Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Social Engineering and Natural Disasters

MelbournePhilosopher

In response to : US pushes aid plan to avert terror

For me, this was a moment of self justification. Just yesterday evening I was saying that I looked at the aid being given to the Tsunami victims, and saw not only compassion, but self-interest. One should never discount the goodness of aid, but after taking a moment to look at the history of foreign aid after natural disaster, we see that the incredible international response is completely unheralded. Are our governments really suddenly realising a moral conscience, or is it more likely that there is a little cultural colonisation going on?

Seriously - wars in Africa, earthquakes and flooding in India, bridges collapsing, famine and poverty have never evoked such a response before. Humanitarian crises have traditionally been seen as Someone Else's Problem. The scale of the tsunami response is out of all scale compared to previous responses, and that has to say something.

To me, it says that the US is interested in gaining a cultural foothold overseas. This is their opportunity to help the poorest, most downtrodden people, often in Muslim areas, to show how kind-hearted, lovely, and not deserving of bombs they are. And that's more or less what this article is saying. It's a smart move. Let's face it, economically downtrodden muslim areas are where lots of terrorists are coming from at the moment. Invading their homelands didn't really seem to help much (duh), so now a little economic aid has finally been seen as the cheaper and more effective solution. It's basically a good thing, because it might actually work if sufficiently followed up. To protect ourselves, we need to remove the forces which cause our societies to be attacked, and it is better to do so through mutual advantage than through oppression. It is no less a deliberate attempt to alter world standards to conform to our own, but it is far, far better to do it by making people's lives better than through war and anger. In the face of improving the world standard of living and entering a new age of productivity, I don't think the issues of cultural change even rate a mention in the list of downsides.

-MP

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