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Old 01-31-2002, 03:16 AM   #46
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Originally posted by STING2:

Oh and the deaths of Afgan civilians in bombing were accidents just like incidents where US soldiers were killed by other US soldiers were friendly fire, although I know of know friendly fire incidents in Afghanistan. The US military does everything in its power to prevent civilian losses and incidents of friendly fire. Combat aircraft often would come back to base with their bomb loads still on the plane because the target they were after had been moved into an area that may have caused massive civilian causualties.
'Friendly fire' - isn't that a term referring to someone being hit by a person who is fighting on the same 'side' as them? The citizens of Afghanistan were most certainly not dropping bombs on their own villages so it's very misleading to compare the deaths of Afghan citizens to deaths in the US military from 'friendly fire'.

Also, STING2, considering that hundreds of people in Afghanistan have been killed by the small bombs dropped from US warplanes which didn't explode and then remained on the ground like landmines, do you think it would be appropriate for the US to offer to clear the affected areas of landmines in order to prevent further civilian deaths?
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Old 01-31-2002, 03:53 AM   #47
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U2Bama:

Actually "sv's level" is quite simple: compassion and justice for all human beings, especially for innocent civilians; basic human rights for EVERYONE; and application of the principles embodied in the Bill of Rights to everyone. If you keep stooping for a while longer, then "I hope some day you'll join us . . . and the world will live as one". I officially attribute that one to Lennon.

Speedracer:

1. Actually I was being quite sincere, although as a side issue I did think you used the word "disingenuous" beautifully.

2. A GREAT EXAMPLE: U2Bama's last post did not "attribute" any statement to me. His post simply expressed HIS (not valid) fears of what consequences might result if my suggestions for handling the detainee situation were used. IN THE EXACT SAME FASHION, my comment "so we should have just shot O.J. without a trial, U2Bama?" expressed my fears of what consequences might result when (as I believe he was suggesting based on many of his posts) we abolish the right to fair trials for selected defendants (O.J. or for the detainees). In no way did I attribute any quote to him, or put any words in his mouth.

3. Your comment that "In general, if you get Bama pissed off at you on a personal level, you've done something wrong" is absolutely ridiculous. First, I wasn't aware that Bama knew me well enough to be pissed on a personal level - if he is, that's a shame. Second, I disagree that Bama's opinion is the gold standard of morality (no one person's opinion is).

4. Speedracer, there's a HUGE difference between being "complicit" in a crime and being "associated" (even willingly associated) with the criminals. If one is complicit, one shares in the guilt, and there's some justification for arguing that one should also share in the punishment. But as you have noted, some people in this forum base their argument that Afghani civilian casualties are acceptable upon their "association" with Al-Queda or the Taliban (not complicity). There's no justification for arguing that one can be punished for being "associated", especially in this unwilling manner (i.e. they invaded my country so I'm now associated with them and I can be punished when they commit crimes).

5. I'm glad you equate American casualties with Afghani casualites.


AchtungBubba:

I don't know how you meant that last post, but the fact that the UN did not recognize the Taliban should NOT be relevant to whether Afghani citizens, Taliban soldiers, or even Al-Queda members are entitled to basic human rights and a fair trial.
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Old 01-31-2002, 05:41 AM   #48
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Friendly fire deaths of US soldiers and the deaths of Afghan civilians are the same thing, accidents. They were unintended and for the most part are rare incedents compared to previous wars. If older technology was used, hundreds of thousands of Afghans might have been causaulties.
The USA has the most sophisticated equipment for mine and unexploded ordanance removal. This has been done in Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait and currently Afghanistan. But the uneploded bombs dropped by the USA are only a fraction of the mines that were laid by various factions in the civil wars that preceded this conflict and the Soviet invasion and occupation of the country.
Mines and new unexploded ordanance on the ground are just as much a threat to US military troops as they are to Afghan civilians which is why they are going after these things to take them out before they cause casualties. But the place was already littered with this stuff before 9/11 and it will take years to remove every last bit.
My explanation of the Geneva Convention comes directly from Don Rumsfield who explained it to an unknowing reporter today on national TV! No one in worldwide media has come forward to say, "er Mr. Secretary nothing in the Geneva Convention states this". So you probably do not have the full documents.
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Old 01-31-2002, 06:59 AM   #49
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Originally posted by STING2:
My explanation of the Geneva Convention comes directly from Don Rumsfield who explained it to an unknowing reporter today on national TV! No one in worldwide media has come forward to say, "er Mr. Secretary nothing in the Geneva Convention states this". So you probably do not have the full documents.
Well in addition to the copy I read, I've found several sites with the text of the Geneva Convention online and none of them make any mention of 'lawful' or 'unlawful' combatants. Here are just three of those sites:
http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lawofwar/geneva03.htm
http://www.asociety.com/geneva2.htm
http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/instree/y3gctpw.htm


