Aid: The Magical Weapon to Restructure Societies
Over more than half a century, the American methods of domination over our Arab and Muslim world have divided into two types of power: the first is the direct military power – or the hard power – and the second is the soft power, ranging from words, music and films to economic aid in its various forms.
Having forged a strategic alliance with Israel, the USA has always tended to deal with our nation according to this dichotomy. Following the invasion of Iraq in April 2003, it has become difficult to distinguish between what is a ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ power; both strategies have fused into one dominated by its ugly ‘hard’ face. The invasion has united the tools of the US domination to serve the American interests.
Economic aid – the bigger danger
Perhaps foreign financing of governments and civil organisations – through economic aid – gives an example of the unification between what is military (hard) and civil (soft). Economic aid has become a weapon no less dangerous than bombs and tanks, for the influence of this ‘weapon’ has moved from subordinating the national economy to foreign ones to using the civil organisations as tools to fragment united societies into smaller states and conflicting sects and ethnicities. In fact, the weapon of economic aid has been utilised as a back-up for the destructive firearms.
Reflecting upon and introducing some world examples may explain to us the significance of what is taking place in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt – Arab countries where American aid is used for political objectives known even by common people. The example we are going to study is the collapse of Warsaw Pact after the fall of its great leader, the Soviet Union. The USA used economic aid as a weapon to infiltrate into and restructure societies, leading to the collapse of the Pact. Then, Washington worked on dismantling some of the central governments inside this Pact, using its conventional, false weapon: the spread of democracy.
Yugoslavia was the first obstacle in front of the American expansion, so it was a target of the American strategy based on economic aid. And indeed in 1999, Yugoslavia started disintegrating into conflicting small states.
The document that made the plot
We have a document, dated the 16 December, 1998 – a few months before the collapse of united Yugoslavia in 1999. This document provides an important example of the use of foreign financing of civil society organisations in order to disintegrate united societies under fake slogans of democracy, reform and human rights.
The document is entitled “Propagating Democracy in Yugoslavia: Basic Elements of Financial Support”. It recommends that the USA increases its support of democracy in Yugoslavia from US$15m to US$35m in order to find alternatives for the oppressive regime in Belgrade. American and European NGOs must be encouraged to be present in Yugoslavia, and the US Government should encourage Yugoslavian citizens to increasingly participate in regional programs. Hence, effort must be focused on developing a new generation of leaders respecting political pluralism, liberating the economy, the rule of law, and tolerance.
According to the document, America also has to lead its allies with a strong irrevocable policy aiming at establishing a democratic Serbian state (note, not a Yugoslavian state, for it is a fragmentation project).
Where has the promised Eden of democracy gone?
Indeed, a short time after the issue of the previously mentioned document, Yugoslavia was divided into conflicting small states and ethnicities, and we did not see the promised Eden of American democracy; we only saw conflict between brothers and neighbours, exactly as is the case in Iraq now. A historically united country, Iraq has gradually moved to deadly sectarianism where there are no winners or losers – all are losers. And the same applies also to the majority of the Arab countries.
Let us now consider with detail how the weapon of foreign aid to a government or civil society organisations is used to realise political interests of America and Israel. A few days ago, Egyptian economic and political experts considered the approval of Congress to extend American aid to Egypt – estimated at US$1.8bn this year – a new indication that cutting aid to Egypt harms the USA more than Egypt because of the big gains it reaps from it. Also the continuation of the aid policy proves that the USA has abandoned the idea of imposing democracy on Egypt and some other Arab countries seeing that elections showed that hastened reforms bring in the Islamist trend that Washington fears to threaten its interests.
In the context of the polemics about the renewal of the yearly aid among parliamentarians, politicians and economists argue that Egypt no longer benefits from the aid in a tangible way, especially from their economic side that diminished from US$851bn in 1975 to only US$495bn this year. In fact, Egypt demanded a reduction by 5% every year, equivalent to US$40m. In addition, the overall purchasing power of this amount of money has become very low, for it can only buy 20% of what Egypt could buy with it in 1982.
Moreover, the documents available confirm that 70% of the economic aid benefits the Americans, in that over 2,000 small and medium-sized American companies take advantage of the aid in selling their products with exaggerated prices, in addition to the fact that more than 200 other American companies carry out these projects and supervise them with high fees and salaries for consultants.
Apart from this, an important 4-page study issued by the Bureau of Government Spending Audit confirms that aid to Egypt helps promote the US strategic objectives in the Middle East. Media sources have published a summary of this report that focused on the military aid since it represents the major part of the total American aid. It clarifies that the most important US interest is that Egypt allows the US warplanes to use its airspace: in the period between 2001 and 2005, 36,553 US warplanes crossed the Egyptian airspace. Also, Egypt gave quick permission and provided necessary protection for 861 American warships to cross the Suez Channel in the same period.
The report also shows how American military aid to Egypt is spent in purchasing military equipment in great numbers. According to the report, the USA gave Egypt about US$7.3bn between 1999 and 2005 within the framework of the foreign military aid, and Egypt spent about half the amount to buy heavy military equipment, mostly from Washington.
Although the report focused on the direct services rendered by Egypt to the USA, it did not tackle other issues discussed by The Bush Administration’s officials in parliamentary debates. These issues relate to Egypt’s important role in supporting US regional interests such as its role in Palestine, Iraq, Darfur, and even the Iranian nuclear crisis.
As is already known, American aid to Egypt is old, going back to King Farouq’s days, but it used to be interrupted because of the Nasserite policies then resumed until it became regular in Sadat’s era. And now it represents 57% of the overall international aid, whether from the EU, Japan and other countries. However, America is the first beneficiary from this aid whether politically, militarily or economically. Indeed, it is a strategic weapon in Washington’s hands in order to achieve its own and Israel’s purposes.
What to be done?
Faced with this clearly dangerous weapon, it is worth asking: What should be done? In my opinion, we should start by following national policies to get rid of the yoke of political dependency to the USA in relation to the Arab-Israeli conflict, on the one hand, and the criminal occupation of Iraq, on the other. Political liberation is the natural preface for economic liberation, especially if it is complemented by real attempt to build a national economy free from the shackles of foreign aid. Such aid, in fact, benefits only its provider and a group of the ruling elite accustomed to seek personal advantages at the expense of the nation.
The so-called civil society organisations, claiming to defend democracy and human rights, have to get rid of the crime of foreign aid, since it hinders their role as civil organisations which are supposed to be mainly loyal to, and funded by, society. Foreign funding imposes on these organisations – whether they like it or not – its own political agenda because it does not pay money for the sake of their eyes. The payer of the aid aims at “Balkanising” our Arab nation and then reconstructing it according to his interests. Foreign funding seeks to make these non-governmental organisations and the activists within them corrupt to turn them into mere servers of foreign agendas and interests.
Correcting this defect starts with disclosing the risks by uncovering the documents and presenting them to the Arab and Muslim public, the very thing we have tried to do in this article.zopinionz