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American Non-Security Foreign Aid: The Swamp of Misguided Good Intentions

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The United States spends approximately 42.4 billion USD per year in foreign assistance. While it is easy to point out that 42.4 billion is actually barely 1% of the overall US budget (4.15 TRILLION USD) and use that figure to try to fight conventional wisdom worry that America spends too much helping other people in other lands solve their problems while not trying to solve its own problems, the real-term reality is that 42.4 billion is A LOT of money. Anywhere. To anyone.

It might even be surprising to people to learn that of that 42.4 billion, significantly less than half (16.8 billion USD) is allotted to ‘security.’ Fully 60% of the American foreign assistance budget goes to ‘economic and development’ initiatives all over the world. These initiatives run the gamut of well-intentioned policies, from migration and refugee assistance (2.8 b) to development assistance (3 b) to economic support funds (6.1 b) to global health programs (8.6 b). At face value it is difficult to argue with the theory and philosophy of humanitarian outreach underpinning these financial allotments. But if one begins to scratch below the surface of this humanitarian outreach, layers upon layers of illogic and negligence is revealed. At the very least, the methodology for determining recipients and structures in place for financial oversight seem to be deeply troubled.

This article completely avoids analysis of American foreign aid that is security-based, largely for two reasons. First, as cited above, security-based foreign aid, while getting the wolf’s share of media attention and criticism, is actually far less compared to the more universally praised and justified economic and development funds. Second, while some might find this cynical, there is often a common ‘legal kickback’ mechanism in place with American security-based foreign aid that directly supports the American defense industry. For example, under the current agreement between the United States and Israel, the latter can choose to spend as much as 26% of its security aid on weapons and systems produced within Israel. In essence, a quarter of American aid could be utilized as a direct subsidy to build up native Israeli defense industries. A new agreement, however, comes into effect in 2019 where even that small percentage is eliminated and all American security funds have to be spent by Israel on American defense contractors. This means America has begun to shift this aid-as-defense-industry-subsidy for other countries to its own military-industrial complex. It is, ultimately, destined to be a US governmental welfare program for American defense industries. This is not highlighted so much as a criticism (although it is clear many have issues with this practice), as an acknowledgement that even when American security-based foreign aid is mishandled or used in a way that works against American objectives, it is still ultimately connected to a positive economic purpose back to the United States. The benefit might not be as large or as long-term as the aid is meant to engender, but a benefit nonetheless exists for America no matter what emerges politically and militarily on the ground in these other countries.

There is no obvious direct ‘legal kickback’ explicitly benefiting the United States when it comes to its distribution of economic development-based foreign aid. This means it is arguably more important to watch not only how much money is spent but also to whom does the money go? It is in answering this question that some serious questions and misgivings emerge. Below, the top recipients of American ‘economic and development’ foreign assistance aid were juxtaposed against the respective 2015 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index. The TI Corruption Perception Index ranks 168 countries around the world, measuring the perceived levels of public sector corruption. As TI itself says, ‘public sector corruption isn’t simply about taxpayer money going missing. Broken institutions and corrupt officials fuel inequality and exploitation – keeping wealth in the hands of the elite few and trapping many more in poverty.’ The TI index has up to now been used for evaluating internal processes within given countries, in terms of how domestic institutions and state governance properly (or improperly) represent and protect its people. What this analysis does is tie the CPI directly into the distribution of American economic development-based foreign aid. The reason for this is simple: if a country scores low in terms of public sector corruption, then it is signaling globally that its domestic institutions are structurally engineered to manipulate received foreign aid, especially if it is geared to internal economic development. Arguably, the distribution of such foreign aid should avoid countries scoring low on Transparency International’s CPI. Unfortunately, when it comes to America, the dominant force in distributing foreign aid, this common sense idea is not in play:

TOP RECIPIENTS OF AMERICAN FOREIGN AID DESIGNATED FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT and CPI rank:

