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Commentary :: Globalization : Human Rights : International : Labor : Media : Organizing : Politics : Race : Social Welfare : Technology
On the Africa Aid Charade: When they say ‘aid’ they mean ‘raid’
06 Jul 2005
The media image that arises is one of the rich Western white nations caring about the lives and conditions of starving Black Africa. And like many media images, it simply isn't true.
Mumia Abu-Jamal from death row:
When they say ‘aid’ they mean ‘raid’

Recently, the news columns were full of a supposed dispute between the Americans and the British about foreign aid relief to Africa. If the news reports are to be believed, the British wish to push the Americans further, to provide more debt relief for countries staggering under their economic burdens.

The media image that arises is one of the rich Western white nations caring about the lives and conditions of starving Black Africa. And like many media images, it simply isn't true.

What is often lost in this angelic imagery is the truth behind the so-called aid. That "aid" that was given years ago was given to military dictatorships, and it was often military aid meant to strengthen dictatorships against not foreign attacks, but popular resistance from their own people!

Indeed, in a 1960 meeting of the U.S. National Security Council, American spies and diplomats spoke rather openly about U.S. support for military regimes. The minutes of the meeting record them saying:

"We must recognize, although we cannot say it publicly, that we need the strong men of Africa on our side. It is important to understand that most of Africa will soon be independent and that it would be naive of the U.S. to hope that Africa will be democratic ... Since we must have the strong men of Africa on our side, perhaps we should in some cases develop military strong men as an offset to Communist development of the labor unions. The President agreed that it might be desirable for us to try to 'reach' the strong men of Africa ... ." (From NSA meeting, Jan. 14, 1960, as published in "Foreign Relations," 1958-1960, Vol. XIV, pp. 73-78)

From meetings such as this came U.S. "aid" to such dictators as Zaire's late Mobutu, who was among one of the wealthiest men in Africa, if not the world. Through "African strong men" such as he, the U.S. ran many countries as neocolonies, through which they could further exploit the people of the continent.

The late U.S. president, Richard Nixon, spoke a powerful political truth when he said, "Let us remember that the main purpose of aid is not to help other nations but to help ourselves." (From Graham Hancock, "Lords of Poverty," New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1989, p. 71)

Think about it this way: When millions of dollars in military aid are given to a dictatorship, where does the money go? To the receiving country, or to the arms dealers and defense contractors which make the weapons? So, how is this "aid"?

It's aid to ourselves to arm forces that keep their own people in line. Also, since at least the 1970s, U.S. food aid has been tied to the myth of population control. In order to receive "aid" from the nice, white West, African, Latin American and Asian countries have had to pledge they would reduce their populations.

Why would countries that are agricultural gardens of Eden even need food aid? That's because, after formal colonialism, Western powers often installed military dictators who spent the nation's resources on weapons used to break and destroy labor unions! A 1986 study by the National Academy of Sciences found that the single country of Zaire, alone, could feed its own population--62 times over! Indeed, that one country, with high agricultural outputs, could feed the entire continent of Africa!

But, under the rapacious U.S.-supported military dictatorship of Mobutu, much of that agricultural potential, and its vast wealth of resources, was squandered and sent into Belgian and European banks.

The late, great Kwame Nkrumah said, "Political independence, without economic independence, is but a mirage."

The sweet words of "aid" muttered by British and American officials to Africa is to lull the people asleep with promises.

It is, in truth, yet another plan to exploit people who have been exploited by outsiders for millennia.

True "aid" is reparations for the crimes of colonialism.

Real "aid" would be an end to the support of military regimes.

Real "aid" would be an end to political, economic and social interference in the social, cultural and familial affairs of African people.

Real "aid" would be an end to imperialism!
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