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Old 01-09-2005, 11:00 AM   #1 (permalink)
zen_tom
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A Marshall Plan for Africa?

From: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4149679.stm

Quote:
Brown sets out anti-poverty aims

The chancellor believes international aid should be doubled
Chancellor Gordon Brown wants to harness worldwide horror over the fate of Asia's tsunami victims to drive forward the agenda for helping Africa.
In a long-planned speech Mr Brown has restated his goals for doubling aid and eliminating the poorest nations' debt.

Mr Brown says 2005, in which Britain holds the EU and G8 presidencies, offers a "once-in-a-generation" chance to eradicate global poverty.

He wants a "Marshall Plan" for Africa, like that which rebuilt postwar Europe.

True test?

The chancellor urged rich nations to deliver full debt relief, and urged that in addition to donations there should be an international financial mechanism to lever in additional money from the international capital markets.

The challenge that faced the world was to provide enough aid to help the victims of the Boxing Day tsunami tragedy and to tackle ongoing poverty in Africa and developing parts of the world.


"The true test of the international community will be how we can fund and assist both the immediate day-to-day emergency services needs but also the long-term reconstruction of these countries," he said.

"We must ensure that countries affected by the tsunami are not prevented from paying for essential reconstruction because they are having to fund the servicing of their debts."

Diverting help from Africa?

The chancellor's goals for the UK's EU and G8 presidencies include doubling aid from donor countries as well as eliminating debt owed by the poorest nations.

Earlier this week Mr Brown agreed there was a danger efforts to tackle the aftermath of the tsunami disaster might absorb resources that were previously bound for Africa.

"We have got to release the funds that are necessary - after all 30,000 children are dying every day unnecessarily each day [in Africa] because of hunger, because of a failure to deal with the problems of developing countries."

Mr Brown added that people had realised as a result of the Boxing Day disaster that "what happens to the richest citizen in the richest country affects the poorest citizen and the poorer country".

"Just as we've seen the power of nature to destroy, we've seen the power of human compassion to build and it's on that moral sense of 'something's got to be done' that we build."

Mr Brown's speech in Edinburgh lasted nearly an hour and was made to an audience of more than 200 people including aid workers in the newly opened extension to Scotland's National Gallery.

It came ahead of a week-long tour African states including Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa.
So how about it? The Marshall Plan may have been the most successfull piece of American foreign policy in it's history - rebuilding a shattered Europe and forging strong trade links that have been significant in putting it in the position we see it today.

A concerted Western investment (note we are talking about Investment, not Aid) in Africa, or other developing areas of the world would save lives, calm instability, develop wealth and at the same time provide the west with some quality public relations.

Rather than this being solely an attempt to help people who are less well off than ourselves, it is also beneficial to the countries providing the investment due to the increased trade benefits and reduced cost of security.

Why couldn't we have used these sort of common sense tactics before, and aren't we wasting an important opportunity if we let this plan fall by the wayside?
 
Old 01-09-2005, 11:09 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I don't think we know enough about this.

US foreign policy is based "on our interests" and it 'looks like' Africa is just simply not on our interests. With finite resources, Africa gets cut out of the pie. It's never an election issue, people simply don't care, or care enough to do something about it or make it an issue.

Plus, Africa is inherently unstable (yes I know the West made it that way) and horribly corrupt. Sadly, I don't see any solution in the near future.

Any real solution, like you suggest, would take a whole lot more than money. I don't think we even have the resources to do so. Between the "war on terror", helping tsunami victims, our resources are stretched pretty thin. It would have to be a massive collaborative effort.
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Old 01-09-2005, 11:15 AM   #3 (permalink)
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The problem with Africa is stability. The whole notion behind this is investment, not aid correct (teach a man to fish, rather then giving him one)? Africa being so corrupt we have no control over the resources once it's there, whether it be the government hording aid from it's people as is always the case, or the government limiting economic growth with bogus taxes and already shitty economies.