Maybe if you're so convinced there is such a distinction, you could find some evidence of it.
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Old 01-31-2002, 09:27 AM   #50
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From what I've found, "unlawful combatant" is not a term used by the Geneva Convention. Apparently, it is a term used (by Rumsfeld and many others) to describe someone who doesn't fit the Convention's criteria to qualify as a prisoner of war. Thus, the argument between FizzWhizz and STING2 seems only to be a matter of semantics. The Geneva Convention lays out clear guidelines for who qualifies as a POW, thereby making an obvious distinction between those eligible and those not. Call them "lawful combatants" and "unlawful combatants", or call them "persons that meet the criteria of Article IV of the Geneva Convention" and "persons that don't meet the criteria of Article IV of the Geneva Convention", it doesn't really matter. There is a clear distinction either way.
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Old 01-31-2002, 06:02 PM   #51
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SV,
I'm not really sure where to begin but I'll start with something simple which is the decrease in Civilian deaths due to USA bombing from World War II to the present.
There is a simple reason for this. In World War II precision bombs and munitions did not exist and would take nearly a 1,000 bombs from the air to take out a small group of tanks or other target on average. Obviously, with 999 misses, many things were destroyed which were not intended. Civilian losses were very high. In the Vietnam War, which my Father was involved in for a year, the average was about 100 strikes to destroy a single target. In the Gulf War it was about two airstrikes to destroy a target from the air. This has led to a huge decrease in the number of civilians killed by US bombing in conflicts since World War II. Currently large numbers of targets can and have been taken out in large urban centers with out the loss of civilians. When losses occur, they are relatively small compared to the amount damage done to the military targets.
There is a huge difference between intending to kill civilians which is the goal of Al-quada with 9/11 and accidents. The US military does not intend to kill any civilians anywhere on the planet! Explain to me what political/military objective could be served by doing so?
Your annalogy of beating up a man does not fit. If it did you could also say the same thing about friendly fire! That is insane. The US military has not made an attempt to bomb and kill civilians, only legitmate military targets. In this process though, accidents occur, and despite improvements in technology sometimes targets are missed and civilian losses are incurred.
The US military does everything in its power to avoid these accidents as I have mentioned before. Their efforts are often frustrated by enemies such as the Taliban who hide their tanks and other vehicles in Schools and hospitals because they know we won't attempt to bomb there.
Business leaders do not elect the president of the USA, the people do. You can talk all you want to about money and what not but at the end of the day its the people.
You understand and know very little about the US military, and oh, my Father and his friends used to be some of these so called "elites" that you talk about.
You also have your numbers wrong as far as civilian deaths due to american action since World War II. It does not even come close to Stalin or Hitler primarily for one reason. Those leaders chose to murder many of the people they killed for their sick and twisted reasons. In the US case, when civilians have been killed it has been accidents or if lower rank and file soldiers decided to break the law and kill civilians which is against US military law! In any event these numbers which would come mainly from the Korean War and Vietnam War pale in comparison to what happened with Stalin in Hitler. That is just insane that you attempt to draw a comparison.
The USA is justified in taking military action in Afghanistan or anywhere else when regional or global security is in danger. It is the right of self defense, and a court hearing is not required for one to defend themselves from the actions of others. Even when it requires the use of what could be deadly force. Most people I know even a few that might have different political views understand that!
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Old 01-31-2002, 06:24 PM   #52
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SV,
Another thing, you obviously know little about what the US military has done over the years in providing humanitarian relief and security and saving lives! In addition to winning conflicts with a minimum of loss to both sides, the US military takes in the wounded from the otherside and treats them as their own. The civilains of Bosnia and Kosovo have a very different view of the US military than you do SV for obvious reasons.
Oh and as far as the US government is concerned, no other government has spent more money in the 20th century to help people overseas in humanitarian ways than the US government. Look up the Marshall Plan in your history book.
Another thing, my Father, his friends, and my friends serving in the military and everyone serving in the US military are NOT professional killers, but people with honor who have and are making incredible sacrifices to ensure JUSTICE and SECURITY around the world in which they will SAVE and uncountable number of lives!
I have a friend who has just recently come back from Afghanistan as I said before. The men and women in are military are intelligent and are there to do the right thing and they are not zombies believing some twisted form of propaganda. This is a delusional fantasy on your part!
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Old 01-31-2002, 06:30 PM   #53
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Thanks for clearing that up Spiral_Staircase!
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Old 02-01-2002, 03:13 AM   #54
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U2Bama, I am not sorry to see the Taliban go either. But I maintain that your error is in confusing two distinct groups of people: 1) arrested persons BEFORE they have been PROVEN guilty in a FAIR court of law with proper legal representation; and 2) persons who have been ALREADY proven guilty in a fair trial. For crimes such as murder, the punishment should indeed be severe for those proven guilty. But those persons in Group 1 (the detainees) are INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY, not the other way around. If the U.S. can't prove their guilt in a fair trial in which both sides have proper legal representation, they should release these prisoners right away, with their deepest apologies (at least). THAT'S justice.