  • Afghanistan – 166
  • Pakistan – 117
  • Ethiopia – 103
  • Nigeria – 136
  • Sudan – 165
  • Kenya – 139 (tied)
  • Uganda – 139 (tied)
  • Tanzania – 117 (tied)
  • Zambia – 76
  • Mozambique – 112
  • Ukraine – 130
  • Democratic Republic of Congo – 147
  • Malawi – 112
  • South Sudan – 163
  • Iraq – 161

It is beyond the scope of this brief analysis to dive into each of the 15 individual cases above. What matters is to note that the AVERAGE Corruption Perception Index ranking of the top American economic development aid recipients is 132 (out of 168). This is horrifyingly low. For those who might be tempted to argue that this makes sense because it is obviously these countries that are in the most need of foreign assistance and guidance, that argument is fatally flawed: when a reminder is given about just what the CPI truly means – structural and institutional prevalence to manipulate, misuse, and exploit opportunities for elite gain – then it is obvious that in these countries all foreign aid inevitably flows through corrupt institutions before having any opportunity to be distributed to the communities most in need. Without strict and relatively oppressive external oversight mechanisms, these monies are de facto destined to be misappropriated or simply brazenly stolen. And studies have long shown the oversight mechanisms in place for the management of American foreign aid is lacking, to be kind.

The unfortunate but unavoidable conclusion is that the majority of American foreign aid, the bulk of which is rarely questioned compared to the more controversial security-based assistance, is currently going to countries structurally engineered at the moment to simply steal it. Perhaps most troubling of all, the current global political environment is focused more prominently on military/security-oriented initiatives and operations. This means it is unlikely any near-term future will witness even an inquiry into constructing a new system for foreign assistance. But a new system is what is desperately needed if the swamp of misguided good intentions is ever going to be drained.

Dr. Matthew Crosston is Executive Vice Chairman of ModernDiplomacy.eu and chief analytical strategist of I3, a strategic intelligence consulting company. All inquiries regarding speaking engagements and consulting needs can be referred to his website: https://profmatthewcrosston.academia.edu/

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Democrats Control of the Senate

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Midterm elections are held in the United States every four years in the middle of the term of the American President, that is, two years after the presidential elections, in order to elect all members of the House of Representatives (435 members) and a third of the members of the Senate. These elections are an indication and a referendum on the performance of the American President in the first two years of his presidency.

During the elections that took place on November 8, 35 senators were elected who spent 6 years in office, in addition to 36 governors out of the 50 state governors who spent 4 years in office, 36 state governors and 27 state secretaries from a total of 50 states, besides the election of a large number of the local legislative positions, including the election of 6279 deputies out of 7383 deputies in the state legislative assemblies.

The midterm elections this year took place in an unprecedented atmosphere at various levels, as it was the first elections after the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to the death of more than a million Americans, and infected 100 million, and it is also considered the first elections to be held after supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the Congressional Building in January 2021 to prevent the official announcement of President Joe Biden’s victory, and they are known as “Elections Deniers”.

The Senate elections – in particular- are considered a political battle by all standards, in which Catherine Cortez Masto’s uneasy victory in the State of Nevada came as a lifeline for the Democratic Party, and the failure of Republicans’ plans to take control of Congress. This battle was resolved in favor of the Democratic Party in the Senate.

The US Vice President Kamala Harris – who, by virtue of her position, presides over the Senate – has the relative weight, as she broke the tie rule and tipped the balance in favor of the Democrats, who seized seat No. 50 after announcing Masto’s victory in the aforementioned seat, while the Republicans remained at seat No. 49 in the Senate which is the upper chamber of the Congress, comprises of 100 seats.

The elections also have witnessed the defeat of a quarter of the candidates supported by Donald Trump, in which some of them instigated and participated in storming the Congress. The setback was the failure of the sweep expectations as expected by Trump and the Republicans, and even Republican lawmakers, and other commentators admitted that the Republicans had failed to achieve what is known as the Red Wave sweep, in reference to the States that support the Republican Party, which are known as the red States.

