The Jaker

Mostly rational politics, with occasional rants about how a few crazy Republicans are ruining the country.

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Friday, July 15, 2005
How should we help Africa?
I promoted Live 8 and, the U.S. offshoot of the international Make Poverty History campaign, significantly on this blog. Both efforts were aimed at encouraging leaders of rich nations to significantly increase their targeted aid to Africa, focusing on eradicating the extreme poverty and lack of adequate healthcare on that continent.

Today's NYTimes contains an editorial from a Cameroonian columnist criticizing the Western movement to increase aid as ill-guided and serving only to benefit our own conscience. He argues that Africa's real problem is government corruption and ruthlessness.

Don't insult Africa, this continent so rich yet so badly led. Instead, insult its leaders, who have ruined everything. Our anger is all the greater because despite all the presidents for life, despite all the evidence of genocide, we didn't hear anyone at Live 8 raise a cry for democracy in Africa.
Neither debt relief nor huge amounts of food aid nor an invasion of experts will change anything. Those will merely prop up the continent's dictators. It's up to each nation to liberate itself and to help itself.
In Africa, our leaders have led us into misery, and we need to rid ourselves of these cancers. We would have preferred for the musicians in Philadelphia and London to have marched and sung for political revolution. Instead, they mourned a corpse while forgetting to denounce the murderer.

His point is good and well-taken. Over the long-run, democratizing Africa and ensuring fairly-elected, competent governments is obviously necessary. But I still can't help but think that the short-term human rights imperative is to help those suffering now. Not through aid to corrupt governments, but to NGOs the likes of the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders, who save lives on a daily basis.

Long-term we definitely need to treat the cancer, but first we have to stop the bleeding.
posted by CB @ 11:05 AM  
  • At 11:38 AM, Anonymous Bryce said…

    I agree entirely.

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