And I agree that murder is murder, whether it's for religion's sake, or to protect one's business/oil interests in a country. The perpetrators should be held responsible, in this world, NOW.

U2Bama, clearly you don't think we should have just shot OJ - you have made that clear. However, that's the kind of thing that eventually results when we selectively abolish safeguards such as fair trials. Can you clarify your views on just what you would have changed about the OJ trial to prevent its suboptimal outcome?

STING2, I made NO assumptions about U.S. military wrongdoing in my post above. Look at the post - the term "could be" is used in every statement. But the point is that regardless of who is doing the accusing (Mother Teresa, Hitler, U.S. military, my mom), the accused are INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY, not the other way around. Period. A detainee is NOT a convict until a fair court says so.

Regarding the U.S. military, it has murdered more civilians than any other single organization on earth since Stalin's operation. Regarding "professionalism", all soldiers are professional . . . professional killers (my definition: someone who kills other people for pay). Calling civilian deaths in a city you're bombing "accidents" is ridiculous - that's like beating a guy up and saying you didn't mean to kill him - if you didn't mean to kill him, you shouldn't have beat him up. And it's just too bad you're offended - I'm offended much more by all the innocent deaths caused by the actions and policies of such "respectable" organizations.

That said, I also know several very honorable people who work in the Armed Services. I do not sit in judgment of every individual serviceman, because I recognize that they are victims of an immense amount of propaganda deliberately designed to demonify and de-humanize their opponents. They put their lives at risk based on information provided by the government. Most rank-and-file soldiers do not have significant input into policy decisions. The responsibility lies with the government, the military elite, and the business leaders who select our politicians.

But I will say this about the rank-and-file soldier. Someone else in this forum mentioned "responsibility" - it seems to me that before flying 8000 miles away to kill someone, responsibility would ask that one would at a minimum verify that one's targets were indeed guilty of the crimes of which they are accused. Saying you're innocent because you believed what you were told is OK if we're talking about turning in a school test late, but if the action you took was to drop bombs on someone, the responsibility to verify that you were bombing people who had committed crimes warranting the death penalty was at least partly YOURS.

