“Aid” and the Political Scramble: India vs China in the Nepal Disaster-Capitalist Rush

[Frontlines:  Defensive about the appearance of an “aid” scramble in Nepal for power, influence and control, former Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Zhang Chunxiang said, “We do not have competition with India and other countries. There is no competition in humanitarian assistance.” But, not to miss an opportunity….]

“In post-quake aid rush, Nepal neighbors jockey for position”

Nepalese volunteers unload relief material brought in an Indian air force helicopter for victims of Saturday’s earthquake at Trishuli Bazar in Nepal, Monday, April 27, 2015. Wedged between the two rising Asian powers of China and India, landlocked Nepal saw rescuers and offers of help pour from both sides within hours of its massive earthquake. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Nepalese volunteers unload relief material brought in an Indian air force helicopter for victims of Saturday’s earthquake at Trishuli Bazar in Nepal, Monday, April 27, 2015.  (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri) The Associated Press

Wedged between the two rising Asian powers of China and India, landlocked Nepal watched rescuers and offers of help pour in from both sides within hours of an earthquake that killed more than 4,000 people.

India, the traditional power in the region, launched Operation Friendship soon after the quake Saturday. It has sent the most help so far, deploying 13 aircraft and more than 500 rescuers as well as water, food, equipment and medical supplies.

China, increasingly making inroads in Nepal through everything from infrastructure investment to increased tourism, also pledged all-out assistance within hours of the disaster. It has sent 62 rescuers plus blankets, tents and generators and announced plans to send four planes and an additional 170 soldiers.

India’s rival, Pakistan, also has sent four cargo planes full of supplies, including concrete cutters and sniffer dogs.

The largesse of recent days is a microcosm of something much larger. It represents a subtle brand of disaster politics, a curious but understandable focus on strategically located Nepal, one of the poorest nations in its region but — clearly — a pocket of regional importance for powerful neighbors jockeying for position.

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Haitian Lessons to Warn Nepalese: Beware Disaster Capitalists in Humanitarian Clothes

[As the horrifying death toll continues to fise to many thousands, amid the collapse of much of the home, business, and cultural structures in Nepal — the result of milleniums of colonial domination, oppression, and plunder — the enormous need for international rescue and reconstruction is a plaintive appeal to the good intentions of people everywhere.  But the aid will come with many conditions by the powers who bear gifts.  It is instructive to study the experience of the “aid” and “recovery” of Haiti from the devastating earthquake of 2010.  The US turned Haitian earthquake aid into neo-colonial, militarized occupation.  The struggles of people to control their own recovery has been an ongoing fight in Haiti, and now in Nepal.  The following except from a chapter in the important new book Good Intentions: Norms and Practices of Humanitarian Imperialism makes this Haitian experience hauntingly present in the streets of Kathmandu today.  —  Frontlines ed.]

US Imperialism and Disaster Capitalism in Haiti 

Keir Forgie, from Maximilian Forte’s new book: Good Intentions: Norms and Practices of Humanitarian Imperialism
 At 4:53 PM, on Monday, January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake shocked Port-au-Prince, Haiti. It was the most devastating earthquake the country had experienced in over 200 years, with estimated infrastructure damage between $8 and $14 billion (Donlon, 2012, p. vii; Farmer, 2011, p. 54). This is particularly astounding considering that Haiti is recognized as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with 70% of individuals surviving on less than $2 US per day (Farmer, 2011, p. 60). The quake’s epicentre was located 15 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, which is the most heavily populated area in all of Haiti (Donlon, 2012, p. vii). Approximately three million Haitians, one third of the country’s population, live in Port-au-Prince and every single individual was affected by the disaster: the Haitian government reported 230,000 deaths, 300,600 injured persons, and between 1.2 to 2 million displaced people (Donlon, 2012, p. vii). The country presented a “blank slate,” with all manner of political, economic, and social services in absolute ruin—an ideal circumstance to exercise the arms of the new (US) imperialism: notably, NGOs, the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), the militarization of humanitarian aid, and disaster capitalism.
US hegemonic globalization is the current world order—it is the new imperialism. The breadth of US influence across the globe in terms of politics, economics, and military are unparalleled across history, affording the nation the means to orchestrate geopolitics in its favor through coercion, masked by rhetorical altruism (Moselle, 2008, pp. 1, 8). However, the US is currently challenged by a state of economic decline and shifting international relations. In an effort to maintain its dominant position, the US must implement a number of novel strategies. As such, the “new imperialism” is distinguished by certain contemporary characteristics: notably, war in the pursuit of dwindling natural resources, the militarization of the social sciences, war corporatism, the romanticization of imperialism, and as a central focus to this paper, the framing of military interventions as “humanitarian,” legitimized through rhetoric of freedom, democracy, and the right to intervene. In truth, the militarization of humanitarian aid serves to facilitate the imposition of neoliberal economic policies through the exploitation of weakened states—a
strategy known as “disaster capitalism”.

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Pakistan: US-CIA Intelligence and Special Ops in “medical-humanitarian” disguise

[Once again, the results of a deceptive “humanitarian” cover for a military operation.  After finding the wolf in sheep’s clothing, all sheep become suspect, and are avoided. — Frontlines ed.]

