Thursday, June 23, 2005

Help Africa: framing the debate

Again, July 22 Globe and Mail provided me with another article to ponder over.
I have no idea who (Sir) Bob Geldof was until I until got subjected to his relentless, if not slightly sanctimonious campaign, to help Africa's poor. Sir Bob's been slamming governments, including Canada's, for not doing enough on that front etc., etc.
I used to think that the debate was between those who think large scale foreign aid would help African country to break the vicious circle of poverty and underdevelopment while other have pointed out that without reforming African societies was the key to success.
Gerald Kaplan doesn't think so (the full text of the article is available here). He dismisses the latter group rather contemptuously -
"If only Africa's leaders were more like our own." (this tool of rhetorical evasion is called "begging the question" b.t.w. - the reader is led to assume that the implied proposition is wrong by default, which of course should be a subject of debate at the very least. To put it simply, what if indeed African government were more like their Western counterparts, it might help.)

Yet, he's equally critical of the attempts to provide aid. He's raving against 'capitalist exploitation of Africa' (the last one is not a quote; I'm just summing up his argument).
Or as Kaplan puts it himself:
the deep,comprehensive responsibility of Western nations and Western financial institutions for so much of Africa's continuing underdevelopment and poverty.

I'd think this guy is a communist but no, wait for it, he's.... a UN representative in the region!!!
Always useful to know who you deal with


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