Many opinion polls had indicated that the Republican Party is expected to achieve a great successes in these elections, especially in light of the inflation and high prices crisis that the American citizens suffer from, which resulted in a significant decline in the popularity of President Joe Biden in recent months.

It can be asserted that a simple majority in the Senate will give the Democratic Party the ability to approve the judges chosen by US President Joe Biden to fill positions in the district courts, circuit courts and supreme courts, and this in turn will be a fundamental step for the Democrats to win new seats on the Supreme Court that now enjoys a majority of six to three Republicans. In addition, by controlling the Senate, the Democrats can reject legislations sent by the House of Representatives, which is controlled by the Republicans, and this is a remarkable success for the Democratic Party.

The majority in the Senate also means for President Joe Biden the ability to move easily with regard to international treaties, and the negotiations that will take place with the Republicans on a broader spending package at the end of the year, an issue that will need the approval of both parties.

A number of Democratic senators will seek to raise the debt ceiling, while House Republicans will seek to use this issue as a pressure card to obtain spending cuts. However, Democrats have the ability to raise the borrowing ceiling before Congress takes the oath, if the party members remain united.

The Democrats’ control by a small majority of the Senate is considered a miscarriage of Republican plans to conduct investigations into the activities of the Biden administration and his son Hunter, who had business dealings with Ukraine and China. The Democrats will maintain control over committees and investigations, in addition to preventing any attempts by the Republicans to isolate President Joe Biden, and on top of that, Democrats can pass a limited number of controversial bills with a simple majority of votes.

It is certain that this victory will have positive repercussions for the Democratic Party and President Biden during the next two years, that is, until 2024, when new elections for Congress will be held in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, in addition to the presidency.

It was expected, before the elections, that the Democratic party would lose 25 or 30 seats in the House of Representatives, and the party would turn into a clear minority in the Senate. This result would have been seen as a public rejection of President Biden, which would increase the pressure on him in his quest to run for a second term. But in turn, and after this victory, President Biden’s position within his party has been strengthened, and his advisors are now speaking with greater confidence about his intention to run for a second term, but this definitely depends on the performance of the Biden administration at the internal and external levels, the American citizens’ feeling with an improvement in their economic conditions, and the continuation of making progress in a number of issues, foremost of which is the issue of health insurance.

On the other side, there are concerns that a divided Congress, by nature, may lead to a state of legislative stalemate, and the Republican control of the House of Representatives will be enough to eliminate any hopes for President Biden to pass a comprehensive legislative agenda over the next two years.

Nevertheless, and despite the disagreement, there is a consensus between the Republican and Democratic parties over a number of files including confrontation with China, the promotion of international trade, and the acceleration of establishing energy projects.

The elections showed the lack of centralization of external issues and the focus on internal issues, including issues of protecting democracy and freedom of abortion, which is what the Democratic Party bet on and succeeded in.  In addition, the performance of the Democrats reinforced confidence in President Biden’s agenda and his presence at home and on the international stage.  In contrast, the failure of many pro-Trump candidates to win the elections is a painful blow to his movement, which puts Trump’s political future at stake, especially in light of his announcement to run for the upcoming 2024 presidential elections.

The elections were also evidence of the American citizen’s awareness and support for democracy despite the economic conditions, international instability, and the Biden administration’s preoccupation with several international files.

What happened in the elections was a victory for American democracy and emphasis on its strength, its ability to overcome challenges, and a correction for the compass of the American political system, which was distorted by Trump.

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Should there be any censorship? (NO -NONE!)

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Conservatives say yes, there should be censorship, because otherwise what they feel is repulsive can become spread: they fear its spread and are convinced that censorship (by people who believe as they do) must be imposed. That’s NOT democracy.

