Be sure to read reflections on the politics of aid in Africa You let her into the house? by Lara Pawson, following Ethan's post Scavenger hunts, ugly Americans, and other options June 6, 2005.
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G8 and African Poverty
See Geoffrey Roberts' post at The Monjo Blog on G8 and African Poverty - excerpt:
"Yes free-trade would be nice, but first we need free people, living in free democracies, with defined property rights, accountable police and judiciaries, and efficient, low, taxation. Debt cancellation or relief, plus foreign aid and economic investment should be done on basic conditions for governance."- - -
Genocide under our noses: What to do about Darfur?
Note this copy of an insightful comment, left by Nate (a 27 year old high school teacher in San Francisco, California) at a post by Michael Stickings entitled Genocide under our noses: What to do about Darfur? featuring a piece by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times:
"I empathize with your moral outrage, but we can't change human nature. We are at root selfish creatures, and attempts to "rewire" humans to be more communitarian and altruistic have been responsible for the worst crimes against humanity. (See Stalin and Mao)
There is a legitimate case to made that we (Americans) should do something now in Darfur. We should set a standard that we, as the police force of the world, will not tolerate genocide. But we should only do this out of self-interest: a stable Sudan is better for us than a chaotic, violent Sudan. Setting a precedent that we won't allow such an atrocity to happen would also be beneficial for us.
However, in my view, any appeal to international justice, while well-intentioned, is to be disregarded. Only by acting out of enlightened self-interest do we further the cause of a more just, humane world.
There will be no perfect solutions in Darfur. It is still a Hobbesian world, in which a grim cost-benefit analysis is the best model to solve complex conflict.
I would caution anyone, myself included, who wishes to do something about Darfur to rely on the so-called "moral" dimension. Do we also have a moral obligation to save the rainforest from destruction? End the rampant trade of sex slaves in Eastern Europe? End the awful oppression in numerous dictator states? End the horrific poverty in shantytowns across India, Brazil, etc?
No. We do what we can, when we can, and we do our best when acting our of mutual self-interest with our cause. Some causes deserve more attention, and they must be chosen based on our ability to act effectively. We act most effectively when our own self-interest is at stake.
So let us formulate a case of intervention in Darfur that allows for Hobbes to co-exist with our own sense of morality. I think this approach will bear more fruit."