Aid is Aid, not a Bribe
by Alys Mumford
Now normally I manage to resist the urge to rise to a Daily Mail article I disagree with. But for this one:
‘Well that’s gratitude! We give India £1bm in aid, THEY snub the UK and give France a £13bn jet contact’
I’ve made an exception.
The article refers to a contract awarded by the Indian government to the French firm Dassault Rafale to provide 126 military jets to the Indian air force, over British firm BAE systems. This is seen to be an affront given that Britain’s aid package to India is 15 times larger that that of France. The contract was given to France ‘despite Government claims that the UK’s £1billion aid package to India would help secure the order’.
It has always been known that ‘aid’ is often understood by governments to be payment for favourable trade terms, a supportive vote in the UN, or money expressly to be used to hire foreign firms, but it is not normally put quite so clearly (by press or government). The outrage is almost refreshing.
The reason cited for the decision to buy the jets from France is one of cost – and this seems to be what has put a few noses out of joint. We give India money, they should spend it on buying our planes, regardless of cost, quality or suitability, the logic goes. This has happened countless times througout the past decades – Indonesia’s Suharto using British loans to buy weapons to persecute thousands of Indonesian civilians is the classic example.
Aid is aid; to give money expecting a lucrative arms deal to come out of it as a result is bribery, plain and simple.
To be fair, at least the Daily Mail is honest. I value it for this reason.
Addressing the problems with UK aid are difficult. I discuss some ideas in my blog.
Aid money is forcibly taken from poor people in rich countries, and given to rich people in poor countries. I can’t remember who said that, but it’s true. That’s the problem with the government’s large-scale foreign aid. I prefer smaller-scale voluntary aid like remittances, church-to-church, and community-supported charities with direct oversight and specific accomplishments.
I have to say I read the Daily Mail article with a small smile on my face. Never before have I seen it so obvious that aid was never meant to feed the hungry or enrich the poor but to ensure that money flows back to the West in arms deals.
Aid is for the rich – for the rich middlemen of impoverished countries to siphon off, the rich businessmen of impoverished countries to make money out of through contracts through the West, and for the rich countries to ensure a market for goods which do fuck all for the good of humanity, but which destroy things that people need, ensuring that replacements must be bought, keeping the wonderful trade system going.
Aid is a scam. Designed to alleviate need, instead it creates it.