if he goes they may be next, and he stays in ower because behind closed doors big corporations need him. I am continually amazed at Americans and Europeans who blackmail us for funding for the poor starving children of Africa yet salve their conscience and deny basic medical services to their poor employees who live the other side of the tracks.

    This is not an African problem it is our problem. We are greedy, rapacious, amoral and we choose our leaders from self interest.
     
  16. B_Nick8

    B_Nick8 New Member

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    Yup.

    Yep.

    Oh, for the love of god.
     
  17. SR_Blarney_Frank

    SR_Blarney_Frank New Member

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    Bingo.

    I haven't read the article posted but I have read plenty like it. Most of them are naive about the ability of failed nations to rebuild themselves out of sheer will. And no - it never happens. Nice idea but history doesn't bear this one out.

    For whatever reason people often lose their rational head when discussing Africa. So instead let's take Cuba as an example. Decades of embargoes by developed nations have done pretty much nothing to foster any kind of bottoms up development.

    Then we can look to Cambodia. During the '60s the country rejected western overtures for aid and reconstruction assistance and instead ended up with Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge which emphasized the self-reliance of the people (via forced migration and farm labor).

    Anyway, you could make a pretty good argument that many developing countries do a good job fucking things up all on their own. Civil wars (aka 'revolutions') are common and inward looking planned economies are stagnant. Neither is likely to produce a highly functioning democracy.

    Sure, aid isn't enough to make the changes needed. But proving that aid alone doesn't work (duh) as this article does, neither implies that it's unnecessary nor proves that the absence of it is somehow the solution. That's just flawed logic. To quote Paul Collier, it's a recipe of aid then trade then governance and security.

    It's incredibly easy to cast doubt on the efficacy of foreign aid. But it's damn near impossible to prove that the absence of it is a better alternative.
     
  18. B_Mister Buildington

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    Lighten up, Sally.
     
  19. SilverTrain

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    Attempts at being patronizing are unlikely to induce anyone to lighten up.
     
  20. B_Mister Buildington

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    lol you catch on quick
     
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