The available evidence does not support the hypothesis that technological advances have resulted in diminished civilian causalties during war. In fact, with each successive war (and its technological novelties) over the last 100 years, civilian casualties have exploded almost exponentially. This is partly because our ability to commit mass murder while minimizing the risks to our own troops has increased significantly. Pretty soon, we'll be at the point when we can conduct large-scale air strikes using unmanned aircraft - you wait and see if civilian casualties are increased or decreased by that development.
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Old 02-01-2002, 06:29 PM   #55
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STING2 -

To dispense with the easy stuff, you keep implying that I equated the U.S. with Stalin/Hitler. I did not. My exact quote (look at the post above) is the U.S caused more civilian deaths "SINCE STALIN'S OPERATION". As in AFTER Stalin and Hitler. That having been said, 3 million in Southeast Asia between 1955-1975 is a whopping number and SHOULD be the cause of intense shame here. If 6 million Jews (granted in a frighteningly short time frame) is a Holocaust, is 3 million Asians not a half-Holocaust?

STING2, I hate to disillusion you about so many things in one post, but many organizations have studied just how much "humanitarian aid" the U.S. provides in comparison to its gross national product, and just where the aid goes. Turns out the U.S. is near the bottom in terms of aid given per GNP. In addition, nearly all the U.S. aid is in the form of grants, loans, subsidies, and investments in political leaders who support U.S. business interests. Very often (in fact usually) these leaders/governments are incredibly despotic, and many of them have the absolute worst human rights records on the planet. The actual amount that the U.S. spends on lifting up those in need is quite small compared to what other countries contribute.

If the intention of U.S. intervention in Bosnia was to save civilian lives, we would have entered the conflict 8 years earlier. The actual intention was to prevent destabilization of Greece/Macedonia/Turkey, where we have business and geopolitical interests. So when the war moved ever closer to those regions, we intervened. Also, the continued expansion of the domain of the Serbs, with their long friendship with Russia, was not considered optimal by the Western powers - another reason we intervened.

As I said before, many many people in the U.S. military (and in other organizations) sincerely believe they're doing the right thing. They are victims of the complete distortion of history we find in our school system (example - Chistopher Columbus, mass murderer and perpetrator of an extraordinary genocide - pioneer and hero!), a mass media that is owned by mega-corporations that benefit greatly from the current method of U.S. foreign policy, and of the more focused methods to demonify opponents that is found in all military training worldwide, including ours. So as I very clearly stated above, my comments are not directed at any one person (and certainly not at your father, who may be a very honorable man indeed). It's our system that needs to change - a lot, fast, preferably now.

There is no question that more precise weaponry confers the TECHNICAL CAPABILITY to improve one's target/civilian hit ratio. The problem is that our (the U.S.') rapid technological advancement has also conferred upon us the power to hit distant targets with progressively lower risk to our own personnel. The result of this stronger "negotiating position" is that we tend to USE OUR WEAPONS MORE AND MORE in an offensive capacity, and with much less regard for the resulting international outrage. Our precision targeting also enables us to destroy "enemy" infrastructure more efficiently - which causes much more civilian havoc in terms of late deaths due to disease, starvation, malnutrition, etc. Witness Iraq - the U.S. has been bombing military and infrastructural (that's according to the U.S., others say civilians have been targeted) targets in Iraq since 1991 - with somewhere between 300,000 and 1 million civilian deaths according to multiple international aid organizations. That's a lot of deaths in this technologically advanced age.

In Vietnam, the U.S.' superior technological (including chemical warfare) capabilities (relative to Vietnam's) only encouraged us to continue destroying Vietnam, the final tally being 2-3 million Vietnamese deaths (mostly civilians) and conversion of the world's most arable land into a desert. So while I agree that technology COULD help us limit civilians deaths, it tends not to.

Comparing Kuwait with Vietnam is not valid because of the difference in the time spent bombing the area and most importantly because our intention in Kuwait was to drive out the Iraqis and protect our business interests there (i.e. preserve the society); our intention in Vietnam was to destroy the ability of the civilian populace to continue their nationalist struggle (i.e. destroy the society). Hence, the manner in which these two societies were attacked was very different.

In Afghanistan, certainly our technological superiority helped to destroy the resistance very fast. But 1) I could argue that if we weren't so confident in our technological superiority, we would never have opted to totally destroy a country in purported "retaliation" for one heinous act of a band of criminals; and 2) the number of deaths caused by our complete destruction of Afghanistan's infrastructure continues to rise (lots of refugees, new homeless, starving people, sick people), though the U.S. and the subservient mass media will not provide us the body count.

