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Boris Johnson strengthens imperialist program of British aid abroad

Boris Johnson strengthens imperialist program of British aid abroad

By Jean Shaoul

June 24, 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced the closure of the Department for International Development (DfID), which spends the UK aid budget of 15.2 billion in the name of poverty reduction.

It is to be integrated into the Office of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (FCO) to form the new Office of Foreign Affairs and Development (FCDO). The movement makes transparent what was once established. Aid will only be granted if it promotes the geostrategic, defense and commercial interests of the British.

The new department is expected to be created in the fall, even before the completion of the government’s integrated foreign security and defense review by Downing Street Councilor John Bew.

Sir Simon McDonald, the most senior official of the FCO, must retire sooner than expected after five years in the job to make room for a replacement more in line with Johnsons’ program. Unpopular at Downing Street due to his perceived opposition to Brexit, he recently retracted his statement to members of parliament that the UK had made the political decision not to join an EU program to find ventilators to treat COVID-19 patients on the orders of number 10..

Johnson announced this decision in the House of Commons in a statement recalling his imperialist, arrogant and racist views. After saying that Foreign Minister Dominic Raab will decide in the future which countries will receive aid from the British, he added, for too long, frankly, British aid abroad been treated like a gigantic crate in the sky, which arrives without any reference. to the interests of the United Kingdom.

While Johnson said the government would maintain its statutory commitment to spend 0.7% of GDP on foreign aid, he noted that DfID spends more than four times the Department of Foreign Affairs and yet no single decision maker in either department is unable to unite our efforts or take a comprehensive look in favor of the broader interests of Great Britain.

He complained: We are providing as much aid to Zambia as to Ukraine, although the latter is vital for European security. We are providing 10 times more aid to Tanzania than to the six countries of the Western Balkans, which are extremely vulnerable to Russian interference.

Almost 60% of Zambians live below the international poverty line of $ 1.90 a day, while almost 50% of Tanzanians live on less than $ 1.90 a day.

Regardless of Johnsons’ criticisms in Parliament, charities and other NGOs, aid has always focused on British geostrategic interests, disguised as development economics or not. But now all the intricacies and escapes must be thrown away. From now on, the aid budget will be explicitly used to stimulate the commercial and military interests of the British.

DfID was established in 1997 as a separate department under the government of the new Labor Party Tony Blairs with the support of all parties. This was done in response to various scandals surrounding the disbursement of aid from FCOs to pursue its foreign policy and commercial objectives, via the notorious policy of tied aid schemes according to which aid to third world countries is used to pay contracts with British companies. Most infamous was the link between funding the Malaysia Pergau dam and an arms deal under the government of Margaret Thatchers in the late 1980s.

The function of poverty reduction defined by the law of the DfID was more respected in the violation than in the respect. This did not stop Blair from giving the green light to a very questionable and unnecessary air traffic control system for Tanzania, which was clearly designed for military purposes, probably for use in the war on terror in Africa from the east. A gross violation of the World Bank / International Monetary Fund loan terms to the country, led to a US lawsuit alleging corruption and a repayment of 30 million to Tanzania.

The disappearance of DfIDs had long been followed by the Conservative government and actively defended by Johnsons’ key adviser, Dominic Cummings. Former DfID secretary and current interior minister Priti Patel argued that the UK aid budget should be cut unless it is in the national interest and tied to trade deals. In 2017, the BBC revealed that Patel, after meeting with Israeli officials, lobbied to divert part of the UK’s international aid budget to Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) operations in the Golan Heights. Israel has been widely reported to be helping the Al Nusra Front and other fighters linked to Al Qaeda in Syria.

Like his White House mentor, Patel is a vehement opponent of aid to the Palestinians. DfID providing most Britons with $ 85 million in annual aid to the Palestinian Authority and Gaza, as well as grants to human rights organizations that criticize Israel, including Amnesty International, can be expected that it will stop soon.

Patels’ successor to DfID, Penny Mordaunt, has sought to change the international definition of public aid spending to include profits from DfID’s private sector investment arm, the CDC Group, formerly the Commonwealth Development Corporation. This would allow the government to reduce new financing from the Treasury, while respecting its commitment on paper to devote 0.7% of GDP to aid. She called on the government to work with managers to facilitate investment by British citizens in poor countries.

The CDC, which accounts for around 40% of DfID’s aid budget, has come under heavy criticism for its investments in commercial development projects such as hotels and shopping malls in Kenya, for channeling its investments into tax havens and for losing most of his $ 140 million. investment in a Kenyan cement manufacturer.

Johnsons’ predecessor Theresa May cut aid budgets and snatches to other ministries, including the FCO, so that in 2019 the FCO spent € 680 million on aid , more than double the amount spent in 2013 and around 40% of expenses. its allocation of 1.7 billion.

The House of Commons Special Committee on International Development recently reported that British aid outside the purview of DfIDs has a very different geographic profile, with about three-quarters going to middle-income countries, including China, the India and South Africa, pursuing priorities such as reducing carbon emissions, tackling insecurity, establishing research partnerships and promoting trade and investment relations with the United Kingdom.

A senior conservative said that Johnson made the decision to remove the DfID without any discussion within the cabinet. Just two months ago, the current secretary of DfID, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, told the House of Commons international development committee that DfID was safe.

The announcement sparked hypocritical outrage and condemnation from politicians concerned about the declining international position of the British and the political impact of such a denunciation of the use of aid as a form of aid. imperialist power.

Three former prime ministers, Blair and Gordon Brown and Tory David Cameron, opposed Johnsons’ decision, saying it would undermine the credibility of the British abroad. Their concerns reside in the decline of the influence and reputation of the British, in particular following the decision of the British to leave the EU faced with the challenge of its main rivals, including France, Germany, Turkey , the United States and China, Africa and Asia.

Blair tweeted, I am completely dismayed by the decision to remove the DfID. We created DfID in 1997 to play an important and important role in the projection of British soft power. He did it to gain worldwide acclaim.

Most of DfID’s budget is devoted to projects, whether poverty alleviation or conflict resolution, which promote British interests, in particular by bringing many students to British universities through a plethora of programs help. Much of the aid has already been secured and used to prevent migration from Africa and the Middle East, and to provide security, that is, military and police operations and training delivered by a handful of companies.

DfID provides most of the funding of a billion and more from the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) created in 2015 to replace the previous conflict prevention pool. Supervised by the National Security Council, it includes programs such as the development of human rights training, the strengthening of the police and local magistrates and the facilitation of political reconciliation in war-torn countries such as Afghanistan, Syria and Somalia, 40 countries receiving money.

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