… by Ulson Gunnar, … with New Eastern Outlook, Moscow
[ Editor’s note: Ulson reviews the age old debate of why nations intercede in foreign events. It is a complicated area because so many factors are involved, with each case being a one-of-a-kind event.
Ignoring that each one is a unique case, to then generalize motivations and hidden agendas can be nothing more than a guessing game where prejudices easily rule the day.
The West gets a bad rap for a lot of what it does or doesn’t do… some of it fairly, and some of it not. The mention below by Gunnar of the West doing nothing in Africa on these disease outbreaks is unfair, as much of the work being done locally is funded via UN organizations, where the West contributes the major share.
There is now, and always has been, extensive and ongoing training in all of these public health fields, going all the way back to scholarships to educate the professionals and post-graduate work. This is the age-old formula of “help people to help themselves’… a proven approach over time.
There are also numerous Western NGO’s active in the region doing a myriad of things, and also religious organizations, but they don’t get any press. They spend their money doing stuff… and yes, they rarely get credit for it, even from journalists, because it is not a sexy story. There is no exploiter to beat on.
We see the same old canard of “colonialists going back to Africa” to exploit the impoverished people there. Let out of the charge is often even the most cursory look at what loot is really available to steal. In the former French areas, we are talking about huge expanses of undeveloped areas, with populations only living where there is water for drink and to grow food.
Development infrastructure to the interior is basically non-existent, so huge amounts of capital are needed to do anything there. Also, left out of the West-bashing analysis is that we are in a worldwide recession with decreased demand on a lot of commodities.
And Africa has numerous countries with lots of natural resources, many of them with some infrastructure in place, which makes them the winning candidates for foreign investment in natural resources.
And last, what I routinely never see addressed in these Western corporate looting tirades is even a sentence about where can any employment be generated for the local people, if not from resource development.
They surely don’t need franchise fast food chains and strip malls. By always framing Western development as exploitive, such writers don’t seem to have a problem dooming the locals to have no future for a better life in their own countries.
The result is the big immigration push for them to risk their lives getting into Europe. And even that is framed by many writers as an exploitation in itself. So, whatever the West does, or does not do, there are always those who can instantly knock out an exploitation piece, I assume thinking that it is a freebie, as they are always for the little guy.
Yes… having a low-paying job is not a wonderful thing. But it is better than having no job, and no income. I don’t often find these writers too concerned about that situation. And when they do, yes… proposed development gets the exploitation treatment.
At the end of the day, we have the “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t” conundrum. The public expects a bit more in-depth analysis than beating the old horse that is not quite dead yet… Jim W. Dean ]
– First published … August 17, 2014 –
The US spent over two billion dollars during NATO’s armed assault on Libya both in ordnance used during months of aerial bombardment and in covert support for terrorists used as proxy ground forces in the overthrow of the Libyan government.
The United Kingdom is estimated to have spent even more. Hundreds of millions were spent by other NATO members throughout the duration of the assault. The “protection of civilians” was repeatedly cited as the altruistic justification for such an expenditure in manpower and financial resources.
In the wake of the conflict, it was revealed that NATO’s “humanitarian intervention” left entire cities filled with unarmed civilians encircled by Al Qaeda-linked militants and relentlessly bombarded by NATO sorties while food, water, gas, and power were intentionally cut off to “starve” the inhabitants into submission. It was also revealed that the threat to civilians cited by NATO members was fabricated by those NATO chose to replace the targeted Libyan government with.
Similar scenarios have played out in Syria, Ukraine, and even North and West Africa. At the cost of hundreds of millions, French troops have invaded and occupied several African nations over the course of the past 3 years, including five of their former colonies, namely Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad.
While the French government claims their justification is fighting terrorism and improving security (hundreds of miles from their own shores) much of the terrorism is a direct result of NATO’s intervention in Libya and the intentional arming of immense terrorist networks in the process that have proliferated money, arms and all the strife that follows, across the region.
Doubts rightfully linger over the intentions of the West and its “humanitarian interventions.” But surely when the opportunity arose to execute an unquestionable act of altruism, the West would rise to the challenge.
Surely when civilian lives and security really demanded international intervention the US, British, and French would be there with their apparently limitless resources, tens of thousands of eager helping-hands, and equipment to meet the challenge. But instead they are absent.
As of mid August, the death toll amid a deadly Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa neared 1,000. These are well documented deaths monitored by both local hospitals and international agencies. Unlike the fabricated numbers offered by politically-motivated rivals in a war zone, those dying from Ebola in Africa are enumerated and real.
With the virus spreading across borders and with infected patients inadvertently or intentionally being flown off the continent, it would appear a real humanitarian catastrophe is underway, one that warrants a “humanitarian intervention,” at least as much as Libya supposedly did.
In a Guardian op-ed titled, “Concerned about Ebola? You’re worrying about the wrong disease,” writer James Ball claims the seasonal flu should be more of a concern than Ebola and that those worrying about 1,000 dead Africans are merely succumbing to hysteria. Ball would go on to claim, “around 300,000 people have died from malaria, while tuberculosis has likely claimed over 600,000 lives.”
Surely then, using Ball’s logic, even the most hysterical claims made by NATO’s proxies in Libya should have gone ignored compared to the death toll exacted by malaria or tuberculosis. Why spend 2 billion dollars in less than a year on a conflict killing so few when other threats to the general population are so much larger? And perhaps Ball has a point.
No Return On Investment
If deciding to aid those in need is determined by the scale of suffering in proportion to other crises sweeping the globe, then neither the Ebola outbreak nor the alleged death tolls amid the Libyan conflict warranted Western intervention.
If large scale human suffering of any kind warrants a humanitarian intervention, then surely if Libya was a candidate for intervention, so too should the Ebola outbreak. But in reality, both Ball and the “humanitarian” underpinnings used by the West to justify its intervention in Libya are wrong.
In Africa, the West’s “humanitarians” are absent. The US has pledged arms and training to Kiev, Ukraine as it carries out military operations against its own people, but apparently lacks the impetus, resources, and political will to help infected, struggling populations in Africa.
There is no chance to capitalize from the tragedy, no opportunity to permanently expand Washington’s power further still beyond US borders and across the continent of Africa by merely distributing critical care units, medication, and resources to augment local, ongoing efforts.
Indeed, there is no return on invest for intervening in Africa to stave off the spread of Ebola and so no multi-billion dollar intervention will be undertaken.
What was already more than obvious is once again confirmed. The “humanitarian” motivations behind the West’s use of multi-billion dollar force beyond its borders is but a tenuous excuse for naked military aggression, expansionism, and neo-imperialism. The French are in their former colonies to reclaim them, exploit them, and empty them out economically, not bring them enlightenment nor truly help them in their hour of need.
It would seem in the 21st century people would by now have acquired the political sophistication to see through the multiple facets of rhetorical paradigms and begin truly grasping the nature of power, the use of force, and the various ploys used to deflect criticism and resistance to what is otherwise old fashioned empire building.
The absent humanitarians amid the Ebola outbreak, and the dismissive op-eds telling people to ignore the plight of Africa side-by-side passionate pleas to arm fascists in Kiev to help them continue the slaughter of their own people is a telling and troubling indictment of the current state of our planet and the regressive politics playing out across its surface.