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US Foreign Food Aid Hurts the Poor

USAID Soldiers

The U.S. government loves to preen about its generosity to the world’s downtrodden. However, a long series of presidents and their tools have scorned the evidence that their aid programs perennially clobber recipients. Nowhere is this clearer than in the sordid history of U.S. food aid.

Food for Peace was devised in 1954 to help dump abroad embarrassingly huge crop surpluses fomented by high federal price supports. The primary purpose of Public Law 480 (in which the program is embodied) has been to hide the evidence of the failure of other farm programs. Although PL-480 sometimes alleviates hunger in the short run, the program disrupts local agricultural markets and makes it harder for poor countries to feed themselves in the long run.

The Agriculture Department (USDA) buys crops grown by American farmers, has them processed or bagged by U.S. companies, and pays lavishly to send them overseas in U.S.-flagged ships. At least 25 percent of food aid must be shipped from Great Lakes ports, per congressional mandate. Once the goods arrive at their destination, the Agency for International Development (USAID) often takes charge or bestows the food on private relief organizations.
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Congress Investigates “Slush Fund” At USAID Used To Get Lawmakers To Pass Reforms

Usaidmoney

Our government has long seemed to be descending into a type of Orwellian universe of double speak. The Libyan War was not a war but a “time-limited, scope-limited military action” under Obama. Torture of detainees was not torture but “enhanced interrogation” under Bush. Now it appears open bribery of foreign officials is not bribery but “incentives” to implement policies favorable to their own people.

Congressional members are moving to address what is being called a “slush fund” with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) where millions are paid to political figures in foreign countries. We have previously discussed such payments by the CIA to the openly corrupt Afghanistan government, including suitcases of cash to President Hamid Karzai. What is most interesting is that an act that is a federal crime for citizens doing business abroad can be not only legal but an official program by government officials. It appears that in the handshake shown on the USAID seal, there is often a sawbuck or two in the palm.

The USAID routinely makes “incentive” payments to lawmakers to pass legislation or enact policies through the world. Even policies that benefit their own people like granting rights to women or protecting the democratic process are secured by greasing the palms of corrupt officials. In doing so, the United States perpetuates the rampant corruption in these countries and enriches officials who will only act if it benefits them personally.
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The Theory Behind USAID Is Wrong...And in Practice It's Worse!

Usaidtroop

USAID (United States Agency for International Development) announces its theory as follows: “USAID says that its work helps ensure American security and prosperity – arguing that the world is more stable if there is less poverty and strife.”

If the U.S. government props up client states with aid, floods their markets with American agricultural goods, underwrites military purchases, introduces Keynesian economic practices, and provides disaster aid, this is supposed to make the people wealthier and reduce political strife. If the country becomes more indebted to the IMF and World Bank, building unprofitable signature projects, this is supposed to raise living standards, making people content and happy. And all of that improvement, which actually doesn’t happen, is supposed to make Americans more secure and prosperous, a very far-fetched theory.

Intra-domestic wealth transfers in the U.S. likewise have done more harm than good, producing greater dependency, worse education, more red tape, and higher debt while undercutting private capital growth that might have involved job creation. Why are we not to expect that foreign wealth transfers are likewise doing more harm than good?
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Meet the Americans Who Put Together the Coup in Kiev

Victoria Nuland Geoffrey Pyatt

If the US State Department's Victoria Nuland had not said "F**k the EU," few outsiders at the time would have heard of Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, the man on the other end of her famously bugged telephone call. But now Washington's man in Kiev is gaining fame as the face of the CIA-style "destabilization campaign" that brought down Ukraine's monumentally corrupt but legitimately elected President Viktor Yanukovych.

"Geoffrey Pyatt is one of these State Department high officials who does what he’s told and fancies himself as a kind of a CIA operator," laughs Ray McGovern, who worked for 27 years as an intelligence analyst for the agency. "It used to be the CIA doing these things," he tells Democracy Now. "I know that for a fact." Now it's the State Department, with its coat-and-tie diplomats, twitter and facebook accounts, and a trick bag of goodies to build support for American policy.

A retired apparatchik, the now repentant McGovern was debating Yale historian Timothy Snyder, a self-described left-winger and the author of two recent essays in The New York Review of Books – "The Haze of Propaganda" and "Fascism, Russia, and Ukraine." Both men speak Russian, but they come from different planets.
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