In the latest news and analysis…
Embassy Magazine’s Scott Taylor suggests NATO propaganda has exaggerated the role of mercenaries from sub-Saharan Africa fighting among Gadhafi loyalists in Libya and may bear some of the blame for the violent backlash against dark-skinned Libyans: “Fully one-third of the Libyan population is dark-skinned and come from sub-Saharan Africa. And in pre-war prosperous Libya, migrant workers from central African countries performed most menial labour jobs. With emotions running high and Gaddafi loyalists still battling in several cities, many dark-skinned males have been summarily executed by rebels for no other reason than they are black.” Taylor does not deny the presence of some foreign mercenary troops but wonders if NATO’s support for the rebels makes its soldiers much different. With the fighting still not over, he says “it is as yet impossible to calculate how many Libyans were killed in the name of protecting Libyans.”
Meanwhile, Moammar Gadhafi is deposed but defiant and apparently still in Libya, and the embarrassments are beginning to pile up for his foreign opponents. Especially in the UK where allegations are swirling regarding renditions to Libya and a deal in which the man thought to be behind the Lockerbie boming was sent home in order to facilitate an oil contract for BP.
As Somalia’s famine spreads, the Heritage Foundation’s Brett Schaefer and Morgan Roach worry about the impact of alleged food aid theft on American taxpayer dollars and are calling for congressional oversight to prevent such misdeeds. So far, the US has given just over $60 million in humanitarian assistance to Somalia, which amounts to roughly 40 cents per taxpayer.
The Center for Global Development’s Vijaya Ramachandran and Julie Walz suggest that, since American troops are already engaged in “development” projects in conflict zones such as Afghanistan, it makes sense to give them the tools to be more effective. Especially given talk of integrating the national defence, diplomacy and development budgets. As things stand, if one is to believe a former Pentagon logistician, the amount the US military spends annually on air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan is greater than the US Agency for International Development’s program budget. The Pentagon, however, disputes the retired brigadier general’s math.
A trio of researchers from MIT and the World Bank looked into the impacts of incentivized aid, whereby the size of grants provided to Indonesian villages depended on their progress toward reaching a number of health and education objectives. They found that such incentives led to improvements in health, but not education.
A new European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad) report entitled “How to spend it: smart procurement for more effective aid” suggests that despite decade-old pledges by wealthy donor countries to untie aid, roughly 20 percent of development assistance requires recipients to spend money in donor countries. Moreover, because of the nature of the tendering and procurement system, a further 60 percent of aid contracts end up going to donor-country companies. In other words, 80 percent of aid is either formally or informally tied, making it “boomerang aid: a financial flow that is only channelled to developing countries on the books.” According to the report, “ tied aid disallows developing countries from taking full responsibility of their own development. It puts purchasing decisions in donors’ hands instead, often resulting in the purchase of inadequate goods or failed services.”
Bard College’s Ian Buruma looks at the impacts of culture and religion on women’s rights. He argues that, as is the case with both the Taleban and disgraced former IMF boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn, “culture comes to the rescue of the powerful more often than it protects the weak.” He believes culture needs to be subordinated to laws that protect those at risk. But while recognizing there are places where such goals are distant ones, he cautions against overzealous outside interference: “As for women in Muslim countries, there may not be much that people in the West can do to improve their lot. But it is unlikely that much good will come from bombing them.”
Oxfam’s Duncan Green asks: “When did talking on the subject of ‘globalization and development’ start to feel so retro?” He describes an investigation into who benefits from globalization and how to spread those benefits around more equitably as “a very last-decade kind of gig.”
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports the World Bank is in “very early stage” discussions with China to collaborate on exporting low-end manufacturing jobs to Africa, as the Asian giant adjusts to a shrinking workforce and an increased emphasis on producing higher-value products. World Bank President Robert Zoellick said shifting 5 million jobs to Africa would increase manufacturing employment on the continent by 50 percent.One of the possible methods for the transition would be the creation of industrial zones, a tactic that has proved controversial in Haiti, for example. Zoellick also sees potential for Chinese assistance in agriculture.