The militarisation of aid in “war on terror”

This is a growing issue since 9/11, where the US military and others are perfectly happy to corrupt the NGO process by delivering so-called aid and development themselves, therefore trying to convince people under occupation that the military will “save” them. The vitally important separation between the military and aid has largely disappeared.

This story in the New York Times… offers just one example of the CIA, not known for its intelligence when operating overseas, causing yet more harm:

In the shadows of the American operation that killed… Osama bin Laden, the fate of a small-town Pakistani doctor recruited by the C.I.A. to help track the Qaeda leader still looms between the two countries, a sore spot neither can leave untouched.

Picked up by Pakistani intelligence agents days after the Bin Laden raid a year ago and now in secret detention, the doctor, Shakil Afridi, has embodied the tensions between Washington and Islamabad. To some American officials he is a hero, worthy of praise and protection; Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has personally appealed for his release. But inside Pakistan’s powerful military, still smarting from the raid on its soil, he is seen as a traitor who should face treason charges that could bring his execution. “We need to make an example of him,” one senior intelligence official said.

Beyond hard feelings and talk, however, his case has had a much wider effect: It has also roiled the humanitarian community in Pakistan, giving rise to a wave of restrictions that have compromised multimillion dollar aid operations serving millions of vulnerable Pakistanis.

The danger that American intelligence work can taint an entire profession has been the subject of debate and restrictions since the 1970s. By policy, the C.I.A. has not placed spies abroad under cover as Peace Corps volunteers or American Fulbright scholars. They cannot pose as journalists accredited to American news organizations except with a waiver from the president or the C.I.A. director.

Loch K. Johnson, a professor of international affairs at the University of Georgia who was on the staffs of Congressional intelligence reform panels in the 1970s and the 1990s, said every job category used by the agency abroad for spying produces complaints.

“If they use an oil rigger, businesses say it endangers all the other oil riggers,” said Mr. Johnson, who recalled discussing the matter with William E. Colby, the C.I.A.’s director from 1973 to 1976, who complained then about “a melting ice floe of adequate cover” as scandal led to new limits.

But Mr. Johnson said he did believe it was a mistake for the C.I.A. to use public health workers like Dr. Afridi in developing countries. “That’s a particularly sensitive group that does ethical and important work in very dangerous areas,” he said.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

Site by Common