Money raised for Africa 'goes to civil wars' - U2 Feedback

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Old 05-14-2008, 01:47 AM   #1
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Money raised for Africa 'goes to civil wars'

Not sure how much of this is true, but it's disturbing...

New Zealand Herald: Money raised for Africa 'goes to civil wars'
5:00AM Wednesday May 14, 2008
By Linda Herrick

Billions of dollars raised for African famine relief by celebrities
Bono and Bob Geldof have instead funded civil war across the
continent, says terrorism expert Dr Loretta Napoleoni.

London-based Napoleoni, in Auckland to appear at the Writers & Readers
Festival, has written two books, Terror Inc: Tracing the Money Behind
Global Terrorism and Insurgent Iraq: Al-Zarqawi and the New
Generation, on the economics of terrorism.

Her latest book, Rogue Economics, studies the destabilising effect of
economic globalisation, focusing in part on why more than half a
trillion dollars worth of aid sent to Africa since the 1960s failed to
reach the intended destination - developing the nations' economies.

That huge amount of aid, which includes money from the United Nations
and donations generated by Live Aid for Ethiopia, organised by Geldof,
and the Live 8 concert in 2005, organised by Bono, has instead "served
as a rogue force, notably as an important form of terrorist financing"
in countries such as Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and
Kenya. Ethiopia, for example, received $1.8 billion in foreign aid
between 1982-85, including a large contribution from Live Aid; $1.6
billion of that, she points out, was spent on buying military equipment.

"The money has ended up making Africa poorer and more violent because
the money has been diverted towards warlords, weapons and armed
invasions," she says. "The problem of Africa is corruption."

Napoleoni says there are parallels with Burma in the aftermath of the
cyclone as aid organisations appeal for donations. "What is happening
in Burma is a good example. You can have the best intentions but
getting the money to the people in need is very hard because you have
to go through the bureaucracy. The problem is the governance. You also
need expertise. What the international relief organisations are saying
is, you should send people from our team who know exactly what to do
in these circumstances. "

The cult of celebrity means that people who are famous for nothing
more than being pop or movie stars speak out on issues they don't
fully understand. "People like Bono and Bob Geldof are not ill-
intentioned, " she says. "But the simple fact that being a celebrity
puts you in a position above everybody else is unacceptable.

"These people don't realise they are being manipulated by politicians
and others. That is the case in the relationship between Bono and
[American economist] Jeffrey Sachs, who is among the people who caused
the chaos of the transition of the former communist countries into
free-market economics. Sachs has been trying to relaunch himself as a
sort of economist celebrity so he has been linking himself to Bono.

"Bono is repeating what he has been told about Africa. I am sure Bono
hasn't got a clue about economics."

Napoleoni, who knows Geldof as a neighbour in the London suburb of
Battersea, says he told her the first Live Aid was the "worse
experience of his life because he found it very difficult to control
where the money went. He suddenly realised it's easy to put famous
musicians together to make money but to bring the money to the people
in need is another matter."

Napoleoni adds that there is a certain amount of hypocrisy among stars
linked to good causes. Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Bono and the other
members of U2 were last year outed as tax-evaders for diverting their
funds to the Netherlands, circumventing their democratic
responsibilities to their home country of Ireland.

And Brad Pitt, Napoleoni points out, may drive a hybrid car, but he
and Angelina Jolie use a private jet. Their trip to Namibia a couple
of years ago, she notes, burned up enough fuel to take Pitt's hybrid
all the way to the moon.

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Old 05-14-2008, 02:12 AM   #2
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While some of this may be true, based on the governments of those areas, it looks more to me like the author of the article is trying to draw attention to themselves, and disagrees with the concept of aid on a phylosopical level.

Nobody has all the answers in this world, but the ones that are willing to step up and try something are the ones that can potentially make a difference.

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Old 05-14-2008, 02:39 AM   #3
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Being critical about these issues is absolutely legitimate and important, but this article is badly researched, full of assumptions and lacking facts, and based on the author's obvious dislike of celebrities in general and Bono in particular.
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Old 05-14-2008, 07:59 AM   #4
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There is a large school of economic thought from both Western and African economists that says that aid does more harm than good because of the incentives it creates for corruption, dependence, and other bad policies. This school of thought is basically on the complete opposite end of the spectrum from Jeffrey Sachs, the pop economist who advises Bono and thinks aid can end poverty by 2015. Disdain for celebrities aside, there is some really legitimate scholarship on that side of the spectrum. And then there's middle ground that examines the problems with aid and other economic traps that are holding Africa back, and looks critically at ways to solve or get around these traps. If you're interested, check out Paul Collier's book "The Bottom Billion" which is really easy to read and discusses obstacles to development such as civil wars, resources, and regional issues, and examines how aid and other things might address these issues.

As someone who's spent undergrad studying economic development and Africa, I disagree with Jeff Sachs, though I think he is totally well intentioned. Similarly, I disagree with some of the routes Bono takes on this, but again, I think he is completely well intentioned, so power to him. Also, Bono is selectively self-educated (he sought out Sachs as opposed to going to school and studying a variety of perspectives - and I'm glad he didn't do that as then he wouldn't have been making music!). So you can acknowledge that Bono, Sachs, and others are well intentioned but may still do harm overall with what they advocate, or you could argue that the publicity Bono et. al. bring to the cause is worth it. I'm not really sure what I think of this part of the debate, and it's also impossible for me to be detached and critical on this topic as I love U2 and Bono.
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Old 05-14-2008, 08:51 PM   #5
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The problem with this article is that it is criticizing a situation which is already long since passed. I'm not saying that corruption is gone of course, but what the article is really talking about: campaigners' obliviousness to it. All of these prominent campaigners would be the first ones to tell you how big a problem corruption is to international development. Trust me, these guys know what corrupt politicians are. What they are saying is that there are ways to get around these problems, and even to fight corruption in the process. For example, investing only in countries which consistently prove transparent and democratic (but being truly committed to them) is a great incentive for other countries to demand better government systems. Also, the donor governments today are very aware of corruption, and thus execute these investments with great care. Recipient countries go through a rigorous application process to get into the programs, and must continue to prove transparency and proper spending to keep receiving money. Money is also channelled directly into accounts which may only be used for specific purposes (education, health care, infrastructure, etc.). Cash flows are closely monitered and tangible developments from the money must be shown on the ground. Plus, as a matter of principle, we must take this approach as a method to fight corruption, because simply ignoring is not going to damn thing to change it. Improving the conditions of people there is the only way corruption can be fought as well, as it's fairly difficult for people to get involved in the democratic process and keep the government accountable when they're busy thinking about whether or not they will eat tomorrow. Jeffrey Sachs has written extensively on this subject; he may be an optimist, but he is still incredibly perceptive. And Bono has said on numerous occasions that corruption is the #1 issue in Africa, even before HIV/AIDS. It's really not that they don't understand corruption -- it's that in this new era of aid, there are ways of getting past it and they're being used.
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Old 05-15-2008, 10:33 AM   #6
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Hopefully none of the monies raised goes to any war.

But, I think that Bono has done his homework and knows what charities work and which ones don't. Bono is not going to "indorse" the murder of anyone. He has been to Africa enough times to see the progress that is being made and lives being saved.
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Old 05-15-2008, 02:13 PM   #7
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The other point that needs to be made is that there is plenty of corrupt government in the first world as well as the 3rd world, the US and many other first world nations funnel money into countries and keep wars going because they have nothing more then a monitary reason for being there.

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