Change.org: The Definition of “Pseudo-Aid”

19.01.10

Categorie: NGOs, Relief, Una Moore |
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U.S. Navy sailors in Nicaragua. Photo by David Axe.

by UNA MOORE

“If we’re going to talk about work as important — and expensive — as international aid, the least we can do is use accurate language,” my friend Alanna wrote in a recent guest post for Aid Watch. I could not agree more. In fact, I think we need to go a step further. It’s not just that there are many kinds of aid — it’s that some things we call aid are not aid at all.

First, there are different kinds of real aid. Emergency humanitarian relief is short term aid used to keep populations alive during or in the immediate aftermath of disasters, both natural and man-made. This kind of aid usually comes in the form of very basic things: food, temporary shelter, medical care — things no one could obtain for herself or himself in the aftermath of, say, a tsunami or displacement by military onslaught. Development aid, taking place over a longer time span, aims to reduce poverty and create lasting changes in the way people live. Sometimes the two overlap in long-running crises.

Then there is what I call “pseudo aid” — something else entirely that superficially looks like aid and gets conflated, usually by people who aren’t aid professionals, with relief and development aid. This conflation is intellectually sloppy and unhelpful.

What is pseudo aid? I would divide pseudo aid from the United States into three categories: bilateral budget support, public diplomacy, and the construction/reconstruction aspect of counter-insurgency. Why are these three things not aid? Relief and development aid are supposed to be delivered on the basis of recipients’ needs, regardless of political consequences. Budget support, public diplomacy and counterinsurgency, in contrast, are very much based on anticipated political outcomes — in other words, they’re instruments of national self-interest.

Read the rest at Change.org.

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3 Responses to “Change.org: The Definition of “Pseudo-Aid””

  1. TEJ says:

    Three categories of “pseudo-aid”:
    1. disaster tourist wannabes who cannot self-support or coordinate into the bigger picture
    2. photo-op fundraising charlatans who never seem to do actual work
    3. permanent NGOs as addicted to the aid as the receiving nations are

    All aid is delivered on the basis of self-interest. There is no free lunch (e.g. my belief that there is no such thing as altruism). If aid is delivered because the donor thinks that makes the world a better place; or that is answering God’s calling; or it simply provides a warm felling of fulfillment and meaning; those are the self-interests being served. If OXFAM digs a well and the Seabees dig a well, is the latter not aid because the motive is to promote capitalism or weaken a dictator?

  2. [...] Change.org: The Definition of “Pseudo-Aid” First, there are different kinds of real aid. Emergency humanitarian relief is short term aid used to keep populations alive during or in the immediate aftermath of disasters, both natural and man-made. This kind of aid usually comes in the form of very basic things: food, temporary shelter, medical care — things no one could obtain for herself or himself in the aftermath of, say, a tsunami or displacement by military onslaught. [...]

  3. Veterans Day 2010-11-11
    The war on Drugs is now in Iraq too.

    Society continues to declare war even though we have known for so long that everybody looses in war. Wounded U.S. soldiers are being patched up and returned to battle before they are healed. The wounds in this case are to the psyche, caused by the trauma and horror that are as integral to war as guns and death.

    In Iraq and Afghanistan, when “suck it up” fails to snap a soldier out of depression or panic, the Army turns to drugs. “Soldiers I talked to were receiving bags of antidepressants and sleeping meds in Iraq, but not the trauma care they needed,” says Steve Robinson, a Defense Department intelligence analyst during the Clinton administration.
    In many cases, their problem is labeled stress. “Army docs have told me that commanders pressured them not to diagnose PTSD because it would cut into combat power—the ability to project men and women into war,” says Robinson. “The docs admit that the decision [to misdiagnose] is unethical, but are unwilling to take the huge career risk of becoming a whistle blower.”
    Other soldiers self-medicate. “We were so junked out on Valium, we had no emotions anymore. We have American soldiers in Iraq who have become addicted to Valium.
    They were prepared for war. They were prepared to die for their country. But soldiers say they weren’t prepared to come home and fight a different battle — addiction to illegal drugs.
    Many of this country’s bravest men and women who volunteered to defend America in a time of war have come home wounded — physically and mentally — and are turning to illicit drugs as they adjust to normal life, according to soldiers, health experts and advocates. Having regularly ferried the bodies of American soldiers killed in combat — with the helicopter exhaust blowing warm air and the smell of death through the craft – a particular soldier said to a news reporter that he had trouble sleeping when he returned to Ft. Carson. The nightmares were too bad, he said.
    “(Soldiers are) coming back, drinking, fighting, putting thousand dollar tabs down at a bar and drinking four to five hours, getting to the point where you don’t give a crap about anything anymore (or) anybody, don’t care if you live or die…the point where you do drugs.”
    Army doctors prescribed anti-depressants and painkillers for him — two-type written pages worth since he’s been back — but he didn’t like how the drugs made him feel, Hartmann said. So he said he turned to self-medication with methamphetamines.
    “The nightmares were killing me from being over there. The pain was so bad I didn’t want to deal with it. Well, amphetamines is a real quick way to get rid of it,” the soldier said. “I was snorting it, and I was smoking it, and then I was hot railing it, and then I got to the point where I was actually injecting it in my arms,” said this young vet, who eventually checked himself into rehab and is now clean.

    If you are dealing with a vet who is having problems coping and turning to drugs and alcohol to treat his post traumatic stress maybe we can help.
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