Green Power Black Death


25 January 2004


I wonder how many times Mr. Bono has called Mr. Martin in recent weeks? The hijacking of Canada's “foreign policy” by celebrity culture has to be one of the more fascinating developments of the past few months. I'm longing to know how our unelected grandees are solving Africa’s problems, with my money and yours. I do know, for instance, that Bono, Bill Gates, his father William, along with Stephen Lewis and a dozen other self-appointed Men of Great Compassion are raising vats of cash for generic drugs for a few million of the tens of millions dying. History tells us this will not help.

Africa is where all our bad ideas come home to roost. And while I wouldn't call Oprah Winfrey a bad idea, necessarily, I was fascinated by her Christmas TV show about her gosh-so-wonderful-and-compassionate-traveling-tent-meeting, handing out backpacks, sneakers and a good meal to tens of thousands of malnourished African children, some of whom had walked an entire day to meet her. At the beginning of December – in the Presence of the Great Mandela – Beyonce, Bono, the Corrs, Annie Lennox, and, of course, Peter Gabriel performed free (yes, really!) one Saturday night in Cape Town, to raise money for AIDS mitigation. There was the usual amount of extremely annoying preaching from people who perch several standard deviations above all the rest of us wage-and- tax slaves.

Who have, since the 1970s, given Africa more than one trillion dollars in foreign aid. Which is rather more than the few million our moral betters have drummed up. Has any of it done any good? Any progress at all? Not a whit. Despite decades of economic aid, most recipient nations are poorer now than they were before they first received development assistance.

Our money goes to tyrants who build useless grandiose projects, pay off their cronies and buy weapons to oppress their people. Together with a vast bureaucracy filled with the profoundly self-protective elites of African nations, bolstered by tens of thousands of highly educated, middle-class Western project planners and managers, they spend over 80 per cent of our foreign aid improving their personal standard of living.

Twenty per cent gets through to actual needy people, and that only encourages the shameful, groveling dependence of Oprah’s starving children. Stephen Lewis’s AIDS schemes will vastly increase the intensity and scope of that process. And maybe he’ll get himself a lovely retirement home close up by Maurice Strong’s New Age ranchero, not located, I remind you, in a Third World country. Bono and Winfrey will come to visit and they can congratulate each other until even they get sick of praise. Such a state being impossible to imagine.

Green power, black death. It's axiomatic. Environmental colonialism started in the late 19th century, when wealthy Victorians began to see Africa as Eden, and created what is known as “fortress conservation.” Fortress conservation requires the absence of actual people, so over the ensuing 100 years, vast areas of Africa were cleared of tribes, grazing rights were confiscated and – presto! – the current game reserves frequented by the compassionate rich looking for a little Happy Valley or Meryl Streep (“I had a faa-arrrm in Aaaaffriiiikkka”) buzz.

Ask Niger Innis, the leader of CORE, the Congress for Racial Equality, one of the four organizational pillars of the civil rights movement in the States, what he thinks of our “compassion.” “It's time to hold these zealots accountable for the misery and death they cause,” Innis states in his introduction to a powerful new book called Eco-Imperialism: Green Power · Black Death, by Paul Driessen. Groups like Greenpeace, he says, and he includes the European Union and the United Nations in his criticism, serve their own “ideological agenda, and want to keep the Third World permanently mired in poverty, disease and death. So far, it has succeeded.”

How? Let me count the ways. The near-global restrictions on the production, export and use of DDT has led to the re-emergence of malaria, which has killed many more millions than have died to date from AIDS. The clearing of grazing lands for Africa Theme Parks has defrauded millions of Africans of land whereon they traditionally grew food and grazed cattle.

And let’s not get started on biotech foods. Late in 2002, the United States shipped 26,000 tons of corn to Zambia, where 2.5 million were on the verge of starvation. Parroting the Greenpeace, EU, Sierra, et cetera shakedown line, President Levy Mwanawasa decreed it unsafe for consumption because it had been genetically modified to make it resistant to insects. The EU accused the United States of using Africans as guinea pigs. Hundreds of thousands continued to starve. Yet, as Driessen points out, Americans and Canadians have been consuming this corn for years.

Biotech experts Gregory Conko and Dr. Henry Miller denounce the EU, UN and radical greens. Their “self-serving involvement in excessive, unscientific biotechnology regulation will slow agricultural R&D, promote environmental damage, and bring famine to millions.” Patrick Moore argues that “the banning of Golden Rice, a GMO that may help prevent blindness in half a million children every year is rejected out of hand by these anti-humanists.”

Naomi Klein? No Logo, written by our very own Heroine of Compassion, and Stephen Lewis’s daughter-in-law, recommends actions that have led to disaster. Nike and Reebok closed plants in Pakistan, and 50,000 child workers were laid off in Bangladesh, over the activist-inspired proposed U.S. “Child Labour Deterrence Act.” Oxfam International later found that thousands of these children became prostitutes, turned to crime or starved to death.

It’s time for a little 19th century classical liberalism. Rich countries slap huge tariffs on agricultural imports, and spend almost a billion dollars a day on farm subsidies – more than the entire output of sub-Saharan Africa. These barriers drastically reduce what poor countries can earn from farming, which is what most of their people do. Oxfam estimates that protecting our markets from African produce costs developing countries US-$100 billion a year, or twice what they receive in aid.

The Americans are piloting The Millennium Challenge, which ties foreign aid to on-the-ground development of the principles that made the West rich: the establishment of property rights; the rule of law; free markets; small government; and efficient investments in education and health. Paul Martin must acknowledge that his millions were made in such a market, and do the same.