ROBERT ROSENKRANZ Well, thank you very much. With me is Dana Wolfe, our executive producer, and it’s our pleasure and honor to welcome you to, now, the final, uh, debate of our fall season. Uh, you know, perhaps it’s less expensive to save a human life in sub-Saharan Africa than anywhere else on the planet. The vision of babies dying from easily preventable diseases just stirs our sense of common humanity.
It’s not difficult to, uh, control the spread of HIV/AIDS, to reduce iron deficiency anemia with dietary supplements, to fight malaria with chemically treated mosquito netting. Each of these strategies offers exceptionally high benefits, and saves lives, versus the relatively modest costs involved.
So, how then might aid to Africa do more harm than good? It might do so by further entrenching despotic governments at the expense of an energetic private sector. In Africa, many leaders simply use the machinery of the state to enrich themselves, their cronies, and their kinsmen. When additional resources are provided to such states, however noble the humanitarian goals, a substantial share ends up in the pockets of the Swiss bank accounts of the leaders and their principal supporters.
The more resources such leaders command, the longer they can stay in power. So, the question tonight is, has aid to Africa produced measurable improvements in health, nutrition, education, and incomes, or has it simply entrenched bad governments and bad ideas?
We have an outstanding panel this evening, moderated by Brian Lehrer, the award-winning host of New York Public Radio’s thoughtful and informative talk show. It’s my pleasure to welcome Brian back to another debate. [APPLAUSE] BRIAN LEHRER
Thank you so much for that kind introduction, Bob. You know, on my radio show, I sometimes say that if we in journalism were really honest, we would have the same lead story every day. Twenty thousand children died today of hunger related causes. Most of those deaths were preventable. Imagine if twenty thousand people were killed once in a terrorist attack.
Or airplane crash. We would turn the world upside down to make sure it didn't happen again, as a matter of policy, and we would cover it to the ends of the earth, as a matter of news.
But twenty thousand children a day, and hardly anyone in the West or the North even realizes it, and it never leads the news. Disproportionately, those children are in Africa. So, tonight’s topic may not be the sexiest one in this year’s Intelligence Squared US series, but I'm certain that it’s the most important.
With that, I’d like to welcome you to the fifth debate of the second Intelligence Squared US series, the resolution being debated tonight is: “Aid to Africa is Doing More Harm Than Good.” Now, let me give you a run down of the evening.
Members of each team will alternate in presenting their side of the argument. Presentations are limited to eight minutes each. When opening arguments are complete, I will open up the floor to brief questions from the audience.
After the Q&A, each debater will make a final two minute summation. As you’ll see, they’ll also get a chance to ask each other some questions, and I’ll have some follow-ups as well. And finally, you will vote on tonight’s motion with the keypad attached to the armrest of your seat, and then I’ll announce your decision on which side carried the day.
So, let’s start with the pre-debate vote. Please pick up the keypad attached to the arm rest on your left, on your left. For audience members sitting along side the aisle to my right, your key pad is attached to the arm rest on your right side next to your neighbor’s.
Again, tonight’s resolution is: “Aid to Africa is Doing More Harm Than Good.” And after my prompt please press one to vote for the motion that it’s doing more harm than good, two to vote against the motion, or three if you are undecided. You may begin voting now. [PAUSE]
Anyone need more time? Now I know what it felt like to prompt an SAT exam. And I will reveal the results of your vote later in the evening. I’ll now introduce the panel, please hold your applause until all six are introduced. For the motion, the president of the Free Africa foundation, and Distinguished Economist in Residence at American University, George Ayittey.
Professor of Economics at New York University, co-director of NYU’s Development Research Institution, and non-resident Fellow of the Center for Global Development, William Easterly.
And contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine, and contributing editor to the New Republic, David Rieff. Against the motion, co-founder and former president of Africare, senior advisor to AllAfrica Global Media, and president of the business consultancy Lodestar, C. Payne Lucas.
Associate director of the Center for Globalization and Sustainable Development at the Earth Institute at Columbia University, senior macroeconomic advisor in the UN Development Program’s Africa Bureau, and former deputy director of the UN Millenium Project, John McArthur.
And senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and former senior director for African affairs at the National Security Council, Gayle Smith. [APPLAUSE]
And panelists, when you get down to one minute left to go in your eight minutes, I will just say the number one, and I will stop you after eight minutes. So, please be ready to conclude at that point. Gayle Smith gets the first remarks. Gayle Smith, please go to the podium. [BACKGROUND VOICE] Oh really? That’s not what it says here.
Um, OK, so forgive me for the confusion, Dana, is it, is it David first? [BACKGROUND VOICE] OK, and so maybe we should just clear this up now. Uh, who’s second? [BACKGROUND VOICE] OK, so they're reversed, for/against, and then who’s third? [BACKGROUND VOICE] And then William Easterly? And then the last two will be Lucas and Ayittey? [BACKGROUND VOICE] OK. [BACKGROUND VOICE] In that order? [BACKGROUND VOICE] I'm, I'm just looking at what’s in my script. So, so let’s see, Ayittey, OK, Ayittey and Lucas at the end, so let me just confirm the whole thing one more time, forgive me folks, um, David Rieff one, Gayle Smith two, John McArthur three, William Easterly four, then Ayittey five, and Lucas… [BACKGROUND VOICES]
Yes, we have to go back and forth… [BACKGROUND VOICE] OK, so wait a minute, where’s… All right. [LAUGHS] I thought this was going to be the easy part. [LAUGHTER] Um, if Rieff is first and Smith is second, then Easterly is third, that makes sense, and McArthur is fourth, and, and Ayittey is fifth, and Lucas is sixth. So we’ve got it now, right? [APPLAUSE] Senator Clinton will get the first question… No… [LAUGHTER]
David Rieff, please go to the podium. [APPLAUSE] DAVID RIEFF
Well, it’s always nice to have a logistics glitch, because it gives you a tiny bit more time to think about what you might say of any interest. Um, let me start by saying something that isn't in the spirit of these debates, which is that I actually think there’s quite a large middle ground on this question, and I'm, you know, I don’t mind a good scrap, as any one of you who knows my work will know.
But I don’t think that it’s simply a question of saying all aid is terrible or, or um, all aid is good, I think to the, you know, in the way that I want to invite you to vote for this, uh, resolution, it’s that on balance aid is, has done more harm, the resolution is well phrased, than good.
It’s not that it’s a great, vast, you know, right wing conspiracy, or left wing conspiracy, I suppose, in the instance. Um, it’s not that aid, some aid programs don’t work, and have not been shown to work.
The problem, I think, and the reason that I, again, invite you to at least think hard about supporting this resolution, is that the whole discussion of AIDS avoids, makes a kind of moral and historical end run around the problem of politics.
It becomes, if you like, a kind of technical question. There are these suffering people, as Mr. Rosenkranz and Mr. Lehrer both described to you. We do or we don’t have the modalities to efficiently succor them.
That is the aid narrative, if you will. And that is a narrative that, largely speaking, deprives the recipients of aid of their agency, infantilizes them, and also make sour aid a super-political, extra-political, moral question. It becomes a moral imperative, therefore we can't talk about the politics, we can't talk about whether the UN system actually works, which in my view, palpably, it doesn’t.
Um, that’s another, perhaps another debate, about which I would be more categorical. Um, it is, it doesn’t, but it most of all doesn’t reckon with the fundamental question that people are not saved from outside, people rescue themselves, fundamentally. They can be helped, there’s nothing wrong with aid at the margins.
