Compassionate crimes against humanity
History is full of examples of compassion helping tyrants to enslave their victims. Probably the best example is Western help to victims of the Volga famine during the early years of the Soviet Union. Lenin, besieged on all fronts by “counter-revolutionaries”, personally authorised the distribution of food by those arch-counter-revolutionaries, the Americans. He loathed Americans. Any American was a spy, as far as he was concerned. Why had he agreed to such a humiliation? Well, Dialectic Materialism teaches us that anything useful for the cause is good. Capitalist moneys, given/taken/stolen for the cause are good. There is no shame in milking capitalists, if it helps the cause. So, with this capitalist help, instead of diverting his resources to food production and distribution, Lenin was free to concentrate on fighting. The rest is history. American charity helped the Soviet Union survive its difficult infancy. Millions lost their lives.
Very few tyrants have, so far, refused offers by Western volunteers – doctors, nurses, NGOs, the UN, etc. etc. – to do good works in their domains. These unelected, self-styled leaders are usually quite open about their shortages and problems, welcoming Western help with open arms. There is quite an industry in the West dedicated to saving lives in the developing world, driven by altruism, multiplied by the quotient of niceness, fortified by goodness and embedded in compassion, sprinkled with a healthy measure of self-interest.
Most of the world’s tin-pot dictators are forthcoming and accommodating in letting Western aid in because Western charity helps tyrants to stay in power. Instead of spending their resources on food and medicines and infrastructure and schools and hospitals, they, like Lenin, can concentrate on what really matters to them – weapons, crowd control, and building armed forces. Then, there are always numbered Swiss bank accounts, so beloved by kleptocrats worldwide. Our compassion helps tyrants to retire and live in the style we have made them accustomed to. If we are to count the overall volume of Western aid given to dysfunctional societies since the fall of the colonialism, we’d be staggered. So far, save the Marshall Plan for post-war Europe, and American aid to Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea and Israel, I cannot think of any other place where Western aid produced any visible impact. Those who know of such a place – please, enlighten me.
There is a wise Buddhist saying – “I have never helped you in any way – why are you angry with me?” That, in my opinion, is one of the most profound thoughts any popular culture is known to have produced. Judge for yourself – Egypt is the second largest beneficiary of American aid after Israel. Egyptians were bribed as a reward for the first-ever signing of the peace treaty by an Arab state with Israel. According to their own newspapers, the level and the intensity of hatred towards America and the West in general are at an all-time high. It does seem that the higher the aid level the more resentment there is.
It appears that Western aid does nothing (or very little) to improve the lot of the poor people in the developing world. Western aid, which is intended to improve the often appalling conditions these people live in, helps the incompetent and corrupt local elites to further enslave their long-suffering nations by enabling the elites to buy weapons, wage endless wars, and line their pockets.
In many instances, American aid is predicated on the deprivation of the Third World women of access to contraceptive methods, thus sentencing these women to a life of servitude and misery. The result of this policy is a continuation of the youth bulge, with an inevitable excess of angry young males, the future foot soldiers of jihad. I would dearly want to ask our American allies – you do wish to reduce the level of resources available to terrorists, don’t you? Why do you increase the numbers of angry young males then, by assisting in the increase of the high birth rates?
Here’s another example of Western taxes at work: North Korea. An amazing situation. Consider that North Korea:
- trades in narcotics and counterfeit money as a matter of state policy
- openly kidnaps citizens of other countries and refuses to return them to their loved ones
- attacks the navy of a sovereign state and shells its territory without any reason
- disseminates nuclear weapons and proliferates the technologies of their manufacture
- repeatedly threatens other countries with nuclear attack
- holds its citizens at a starvation level of food supplies, being incompetent to feed them
- incarcerates a significant part of its population in concentration camps
North Korea has an outstandingly consistent record of non-compliance with its international obligations, a record even the USSR would have envied. And how do we deal with these brigands? Knowing very well that any assurances by this regime are not worth paper they were written on, we supply North Korea with food, oil, etc., ensuring its survival. Aren’t we becoming complicit in their crimes against their own people by supplying this criminal regime with essentials? We are helping a criminal regime to survive. However, the notion of an “honest broker” makes our actions look suspiciously like being in cahoots with one of the most unsavoury regimes on the planet. Am I naively out of step? Perhaps. But I wish our government would explain the compelling reasons why we have to deal with the Stalinist regime in Pyongyang. Our help prolongs the agony of its victims. In the world of criminal justice we would be called “an accomplice”.
Recently, the International Court of Justice issued a warrant against the head of state of Sudan. The Court deemed the Sudanese President responsible for genocidal activities against the non-Arab population of Darfur. Good on the Court, I say. There are, however, some unpleasant legal questions, which I hope our compassion industry would be able to answer:
- Logically following the accusation of genocide against the Sudanese President, isn’t it likely that he has had some accomplices, who are liable to be prosecuted as well?
- Isn’t it true that those who help the genocidal regime to conserve its resources by contributing to budgetary necessities, including population health, are helping them to acquire weapons, bought by the Sudanese government with the explicit aim of remaining in power by murdering its opponents?
- Could it be that those who are helping the genocidal regime stay in power are to some degree responsible for the activities of their clients?
- Isn’t it true that providing aid and succour to a genocidal regime constitutes aiding and abetting such crimes?
- Should these and similar actions be answerable under international law?
- Should not Australia lead the world in recognising the obvious and demand an end to the undoubtedly well-intentioned but plainly wrong policies of helping the tyrants to stay in power if only to prevent accusations of aiding and abetting tyrannies?
Compassionate people would contradict me. They would say: “By doing what you seem to suggest, we will condemn the hapless victims of the regime to starvation.”
It is a serious argument and a heart-wrenching dilemma. Having searched my soul I will answer: “These people are not victims of the heartless West. As a matter of fact the heartless West is feeding these people. These people are the victims of psychopaths in power in Pyongyang, Khartoum, Harare, Tripoli, and many other places. By helping tyrants we help prolong their enslavement of their own people. We will do it no more. Let’s put the blame where it belongs.”
That is what we should say. Otherwise, who knows—we might be held accountable for crimes against humanity, committed by our clients.