The arguments posited by eolbo and sailor as not-so-subtle indictments of American “selfishness” and European “enlightened generosity” are inadequate, not to mention intellectually lazy.
First, as Bouncer, Bricker, and Adaher point out, eolbo and sailor don’t take into account a) private donations by American (or European)citizens, b) aid given in the form of American military assistance, or c) aid given amongst member EU countries.
Furthermore, folks like Eolbo and sailor smugly conclude that non-American countries and multilateral institutions “do more” to “help” nations and peoples in need than America based on these “per-capita” aid statistics.
To which I call bullshit. Countries that throw food, medicine, and other humanitarian aid at problems often make a bad situation worse.
My cousin worked for an NGO in Somalia. He arrived as a bright-eyed idealist determined to get food to starving children right around the time when America tried to use the Marines to feed starving Somalis. My cousin left a year and a half later, much more cynical, but much wiser.
According to my cousin, there was never a shortage of food in Somalia. Food aid poured in from all over Europe and America. Barely a trickle of it actually made it to those unfortunates the food was intended to feed.
As the movie Black Hawk Down depicted, the food shipments would be met at the port by heavily armed thugs loyal to one of the loathesome warlords. These thugs would confiscate the food and use it as a weapon of war to starve out their clan rivals. Because of various rules of engagement imposed by nameless, faceless UN bureaucracies, the confiscation of food was rarely challenged by those whose mission was to feed starving Somalis. The NGOs, armed only with good intentions (but not with guns or training to impose these good intentions), were helpless to deal with the situation.
Also, because everybody had guns, stealing food was a huge problem. My cousin said that because everybody (except those who were starving) had guns, the only way to deal with the stealing problem was to flood the country with so much food that it became too cheap to steal. Of course, flooding the country with so much food made the food grown by Somali farmers worthless.
What’s that saying? “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
Yes, it’s entirely accurate to point out, as eolbo and sailor have, that European public foreign aid budgets are a higher percentage of the EU countries’ GNP than America’s.
And it’s just as accurate to retort, “Yes, European governments indeed do more to sustain the rule of warlords who use food as a weapon of war than the American government.”
Eolbo and sailor might be right regarding their “per-capita” statistics “proving” European “generosity.” but what does that really mean? Is the much-touted aid really doing what it should? Would you be so quick to tout this wonderful foreign aid if you understood that it perpetuates a dismal status quo more often than not?
Or is touting this public foreign aid just an easy way to pretend Europeans are morally superior to those fatcat, self-centered Americans? :dubious: