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September 18, 2003
The Future of the World

There are places in the world someone who was actually, you know, compassionate, could have spread a little USofA aid and comfort.

War on Terror Detracts from Civilian Plight - Oxfam

Terrorism Shifts Attention From Civilians in Conflicts Oxfam

The international community's focus terrorism has led donors to lavish aid on countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, while neglecting the plight of civilians caught up in less strategic conflicts such as Liberia and Burundi, Oxfam said on Tuesday.

It said in a report titled "Beyond the Headlines: an agenda to protect civilians in neglected conflicts," that the focus on international terrorism and weapons of mass destruction since the suicide attacks on New York on 11 September 2001 had left civilians trapped in the world's forgotten conflicts more vulnerable than before.

Oxfam said rebels and governments alike had been terrifying civilians for years in too many civil wars. For decades these had caused much more death and destruction than terrorism.

Oxfam complained that international humanitarian law was inadequately enforced by the international community in most of the world's 42 conflicts and the suffering of civilians continued unabated.

Just for the record, this isn't really "new." The international community's ability/willingness to help the world's poorer countries has frequently expressed itself more in rhetoric than rights.

The problem, as I see it from the peanut gallery, is that no one has ever put any long-term thinking into these problems.

We overthrow a dictator and turn our backs and a worse one is in power a year later. (Or we support one, because we think he's better than the guy in the neighboring country, then we have to go in five or ten or twenty years later and clean up the mess we've caused. Why doesn't our government stop doing that? But that's a different rant.)

We send over a few thousand tons of food, then change the channel and miss the news that the famine goes on. We shake our heads and talk about deep drilling technology, but that doesn't get water to a drought-stricken country.

We need to go past treating the symptoms and really start dealing with the diseases.

And the cure, it may surprise you to know, isn't necessarily democracy.

But more about that later, in my next book review.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:05 AM