Monday, May 25, 2009

Help Africa By Reducing Aid?

Wow. This is an issue about which I find myself completely neutral. Like any good liberal, I want us to help the disadvantaged...but I find myself largely sympathetic with conservatives about the value of self-reliance.

(And, incidentally, I have great confidence that I'll never know whether the lots of aid or less aid position is correct here.)

But I have to sit up and take notice when the President of Rwanda is sympathetic with the less aid position.

Though I find the following paragraph in Kagame's op-ed more than a little puzzling:
Aid has not only often failed to meet its objectives; it has also rarely dealt with the underlying issues of poverty and weak societies. We see this with our neighbour, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There, 17,000 United Nations peacekeepers – the largest and most expensive presence of its kind in history – treat the symptoms rather than addressing the issues of capacity, self-determination and dignity.
See, that seems like the kind of case in which it's very important to treat the "symptoms." When the symptoms are people getting killed an brutalized, I'm all about treating the symptoms if that's the only genuinely available option. So why not say the same about starvation? I dunno.

On-going aid of the typical kind is unlikely to be free, even to the people who receive it. I fervently hope there's a better solution, a solution that emphasizes independence and self-reliance without sacrificing people in the short run...but I'm a little skeptical.


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