If aid were less ambitious, if aid has less of a kind of globalizing, dare I say it, totalitarian program, I would support it, as I support emergency relief, which at least in my understanding of emergency relief, is not long term development, but rapid entry and departure in major, usually war or refugee movement emergencies. The words are unsatisfactory, but that’s more or less what it is.
I don’t, I, I’ve worked in that field, and I do not think there is anything wrong with it. On the contrary, I think if done properly, if it doesn’t become a stalking horse for some ideological position, say liberal human rights, which I would insist is not simply the way the world is at its just, at its most just, but an ideological position. That you, if it does what it’s meant to do, which is, as I wrote in a book on this subject, offer a bed for a night, but not hope to save people, to transform society, et cetera,
then I think that, the value of that aid, assuming it’s honestly given, and competently given, is indisputable. What is not indisputable by any stretch of the imagination is the idea that foreign institutions and governments and inter-governmental organizations, notably the European Union and the UN system know how to fix other people’s difficulties.
The problem with aid, in short, is that it sets itself up as the kind of know all and end all. Now of course aid people will tell you this is no, not the case anymore, that was true in the bad old days of Lou Preston and the World Bank, it was true when all aid workers were, in Africa were, were white, it was true when, if you like, the aid system was kind of a direct follow on both of religious proselytizing, missionary impulse, and uh, colonialism.
But the truth of the matter is that that old Texas adage, the man with the gold makes the rules, becomes, that definition of the golden rule, I mean, is as true today as it was when the French flag waved over [UNCLEAR]. And I don’t think it can ever be different.
So that what you have with aid by definition is outsiders telling people in a place how to do it, and telling them if they don’t behave satisfactorily, that is the best practices that you now see in humanitarianism, if you're not democratic, if you are not transparent, fi you don’t do this, that, or the other thing, then we will withdraw the aid.
Well, if ever there was an example of any unequal form of relations, I would submit to you that that’s it, which is why, precisely, in depriving people of their agency, aid does more harm than good. It does some good, I, again, I insist on the point that there is middle ground here, but it does more harm than good.
Moreover, it does seem to me that the emphasis on aid is misplaced, and that if you want to talk about what can be done in a place like Africa, but not only in Africa, I mean, after all there are other parts of the world that are unfavored in this moment in history for many of the same reasons, you might talk about fair trade a lot more than talking about development aid. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] BRIAN LEHRER
Gayle Smith, you may now take the podium. GAYLE SMITH Uh, good evening everybody, and David, you were supposed to say all aid is bad and should be ended forever to make my life much easier. Um… Thank you for inviting us here this evening, and I want to strongly oppose the motion for a number of reasons I’ll share with you.
First I think it oversimplifies an issue that warrants our attention and our engagement over and above our opinions for the simple reason that a lot of lives are at stake, and more importantly, dignity is at stake. And I think the motion conflates aid and policy, aid and politics, while overlooking, in fact, how complex aid is.
Aid is provided by governments, in the case of our own government, we have twenty different pools of assistance provided by different agencies, some of them more effective than others. It’s provided by philanthropists, including African philanthropists in Africa.
And it is provided by NGO’s. it’s a very complex instrument, and to lump it all together, I think, is to obviate the, obviate the good it can do. Third, and I think very obvious, it implies that therefore we should stop it. Um, and I think that this would be a, a cataclysmic mistake for reasons I will get to.
Importantly, it overlooks the many successes, and you’ll hear more about this tonight, but particularly in health and education, and also in areas of economic transformation.
Let me give you three examples. Ethiopia today has the first ever commodity exchange. This is critically important for farmers to be able to determine what prices they can get, and for trade to, to speed up within Ethiopia itself and within the region.
It’s a great thing that can transform agriculture in that country. In part it was initially funded by aid. Let me give you a second, wireless access in Africa has had a huge impact, it’s allowing farmers in rural areas to call and see what prices are being tomatoes in the market, and cut out the middleman that might undercut them and reduce the number of dollars they get.
That wireless transformation has come in part from the private sector, in part from local governments, and in part from aid. Third, microfinance, something we hear an increasing amount about, as transformative in the immediate lives of their families and communities. A lot of that money is generated from microfinanced funds themselves but a lot of that has also come from aid.
I think that it’s a very out-of-date debate, it kind of overlooks the many things that are going on now about aid that I think will change it, for example today, the majority of country directors for American NGO’s in Africa are Africans.
That wasn’t true 10 days ago, that has an enormous…impact. The new awareness about aid among Americans, about a civil society in Africa, is forcing a new transparency which is critical, to hold aid providers and aid recipients to account.
Dictators were many times supported in the past and—and I wish I could say they would never be supported again, uh, we can talk about the elections later but for now, I think we’ve seen an important transformation, consider Zimbabwe. Where Robert Mugabe I believe is trying to run the country into the ground.
The bulk of foreign aid to Zimbabwe now is going to civil-society institutions, that are trying and doing a very good job of protecting the institutions that can serve that country well, in the future.
It also obviates and overlooks an important debate that’s going on now that I think is, is critical for our future, and gets to a point David made about aid and politics, there’s no question that politics has affected aid and aid has often been driven by politics. The emerging debate now among policy-makers, among NGO’s, among Africans, uh, among many, is that foreign aid in the case of the United States needs to be elevated, number one, so that it is on par with some of our other foreign-policy institutions.
But more importantly, protected, from the politics that would drive it in the wrong direction. That in other words we need to learn how and move towards ring-fencing development assistance, so that it can’t be used…for reasons other than development.
I think to, to sug—to vote for a motion that said aid—aid is doing more harm than good, uh, undercuts that very important debate. The last point I would make is that I—I think the reason this, this motion is flawed is because at the end of the day development matters.
And at the end of the day, the United States as a government, citizens of the United States, private companies in the United States, philanthropists in the United States, as around the rest of the world, I believe, have a responsibility and an interest in promoting development.
I think it is a moral interest, it’s an economic interest, I think it’s a security interest, I think it has everything to do as well with our leadership. So I would also say in conclusion, that if we conclude that aid is doing more harm than good, and therefore we should get rid of it, what’s our alternative.
Will we use the military as our primary means of doing our bit to contribute to Africa’s development in the future? I hope you will agree with me that that would not be the right way to go. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] BRIAN LEHRER
A very— A very efficient panel so far, I haven’t had to throw anyone off the podium yet. William Easterly, your turn for your opening remarks. WILLIAM EASTERLY
Good evening. I wanna talk to you about two tragedies that have…are covered by this debate. The first tragedy we’ve already heard about, that there’s a lot of unnecessary human suffering in Africa. That for example, children’s lives could be saved for a 12-cent dose of anti-malaria medication, could save them from dying from malaria.
And that is in—indeed a tragedy that children are dying for lack of a 12-cent medicine. Everyone here on the panels agrees that’s a tragedy and feels compassion at this enormous tragedy.
There’s also a second tragedy and that’s—this is a tragedy that we hear a lot less about. And this is the tragedy that we’ve already spent as official donors $600 billion in aid to Africa over the past 45 years, and after all that children are still not getting the 12-cent medicines.
So there were still between one and three million deaths from malaria last year. So aid would be a great thing if it worked. But the sad tragedy is that—and this is really one of the, the scandals of our generation is that mo—money meant for the most desperate people in the world, is simply not reaching them.
$600 billion in aid to Africa over the past 45 years, and over that ti—over that time period there’s basically been zero rise in living standards. Zero rise in incomes in Africa. The money is simply not reaching the people for whom it is intended. And yet, the advocates of aid always focus their energies simply talking about this number, about how much we spend in aid, as if that in itself were an achievement of some kind.
