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June 01, 2002

A Liberal Success Story

Map of MalawiBehold Malawi. About the size of the state of Pennsylvania, it has limestone, arable land, hydropower, uranium, coal, and bauxite. It borders a massive lake which provides an opportunity for easy irrigation. It's a party to the following international agreements (UN treaties) Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands. It truly would seem to be the ideal UN member, agreeing on all these treaties. 

But . . .

Currently Malawi has problems with deforestation, land degradation, water pollution from agricultural runoff, sewage, industrial wastes and siltation of spawning grounds endangering fish populations (obviously they've taken those UN treaties really seriously). The life expectancy from birth is currently 37.08 years. Only 58% of the population 15 years-old and older can read. And the average yearly income is about $900. In 2000 the inflation rate in Malawi was 29.5%. Malawi has been an independent nation since 1964. 

But here's the kicker. The current head of the government, Bakili Muluzi, sold (yes I said sold) off the nation's 167,000 ton emergency grain reserve last year, and is now (get this) scolding other nations (translation: the US) for not providing the 200,000 tons of corn needed to prevent the starvation of the 3.2 million Malawians, Muluzi predicts will run out of food by early next year. Did you get that? He sells their food, then scolds us for not buying them more. Now Malawi has about 10.5 million people, of which about 1.2 million are classified as "fit for military duty" (whatever that means). Their GDP is about $9.4 million, but their military budget is about $9.5 million. Their biggest military threat is currently the "evil" Tanzania wanting to name Lake Malawi, Lake Nyasa (which is called Lake Nyasa by everyone but the Malawians, but don't tell the Malawians, ok) 

One of the reasons Malawi has become so addicted to foreign aid is that unlike many of their neighbors, they have at least pretended to adopt capitalist policies. I say pretended, because in the end, it was all lip service and the aid money was used to prop up the current government and maintain military control. But then they aren't massacring their citizen like in Zimbabwe and South Africa, so we can at least be thankful for that.

Does it seem odd to anyone else that our efforts in so many African countries seem to be that of a rich man promising to give a poor man some money as long as the poor man promises to not commit suicide? Historically the choice has been, A. ignore them, B. financially support them or C. invade and colonize them. We've decided not to do C any more, and we don't have the stomach for A, so we're left with B, which apparently is just as bad as A except it's slower, and allows us to rationalize that we're actually helping, when we obviously aren't. I personally think a modified form of C is called for.

look at it this way. If we draw up plans for the takeover of a suicidal nation such as this, having a fully completed exit strategy drawn up before we ever start. And teach the idiots how to run their country, and slowly over, oh say 20 years, pull out and let them have at it. We more or less did this with Japan and it worked so good they beat us at many things. We sort of did it with Germany too, and it seems to have worked there as well. Sure other nations will complain, but if we make sure our every effort is to create a strong, independent, self-sustaining nation, and make sure their resources stay there, then the complaining wouldn't have much weight. In the long run it'd save us a heck of a lot of money because we wouldn't have to keep supporting these deadbeat nations.


Posted by Jack Lewis at June 1, 2002 06:35 PM