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Thursday, May 7, 2015

International Aid (IMF & NATO)

Whether it is in the form of financial or military aid, the Western powers have played a huge role in the affairs of countries in the rest of the world since the end of WWII. Two organisations which have had a huge influence on international relationships are NATO and the IMF.

Since its creation in 1949 NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) has been involved in many countries around the globe experiencing political or militant problems. Only two of the 28 member nations (U.S. and Canada) are from outside of the EU.

NATO have two stated objectives:
Political objective - to enhance the cohesion and vitality of the Alliance through a demonstration of unity in a key area of the common defence effort. In particular, effective transatlantic arms cooperation strengthens the very axis upon which NATO rests.

Militant objective - to promote standardisation to the level of, at least, interoperability. The ability of Alliance forces in peace, crisis and war to operate in concert is the main tenet on which rests, ultimately, the effectiveness of NATO's conflict prevention and collective defence capability.

The IMF (International Monetary Fund) set up at the end of WWII in December 1945 by 29 countries (188 member nations now, Ghana one of them) offers loans to governments to help them in times of crisis. All 11 managing directors of the IMF have been European or American. Ghana and another 157 ‘minor members’ make up just 23.59% of the voting power of the IMF. In 2011 the fastest developing countries in the world, the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) issued a statement declaring that the tradition of the managing director being from the EU undermined the principal aims of the IMF. Their stated objectives are to promote international economic cooperation, international trade, employment, and exchange-rate stability, including by making financial resources available to member countries to meet balance-of-payments needs.

The IMF have been involved in loaning huge sums of money to governments of countries in crisis to ‘resolve’ debt crisis, but in several instances this has been to newly established governments put in place or promoted by the western powers after conflicts or coups.

I wanted to present some specific disputes/ nations which NATO has become involved in, the reasons why, and the outcome of their involvement as well as the part the IMF played.

A prime example of the two groups resolving a conflict and ‘aiding’ the redevelopment in the aftermath, is that of Libya, an oil rich nation in north Africa, led by Colonel Gaddafi. Garikai Chengu, a research scholar at Harvard University states that “In 1967 Colonel Gaddafi inherited one of the poorest nations in Africa; however, by the time he was assassinated, Gaddafi had turned Libya into Africa’s wealthiest nation.” Conflict in neighbouring nations of Tunisia and Egypt resulted in the rulers being overturned and Libya experiencing a full-scale revolt beginning on 17th February 2011. The unrest had spread to the nation’s capitol Tripoli by the 20th and by the 27th the National Transitional Council had been installed to administer and represent the areas of Libya that were now under rebel control. By the 10th of March France had begun to officially recognise the Council as the true representational body for the Libyan people. The proposed reason the United Nations became involved was because Gaddafi was cracking down on protesters, whilst their council for human rights was poised to adopt a report full of praise for Libya and Gaddafi’s regime. He had also voiced his intentions to create a new currency which would rival that of the euro, the British pound and US dollar, meaning the global currency market would no longer be dominated by the western powers. The currency he planned to use was called the gold dinar and he invited African and Muslim nations to unite in using the same currency.

In 2011 after the UN security council had imposed a “no-fly zone” over Libya and NATO forces began invading from the sky. NATO unleashed over 200 Tomahawk cruise missiles (each costing one million USD) and other heavy bombardment, in an attempt to destroy the Libyan infrastructure, in the process killing over 100 civilians and wounding more than 200. Western governments imposed an information blackout on media coverage of civilian casualty to prevent the realisation of the fact that the “no-fly zone” that had been imposed had not prevented loss of life.

In the same article written by Chengu he states that “NATO’s military intervention may have been a resounding success for America’s military elite and oil companies but for the ordinary Libyan, the military campaign may indeed go down in history as one of the greatest failures of the 21st century.Since NATOs involvement, Libya has been split into factions in complete opposition to one and other. There are two different governments, each with its own army, parliament and Prime Minister. Given that Libya descended into another civil war just this year and has never found any form of stability since Gaddafi’s reign, it seems impossible to conclude anything except that the benefits of the people of Libya were not at the heart of the reasons for NATO’s involvement.

The same can be said for the citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan where western intervention has left hundreds of thousands of dead women, children and men in its wake, their only crime to have been unfortunate enough to have lived where the fighting took place. The Iraqi Body Count project (IBC), claim that as many as 121,227 Iraqi civilians lost their lives between the beginning of the fighting and December 2012. Less than 5,000 U.S. Soldiers lost their lives, whilst just 179 British soldiers died.

NATO have chosen not to get involved directly in the conflict between Israel and Palestine, most recently in 2014, despite the Israeli occupation of the Gaza strip, in breach of International law, which has been met with protests from citizens of nations worldwide. Israel, which hosts one of the most modern and battle efficient armed forces on the planet, has been bombarding Palestinian civilians in the Gaza strip, in an attempt to eradicate the Hamas militants who had been using their tunnel network to attack Israel using mortars and rockets. More than 1,400 Palestinian civilians have been killed in the fighting while many of the buildings have been destroyed, any hope of rebuilding have been quashed by Israeli restrictions on cement imports, in place because they claim the cement is being used for the underground tunnel network.

King Abdullahs reign in Saudi Arabia was blighted by neglect of its citizens’ human rights and also by alleged payments from prominent members of the Saudi establishment to Islamic terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and Islamic State. Osama Bin Laden, who was born and raised in Saudi Arabia and who set up Al-Qaeda, was only banished from Saudi Arabia after he voiced his negative views of the Saudi government. Bin Laden allegedly also had correspondence with Prince Salman, now King and ruler of Saudi Arabia. In King Abdullahs reign, and that of his predecessor King Salman, there have been many noticeable instances where the human rights of the Saudi citizens have been abused. This year an online blogger, Raif Badawi, created a website for freedom of speech for Saudi citizens and was sentenced to 1,000 lashes, merely for creating the site where people could voice their opinions freely. The announcement of his punishment was met with public outcry by the international community and ironically happened at around the same time as the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France, which the Saudi government denounced.

The anti-Islamic stance demonstrated by the Western powers, only fuels ill-feeling in countries where their imperialistic involvement has left corrupt governments in power. Funding using a system of loans from the World Bank and IMF to these governments allows for misappropriation of funds and financial domination for these banking institutions, controlled mainly by the US, creating a dependency upon them.

The ‘aid’ offered by NATO, the IMF and World Bank, is more often than not, forced upon the nation where they decide it is needed, it supports the agenda of the west, often involving stabilising oil markets for trade. The loan system used by the IMF and World Bank creates a level of dependency that can’t be overcome if the government appropriating the funds misuses them, and the debt will always fall upon the people of the nation to repay by methods such as heavier taxation or cuts in public services/ institutions.
 

This is in complete contrast to the mantra groups such as International Service try to uphold: aiming to teach sustainable methods of development within local communities and empowering people at the source instead of loaning the government money and hoping the effects will be felt at the bottom of society’s pyramid structure, by the people that need it. It helps to strengthen marginalised groups by providing them with a skills and methods they can use to empower themselves within their community if they have requested it.

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