This goes back, it—every generation calls for an increase in aid to try to resolve the problem of development. It goes back to an advisor to John F. Kennedy named Walt Rostow who called for doubling foreign aid way back in 1960.
In 1973 World Bank president McNamara once again called for doubling of foreign aid. Actually this is something that I noticed in my research which, uh, as a professor you’re always kinda proud when you discover an empirical irregularity that really fits the data perfectly.
And that is that when people call for an increase in aid they always call for exactly double. [LAUGHTER] It’s always exactly 100 percent increase. Never, you know, 117 percent or 83—it—it’s amazing.
So this has continued to the present, the 2005 G-8 summit called for doubling aid to Africa. Barack Obama’s called for doubling aid to Africa, Jeffrey Sachs has called for doubling aid to Africa.
Uh, even our President George W. Bush called for and has already implemented an—an increase in US aid of 50 percent. I did worry for a moment that that didn’t fit my law, but, uh, I checked with the White House staff and they explained to me that he thought 50 percent was double. [LAUGHTER] So… [APPLAUSE]
So what—what—what good does it do to focus on the amount spent, uh, this obsession with the amount spent on aid, if the balance of the evidence suggests that the, the money is not reaching the poor--sure, there is the occasional success, which we will hear about from time to time tonight, but the balance of the evidence is simply that, $600 billion went into Africa and income did not rise. So where did the money go? Well, unfortunately a lot of it went to corrupt rulers, to corrupt and autocratic rulers.
Today, despite all the talk of action against corruption, two-thirds of all aid today goes to rulers who have the worst rating on corruption. Two-thirds of aid going to corrupt rulers. This is actually getting worse over time.
There’s no evidence of any sort of post-Cold War break, in which, you know, in the bad old days aid when to corrupt dictators and now it goes to good guys. And by the way, uh, Gayle, Ethiopia is a good example, the, the ruler of Ethiopia is a guy named Meles who is a dictator who shot down unarmed demonstrators in the street, this is a guy who has been a darling of the aid community.
This is not the kind of aid that accomplishes good, this is the kind of aid that does more harm than good. And in fact, aid has gone into states that subsequently collapsed into warlord anarchy.
There was a lot of aid that went into Sierra Leone, Liberia, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, even up to the moment when the genocide broke out in Rwanda, there was still aid money going into Rwanda, in fact even after the genocide broke out the French were still supplying the Rwandan government, committing the genocide with aid dollars. Some of it military aid, obscenely enough.
And so I say to you that aid, uh, and this is borne out by his—by statistical evidence, that aid worsens corruption, aid blocks democracy, aid is an obstacle to the freeing of Africans from predatory rulers…
And I think we have no choice but to, to vote for the motion tonight, we, we cannot be satisfied with this record of aid, that has promised so much and accomplished so little. We must condemn the sorry record of aid for the sake of Africa, and for ourselves. It’s simply unacceptable that a system which is supposed to have the best intentions, is simply making things worse rather than better. [APPLAUSE] BRIAN LEHRER
John McArthur, your opening remarks. JOHN McARTHUR
Thank you, and thank you to everyone for joining tonight and, uh, thanks to members on all sides of the panel. I think it’s important to go back to the point that David Rieff made of understanding, even he of course supported rejecting the motion, ‘cause it’s so strong, and, uh, ambiguous as to what it even means.
If we think about what aid actually achieves, and what it doesn’t achieve, we have to make sure we avoid the, uh, spurious correlations that have been mentioned tonight, just because two things happened at the same time doesn’t mean one is responsible of course for the other.
But we also have to think about the framing of this statement, which is about the present tense, not the past. We’re not here to discuss and debate President Mobutu tonight. We’re here to talk about whether aid is doing more harm than good.
And on that, there are four basic points I think we need to keep in mind. The first, is that it’s often understood or misunderstood, that bad governments and corruption are responsible for Africa’s poverty, and singularly responsible.
Professor Ayittey often refers to the cheetahs of the new generation and the hippos of the last generation. Well, what about the cheetahs of the new development generation, the cheetahs of the new aid generation that are re—producing remarkable results across the board.
When we actually look at the statistical evidence, as Professor Easterly does and I do and others, we see that, even when we compare governments with equal levels of good governance, we see that Africa on average grows about 2 percent per year slower than other developing countries around the world.
Why is that? Why is it that, countries like Ghana and Senegal have better transparency international ratings than China and India, while it still grows so slowly while China and India take off? Why is it that Vietnam grows so quickly, while it has governance ratings so far below Tanzania, or Burkina Faso? It’s because of the issues of disease, it’s the lack of infrastructure, it’s the lack of education, it’s the terrible legacy of colonialism.
But it’s about much, much more than bad governments. There’s no question that a bad government can drive a country off a cliff, but aid is about tackling those very practical challenges of health, education and infrastructure, if it’s to be done properly.
Now, Professor Easterly discussed the $600 billion of aid to Africa. That’s the second myth is that this is vast sums down the drain. How much is $600 billion if we think about it per African, per year. If you divide that over all the years over all the Africans, by my estimate it’s maybe $28 per African per year.
That’s all the money going down the drain. And then, there’s the third issue, well what we do we get for it, we’ve heard that nothing, nothing has been achieved. Well let’s talk about some of those successes. There’s the smallpox eradication that happened around the world, of course, thanks to, I have to say the UN’s World Health Organization that set up the target, set up a Smallpox Eradication Unit, and got rid of the disease.
There’s the fight against AIDS. In 2002 we had perhaps 50,000 people on anti-retroviral treatment in Africa. Thanks to the creation of the global fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria, and the US President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief, we now have well over a million people on anti-retroviral treatment within just five years.
And for those of us who were in the trenches five, seven years ago, this was considered impossible. Impossible. We have throughout Africa primary enrollment rates since 1991 alone up 20 percentage points.
Just last week we had the news that UNICEF, the Red Cross and others had cut measles death in Africa by 91 percent, between 2000 and 2006, from nearly 400,000 people a year, children, to 40,000 a year. They actually set a target to do that by 2010 and they were four years ahead of schedule.
Of the 20,000 deaths a day, that our moderator pointed out at the beginning, those 360,000 are 1,000 a day of the to—the total. That was aid backing it. That was UNICEF, that was WHO, that was the American Red Cross, that was the Center for Disease Control working governments and the government national plans, and they got the job done.
In Malawi, many of you might have seen the New York Times front-page story on the weekend, where aid supported the national government to implement the plan that it wanted to implement, to get fertilizer and seeds to farmers, and in just two years, we saw a full country, one of the poorest countries on the planet,
with a better governance rating than many countries growing much faster than it, double its food production, from one ton per hectare, to two tons per hectare, and it’s now actually an aid donor in the region. So we have to reject these myths, we also need to reject the one about trade, the fourth one, that it’s trade, not aid.
We all want trade, we all want aid, and we all want market development, and we wanna focus on the practical things that can be done to reduce poverty and to support the countries to reduce poverties on their own terms.
So let me just conclude by saying first, just screaming governance and corruption is simply not the case. It’s too simplistic and it ob—obscures the underlying truth of disease, lack of infrastructure, lack of education in Africa.
Second, the scary big numbers that we often hear, are often quite tiny, in fact minuscule, when we think of them in terms of the real people in Africa, and what they’re trying to achieve. Third, we see amazing successes each and every day, such as the eradication of measles, when practical strategies are set to achieve practical targets, no politics, just getting the job done.
So it’s with these three points in mind that I urge the house to reject the simplistic and misleading proposition that aid to Africa does more harm than good, and more importantly, let’s join together to focus on the practical task of ensuring that aid builds on the successes, to keep doing as much good as it possibly can. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] BRIAN LEHRER
At this point in the debate I’m supposed to ask a few follow-up questions. So, William Easterly, John McArthur…just listed some very specific examples of what he said are very significant successes, smallpox eradication, a million people on anti-retrovirals who have HIV, once thought impossible. The UN and others cut measles deaths by 91 percent.
What he said about Malawi. Are these not significant successes, when you said signif—si—wait—when you said success stories are rare? WILLIAM EASTERLY
Uh, well, one sign of the rarity of success stories is that I keep hearing the same ones over and over again. The, uh, the smallpox example is given, is given so often and it’s—it happened so long ago that, I think it should be consigned to, uh, to history at this point, uh…
I’m not—I don’t—I’m not going to say that everything fails, that there are no successes, small—smallpox was a success, uh… But the fact that we keep citing the same thing over and over again suggests just how few successes there have been, the measles success,
unfortunately was, until this new announcement was actually on the ledger side of failure. Uh, the measle—cheap and inexpensive measles vaccination had been available for decades, and yet had not—had not been used to save millions of lives from measles. So I’m not sure I would count that as much of a success at this point. BRIAN LEHRER
But is the answer to that, given what has taken place, just to stop aid? WILLIAM EASTERLY
No, I’m not…I’m not sure that we’re voting tonight on whether to stop aid, I think we’re voting on whether the existing aid system has done more harm than good, the, uh, the existing aid system I think we’re arguing is ineffective, it’s—has bad political effects in propping up corrupt autocrats.
And I think that system does more harm than good, uh, I, I could imagine other aid systems that would do some good, that could save lives. If aid agencies were held accountable for results, which they are not now. If they were held accountable for failure which they are not now.
But we don’t have that system at the present, we’re voting on the system we have now and that’s the system that has failed us unfortunately. BRIAN LEHRER
So, Gayle Smith, maybe there is a seed of common ground. Maybe we each agree that the aid system that we have now is not the perfect aid system, that there are successes, that there are failures, and there are things that perhaps all of you could agree on, to make things much better. Might that be the case? GAYLE SMITH
Well, I—I think aid systems can be, uh… improved, no question, I think that one of the problems though with this argument is that it suggests that none of that is happening. I think there are other successes out there, uh, John didn’t mention, uh, HIV—or did mention, excuse me, HIV and AIDS which I think is significant and the fact that,
success in measles is later than it should’ve been, uh— I—I don’t think therefore writes it off as a success, but I think we’ve also got a problem with terms here and I think this is a bit too important, uh, to be slipshod with.
For example, when you talk about $600 billion in aid, that conflates development aid and a lot of aid that was given for reasons having nothing to do with development, let’s not pretend for a minute that the aid the United States gave to Zaire during the Cold War was given for development.
Everybody knows it wasn’t, so to hold it accountable for achieving development aims, I think is— WILLIAM EASTERLY And the U—US has no— GAYLE SMITH —let me finish, please let me finish— WILLIAM EASTERLY —strategic motives, at all now—? GAYLE SMITH
Please let me finish. My point is, that that aid was not given for development purposes, and you are judging it on the basis of whether or not it achieved development purposes. I suspect we would agree that the purposes for which it was given, were not very good.
But I don’t think it’s, it’s right to suggest that money that’s given for security reasons should be held to development outcomes, second, I—I think you’re suggesting that the fact that poverty still exists in epidemic proportions in Africa, is because of aid.
What about the terms of trade. What about commodity prices. What about war. What about drought. What about governments that may be…ineffective. What about colonialism and the Cold War, I think the notion that the fact that poverty still exists in Africa because of aid, is way oversimplified, last, I—I—
Or, excuse me, that, that two-thirds of aid goes to corrupt rulers. The example I used of the commodity exchange in Ethiopia, is not aid to the government of Ethiopia, it’s a private-sector initiative. So I—I think you need to be careful about suggesting…that two-thirds of aid goes to corrupt rulers, that’s not in fact the case today— WILLIAM EASTERLY Two-thirds of official aid. GAYLE SMITH
And la—no, that’s not true of official aid, an increasing amount of official aid goes to non-government entities and private-sector groups, lastly, I think there’s a contradiction here that we may wanna tease out. I—I think I heard David say that aid is flawed because it’s designed to develop people from afar.
But Bill’s arguing that aid is flawed, because it has not developed people from afar. And I think there’s a contradiction there. It’s, it’s wrong because it aims to develop other people, which, I mean I would actually agree with David that that’s not something we can do. But Bill, it seems to me you’re suggesting that it’s wrong because it has failed to do just that. BRIAN LEHRER
David Rieff, if I heard you correctly you said, that…it never can be different. I think I heard from William Easterly, that it could be different if there were a better aid system. Do you think the whole notion of aid to Africa as a means of improving standards of living, is an impossible notion? DAVID RIEFF
Well, what I think is impossible is the notion of aid as the centerpiece of development, uh, in Africa, that’s—that—I mean my view, for what it’s worth, is simply that, the whole system of international development is structured around various modalities of aid. That’s why I brought up the trade issue which I insist is a real issue despite what Mr. McArthur said, because the terms of trade are stacked against Africa.
To use only one example, they’re not only stacked against Africa, they’re stacked against other parts of the world as well. But, you know, to put it, you know, very bluntly that, you know, that, this is a—the system of trade at the moment, is in an age of rising commodity prices, nonetheless, uh,
structured so that the actual producers of commodities get screwed by the, by the system, the international system of trade. So, my view is simply that, by making development aid from the outside, whether it’s national governments, or inter-governmental institutions, the centerpiece of what you’re doing means it’s always going to fail.
And I think that we’re— the thing that troubles me about the, if you like, the, the—those arguing against this motion is false—I, I, I mean obviously, somebody who grew up—I grew up in the ‘60s, and I remember leftists of my type, uh, saying at the time, well, of course the Soviet Union’s no good and Cuba’s no good and… China’s no good and Korea’s no good and… Albania’s obviously no good.
But that’s actually existing Communism. What there is, there’s this wonderful Communism that we could somehow create. And I think the lesson, this is a point made by the critic of development, Colin Leys, in his famous book, that at a certain point you have to say, you had to say, even if you remain—if you were on the left, and I remain on the left, uh, I wanna be clear about that, uh— [LAUGHTER] In this call above all others.
Um, but, uh…but the, at a certain point, people on the left had to admit that this was a lie. That there was not actually existing Communism and ideal Communism, the—what actually existed was Communism. Period. That’s— BRIAN LEHRER John— John McArthur, um, briefly and then we’re gonna continue with the, the opening remarks of the panelists who haven’t spoken yet. Um… Do the successes that you listed…equate, really, to significant successes, or exceptions as William Easterly contends, if some of his other stats are true and two-thirds of aid is gobbled up by corrupt, uh, dictators, and $600 billion spent, and more or less the standard of living on the continent has not gone up. JOHN McARTHUR
I think—I’d like to make a few quick points, first on the trade just ‘cause that’s come up, I think it’s important to understand that if the so-called Doha trade agreement comes through the estimates are that Africa might benefit about a billion dollars per year.
That’s mainly an issue of cotton exporters, it’s actually not an issue for many—most of the other commodities, and that’s a billion dollars which is quite small, when spread across 700 million people— BRIAN LEHRER But wait a minute, David Rieff, is that aid, or is that something else, trade? DAVID RIEFF
Well, the disagreement is, if you’re saying that— My emphasis on trade, John, is not the Doha Round, I mean if, if you’re, if—we agree about the Doha Round. JOHN McARTHUR
I’m just saying that the, the trade is good, but it’s not huge in quantitative terms, to… Bill Easterly I would say, I don’t know what you expect to buy for 30 bucks per person. You think—I say a, a million people, 1.3 million people on anti-retrovirals in five years and you say huh, old story.
I say, 360,000 kids a year not dying, you say, huh, old story. I say 20 percentage point boost in primary enrollment in barely a decade, you say huh, old story. I really don’t know what you expect to buy for $30 per person.
These are practical things, I’m not defending, as I said at the outset, everything that’s been done in aid policy, I’m not defending all of the machinery. Professor Easterly and I I think would agree on nine out of 10 issues, and we have in many instances on what needs to be done, to actually improve the aid system. BRIAN LEHRER
Professor Easterly, the one million people on AIDS anti-retrovirals, no big deal? WILLIAM EASTERLY
No, of course, it’s prolonging their lives, that’s great, I salute that, uh, but, let’s— JOHN McARTHUR Is that harm or is that good? WILLIAM EASTERLY
That’s good. [LAUGHS] But let’s, let’s be clear about these—let’s be clear about these numbers, for many African countries, aid is 20 percent of their GDP. If they had invested that— JOHN McARTHUR That’s $300 per capita, it’s 40 bucks— WILLIAM EASTERLY
If they had invested that, then the ex— expectation of the aid advocates was that they would’ve had economic growth. And that simply is what did not happen. It did— it did not get invested, we did not have growth. BRIAN LEHRER
Now, part two of the opening statements. Back to the hard part, let’s see if I can keep figuring out the order here. George Ayittey, it’s your turn for opening remarks. GEORGE AYITTEY
Hello, well first of all, uh, let me thank the Intelligence Squared, uh, for having this debate. And, I personally as an African, I find this very amusing that I can see proponents for and against, uh, aid.
And I think— those of us on this side, really believe that, you have to separate the humanitarian impulse, from the record of aid itself. I mean on the humanitarian impulse, we all wanna help, as a matter of fact, a lot of people here say that it is the moral obligation of the rich to help the poor.
But the record on aid has been a disaster. And that’s what a lot of us do, of us on this particular side of the table, want to change. And what we’re saying is that, look, the current system of aid harms Africa. And I think John McArthur said that, no, uh, there, there, there are a new group of people…
He calls them the cheetahs, I disagree. And, uh, he believes that, aid can be reformed and help the African people. But…fact of the matter is, more than 600 billion has been poured into Africa since 1960, with nothing to show for it.
Except the marketing of black elephants and crumbled infrastructure and decaying buildings. There are a couple of misconceptions about aid that we need to clear up. First of all, aid—foreign aid is not free. It is a very soft loan. Which is given to a government. On—at concessional rates.
Now the second thing about aid is that, aid is tied. 80 percent of US aid to Africa is spent right here in—in America. On American contractors, American suppliers, and so forth. French aid is even worse. [LAUGHTER]
When China gives you aid they don’t just send you materials, they also bring in the labor, and, and, uh, materials and, you know, set up towns for their workers for example. Now…one of the things which has been missing in this piece, is that, nobody asked…whom at all do we want to help in Africa, nobody asked that question.
It is assumed, that if we give aid—if we gave aid to Africa, automatically, it will help, lift the people out of poverty. And this is one of the reasons, it’s one of the fallacies of aid. It’s one of the reasons why it’s so difficult to come up with success stories, of aid in Africa.
We can find countries, that the US aid has been able to reform politically, we can’t find countries where US aid has been able to reform politi—economically. Right now as we speak…out of the 54 African countries, only 16 of them are democratic.
Less than 10 can be characterized as economic success stories. Forget about intellectual freedom. That is in the Stalinist era. What Africa needs, and as a matter of fact I testified before the Senate of Canada this past June.
And what I laid before them, yes, they want to help Africa. But they themselves, came up with a report, Canadian report, Senate report, of 40 years of Canadian aid failure in Africa. What to do. Now we’re not suggesting, now don’t help Africa. But if you want to help Africa, folks, please, for Pete’s sake, ask the Africans what they want. Don’t assume that you know better than the Africans.
What Africans want, three things, reform, reform, reform. Reform the abominable political systems, reform the abominable economic systems, and intellectual systems, give Africans the freedom, so that they themselves can decide what is good for them.
Such freedoms are lacking in Africa. So to me, this debate really…is, currently, the aid system is rotten, it’s not helping the African people. And if you want to help the African people, what I’ll propose to you, and this is what our side is coming up with, is smart aid.
Smart aid is that which empowers the African people to instigate reform from within. The ruling elites are not interested in reform. We all know what the problems are, bloated bureaucracies. Corruption!
We want to trim government expenditures in Africa. The elites are not interested, you ask them…to cut government spending. And they will set up a Ministry of Less Government Spending. [LAUGHTER]
Now this is the hippo generation, they are not interested in reform. You ask them…to curb corruption, and like in Kenya, they’ll set up an Anti-Corruption Commission. But then, when it snakes too close, they sack the, uh, corruption czar, and shut the whole thing down.
Africans know what they want. And if you want to better help the African people, ask them. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] BRIAN LEHRER
C. Payne Lucas, your opening remarks. C. PAYNE LUCAS
Good evening. For a moment, I thought George was describing America. [LAUGHTER] You know, I come from Washington D.C. where last week, week before last, $40 million was stolen by some employees inside the government. And when Bill talked about 600 billion, I thought about how much of the six—how much money do we spend in Iraq and Afghanistan every month.
I mean I…I’m, I’m stunned, that we are suggesting that all we need to do, is get the bags of money, take ‘em to Africa, give ‘em to the Africans, and let them decide and bypass the government. Well let me tell you something this evening, I don’t care how you vote, that’s not going to happen.
‘Cause we want to know, what’s happening to our money. Everything is changing. That’s one thing about AID, it’s always changing. Let me say one thing. Sese Seko Mobutu. Every time we talk about corruption, we talk about Mr. Mobutu, who stole millions of dollars in the Congo. [
:02] Well, why shouldn’t he have stolen them. We were in the Congo to start with to stop Communism. Not to help the poor people of the Congo. We were not there for that purpose. We know that. We wanted the Congo’s precious metals, and we wanted to keep the Russians. So he is Mr. Corruption.
And if I gave a test tonight to the people in this room, of how many corrupt politicians or corrupt states in Africa, not very many people here would pass, I didn’t know we had so many countries doing so well until Mr. Ayittey’d spoken.
We got 16 countries, got 18 countries—doing well. That is an enormous track record. Now for every Mobutu, that you have in Africa, you have some non-Bu—Mobutus. I wish for example, that President Mandela could’ve been here tonight, to have heard these remarks.
He would’ve grabbed some of the people by their throat and said, what do you mean! We know people who’ve attacked Bono for…for his notion that we ought to be digging wells all over Africa. That people walk two and three miles a day in search of water, not in search of water, in search of bad water.
We need all the help we can get, why do we turn to America, because we are a generous nation. We know President Bush said when he was in the campaign the last time, he said, we’re not going to engage in nation-building. We’re gonna let the people do their own thing.