You are totally incorrect about the fact that business people don't select the American president. They absolutely do. To become the President, you need mass media exposure. To get mass media, you need money. To get money, you need business people to give it to you. That's WHY morons with 2-digit IQs like Bush can become president at all. It's also why the candidates in our single party - 2 faction system are so similar - they all get their cash from the same corporate sources. The people aren't given a choice of who should be President - the people are asked to choose from a very short list of already-selected candidates who are acceptable to big business interests.

STING2, every mass media, government, and military organization in history has engaged in systematic propaganda. Propaganda is all the more important in pseudo-democratic societies like ours - to maintain power, one needs to convince enough of the people that one is moral, fair, whatever. The U.S. system of propaganda has been particularly effective. I would recommend that you read foreign media sources as well as the U.S. press - I think you will better understand the basis behind my opinions, and you may find yours changing also.
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Old 02-02-2002, 05:54 AM   #56
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SV,
Well, its difficult to know where to begin, but since I don't want to choke I'm going to chew carefully in pieces.
This claim by you of the US military being the largest mass murderer after Stalin and Hitler is again untrue. Lets take your one example with Vietnam. Vietnam is a place where my father spent an entire year in 1968 during the heaviest fighting of the war. My father has friends that were involved in every area of the war from Bombing in the North of Vietnam to special operations in the South of Vietnam and Cambodia and Laos.
While the war may have lasted from 1955 to 1975 most of the heavy US involvment in combat took place from 1965 to 1972. Aside from murders like the Mai Lai incident other smaller things, there was no mass extermination of civilians by US soldiers. What happened at Mai Lai was a terrible thing and it and smaller incidents like it are the only things that were wrong and evil.
Many people died in the combat that happened at various points for cities and other battles like in all wars. In the 1960s, many of the precision weapons that the USA has today did not exist. Most bombs were dropped without a guidance system of any kind. All artillery fire was Indirect without the type of precision that is available today. 58,000 US soldiers were killed along with 224,000 South Vietnames. It is estimated that over 1 million Viet Cong and North Vietnames troops lost their lives. The vast majority of civilian deaths occured in South Vietnam where nearly all the fighting occured.
While large scale bombing did occur in North Vietnam, it was very very restricted to certain area's much to the detriment of the war effort by the USA. The Civilian leadership for the longest time was concerned about entry into the war by China if Bombing in the North was more intensed. It did become more intense as the war went along, but was then subject to long pauses because of the piece iniatives.
Back to South Vietnam, the North Vietnames murder countless civilians in 1968 when they siezed several cities briefly during the Tet offensive. In retaking the cities, the USA often used massive firepower and of course civilians did get caught in the crossfire. But back then there were few other ways of retaking the cities and precision weapons, and modern tanks did not exist back then. Most civilian deaths even ones resulting from North Vietnames fire were accidents.
You cannot equate US soldiers attempting to retake a building where both enemy soldiers and some civilians are and the resulting deaths of the civilians be on the level of the holocaust. The deaths of the civilians were not intended. Very different from putting women and childern on trains and shipping them hundreds of miles to be burned to death or gassed to death in a chamber. The two have no relation what so ever. I find it hard to believe you don't see the difference.
To make this very short. When fighting the enemy, it is not murder when a civilian is unintentially hit in a crossfire. It is an accident just like any other accident you and I know of when some one is killed. There is a world of difference though when a civilian is taken out and shot in the back of the head. That is a war crime, but the other is not and simply the cruel reality of war.
Certainly large numbers of Vietnames died during the conflict, many before and after US combat troops were involved in the war. After January 1973, US combat operations in Vietnam ended. But the vast majority of these civilian deaths were accidents and were the result of fire from all sides in the conflict, not just the USA.
The 6 million Jews that died in the holocaust were not Jews that got caught in the crossfire. They were searched out and found, and then taken out and shot by firing squads or put on trains to concentration camps to be used for labor before being gassed or burned alive in chambers closely supervised by Nazi soldiers. Most Jews I know including my cousins would find it offensive that you would compare the hell that they went through and the crimes that were committed to against them, with normal unavoidable accidents of war.
So the whopping number does not exist in the sense that your talking about. The vast majority of deaths were combat deaths and unavoidable civilian losses that are accidents. The US military and government did not start the war. So if you would like to play your blame game that way, it certainly belongs with the Communist.
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Old 02-02-2002, 06:14 AM   #57
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On the Subject of humanitarian aid, the USA may be low or near the bottom on a per capta basis, but not when one looks at the total numbers. I never put forward any arguement about money given per person in a country. Certainly aid has gone to many countries for various reasons and sometimes unfortunately to those that are evil. But it was often a lesser of two evils and yes in the interest of the USA and the rest of the free world and there for justified because of the greater good that sometimes comes from it. Oh and what about the Marshall Plan, yes there were other US interest involved, but it does not discount what happened. Try putting a dollar figure on that.
Humanitarian aid is not the only way to tell how a nation contributes to the rest of the world. Loans and investments can be very helpful as in the case of the marshall plan. Many countries around the world have been turned from poor third world countries into economic powerhouses because of help from US businesses and the US government.
Also, the security that the US military has provided many nations in regions through out the world has kept peace, made for stable conditions, so that economic growth prosperity could happen.
When one considers the larger scope of everthing, no other nation comes close to helping the rest of the world in terms of military/political/economic well being.
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Old 02-02-2002, 06:16 AM   #58
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SV,
You'll have to wait for the rest of my response tomorrow as its late here and I'm sure you can tell I've only responed to a fraction of your thread.
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Old 02-02-2002, 04:33 PM   #59
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Quote:
Originally posted by STING2:
Loans and investments can be very helpful
I'm sorry for just jumping into a debate that wasn't anything to do with me, but I have to comment on this.