It's tough to say, but the reality must be realized, Africa is a black hole. We could dump trillions it would do no good, I think we almost need to take a hands off approach let them figure it out for themselves, all of their problems seems to stem from us dabbling there anyways. Like a fire that can't be controlled, maybe we just need to let this one suffocate itself.

To keep driving home the fact that I am cold hearted bastard. The reason so many people starve to death there is the ecosystem, the country, whatever you want to call it, can't sustain the birth rate and population. On that same note you get freaky shit like Ebola and AIDS being born on that continent, oh wait that's right, the white man created aids...

Then you have conflict. This is truly our sin. Favoring one African tribe over another led to situations like Rwanda. We lit the fire, then the outside world successfully fanned the flames by selling 20th century weaponry to 1st century people.

Black Hole, eventually it will collapse on itself...
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Last edited by Mojo_PeiPei; 01-09-2005 at 11:20 AM..
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Old 01-09-2005, 11:24 AM   #4 (permalink)
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If Africa is inherently unstable, you should consider the stability of post-war Europe.

Don't underestimate how smashed-up Post War Europe was, what with food riots, retribution and mob-led ethnic cleansing, (hundreds of?) thousands of disposessed refugees, and more than its fair share of corruption.

There really is very little difference between the Europe of the late 40's and parts of today's Africa - at least in the terms you describe.

Comparing prices with the WOT strikes me as missing the point. The war on terror is a needless, self-defeating shambles that could be better waged along the lines described above. On resources, Africa is bountifully stocked with natural resources including oil, coal, diamonds, agriculture, steel, gold, uranium and countless other shiny goodies. It's just that parts of it have never been fully developed.

Yes, it would have to be a massive collaborative effort, in the same way the response to the tsunami is - but the numbers of needless deaths in Africa are not dissimilar to those experienced after the tsunami. This is an opportunity to commit to a firm and measured plan of sustained investment, to everyone's benefit. I really think it could work wonders.
 
Old 01-09-2005, 11:30 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Hunger and starvation are not due to the ecosystem, but again to a lack of development. Many people starved in the US during the days of the dust-bowl due to similar problems - this wouldn't happen today due to investment in water pipelines taking fresh water from places of abundance to areas of drought.

There is also the return on the investment that could be reaped by the west - first dibs on trading rights for newly opened supply and demand chains.
 
Old 01-09-2005, 11:32 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I am not disagreeing with your idea or intentions rather, I just don't think it will happen or is possible at this moment in time for the reasons in the above posts.

If we had the political will to do so, it would still be a major colloborative effort and require cooperation and coordination far ana away surpassing the Marshall Plan. (Africa is huge and vast).

Still, even with the natural resources and wealth, there still needs to be stabilization, then infrastructure building. (Iraq has oil too, but we're still footing the bil until if or when they can stabilize that country.

And Iraq is interesting: It's one country and look at the money and resources spent and the probelms we've been having. Now multiply by 20-30 in Africa. Many of those countries are adamtaly opposed to our intereference and are openly hostile. Any foreign aid goes straight to their military and their Swiss bank accounts while the people die.

I don't think we have the stomach to deploy our troops for an initial stabilization, then occupation for many, many years. Then the expense of rebuilding etc. Yes I know it would be an international effort but I don't think the US public would go for it.
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Old 01-09-2005, 11:33 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Your idea isn't the problem, it's the politics and implementation that is.
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Old 01-10-2005, 12:01 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Alot of African nations have a bad history with European colonialism. They remember what happened the last time the west 'helped out', and ... I don't blame them for not trusting us.
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Old 01-10-2005, 12:23 PM   #9 (permalink)
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While there are some african countries that are ok w/o any help, there remains a majority chunk that could benefit from help. Whether that help coms from education (sorely needed) or simply money.. anything would be an improvment at this point for many countries there. Africa remains the one black hole on this planet we call Earth when it comes to knowledge and technology. It really is the last obstacle to tackle when it comes to defeating poverty on the massive scale of "world hunger" and the like. While i believe that the tribes and people of africa should be allowed to deploy their own destiny.. there really are millions of people that would benefit from ANY assistance. This call for collective assistance really couldn't have come at a better time. If there ever was a chance to wipe out the evils in humanity.. atleast somewhat.. now is the time. As a country we should start focusing less on Iraq and more on what we can do with the world as a whole. Not in a domination or control sense, but in the sense of assistance and guidance. The way America views foreign aid needs to change drastically. I can only assume that goes for many other wealthy countries. Because up until now, they really have been doing a piss-poor job. Its time we (as a race, human beings, collectively) started working toward the actual betterment of mankind and not just our own interests.