But when we got to…Iraq, we found out, we’d better start doing some nation-building. And on the one day we hated the UN and the next day we were begging UNDP to come and help us solve the problems…in Iraq. One of the reasons that we have to help Africa, and I know we discounted all these programs we had over the years, small pox, we discounted onchocerciasis, thousands and thousands of Africa, Africans involved in river blindness, we found a cure for it, working with the private sector, and working with AID. So, millions of acres, acres of land have been liberated because we solved this disease.
So, let me just say, for every corrupt politician in Africa, we have a history of some great politicians in Africa. There was a man who headed up a country by the name of Tanzania, his name was Nyerere. I can't recall the new president of Tanzania, but we’re talking about his work in Tanzania, and how this country is moving forward.
We had a place called Liberia, and for use we propped up Tubman in Liberia, and people said, when is it going to change? One thing about Africa, it is capable of change, and that’s what we’re working with. We now have a woman in Liberia by the name of Johnson Sirleaf, who walked into a living hell, and now is going to build a nation state. She will not be able to build it without the help of the American community and the development community.
We have a chance to do something in Liberia, one of our own quote, unquote, colonies. Why do we do it, why do we work with Americans, why do we do things in Africa, because we know how to get things done.
Sometime we start out the wrong way, but almost invariably at the end of the day we end up in the right way. Then they say, well you know, we can't find the, we can't find any good politicians in Africa. In Mozambique there was a man by the name of Joaquim Chissano. This year he was voted five million dollar peace prize for the way he ran his country with good governance. I remember when people were giving him hell, but he said, wait, I’ll prove to you that we can run this country and bring help to the people of this country.
So he got a five million dollar prize for doing things right. We also know about our president in Mali, who’s doing a great job in Mali. These things don’t just happen. Our ambassadors and our aid agencies, they work night and day trying to make all these things happen. This is a complicated world we live in.
Africa got fifty-three countries, eight hundred million people, and by the way, don’t discount colonialism, don’t say that we want to go back to the old days when Africa had free trade, and everything was wonderful.
In the old days everything was not wonderful. In the old days people were sick and often they did not know it. And then some people make the arguments that, why are we involved in anti-retrovirals? We should have a program of treatment, of, of prevention. Sure we should have a program of prevention. But if your family, they have HIV/AIDS they want some of that anti-retroviral.
So we gotta do that. And what we are saying here tonight, we have to change all the things that we say. No, aid is not right, but we have an opportunity to change it. One thing we have learned over the years, our programs must be owned by Africans, they must be African led, they must be sustainable, and they must be accountable. BRIAN LEHRER One minute. C. PAYNE LUCAS In the age of technology, we don’t need to wait two years to find a crook in Africa, our computers can find them almost overnight.
So when we apply the technology, we can identify the crooks. And let me tell you something else, 9/11 will be coming back unless we respond sooner than later, and if we don’t respond to Africa and their needs, the Chinese will, because the Chinese are coming, and they don’t ask questions about democracy, and good governance, and freedom of the press, and justice, they just want the raw materials. [APPLAUSE] BRIAN LEHRER
C. Payne Lucas, in telling the story of the thievery of government money in the United States at the beginning, did you mean to suggest that corruption in the United States is the equivalent of the corruption in much of Africa? And by saying for every Mobutu you also have more great politicians, do you mean to differ greatly from George Ayittey’s estimate that of the fifty-four countries in Africa, only sixteen of them are democracies, I hope I got those numbers right… C. PAYNE LUCAS
No, I don’t, I mean, I was surprised that we have sixteen democracies in Africa. I don’t think Nigeria was exactly a democracy under president Obarsaso [sic], Obasanjo, but I have to really give him a great deal of respect for the fact that he managed a nation of a hundred and fifty million people without any great fall down of war and decadence. And on top of that, he appointed a woman by the name of Minister Ngozi, who went out and looked for corruption.
So when you start to think like that and change like that, the message is getting through. You don't ignore Nigeria. And when you start to talk about aid, let’s not forget, when you talk about six hundred billion dollars of that, how much of that went to Egypt and Israel. We have, we have to support those places because we have strategic interests in those places.
And sometime aid itself is, is not related, it’s related to maintaining our relationships So those cannot be ignored. BRIAN LEHRER
George Ayittey, you said that Africans want three things, reform, reform, and reform. Economic reform, political reform, and intellectual reform. Do the United States or the United Nations have a role to play in that, in your opinion? GEORGE AYITTEY
Well, first of all, let me address some of the comments made by C. Payne Lucas. And that is, look, take Nigeria, for example, please do not minimize the issue of corruption. It is a very serious problem that we have in Africa. Take Nigeria for example. Between 1970 and 2000, more than four hundred and fifty billion in oil revenue flowed into Nigerian company coffers. Now, according to Nuhu Ribadu, the chairman of Nigeria’s anti-corruption commission, of that amount of money, four hundred and [UNCLEAR] billion was stolen by Nigeria’s military rulers.
That’s a huge amount of money. Sure, certainly we can point to Ngozi, who has been a reformer, but what did the Obasanjo regime do to reward her? They sacked her. And now. If you look across Africa as a whole, the African Union itself says that corruption alone costs Africa one hundred and forty-eight billion dollars every year. Now, that’s more than five times the foreign aid Africa receives form all sources. So, the issue…as a matter of fact, Africa doesn’t need aid. The aid resources Africa needs can be found right there in Africa. C. PAYNE LUCAS
Well, I want to make clear, if you think that, uh, this corruption in Nigeria grew out of, uh, Obasanjo’s regime, I think you're wrong. GEORGE AYITTEY I didn't say that. C. PAYNE LUCAS We all, we all know Sani Abacha was the person who stole all the money in Nigeria, but the Nigerians, we got rid of him too, didn't we?
Every time we find corrupt politicians— GEORGE AYITTEY Sani Abacha was worth five billion. Babangida, eight billion, you can go all the way back.
Now, this didn't start, OK, recently, is start all the way back since the 1970’s. C. PAYNE LUCAS Well I, I don’t disagree with you. You’ve got to remember one thing, in this country, this country alone, and in the world, Korean, and Tehran, and Japan, and from the Civil War all the way up to Teddy Roosevelt, corruption was rampant in this country, but these countries still grow, they still became powerful countries.
Corruption alone does not destroy our country, it’s the amount of corruption. We’ll never eliminate it completely, but we can set in motion the conditions that will help eliminate this terrible thing. GEORGE AYITTEY
Please, let the Africans— C. PAYNE LUCAS And that’s why the Africans now have played at something called knee pads too— GEORGE AYITTEY Let the Africans decide for themselves how bad corruption is.
And that sort of comparative analysis doesn’t help us. If you try to place corruption within Washington context, for example, suddenly there is corruption, um, in DC, in DC government, and now the latest toll is that, you know, forty-three million dollars have disappeared because of tax fraud. But please, don’t compare that to Africa. Let the Africans themselves determine the incidence of corruption and how important it is to them. BRIAN LEHRER
And briefly, professor Ayittey, on the question of the role in reform that the US or UN would have to play? GEORGE AYITTEY
Well, the United States, the, um, World Bank, United Nations can be helpful, um, in reforming, try to help Africa reform. But in the past they’ve been more of a hindrance. And that is one of the, look, if you want to reform Africa, there’s six basic institutions that you need. Number one, you need an independent and free media.
That’s the first critical institution. Americans take their media for granted. The second institution that you need is an independent judiciary for the rule of law.