Liberals agree with conservatives on this question, though they want different people to be doing the censoring, because some of their beliefs are different from conservatives’ beliefs. (Anyone who thinks that liberals — Democrats in the U.S. — aren’t ardent for censoring, should explain how that can be so, since overwhelmingly the political money donated by executives and other employees of the gossip-grapevine, Twitter, has gone to Democrats, and those employees decided to censor-out from their site the damning evidence against the Biden family — Joe, Hunter, and James — that the Republican Party’s N.Y. Post had published on 15 October 2020 under the headline “Emails reveal how Hunter Biden tried to cash in big on behalf of family with Chinese firm”. (Maybe Trump would have won that election if this report of the Biden family’s corruptness had been spread and discussed instead of squelched as ‘Russian disinformation’, as was done.) Then, the Democratic Party’s Politico ‘news’-site headlined on 19 October 2020, “Hunter Biden story is Russian disinfo, dozens of former intel officials say” and buried two-thirds of the way down the key passage (which had been in the top third of the document), in these Deep-State operatives’ letter, the passage which included the fact “that we do not know if the emails [from Hunter Biden’s laptop computer], provided to the New York Post by President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, are genuine or not and that we do not have evidence of Russian involvement.” The signers said there that they were signing ONLY to having “suspicions” that this had happened — but Politico suppressed that most crucial of all the allegations in the document. Also: Glenn Greenwald was forced out of the Democratic Party billionaire Pierre Omidyar’s “The Intercept” ‘news’-site on 29 October 2020 for submitting a news-report titled “THE REAL SCANDAL: U.S. MEDIA USES FALSEHOODS TO DEFEND JOE BIDEN FROM HUNTER’S EMAILS”. And, furthermore, the Democratic Party’s Washington Post headlined on 1 November 2020 the lie that “For Russia, Biden is the foe they know. The Kremlin is studying old playbooks.” As Greenwald subsequently pointed out, “Twitter’s ‘foreign govt hacking’ pretext for censoring was a lie, and they knew it.”) So, regarding censorship, conservatives and liberals are effectively the same but protect different lies and liars. The two groups believe and protect two different, competing, myths. That’s NOT a democracy. It’s rule by billionaires (who control those politicians and media), NOT by the public.

Libertarians say no, because anything that limits a person’s freedom is condemned by them on principle — they even are sometimes called “anarchists” because no principled line (no clear distinction) exists separating libertarians from anarchists (persons who oppose ALL government). HOWEVER, libertarians (even self-declared anarchists) disagree with one-another about whether the private sector, including corporations (such as Twitter), have a right to censor: some say yes, it’s part of their (the private sector’s) freedom; but some say no, no entity has a right to censor, because that limits another person’s freedom. Some say that ONLY parents have a right to censor what their children receive. CONSEQUENTLY: Libertarians don’t ACTUALLY have any clear and principle-based position, for or against censorship. Libertarianism provides no answer to this question — other than the myth that they are committed to everyone’s “freedom.” Libertarianism is a nullity, a nothing, on censorship: neither for it nor against it. It allows rule by billionaires (whose agents fool the public), and no democracy would.

Progressives say no: Nothing can possibly justify censorship of anything, except of demonstrable (provable) falsehoods. This means that, if a court of law cannot reasonably disprove an allegation, then the public must be able to consider the evidence both for and against it. Neither the Government nor any other entity has a right to prevent the public from considering and debating any allegation. A progressive is devoted to science, and science is based upon this same principle — ANY possible truth must be considered by the public. (A provably false statement cannot possibly be true.) Progressives can differ with one-another in allocating criminal versus civil liability for the spreading of allegations that are provably false; but, they are united in opposing ANY liability for the spreading of truths. The ONLY exception to this is that if the nation is legally at war and under “martial law,” then its Government has a right to censor, (or “classify”) allegations in order to protect the nation’s sovereignty against the legally declared “enemy.” That is the ONLY exception to the progressives’ principle that NO possibly true statement should EVER be censored by ANYONE. Progressivism — the ideology of science — advocates clearly for democracy, NOT for any aristocracy.

