U.S. led Somalia to devastation'

Richard Becker speaks to Press TV on the U.S. role in spreading poverty and hunger in Africa.

Press TV: There was a consensus reached at the EU in terms of how much aid they should be giving, this was back in 2008 at the height of the global financial crisis, and they made a pledge of one billion euros to developing countries. There have also been other pledges by world powers. Why isn't this translating to anything on the ground because we're not looking at any improvement especially with what is occurring in the Horn of Africa, which is the focal point of where the need is?

Richard Becker: Time after time, both in regard to the EU and to the US, the pledges of aid are not borne out by the delivery of the aid. This has been the case in Haiti; it's been in numerous countries in Africa. There are the conferences that take place where the grand proclamations are made, but the mainstream media in general do not follow up on what actually happens.

I would like to point out that the shortfall of the World Food Program's 477 million dollar budget was equaled by the first two days of just the US war in Libya. The entire budget of the World Food Program what it needs to feed these millions of people who are suffering horrifically -- that 477 million dollars -- equals about one day and a half of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

And I think there's another aspect of this, too. How did Somalia come to be in the situation that it is today? More than thirty years ago, the US pulled the last stable national government that Somalia had, headed by Mohamed Siad Barre, into an alliance to make war against Ethiopia.

The purpose of this war was not only to bring down Ethiopia and the government in Ethiopia at the time, but it was part of the US strategy, the global strategy, of fighting against what it perceived as allies of the Soviet Union. As soon as the Soviet Union ceased to exist in 1991 and even a little bit before that as it was disintegrating, the US government's interest in Somalia evaporated. And it left Somalia in an absolutely devastated state.

The contribution of the US geopolitics to the crisis that exists today in Somalia is traceable to that period that was reinforced by the staged intervention in 1992 and early 1993 that was rehearsed several times over -- the humanitarian intervention idea to sustain the Pentagon -- and it has been sustained by the US intervention both directly and by having Ethiopia then intervene in Somalia to prevent a resolution of the civil war. This aspect of it cannot be overstated.

Press TV: When we talk about a conceptual approach, you have people starving, let's get money to them… What is the disconnect there? I know I'm making it sound very general... Of course, there's politics and agencies involved and challenges in ways of getting the food to the people, but there are people dying. Why can't there be a way to save these people in a quicker way?

Richard Becker: Well, there has to be. There has to be an emergency immediate aid. I completely agree with that. I would say another problem though with the food aid that comes in, in the times when there is not a crisis or when the crisis is receding, as happened in Somalia in the mid 1990s, was that it proved to be a disincentive to grow when the drought ended because it was undercutting the price for farmers.

So, this whole conceptual way of approaching development reliant on NGOs and this kind of intervention… I would agree it often proves to create more problems than it solves.

I want to respond to your point about RTP (the Right to Protect). The RTP argument is a new form of justification for imperialist intervention and it is used very very selectively as you were suggesting. The Right to Protect, as in the case of Libya, the bombing of Libya that's now been going on for 114 days and it has hit many many civilian areas, that is to protect civilians is a very good example of how the RTP is selectively used to justify this kind of military intervention while at the same time there seems to be no RTP initiative or desire on the part of the same officials who are making the argument about Libya, when it comes to people starving by the millions in the Horn of Africa.


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