The third institution that you need is an independent electoral commission. Five, four, I'm sorry, you need a, um, independent, you need to have an independent central bank. And then you want to have a neutral and professional armed forces and an efficient civil service. Give Africans these six institutions and it would do most of the cleaning out of Africa. BRIAN LEHRER
All right, hang, hang on, we need to, we need to move on to the next person. You’ll get a, you’ll get a chance. I am now ready to announce the results of the pre-debate vote. Before the debate, twenty-four percent of you voted for the motion, “Aid to Africa has Done More Harm Than Good.” Thirty-four percent of you voted against the motion, and the winner in the pre-debate vote, the winner in the pre-debate vote was undecided with forty-two percent. This is an open-minded audience. Now comes the fun part.
Where each of the panelists will have an opportunity to ask a question of the opposing side. Gayle Smith, you get the first question. GAYLE SMITH
Oh! OK. Um… Do you honestly, and any of you can take this, uh, your, your motion suggests that there is causality between aid and the continuation of poverty in Africa, sort of like saying there is a mortgage crisis in the United States, and therefore we should get rid of banks. And my question is, are you suggesting that aid is the tool that is ultimately responsible for the eradication of poverty in Africa?
George, when you say that Africans want reform, reform, reform, and you support a motion that says aid is doing more harm than good, are you suggesting that aid is the tool that’s going to bring about reform? My question boils down to wanting to understand whether you're giving aid far more potency than it actually ever could have, or indeed should have. WILLIAM EASTERLY I can take the first one, and… So, what I was talking about was aid and economic growth. The expectation— BRIAN LEHRER
Let me just do, sorry, for the sake of the radio taping, um, William Easterly? WILLIAM EASTERLY Yeah, OK, thank you.
Uh, what I was talking about is aid and economic growth. The expectation of the aid advocates was that aid would be invested and would create economic growth, that is a steady rise in living standards of the poor population, and would gradually lead them to exit from poverty. And that is what has not happened. Uh, there has been aid but zero growth. Now, John called this a spurious correlation. Now, if any of you really do want to get tortured by economists I can try to give you some explanations of how economists deal with spurious correlations, but we have— JOHN McARTHUR I was actually referring more to the Ethiopian shootings and aid. WILLIAM EASTERLY We have methods for, for dealing with, uh, correlations. We control for lots of other factors. We deal with causality, which is causing which.
And at the end of the day the answer is pretty much the same, that aid does not generate economic growth. That was its promise, that, that promise it has failed to keep. GAYLE SMITH
But, but, if I may just very quickly, um, I consider myself one of those advocates, I have never ever presumed that economic growth was going to come, come about in Africa because of aid alone, and I, and I think the fault underlying your motion is that presumption. And I think what this side of the, the table would argue is that aid is one of those tools, and that it is having an increasingly positive impact, but that there are multiple other tools that must be brought to the table. There are the terms of trade. There are world market prices. There is governance. There is ending conflict. There is the arms trade.
There is climate change. There are any host of other factors that must be brought to bear if you want to reduce poverty in Africa. BRIAN LEHRER
George Ayittey, her initial question was to you, did you want to respond briefly? GEORGE AYITTEY Yeah, um, I um. I think, in the beginning paragraph, statement, she made a very interesting, uh, observation, and that is the complexity of this issue. You know, the way the question itself is framed doesn’t really allow us to address that. And the fact of the matter is, look, I personally believe that Africa doesn’t need aid, and I have stated this. That Africa’s begging bowl leaks horribly. I mean, you pour in aid, it just leaks out. Number one, corruption. Take the amount of aid which goes into Africa every year. The total, from all sources, twenty-five billion dollars. Compare that to the leakages. One hundred and forty-eight billion in corruption lost. Eighty billion in capital flight out of Africa every year. OK? How much money does that, do African governments spend on the military and to purchase weapons? OK? Fifteen billion. How much does Africa spend a year to import food?
Twenty billion. Back in the 1960’s, Africa not only fed itself, it exported food. OK? If we are able to plug all these leakages, we’ll find more than enough money than, than double the aid that Tony Blair, Tony Blair and Bono are going to give to Africa. OK? That’s my position.
But aid has become an industry replete with its own lobbies. OK? They want that to continue because aid, if you, if you ask George Soros he will tell you that aid benefits the donors more than the recipients. They, they would like to have this thing continue. OK? What to do? All right, this is where I say that if you want to ask the Africans, ask them what type of help they need. And this is where I believe that the mechanism that we have today, it’s not working. It has to be reformed so it benefits those that it is intended to do. BRIAN LEHRER
David Rieff, you’ve got the next question. DAVID RIEFF Yeah, I’d like, I think, I hope I'm right that it was John, that you said this, that, that you’re here to debate the present, not the past of aid. And I worry, just as a historical reading, and would ask you at least to consider the possibility that the argument you're making is the argument that the justifiers of aid have made pretty much every ten years since basically the fifties, since the, the era of de-colonization.
And I, I mean, this is actually not a polemical question, I’d like to know why you think this time it’s not simply a, as George says, a question of interest, but that one can actually legitimately say that the present of aid is, is different from all experience past? JOHN McARTHUR It’s a great question, I'm glad you raised it, David. I think, uh, the point I was trying to make is that it’s probably not a good use of our time to talk about something that happened in 1975, when our premise, our question is, is aid doing more harm than good. So that’s my basic point. We can sit here and play armchair quarterback over 1980, 1984, any year, 1962, there’s all sorts of stories, and when we turn on the news every night we’ll hear about the latest car crash. I mean, that’s the way these story tellings work.
The reason I wanted to focus on the numbers is because I think the numbers tell a very different story. Professor Ayittey asked the question, well, what do Africans want?
Well, in my conversations, quite sincerely, with Africans in rural areas where, of course, you have to keep in mind just how poor rural Africa is, these are places where they're lucky to see fifty dollars of cash in a year in a family, they're living, you know, the imputed value of the economy is, uh, estimated as many two hundred dollars per capita, in the poorest countries, they want, when I talk to them, fertilizer, bed nets, clean water, functioning clinics. They want very practical things.
And actually, George Soros is supporting work to provide that, quite specifically. So, I think it’s important that we keep in mind what the amount of resources is that’s put into this. The US, or all time US foreign aid, because we’ve talked a little bit about the US, is about forty-eight billion dollars to Africa all time since 1961. If you take out the food aid, of course, which is paying American farmers and shipping companies.
You know, that’s about two dollars and fifty cents per African per year, it’s a very small amount of money, and I don’t know what you expect to buy from that. And just for, for context, forty-eight billion is, of course, about half of what is spend in one year in Afghanistan and Iraq. Politics aside, to me that’s the comparison of a priority and not a priority in broad political terms.
So, I’d be all too elated if we were sitting here talking about fertilizer, bed nets, anti-retrovirals, which programs worked, which ones didn't. I think we’re seeing that for thirty bucks per person, from all the rich countries all around the world, to Africa, we’re getting about what we pay for. BRIAN LEHRER
And John McArthur, you get the next question. JOHN McARTHUR My question is actually, to the other side, is saying, for thirty dollars per capita per year, compared to, and I just use the past few years as a reference point, one point three million people on anti-retrovirals, twenty percentage point increase in primary enrollment, three hundred and sixty thousand children a year’s lives saved from measles, and all the other practical programs we’ve heard of, what would be success, what would be, we’ve already heard that’s good, not harm, what would be satisfactory for thirty bucks per capita, because I don’t know how much you can buy with that money. BRIAN LEHRER
Professor Ayittey. GEORGE AYITTEY Let me speak briefly to John, and that is, it’s true, you pointed out these success stories, but to me these success stories are really cleaning up the mess that past aid programs created. JOHN McARTHUR So they're doing good where there was harm. GEORGE AYITTEY
I have been to the villages myself, we are setting up malaria-free zones in villages. I have visited villages in Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, we will establish, uh, we give, uh, villages malaria, I'm sorry, anti-malaria drugs, bed nets and so forth. Everywhere that I got the villages tell me one thing, one thing that they tell me is this, look, governments have failed them.
