Talking to Bad Regimes

Meryl Yourish complains that the EU might go back to sending development aid to Palestine, whose elected government belongs to a violent, fundamentalist political party.

[Link] 450 million in aid to the Palestinians in 2007. According to the organization, the fundraising campaign is the largest ever in the Palestinian Authority and the third largest in the world.

UN officials told a Jerusalem press conference that about three-quarters of the money being requested is earmarked for job creation, cash assistance and food aid, said David Shearer, head of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The UN is also asking for money to support the Palestinians’ health and education system.

According to the UN, 65 percent of Palestinians were living in poverty and 29 percent were unemployed. The Palestinian health care system is running out of medicine and on the verge of collapse, and nearly 50 percent of Palestinians do not have reliable access to food.

I understand the sentiment behind hardliners’ not wanting to send any development aid to the Palestinians until they elect a more moderate government. People want to say, “See? I don’t support sending money to terrorists.” It makes them feel righteous.

And it also makes sure that the government will only become more extreme. If you don’t believe me, place “US cuts off all aid to the Sandinistas” and “the Sandinistas ally themselves with the Soviet Union” along a timeline. The former happened first – the Sandinistas were perfectly content to be non-aligned until they needed the Soviet Union to survive. Ho Chi Minh was pro-American, until the US refused to back his independence movement on the grounds that he was a communist and France was an American ally.

I think it was in The Clash of Civilizations that I read about how Islamist charities attracted followers by being the first to distribute aid after every natural disaster. They don’t have sanctimonious rules about not helping areas with secular or pro-American governments; they make equal efforts in Egypt and Iran.

When you have no other means of getting people behind you, you have to be pragmatic about economic development. In contrast, the United States has a military capable of bombing people into submission, so it’s never developed a workable method of economic development since the Marshall Plan (which, incidentally, was offered to all European countries, including the USSR; the communist ones just refused). This is why it plays with idiotic ideas like letting the other side monopolize charity, and then acts surprised when the entire world hates it – except, incidentally, the few countries it has thrown massive amounts of money at, like Israel.

Honestly, I have no idea how come the EU is more pragmatic than the US. Traditionally, Europe is even more sanctimonious about everything than the United States. I suppose it could be that it’s more experienced in realpolitik, but that wouldn’t explain Tony Blair. Alternatively, it could be serendipitous: the United States’ foreign policy is so thoroughly disastrous that it’s possible to get decent results by doing the opposite of what it does.

3 Responses to Talking to Bad Regimes

  1. SLC says:

    Talking to bad regimes is not necessarily bad if there is something to talk about. Unfortunately, given the current leadership in the Fakistinian Authority, there is nothing to talk about (see below).

    Palestinian leadership adamant: We will not recognize Israel
    By Associated Press December 8, 2006

    Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh vowed on Friday that his Hamas-led government will never recognize Israel and will continue to fight for the liberation of Jerusalem.

    “The world arrogance (U.S.) and Zionists … want us to recognize the usurpation of the Palestinian lands and stop jihad and resistance and accept the agreements reached with the Zionist enemies in the past,” Haniyeh told thousands prayer worshippers in a speech at Tehran University.

    “I’m insisting from this podium that these issues won’t materialize. We will never recognize the usurper Zionist government and will continue our jihad-like movement until the liberation of” Jerusalem, he said.

  2. Kristjan Wager says:

    Traditionally, Europe is even more sanctimonious about everything than the United States.

    In what sense?

  3. Alon Levy says:

    In the sense that the European sense of superiority seems to be even bigger than the American sense.

    On the other hand, Europe doesn’t have the hypocritical attitude that “We don’t do realpolitik – when we bomb random countries, it’s because it’s the right thing to do.”

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