69 million page views

You have a good point, but...

Reader comment on item: How to End Terrorism:
in response to reader comment: Then explain to me this

Submitted by a Filipino liberal (Philippines), Dec 26, 2006 at 10:16

This is similar to my response to susan. It's true that some Middle East countries (not all, Jordan, both Yemens, and Oman are examples) have abundant oil reserves. And these Arab countries have benefited from this oil - the average per-capita income in countries like Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. are significantly higher than in most other developing countries, although the Mideast oil nations are still considered developing for reasons other than per-capita income. But there are still poor in the oil nations. And so what? There are poor people in First World nations too. In Europe, in Japan, and in the US especially. Being a rich country does not mean everyon in it is rich, as witness the example of the US, which is the world's richest country, yet it has proportionally more poor people in it than any other developed country.

And also, most of the oil profits probably go to corrupt governments (in collaboration with oil multinationals again) or to a few rich opputunistic Arab businessmen. This would explain why most ordinary citizens do not benefit. Even so, I don't think the people in Muslim oil nations are generally poor and ill-educated.

Now let's get to your second point, the "billions" of dollars of aid given to nations around the world by the US. This is an interesting topic, and I actually could write a thousand word response to this, but I've spoken on this topic on this forum before. While I'm grateful to Americans and Westerners who donate money and other goods to developing countries with the honest desire to help, and I'm sure there are many of these, I don't think that the US government's motives are purely to help with their official aid program (private donations and donations by charitable organizations are not included in this, and I'm sure there are some American government officials who truly believe that the US aid program was built solely to help the poor. They are wrong, but I admire their idealism and generosity.

No, I think the real reason for the aid program is to prop up friendly regimes with monetary support, and to bribe and cajole other countries into helping the US. This is all the more important and necessary now than before because US popularity is flagging all over the world, even in traditional allies, thanks to their arrogance. Here's my evidence - as of 2004, US foreign aid to Israel was much greater than that given to every country in Africa combined. Who do you think needs aid more, Israel, which is now a First World country, or a country like Ethiopia? So why would the US give more money to Israel? Because Israel is a strategic ally while Ethiopia isn't. That's the real reason for the aid.

Plus, a lot of the aid the US gives is in the form of weapons rather than money or food. Do you think brand-new F-22s, or armored personnel carriers, will help poor people in the country any? No. But it will help the country's government fight its enemies, who are likely to be the US's enemies. I could name some other examples of US aid that the US would rather not mention - aid to bin Laden and the mujahideen who would later become the Taliban in Afghanistan, because they were fighting the Soviets; aid to Saddam in the form of chemical and biological weapons, because he was fighting Iran; aid to Pol Pot's brutal Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, because they were a useful thorn in the side of the North Vietnamese. The fact that the Khmer Rouge killed millions of Cambodians didn't matter. The aid in this case was not arms, but money. The US justified the monetary aid as being for food and medicines only, but of course the US had no means of making sure the Khmer Rouge used the money only for these purposes (wouldn't it be better to donate food directly, then?) and moreover, any money donated freed up more money for the Khmer Rouge to buy weapons. The US also helped diplomatically, by helping the Khmer Rouge UN representative maintain his seat at the UN and forcing other nations to recognize the Khmer Rouge as Cambodia's legitimate government, in place of the true one (source: William Blum's "Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower")

"where the Muslim warlords hoard all the money and let the people live in destitution. "

Hey, not all African countries are led by "Muslim warlords".

"You're quick to condemn generous countries like America for being racist, greedy, and oppressive, and yet no other country has given as much to the world. Ever."

Yes, they're probably the most generous nation in the history of the world. But this isn't saying much because the idea of giving aid to the poor is relatively new (I'm pretty sure the Roman, Ottoman, Chinese empires of the past weren't doing that.) Besides, if the US gives more than any other country, that's because they're the richest country in the world. They can do that easily. You ever hear of Jesus' parable "The Widow's Mite"? In any case, their reasons are hardly altruistic.

"Perhaps you need to look at the true root of the problem...the fanaticism that prevents those Third World countries from benefitting from our generous donations. Perhaps if the Muslims focused on allowing the freedoms that produce a wealthy society instead of focusing on killing Jews, they'd have a better life."

I agree that fanaticism plays a part, however I think the real reason is the economic system. In our current world, freedom will not make everybody wealthy or even comfortable, that's capitalist claptrap. Too many people are disadvantaged right from birth, and civic freedoms alone aren't going to make them richer. (again, they can vote, but they can't eat three meals a day). What's needed is a social-security net and welfare program, run by the government, not by corporations, for corporations pursue only their own self-interest. Democracy and civic freedoms are a good thing certainly and are necessary, even; an embodiment of some of humanity's highest ideals. But they won't solve all social ills on their own. Not if some economists, who have predicted mathematically that for wealth to "trickle down" to the lower classes and become evenly distributed in the current world economy, assuming every country in the world was fully democratic and free, would take fifty years - at minimum.


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Follow Daniel Pipes

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List

All materials by Daniel Pipes on this site: © 1968-2024 Daniel Pipes. daniel.pipes@gmail.com and @DanielPipes

Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum.Daniel J. Pipes

(The MEF is a publicly supported, nonprofit organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Tax-ID 23-774-9796, approved Apr. 27, 1998.

For more information, view our IRS letter of determination.)