Daily Archives: 26 June 2005

Assessing Corruption in Nigeria

Nigerian expat Abiola of Foreign Dispatches notes a report in the Telegraph of 25 June 2005 about the extent of corruption in Nigeria.

Here’s why scepticism over the world-changing impact of yet more aid and debt forgiveness is thoroughly justified.

The scale of the task facing Tony Blair in his drive to help Africa was laid bare yesterday when it emerged that Nigeria’s past rulers stole or misused £220 billion.

That is as much as all the western aid given to Africa in almost four decades. The looting of Africa’s most populous country amounted to a sum equivalent to 300 years of British aid for the continent….

The stolen fortune tallies almost exactly with the £220 billion of western aid given to Africa between 1960 and 1997. That amounted to six times the American help given to post-war Europe under the Marshall Plan.

I can’t close this post without including the following excerpt, which goes to show that lots of sensible Nigerians understand all too well something a lot of foreign know-it-alls seem incapable of grasping.

The G8 has refused to cancel Nigeria’s loans, despite writing off the debts of 14 other African countries this month.

Prof Pat Utomi, of Lagos Business School, said that was the right decision. “Who is to say you won’t see the same behaviour again if it is all written off?” he said.

A lively discussion ensues in the comments to Abiola’s blogpost.

Colby Cosh has a related post that quotes John Lennon at some length:

Lennon Where do people get off saying the Beatles should give $200,000,000 to South America? You know, America has poured billions into places like that. It doesn’t mean a damn thing. After they’ve eaten that meal, then what? It lasts for only a day. After the $200,000,000 is gone, then what? It goes round and round in circles. You can pour money in forever. After Peru, then Harlem, then Britain. There is no one concert. We would have to dedicate the rest of our lives to one world concert tour, and I’m not ready for it. Not in this lifetime, anyway.

And Black Star Journal links to a new BBC World Service documentary on The Aid Trap:

In the run-up to July’s G8 summit Britain is calling for the world’s richest nations to treble the amount of development aid. But is Aid really a solution to the causes of poverty?

Many economists challenge the idea that aid offers an escape to the poverty trap. Some say it may even create a trap of dependency and corruption all its own. We visit the two poorest countries in the World, according to the United Nations, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

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Peacekeeping Conditions Delta and Echo

Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures is divided into sections, each descending into a lower level of hell, from the shining idealism of Condition Alpha in 1990 to the total burnout of Condition Echo in 1998. Here are the introductions to Condition Delta and Condition Echo. The interior echoes of psychological collapse in Condition Delta don’t lend themselves to easy excerpting, and I just can’t bring myself to quote any of the representative passages from Condition Echo, where the peacekeepers themselves are brutal enough, while the young crackhead rebels are as close to diabolical as humans can get.

Bosnia, Rwanda, Haiti, 1994-96

Yugoslavia. At the end of the Cold War, Bosnia, home to Muslims, Serbs, and Croats, ignited. Bosnian Serb forces conducted a campaign of systematic expulsions, rapes, and executions, “ethnically cleansing” Muslims from their midst. UN peacekeepers were on the ground and NATO patrolled the skies, but fearing robust use of air power would endanger UN forces, the international community refused to act. The UN Security Council declared Sarajevo and four other towns in Bosnia “safe areas” for Muslim civilians fleeing Serb paramilitary attacks. In July 1995, Dutch UN peacekeepers watched as Serb forces overran the safe haven of Srebrenica. Serbs executed eight thousand civilian men and boys and bulldozed them into unmarked graves. Passive on the ground, the UN instead became aggressive in court, creating an International Criminal Tribunal–the first since Nuremberg after World War II–to prosecute war crimes throughout the former Yugoslavia.

Rwanda. Throughout the early nineties, Rwandan Tutsi rebels from the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) conducted a series of attacks against the Hutu-dominated Rwandan government from rebel bases along the northern border. On April 6, 1994, one week after U.S. forces withdrew from Somalia, a plane carrying the president of Rwanda was shot down over Kigali and massacres of Tutsis and moderate Hutus began within half an hour. UN peacekeepers withdrew while a radical Hutu militia, the interahamwe, engaged in an orgy of killing over ninety days at a rate three times that of the Holocaust. In the meantime the RPF broke out of Uganda, defeated the Rwandan Army, as well as the interahamwe, and occupied the country. But they were too late to save most Tutsis, and when it was over, 800,000 had been slaughtered. Having failed to intervene in genocide on the ground for the second time in two years, the UN again chose to prosecute it in court instead, creating the second war crimes tribunal since Nuremberg.

Haiti. In September 1994 the U.S. finally sent twenty thousand troops to Haiti in Operation Uphold Democracy, and in October Jean-Bertrand Aristide returned from Washington, reclaiming his presidency. Among the American Troops, twelve hundred U.S. Special Operations Forces operated out of twenty-seven towns and cities to maintain order and suppress paramilitary groups’ antidemocratic activity in the run up to parliamentary elections in the summer of 1995.

Somalia. On March 28, 1994, the U.S. withdrew the last troops of Operation Restore Hope from Mogadishu. The UN stayed on but slowly began to dismantle its sprawling presence.

Bosnia, Haiti, and Liberia, 1996-1998

ECOMOG: Liberia is a beautiful country on the West Coast of Africa founded by freed slaves. Bereft of its U.S. patron at the end of the Cold War, it descended into a civil war characterized by total state collapse and a relentless campaign of sadistic, wanton violence. State authority was consigned to marauding rebels, many still in their teens. Still chastened from Somalia, Clinton and the UN refused to commit troops to Liberia. So peacekeeping responsibility was relegated to an African force not under UN command, known as the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG), led by the regional superpower, Nigeria, and including small contingents from West African countries such as Ghana.

SOURCE: Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures: A True Story from Hell on Earth, by Kenneth Cain, Heidi Postlewait, and Andrew Thomson (Miramax Books, 2004), pp. 195-196, 247

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