Here’s how the ideology of science functions — and why it needs to be applied in order for Government to serve the public’s interest instead of merely some fake ‘national interest’: On 2 August 2022, the pro-science magazine Current Affairs headlined “Why the Chair of the Lancet’s COVID-19 Commission Thinks The US Government Is Preventing a Real Investigation Into the Pandemic” and interviewed Jeffrey Sachs, who explained:

So you saw a narrative being created. And the scientists are not acting like scientists. Because when you’re acting like a scientist, you’re pursuing alternative hypotheses. And the scientists just wrote recently an op-ed saying the only evidence that this came out of a lab that’s been put forward is that it came in a city, Wuhan, where an institute was located. Well, that’s a lie. That is not the only coincidence that leads to this theory [He should have said “hypothesis” there]. What leads to this alternative hypothesis is the detailed research program the NIH funded that was underway in the years leading up to the outbreak. So I see the scientists absolutely trying to create a narrative and take our eyes off of another issue.

That’s the politicization of science, the corruption of science. Sachs documented their obfuscations and evasions — the censorship that has been occurring, which has been preventing the necessary research to identify how the covid-19 virus was created.

That’s a typical scientific example.

Glenn Greenwald is a progressive, and his position regarding the twitter censorship scandal that the billionaire Elon Musk released to the public on December 3rd after buying twitter corporation and firing its censors, said that “The sleazy, pro-censorship pack of liberal employees of media corporations united last night to attack @mtaibbi — as they do to any journalist who breaks a real story about real power centers — and, because they were so desperate to discredit it, showed what they are.” What they are, in America, is NOT democrats: The “Democrats” aren’t any more democratic than America’s Republicans (conservatives) are.

On 8 May 2022, I headlined and called public attention to “A crushingly powerful legal case against censorship has now been presented.” Linking to and quoting from the court-ducument, it seems to me to be an open-and-shut case for a decision against “the Biden Administration’s open and explicit censorship programs. Having threatened and cajoled social-media platforms for years to censor viewpoints and speakers disfavored by the Left [referring obliquely there to the Democratic Party], senior government officials in the Executive Branch have moved into a phase of open collusion with social-media companies to suppress disfavored speakers, viewpoints, and content on social-media platforms.”

On 3 December 2022, former President Trump disqualified himself from any further political consideration by patriotic Americans, by his advocating to terminate the U.S. Constitution if necessary in order to declare himself to have won the 2020 election. CNN and other mainstream ‘news’-sources that don’t link to their primary sources, because they don’t want their readers to be able easily to see and inspect for themselves what they actually say — what the actual evidence is — refused to link to Trump’s actual statement, but instead linked to anything else. For example, the Washington Post headlined about Trump’s statement, “White House rebukes Trump’s suggestion to suspend Constitution over 2020 election” (an intentionally indirect headline, which refused even to call attention to the fact that the former President was now urging cancellation of the U.S. Constitution, such as would a headline like “Trump Urges Termination of U.S. Constitution”). Their ‘news-report’ provided no link to Trump’s statement, which it supposedly was about. Lots of people pay subscriptions to read such trashy ‘news’-reporting. Anyway, here was Trump’s full and actual statement:

https://truthsocial.com/@realDonaldTrump/posts/109449803240069864

https://archive.ph/G8lqx

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

So, with the revelation of MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION in working closely with Big Tech Companies, the DNC, & the Democrat Party, do you throw the Presidential Election Results of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION? A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. Our great “Founders” did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!

Dec 03, 2022, 12:44 PM

He thinks that his being declared the 2020 winner is more important to America than America’s Constitution is.

Without the Constitution to serve as a basis for the nation’s laws, the ONLY available basis for the Government is dictatorship: even the possibility of a democracy no longer then exists. Trump is so petty that, in his view, restoring him to the White House is more important than his country having even a possibility of becoming a democracy. Unless the American people are complete idiots, Trump has now lost any possibility he might have had to return to the White House — or to any other political post. His statement there is the most outrageous and anti-democratic that any former U.S. Government official has ever publicly made. It should not be censored (including refusing to link to it); it should be widely debated in America’s public square. Perhaps America’s billionaires feel nervous about making the public aware of just how deepseated dictatorship now is in this country. It’s merely their banana republic, now. In fact, it not only is NOT now a democracy but instead a dictatorship — an aristocracy instead of a democracy — but it is even a police state.