Yes, the US has given huge loans to many "third-world" countries. Mostly through the IMF, which is essentially controlled by the US. But the problem with those loans is that most of the time they weren't being used to help the people of those countries. Two reasons: firstly the obvious case where the leader of the recipient country was completely corrupt and was essentially stealing from his country by diverting money into his own bank accounts. But the second example, is where the organisation giving the loan specified what it was to be used for. This would be a low-risk project, usually related to communications or transport, and as well as virtually guaranteeing a quick return on the investment, these projects would benefit foreign companies operating in that country rather than the people of the country.

As well as this, when the IMF lends money, it doesn't do so unconditionally. Countries are made to comply to a Structural Adjustment Plan, which is intended to move a country from trade defecit (ie importing more than it exports) to trade surplus (ie exporting more than it imports). The quickest way to increase exports is to devalue your currency, making exports cheaper and therefore more attractive to other countries. However, as well as making exports cheaper, devaluation makes imports more expensive. People can no longer afford to buy goods which are imported because the prices increase massively. Not to mention that the country is now making less money from its exports because they're being sold for less money, which inevitably means that the people producing those goods will see their wages fall.

In order to make sure countries are able to keep up with their debt and interest repayments, the IMF also demands that they cut government expenditure. That can include reducing the wages for people employed by the government and cutting down food subsidies which are often the only way that people can afford to purchase food. Governments are also made to cut back on their already limited spending on education, social security and health care. Just one example of that: Tanzania was forced to introduce school fees because it could no longer longer afford to maintain its education system. Can you imagine the impact that has on the children of that country? School is free in the US, it's free in the UK, it's free in the majority of countries in Western Europe. And yet Tanzania, among the poorest countries in the world, is forced to charge school fees because of IMF conditions? How has the IMF helped those people?

And this message is NOT intended as a critcism of the US. Almost all the so-called "developed" countries have been involved in giving loans to poorer countries in this way. I'm not criticising the US, just pointing out some of the facts about how helpful loans and investment can really be.
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Old 02-02-2002, 06:10 PM   #60
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SV,
I'll have to finish my response tomorrow before the Superbowl because of a busy day today and power outage that destroyed what I had just written, luckily not to much. But I have big night out tonight, so my response will hopefully be finished tomorrow before the game.
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