Lets leave the past behind and work for a TODAY that is better for everyone.
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Old 01-10-2005, 03:13 PM   #10 (permalink)
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It simply won't happen.

Why?

Whilst the Marshall Plan may have been bourne out by humanitarianism on a fundamental level, there was also a huge degree of geo-political drivers and pragmatism involved. After WWII there as a huge threat from the expansion of the Soviet Union and their puppet states. The Cold War had started even before WWII had finished. America knew it had to help stabalize the continent to prevent the spread of communism. The democratic West had just been shaken to the core and brought almost to its knees in fighting one flavour of totalitarianism; another was almost inexorably spreading west across all of Europe.

In Africa there is no such threat to "Western Civilization" or the politics of democracy.

The nearest thing we have in today's world is the massive aid programme for the countries affected by the recent tsunami. Even Colin Powell has admitted that it is in America's interest to help these countries as, without hope, without assistance, without food, water and security, the people there are in danger of falling under the influence of militant islamic organizations and politics.

Not so, or at least to a lesser degree, Africa. In other words, why spend money there when it can be "better spend" elsewhere?

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Old 01-11-2005, 06:09 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
In Africa there is no such threat to "Western Civilization" or the politics of democracy.
Now how does the war on terrorism fit in to this? Either it is a problem or it isn't. It has been suggested that Islamic fundamentalism is the enemy of the west, in a similar way to communism having been the enemy of the west. We know that Islamic fundamentalism finds easy purchase in areas of poverty. And we also know that fighting angry fundamentalists is an expensive venture.

The same geo-political drivers that helped make the Marshall plan a success in Europe are there today in Africa. It makes sense, for our own security, for our economy, and for their improved living conditions and continued development.

Parts of Africa are poor, parts of Africa are already hotbeds for terrorism, Bin Ladin used to have training camps in Sudan. Mugabe is already becoming a provincial Saddam. And there continues to be fighting in various areas of the region. It is in unstable areas that the draw of religious comforts is most strong - and where people are most easily persuadable to fight and die for an identified cause. Africa is all of these things - is it not better to spend our money now and save ourselves having to spend 100 times as much in some future conflict?

Last edited by zen_tom; 01-11-2005 at 06:12 AM..
 
Old 01-11-2005, 06:45 AM   #12 (permalink)
Junkie
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zen_tom
The same geo-political drivers that helped make the Marshall plan a success in Europe are there today in Africa. It makes sense, for our own security, for our economy, and for their improved living conditions and continued development.
Perhaps, if you only consider north Africa.

The majority of Africa is Christian, hence the belief that failure to support the development of African countries will result in the hegmony of Islamic states is false.

Quote:
Parts of Africa are poor, parts of Africa are already hotbeds for terrorism, Bin Ladin used to have training camps in Sudan.
Sudan is about 50/50 Islamic/Christian. The Islamic north just signed a peace deal with the Christian south that will (almost certainly) see the secession of the south in 6 years.

Another crucial difference is the lack of any perceived American imperialism in Africa. American support of Israel is seen as a major "interference" in the Middle East. Not so in Africa. Again, a major contributing factor to anti-American terrorism is much reduce in Africa compared to the Middle East (or South East Asia for that matter).

Quote:
Mugabe is already becoming a provincial Saddam.
Not so. Mugabe is an old man, once lauded as a renowned freedom fighter, a Christian who stood up to the Imperialist and colonial powers and has built a nation. He's getting more instransigent (perhaps senile) in his old age, but he certainly is not attempting to conquer surrounding nations or export terrorism.

