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Aid shift – security not poverty the objective

Written By: - Date published: 1:08 pm, September 8th, 2010 - 4 comments
Categories: aid, International, military - Tags:

The latest Guardian Weekly had two interesting and seemingly unconnected stories about major shifts in aid priorities on both sides of the world after the advent of right-wing governments. More emphasis on security objectives, with aid delivered by the military, and less on humanitarian and poverty relief, with aid delivered by local groups and NGOs.

The UK news story starts:

The government is to introduce a wholesale change to Britain’s overseas aid budget by demanding that projects in the developing world must make the “maximum possible contribution” to British national security, according to a leaked Whitehall paper.

Labour, which established the Department for International Development to ensure overseas projects are funded on the basis of a country’s needs, warned tonight that Britain’s aid budget was being “securitised”.

The New Zealand story was similar:

Despite the trend of Pacific countries towards strengthening ties with China and other Asian powers, New Zealand remains a critical partner for Pacific island countries, particularly in Polynesia. A hands-on regional approach less forceful than Australia’s has served New Zealand partnership programmes well for years. But the new focus in aid delivery of its National party-led government has drawn criticism for directing support away from Pacific-based NGO networks.

In an effort to get more value from taxpayers’ dollars, the government wants better co-ordination between development agencies in the Pacific. The type of aid approach emerging provides for expansion of the established regional role of New Zealand in peacekeeping missions such as those to the Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste, to encompass humanitarian assistance and the challenges of disaster relief. “When there is starvation and privation, conflict can quite easily ramp up and we saw that in Haiti,” says Walters.

It looks like aid budgets are being folded into defence budgets on both sides of the world.

4 comments on “Aid shift – security not poverty the objective”

  1. Bill 1

    21st C aid is all about extending influence and developing the potential to ‘keep people/nations in line’.

    Beyond that, look out for western based, profit seeking companies setting up and displacing indigenous NGOs. That will go hand in hand with a process of tendering for donor government funded aid contracts, ie public money being transferred to private hands.

  2. just saying 2

    Just when I’d blissfully convinced myself, for a few short optimistic minutes on a sunny day, that I’ve been far too pessimistic about the situation we find ourselves in on Planet earth 2010, I come here and read this.

    Damn.

  3. Phil Twyford 3

    It certainly looks like the National-ACT Government wants to use the military and NZ government agencies to take a bigger role in delivering disaster relief in the Pacific. This may or may not be a good thing. The trouble is, with Mr McCully at the helm, who would know? Decisions on initiating new programmes and cutting existing ones seem to be made without independent evaluations, and often without any written rationale. The Minister routinely ignores advice from offiials, or overrides it, and seldom puts things in writing.
    Phil Twyford, Labour spokesperson on development assistance

    What else is going on? Large amounts of money going into infrastructure, business mentoring and direct grants to businesses, seemingly without any thought as to whether the economic benefits will reduce poverty or line the pockets of the elites. Aid programme being tied closely to free trade agenda in the Pacific. Stripping out work on empowerment of women, human rights, and good governance.

    • Jenny 3.1

      ‘I’ is the second to last letter in the word PERIL.

      In the past Western powers have used a mixture of persuasion, bribery, propaganda as well as relying on their overwhelming military preponderance to ensure their dominion over the rest of the world. That this strategy is now being abandoned and replaced with a policy based on pure military dominance is a symptom of the crisis in Imperialism. The old methods of ensuring control are no longer working, so the reliance on military control becomes more important, and the other methods are abandoned. This increasing reliance on the military to the detriment of the other methods for projecting your control past your own borders does not represent a strength but a weakness. This crisis in “imperialism” is one of the existential crisis facing late capitalism as described in the Peril theses.

      According to the P.E.R.I.L theses:

      Today, for the first time since its birth 500 years ago, global capitalism is facing the convergence of five system-level crises embracing nature as well as society:

      Profitability crisis.

      Ecological crisis.

      Resource crisis.

      Imperial crisis.

      Legitimacy crisis.

      (From the essay ‘Beware! The end is nigh!’ by Grant Morgan.

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