Foreign aid is now targeted at countries willing to sell off their assets to big business

On the edge of lunacy.
British foreign aid is now targeted at countries willing to sell off their assets to big business

Aid has always been an instrument of foreign policy. During the cold war, it was used to buy the loyalties of states that might otherwise have crossed to the other side. Even today, the countries that receive the most money tend to be those that are of greatest strategic use to the donor nation, which is why the US gives more to Israel than it does to sub-Saharan Africa.
But foreign policy is also driven by commerce, and in particular by the needs of domestic exporters. Aid goes to countries that can buy our manufacturers’ products. Sometimes it doesn’t go to countries at all, but straight to the manufacturers. A US government website boasts that “the principal beneficiary of America’s foreign assistance programs has always been the United States. Close to 80% of the US Agency for International Development’s contracts and grants go directly to American firms.”
What we see here, in other words, is a revival of an ancient British charitable tradition. During the Irish potato famine, the British government made famine relief available to the starving, but only if they agreed to lose their tenancies on the land. The 1847 Poor Law Extension Act cleared Ireland for the landlords. Today, the British government is helping the corporations to seize not only the land from the poor, but also the water, the utilities, the mines, the schools, the health services and anything else they might find profitable. And you and I are paying for it.


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