Strong opinions, weakly held

The problem of “rogue aid”

Countries like China and Venezuela are offering foreign aid to other countries with no strings attached in hopes of buying influence. Moisés Naím describes the practice in a New York Times op-ed:

In recent years, wealthy nondemocratic regimes have begun to undermine development policy through their own activist aid programs. Call it rogue aid. It is development assistance that is nondemocratic in origin and nontransparent in practice, and its effect is typically to stifle real progress while hurting ordinary citizens.

China is actively backing such deals throughout Africa; its financing of roads, electrical plants, ports and the like boomed from $700 million in 2003 to nearly $3 billion for each of the past two years. Indeed, it is a worldwide strategy. Beijing has agreed to expand Indonesia’s electrical grid in a matter of months. Too bad the deal calls for building several plants that use a highly polluting, coal-based Chinese technology. No international agency would have signed off on such an environmentally unfriendly deal.

1 Comment

  1. Wow. That Op-Ed is some serious weapons-grade bullshit that basically ignores the last 10 years of history.

    The World Bank is notorious for leaving a trail of corruption, enviromental damage, and crushing debt in it’s wake. And now it’s run by Paul Wolfowitz.

    Their MO has been to lend money to countries with corrupt dictators who then pocket their share. The rest goes to Western companies and the people get saddled with the debt. Social programs get cut to pay off the loans which go back to the bank with interest.

    But beyond that, the entire premise of the article is ridiculous. More sources of capital for developing countries is a good thing. It is a bad thing for any single country or group to have a monopoly over capital.

    It’s hard to believe this was written with the intent that it would be taken seriously. It takes monster balls to praise the World Bank in one paragraph and then go on to say, “Rogue aid providers couldn’t care less about the long-term well-being of the population of the countries they aid.”

    It’s almost like he’s willfully ignorant of even the most basic set of facts about the World Bank. But how could someone who “…is currently one of six members of Time magazine’s board of international economists and is also the Chairman of the Group of Fifty, an organization of the CEOs of Latin America’s largest corporations.” not know about the colossal damage the Bank has inflicted on people in developing countries?

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