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Re: [casi] A Moment of Truth for the Humanitarian Enterprise

I'll argue this point, even though I'm not convinced of it: it IS a very
difficult issue.

>deems vital to its interests, NGOs will have to either >redefine how
much operational independence they need, or >stay home."
>Staying home is not a comfortable option for groups >committed to the
humanitarian imperative. Why should they >not be active wherever there is
need, particularly when >U.S. government funds are made available by the

I've never been an NGO, but I do have experience as a volunteer worker
with childrens' organizations, and have often seen cases where parents
try to use the organization for their own purposes, such as threating
keeping children home as punishment. I can't think of a case where it
ultimately turned out for the good by playing along with that: it weakens
the organization, and ultimately also hurts the kids.

NGOs, however, never need to "stay home". There are any number of other
areas in the world which just as desperately need help, and what may be
taken from Iraq will be gratefully received by those other nations.

If NGOs play along and compromise their standards, it will harm the NGOs,
and strengthen the US and like aggressors, who will simply exploit them.
Look back at the letter I got in response from Hastert where he cites UN
efforts to solve the water problem: he tries to use the UN to get the US
off the hook, but at the same time the problems aren't solved -- the
suffering is only drawn out.

Look at Byrd's piece where he wants other nations to get involved, again
removing US responsibility. The coalition must be made to take
responsibility for the damage they caused or they will just go on doing
the same thing everywhere.

If the NGOs cave in the US will have more resourced freed up to attack
more nations, and will not be held accountable for it's actions. It will
roam the world wreaking havoc and leave the pieces for everyone else to
clean up. In the long run NGOs will do more harm than good by allowing
this to happen. It's like supplying drugs to an addict, and bailing him
out by making excuses to his boss when he doesn't show up for work.

But can the US really ignore the massive chaos and suffering in Iraq? I
think not. Not only will it very quickly result in open rebellion by the
people of Iraq, but the rest of the world, and even the American people,
will insist on action. The administration can't afford to let their
"liberate the Iraqis" line be shattered. What the NGOs *can* do is
complain very, very loudly. This is a completely opposite tack to
submitting to the censorship the US wants, and a vitally important one

Of course it is difficult, and we fear to see more suffering by the Iraqi
people, but we need to look to the overall situation, and remember where
the moral responsibility is. It is not so unlike someone paying the
ransom to a kidnapper, which very often does not work out well at all. If
humanitarian aid goes badly -- even if as a result from US interference
or failure to fulfill it's part -- the blame will be placed on the NGO.
Already the lack of security has resulted in ineffectiveness of aid.
Already the US has stopped NGOs from gaining access to victims. Already
the victims are being blamed.

What the US wants to avoid is not suffering, but looking bad and being
thwarted in it's ambition. As such, it will readily impede NGOs from
doing the task and then turn around and blame those same NGOs for it,
"proving" how badly run the rest of the world is and how much the US
needs to be in charge of everthing. Wasn't it France's fault that the UN
inspectors failed so that the US was forced to attack -- according to the
US administration?

If NGOs play the US game, by US rules, then NGOs and Iraqis both lose.

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