Thursday, April 27, 2006

Email From Outer Wingnuttia: Foreigner Welfare Edition

If there's anything the wingnuts hate, it's people not like them. Especially when those people are getting money from our government. Given that one of the core tenets of "compassionate conservatism" is to be very, very conservative with one's compassion, it's really no surprise that the entire notion of foreign aid is despised and distrusted.

Anyhow...get your workgloves on and fill that wheelbarrow to the top with some fat ideological bricks (Buchanan-Dobbs Industries needs a big wall to keep those brown folks out) and punch that clock for a full shift of "Email From Outer Wingnuttia"!


This oughta upset everybody:

How they vote in the United Nations:

Below are the actual voting records of various Arabic/Islamic States which are recorded in both the US State Department and United Nations records:

Kuwait votes against the United States 67% of the time

Qatar votes against the United States 67% of the time

Morocco votes against the United States 70% of the time

United Arab Emirates votes against the U. S. 70% of the time.

Jordan votes against the United States 71% of the time.

Tunisia votes against the United States 71% of the time.

Saudi Arabia votes against the United States 73% of the time.

Yemen votes against the United States 74% of the time.

Algeria votes against the United States 74% of the time.

Oman votes against the United States 74% of the time.

Sudan votes against the United States 75% of the time.

Pakistan votes against the United States 75% of the time

Libya votes against the United States 76% of the time.

Egypt votes against the United States 79% of the time.

Lebanon votes against the United States 80% of the time.

India votes against the United States 81% of the time.

Syria votes against the United States 84% of the time.

Mauritania votes against the United States 87% of the time.

U S Foreign Aid to those that hate us:

Egypt, for example, after voting 79% of the time against the United States, still receives $2 billion annually in US Foreign Aid.

Jordan votes 71% against the United States

And receives $192,814,000 annually in US Foreign Aid.

Pakistan votes 75% against the United States

Receives $6,721,000 annually in US Foreign Aid

India votes 81% against the United States

Receives $143,699,000 annually.

Perhaps it is time to get out of the UN and give the tax savings back to the American workers who are having to skimp and sacrifice to pay the taxes (and gasoline).

First of all, it's worth noting that, for once, the wingnut author of this email actually has his/her statistics largely correct. These countries do vote against the United States often in General Assembly votes. That has as much to do with the mechanics of the United Nations and the interests of the United States as it does with the these countries' opinions of the U.S., however.

Most votes on the U.N. General Assembly are one-sided votes. The reason for this lies in the individual interests of each nation in the assembly. The United States, particularly under the Bush administration, has a very aggressive, interventionist foreign policy, which certainly ruffles some feathers overseas. For all of Bush's wide-eyed sermonizing about "freedom" and "democracy", the reality remains that most of the world sees the United States as an imperial power flexing its military might. Many of the Arab countries on the list are certainly not going to support U.N. resolutions which attempt to justify aggression from the United States. Such aggression may be in the best interests of the United States (Afghanistan, perhaps, but certainly not Iraq) but is not in the interests of the Arab nations in the region. The invasion of Iraq seriously destabilized the Middle East and gave Al-Qaida a fertile training ground to train future Islamic extremists. Perhaps in the comic book world of neo-conservative policy, removing a "bad guy" is worth destabilizing an entire geographic region. Unsurprisingly, however, the folks actually living with our wars in their backyard don't agree.

Beyond military policy, the question of economic policy arises as well. U.S. interests in Middle Eastern oil have led to some serious lapses in moral judgment, as far as our policy is concerned. Supporting repressive regimes, like the House of Saud or Saddam Hussein, in the interests (originally) of maintaining a stable oil supply has led to some ill feelings in the region. In fact, this is one area where democratization of the Middle East is likely to hurt, not help, U.S. interests. As those U.S.-backed authoritarian regimes pass away, even if the U.S. is the agent of that passing, the leaders being elected are likely to represent the resentment among the people of the Middle East towards U.S. policy there in the past 30 years. This is likely another reason the Arab regimes listed above refuse to support the U.S. in its U.N. resolutions.