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CIA’s vaccine ruse in Pakistan carries fallout

The phony campaign was aimed at helping find and kill Osama bin Laden, but the doctor involved now faces treason charges, and real immunization workers say Pakistanis don’t trust them.

October 07, 2011|By Alex Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Islamabad, Pakistan — A phony vaccination campaign orchestrated by the CIA to help find and kill Osama bin Laden is undercutting Western-backed immunization drives against polio and other diseases, and now has the Pakistani doctor involved in the program possibly facing treason charges.

A Pakistani government commission investigating the U.S. raid that killed Bin Laden in May recommended late Thursday that treason charges be filed against Dr. Shakeel Afridi, who helped carry out the fake vaccination effort designed to obtain DNA evidence from the Al Qaeda leader’s sprawling compound in Abbottabad.

If Afridi is charged and convicted, he could face the death penalty. U.S. officials have been seeking the doctor’s release since his arrest in May by Pakistani intelligence agents and have defended the ruse, arguing that extraordinary measures were needed to track down the world’s most wanted terrorist. Continue reading

Mercenaries, AFRICOM, and the “Dogs of War”

Africa’s new breed of ‘dogs of war’

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, May 17 (UPI) — A new generation of soldiers of fortune, successors to the “Dogs of War” who fought in the Congo, Angola and other post-colonial wars, is operating across Africa, except today they’re known as Private Military and Security Companies.

While the modern breed is more likely involved in logistics than combat, they are still armed civilians operating for profit and aren’t recognized soldiers under the Geneva Conventions.

Peter Singer of the Brookings Institution said some of the PMSCs are operating at the “tip of the spear” in Africa and are directly descended from their mercenary forebears.

One catalyst for the mercenaries’ re-emergence in their latest incarnation appears to be the U.S. Africa Command. Continue reading

US aid to Central Asian regimes: Behind the Mask of “Humanitarian Imperialism”

Inter Press Service, October 19, 2010

US Military Aid Far Outpaces Democracy Assistance

Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON – Desperate to secure supply routes to Afghanistan, the United States has been spending at least six times more on military aid for the mostly authoritarian states of Central Asia than on efforts to promote political liberalization and human rights in the region, according to a new report released here by the Open Society Foundations (OSF).

The 45-page report found that the full extent of military aid controlled by the Pentagon and the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and channeled through a bewildering variety of programs is uncertain, but that it is at least three times greater than the State Department’s military aid programs which are subject to human rights and other conditions.

“Nobody really knows how much military aid the U.S. government is giving the Central Asian states,” according to Lora Lumpe, the author of the report, ‘U.S. Military Aid to Central Asia 1999-2009: Security Priorities Trump Human Rights and Diplomacy‘. Continue reading

Rebranding Neo-Colonialism in Africa: “We’re only here to help Africa”

A Change To Believe In?

[This article from the German press traces many of the historic features of the imperialist relationship with Africa.  It also claims that neo-colonialism, like its colonial prequel, is on the way out.  But readers may see that while the packaging of imperialism is again changing, its interests have not.   “A luta continua!” – “the struggle continues!” – “amandla awetu!” – “power to the people!” –ed.]

DW-WORLD.DE,  26.09.2010

Africa’s neocolonial era ending as US and France seek new partnerships

For generations, Africa’s fate lay in the hands of self-interested foreign powers. Today, the US and France promise a fresh approach to the continent that puts Africans in charge of their own security and development.

During the post-World War II period, the world’s major powers championed African independence in word, but undermined it in deed. As the Cold War broadened, the two superpowers manipulated the continent’s liberation movements for their own political ends.

Meanwhile, former imperial powers such as France pushed a hidden agenda that turned newly independent colonies into de-facto protectorates. Although African independence existed on paper, in reality the continent’s fate was still decided in foreign capitals.

 

The interests of imperialism have not changed

The consequences of this neocolonialism are far reaching. In a continent politically engineered by foreigners, national borders often are not worth the map they are drawn on. Many African states, designed in the mind of a European, cannot maintain legitimacy before competing indigenous interests. Some have become failed states in which government authority often does not reach beyond the capital city.

This instability has bred transnational crime and terrorism that jeopardize global security. The US and France have responded by initiating a strategy that seeks to stabilize the continent by strengthening African institutions instead of undermining them. In the 21st century, African unity – not division – serves the interests of world powers.

Drift into chaos

As the Soviet Union careened toward collapse, the governing principle of US policy in Africa became obsolete. Washington no longer needed to cultivate African allies to contain Moscow’s influence on the continent. As a result, the US began to refocus its involvement on humanitarian assistance.

But a policy driven by humanitarianism proved unsustainable after the botched Somalia intervention in 1993, in which 18 US soldiers died. Washington pulled back and remained aloof from African affairs even as genocide gripped Rwanda.

“After the Cold War you could say Africa was basically very low and this was strongly reflected by the management by the Clinton Administration,” Roland Marchal, an expert on Sub-Saharan Africa with the Center for International Studies and Research at SciencesPo Paris, told Deutsche Welle. “For the European Union the situation was never like that because of the colonial past.” Continue reading