America’s billionaires control their Government, and if they terminated their censorship instead of perverting or eliminating the U.S. Constitution as their agents have been and are doing, then it would no longer be their country — it would become, again, ours. That would terrify them, all the more so as we have been along this global-imperialist path, the MIC (military-industrial complex), now, ever since it became imposed, on 25 July 1945. And the farther that goes, the closer a second American revolution will become, but this time to remove from power not Britain’s aristocracy, but America’s own.

That’s why we have censorship in America. There is no other reason. There is no actual national-security reason, nor any other. It’s all a fraud. They need to protect and spread their lies (especially against ‘enemy nations’). It is now so deep that it cannot be exposed as it actually is, without producing a revolution — not Constitution-change, but regime-change, back to what (prior to 1945) was a Constitutional democratic republic. Ending the empire is the only way back to becoming, again, the Constitutional democracy that preceded 25 July 1945 in America. It is the only way to end the censorship, and the dictatorship, by and on behalf of the aristocracy — the Deep State.

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John D. and Henry: A Marriage of Convenience

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After oil had been discovered in Pennsylvania in 1859, a canny businessman realized its potential and began buying up the oil fields.  John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil eventually owned almost all until trust busters broke up his Standard Oil Trust.

Meanwhile a clever inventor was interested in bringing the automobile, heretofore a rich man’s toy, to the common man.  So it was that Henry Ford’s production line showed the world how it could be done.  Of course, the automobile of the day, coughing and sputtering, might have had a similar effect on the people but it brought independent transportation and its convenience to the middle class.  And John D. Rockefeller’s oil fueled it.

Between John D. and Henry and others like them in Europe and elsewhere, our poor planet became a warming greenhouse as the gases generated by these cars, and industrialization in general, rose to the atmosphere — the effects of which few if any had foreseen then.     

People in the early days were to invent steam cars and electric cars also but the convenience of refueling at John D.’s gasoline stations left them trailing in the dust of Henry Ford’s now lovingly named Tin Lizzie.

The Second World War saw the use of oil and its derivatives in cars, trucks, airplanes, ships and just about anything that could move.  Oil became a strategic commodity defended and fought for — without oil, armies came to a standstill.  Romania fueled the axis powers and thus became a target for the allies.  The war in North Africa became a struggle for control of the Suez Canal and access to oil from the Middle East.  The British controlled it; the Germans failed to wrest it. 

If John D. (1939) and Henry (1947) had passed away, their companies were thriving, enriched further by the demands of war.  Europe might be in shreds but America was whole and ready to supply its needs.

It was a time of peace, and America to Europeans was a land of milk and honey.  Hard work was behind it though, and nothing displayed the rewards of this toil than an automobile in the driveway — the flashier the better.  As Americans became richer, the cars became more luxurious and more convenient to drive:  automatic transmission, power-assisted brakes and steering, windows moving up and down at the touch of a button, as could the soft top on convertibles and so on. 

The huge cars birthed a new name:  gas guzzler.  Both Detroit producing the cars and the oil companies supplying the fuel became richer.  Greenhouse gases increased and could only go one way … up … coining new expressions like global warming.  Greenhouse is apt, for the sun’s rays come through but the heat generated cannot escape as easily as it would without the gas shield.      

Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, focusing on the use of pesticides and the subsequent harm to the environment, brought environmental damage to the attention of the world.  It did not take long to draw scrutiny also to vehicles blowing greenhouse gases out of the exhaust pipe.  The love affair with the automobile was coming to an end. 

But in a society built around it, reducing usage will take a while for the auto has become a necessity. 

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