One of the interesting bits of information that is not listed above is which country actually does support the U.S. in most of its issues at the U.N. One might suspect that our European allies might fall on that list; not the case, however. At best, nations such as France, Germany and even the United Kingdom generally only vote with the U.S. about half the time. The one country that does vote with the U.S. most of the time is Israel, which may go a long way to explain why the Arab countries in the region do not. Whatever one's views on the United States' relationship with Israel, it's undoubtedly true that U.S. support for Israel at the U.N. has certainly not one us many friends among Arab regimes.

The other aspect of this is the complaint about foreign aid to other nations, particularly those who, as demonstrated, do not vote in our interests in the U.N. General Assembly. This betrays both a profound lack of understanding by the author of why we divvy out foreign aid as well as an almost sociopathic view towards the welfare of other people. Of course, fear and loathing of that great "other" out there is a cornerstone of conservative ideology and Republican policy. The core need of the politics of fear and greed is an "other" to contest against. In terms of foreign policy, Arab nations in particular have become that shadowy "other", both in response to the attacks of 9/11 and due simply to a conservative American tendency towards xenophobia. That's why conservatives rant so against foreign aid: it's the deliberate support of the "other" (fear) with the tax money conservatives believe is always taken from them unfairly (greed).

As I said, this betrays a profound lack of understanding about foreign aid as a tool of statecraft. For as much as I would love to live in a world where the wealthiest nation ever conceived by man gives freely of its wealth for purely humanitarian reasons, I'm sadly forced to accept the reality that charity is just not a strong capitalist value. Americans tend to use the calculus of the market even in their giving. Most choose charities for "deserving" causes, as though any cause of hardship among our fellow humans is not deserving of relief. Thus, the primary use of foreign aid as a statecraft tool is not a humanitarian one, though it may appear that way at first blush. It's purpose is to purchase influence and good will. Lest there be any doubt that this is the case, observe what happens in nations, such as pre-invasion Iraq, where the United States had done the opposite of give foreign aid: imposing economic sanctions. In the interests of taking a political stance against certain ruling regimes, the United States (and its accomplices) often impose such sanctions, which generally have little effect on the ruling regime (Castro, anyone?) but are devastating to the citizenry. Certainly, if the United States were acting in an altruistic manner, a humanitarian manner, then discussions of sanctions, or even moreso, pre-emptive invasions, would be dismissed as morally offensive. Sadly, they are not.

The other main purpose of foreign aid is protection for the United States. Again, while many NGO's may offer humanitarian medical aid for no other purpose than being compassionate towards others, most government actors do not play in that same sandbox. Medical aid to other countries is both a purchase of good will and an attempt to protect American interests from foreign threats. Moreso than with medical aid, military aid as well. We don't give weaponry to certain nations because we like them or want them to be as trigger-happy as the United States. We do so that they may be our proxy in deterring our enemies. At the end of the day, the United States gives foreign aid to Arab countries that may not be politically allied with us because it helps foster relationships with those nations and ease the causes of terrorism. The author of the email doesn't seem to understand, as most conservatives don't, that taxes actually buy important things for Americans, like security and welfare. Conservatives can rest assured that we're not actually trying to help Arab people; we're just trying to buy them off in hopes that they don't help Al-Qaida or some other militant group bloody us again.

The moral of this story is that any attempt to classify a lack of Arab support for U.S. interests as "hatred" towards the U.S. is ridiculous. Certainly some of the regimes listed above are not friendly to the U.S., just as the U.S. is not friendly to many other regimes around the world. But this sort of wingnut emotionalizing of the issue is reminiscent of Bush's infamous "they hate us for our freedom" canard. It reflects an ignorant and emotionally immature view of the world, as well as a profoundly racist and selfish attitude towards other human beings.

I guess Bush's admonishment against being "isolationist" didn't resonate much with his wingnut followers, if this email is any indication...

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