Quote:
And there continues to be fighting in various areas of the region. It is in unstable areas that the draw of religious comforts is most strong - and where people are most easily persuadable to fight and die for an identified cause.
As is South America. And south east Asia.

Quote:
Africa is all of these things - is it not better to spend our money now and save ourselves having to spend 100 times as much in some future conflict?
I'm not saying this would be a bad thing. What I'm saying that sub-Saharan Africa is not perceived as a threat, and therefore shall not receive the attention and aid that the Middle East and South East Asia does. It's simply not economically beneficial.


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Old 01-11-2005, 03:09 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I don't see why it has to be considered a threat to help there. They are our fellow men women and children living in the worst of conditions. While the middle east may be the cradle of civilization, Africa is the cradle of humanity itself. When someone moves out of their parents house do they abandon their parents forever? I sorta feel the same way about Africa in some sense even though my skin is white and I'm pretty much a european-mutt-american.

One of my favorite pictures from space to view is the way the earth looks at night. The way entire islands, peninsulas, or even continents glow with light from all the houses, cars, streetlights.. etc. And then i see Africa, almost completely pitch black. It always seems to take away from some of the awe.
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Old 01-11-2005, 04:06 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I'm not saying that a threat has to be considered before aid is provided.. I'm saying that pragmatic geo-political realism in current US policy means an African "Marshall Plan" won't happen.

Ideally it should, but in reality it won't.

There's a difference between what we believe is right and what we know will actually happen.

If the US did what was right, then they would slash their military budget and plow billions into ending world hunger. Do you think that's going to happen?


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Old 01-11-2005, 04:47 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I agree, but I do think that there are selfish benefits that can be highlighted - whether it's Africa, The Middle East, or the areas suffering after the Tsunami, a fully funded, sustained and serious developmental effort would reap vast rewards for all concerned.

Comparing costs between adopting a Marshall style plan and waging any millitary conflict, and then considering the various outcomes from spending the same amount of money should make sense even to those of the most hawkish persuasion.
 
Old 01-11-2005, 05:30 PM   #16 (permalink)
Junkie
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zen_tom
I agree, but I do think that there are selfish benefits that can be highlighted - whether it's Africa, The Middle East, or the areas suffering after the Tsunami, a fully funded, sustained and serious developmental effort would reap vast rewards for all concerned.
Such as?

The currently accepted major threat to the US is global terrorism, and specifically anti-American targetted terrorism.

Funding massive amounts of US aid to sub-Saharan Africa will do little or nothing to address that. Funding aid to the tsunami devasted countries will, and it could be argued that the war in Iraq has the same goal.

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Old 01-13-2005, 09:21 PM   #17 (permalink)
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even if it was perfectly moral for us to invest similar amounts of resources into africa as we did into post-war europe... it wouldn't have nearly the same effect.

the problem with making a similar investment in africa is that the social and technological factors that drive such developments are not present on the continent. when you rebuild countries that already have the infrastructure for heavy industry (expertise on method, tooling, engineers, work ethic & expectations, education etc.) all that is needed is the infusion of capital to get the wheels of commerce rolling again.

in africa, these factors are not firmly entrenched. african societies are not purely post-industrial revolutionary like the US, Europe, Japan and other economic powerhouses are. in a way, they've been force to piggyback upon the modern world without having time to allow their cultures to make the changes and compensations needed to succeed in a completely new economic paradigm.

imagine dropping a modern detroit car manufacturing plant in 17th century europe. however brilliant men of that time might be... they've never seen a computer, assembly line, power tool. they have little knowledge of shift/worker management in such an environment... they would have no appreciation for the expertise needed in maintaning the equipment. the amount of capital and prepoderance of goodwill would do little to put a dent in the problems involved with industrializing that society to the degree where they could become autonomous with such foreign methods.

while the industrialized world heads in it's own direction with increasing velocity, it leaves those without the social infrastructure for industry increasingly lagging behind. a marshall plan would be folly at this time. the money would be wasted.
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