The government says, come around, around election time, to campaign, canvas for their votes. As soon as the vote, elections are over, they don’t see them again. So they're asking you for bed nets, they're asking you for anti-malarial drugs because their governments have failed them. BRIAN LEHRER
The next question goes to William Easterly. WILLIAM EASTERLY OK, well, um, this question is partly based on my experience at the World Bank where I spent part of my career, and uh, founded a not very effective bureaucracy to, uh, resolve the world’s problems.
Uh, I want to read a couple of quotes. Uh, the first goes, "the international system is ill equipped to provide aid because of a shortage of effective institutional arrangements, and above all resolve to translate commitments into action." And the second quote is, "our foreign aid system is broken." So, it sounds like these quotes, uh, would, would be from this side of the table, but actually the first quote is from you, John, from the report “Investing in Development,” and the second quote is from you, Gayle, from your testimony to Congress. So it seems like you kind of agree that our foreign aid system is broken and it’s not working. JOHN McARTHUR So, I’d like to actually just read a quote, um… [LAUGHTER] Says, "foreign aid likely contributed to some notable successes on a global scale, such as dramatic improvements in health and education indicators in poor countries, life expectancy has risen from forty-eight years to sixty-eight years. Forty years ago a hundred and forty-one out of every thousand babies born in poor countries died before reaching their first birthday. Today thirty-six out of every thousand babies die.
Routine children immunization combined with measles vaccinations in seven southern African nations starting in 1996 virtually eliminated measles in those countries by 2000.
Donors collaborated on a program to wipe out river blindness in West Africa starting in 1974, virtually halting the transmission of the disease. Eighteen million children in twenty country area of the program were kept safe from river blindness since the program began." Pause. "Let’s put the focus back where it belongs. Get the poorest people in the world such obvious goods as the vaccines, the antibiotics, the food supplements, the improved seeds, the fertilizer, the roads, the bore holes, the water pipes, the text books, and the nurses. This is not making the poor dependent on hand-outs, it is giving the poorest people the health, nutrition, education and other inputs that raise the payoff to their own effort to better their own lives." That’s exactly what I'm saying, that’s exactly what these success stories are doing, and I congratulate Professor Easterly for writing that in his recent book, White Man’s Burden. GAYLE SMITH
Uh, and I did write the line and testified before the Senate Formulations Committee that our foreign aid system is broken. And it is absolutely broken. But that’s not what we’re here to debate. If we were, if the question before us is, is the US government foreign aid system broken, you would have unanimous agreement, this would be a very short debate, and we would be now drinking. [LAUGHTER] What we’re debating is whether the aid that comes out of that system is doing more harm than good to Africa.
I don’t believe that it is. I think it could do a lot more good. I think it could do better, I think it could be more efficient, both in the eyes of American taxpayers, and importantly, as I think all of us agree, the Africans whose lives it is intended to change.
But on the question of the aid system, absolutely it’s broken— BRIAN LEHRER But are— GAYLE SMITH As the aid itself— BRIAN LEHRER You are arguing that a broken system still does more good than harm? GAYLE SMITH Yes. BRIAN LEHRER
Correct? GAYLE SMITH Yes, because if you look at what has been achieved, and I refer not only to the kinds of things that John talked about, but if you look at things like micro-finance, like a commodity exchange, like the provision of wireless services, those things matter in people’s lives, and I believe that that is doing good. Could it do better? Absolutely. BRIAN LEHRER
C. Payne Lucas, you get the next question. C. PAYNE LUCAS Well, I’d like to ask my friend George, all these corrupt governments in Africa, first I’d like to know, is there any government in Africa that’s not corrupt? Second I would like to ask, if we end the aid, what should we, the US should do? Should we not just give them anything, just let them fend for themselves, and just restrict our, our whole effort to trade? So what is your answer to the problem? By the way, I am surprised that the number of villages that you, when do you work, you travel to these villages all the time on a continent that got eight hundred billion people in it, and you tell stories that after eight years of working in the peace corps and seeing peace corps volunteers in the bush talk about what they’ve been able to accomplish in working with Africa is phenomenal. So my question is,
what would you do if we end all this aid, so that corrupt politicians can't steal our money anymore? What would you put in its place? And especially in those countries that don’t have any natural resources, don’t have any infrastructure, and who are barely living on a hundred dollars a year. GEORGE AYITTEY
Well um, first of all, corruption is not an issue that the US should fight, it’s Africans who have to fight that battle themselves. OK? And uh, number one… If you want to fight corruption, [CLEARS THROAT], there are three basic institutions that you need. The first one, you need to have a free and independent media to expose it.
That’s how you solve the problem. That’s the first thing that you do, expose the problem. The second is to have an aggressive Attorney General to prosecute the corrupt. The third institution that you need is an independent judiciary to enforce the rule of law.
We don’t have many of these institutions in Africa, and that’s why I told you, I said that there’s six basic institutions that you need, an independent judiciary, and an independent media, free, free, an independent free media. Uh, some of the institutions that we need to fight these battles ourselves.
Now, I'm not saying that, you know, corruption, that all African governments are corrupt, there are some which are honest, OK, the government of Botswana, for example, uh, it’s a very transparent government which is doing very well, there are also some African countries which have made progress, uh, in stemming the tide of corruption.
But that’s not the issue, look, sometimes, American experts focus on the small success stories and ignore the larger picture. Okay, the World Bank was, you know, sort of, uh, been, uh, adept at this, you know, pointing out to economic success stories in Africa, ignoring the larger pictures like, you know, the Congo, Somalia, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Nigeria, countries which have collapsed.
Now, let me also— You asked me a question what should I—uh, what would I do, instead of, uh, foreign aid. I have indicated that the aid resources Africa desperately needs can be found in Africa, I coined the expression, “African solutions for African problems.”
We’re not going to go to America, we’re not going to go to China, we’re not going to go to France, we’re not going to go to Britain and beg and beg, because this devalues our pride and dignity. And this is why I said that the solutions to Africa’s problems, lie in Africa itself. BRIAN LEHRER
George Ayittey, you get to ask a question of the other side. GEORGE AYITTEY
All right, um— The question that I’d like to, um…uh, ask, is this. And, and to the other side is this. We have heard about a lot of, um, humanitarian talk, now let me put this directly to you, um, and Mr. C. Payne Lucas, since you have been involved in Africa.
Whom exactly do you want to help in Africa. The African governments or the African people. Now there’s a distinction between these two. Most Americans think that, the best way of helping the African people is by handing money over to their corrupt and incompetent governments, where do you stand on this. C. PAYNE LUCAS
Well I think we—I think we ought to help the African people. That’s why we have hundreds and hundreds of NGO’s who are doing programs all over Africa which, the government never touches one dime of the money. That’s who we want to help, we wanna help the people.
And those governments who want some help about how to create, uh, good governance and, and, and a free press and the rule of law, we stand ready to help them too. But you gotta remember, a lot of aid to Africa never goes near the government bureaucracy. You gotta remember that, that’s an important piece of the work. BRIAN LEHRER
All right. Your turn, folks. As we now open up to Q-and-A from the audience, please stand when you ask your question, and we ask that you do not start to ask your question until you have the microphone in your hand. Please make your questions short and to the point, and members of the press, please identify yourselves, as such. So, we have a questioner on this side. FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER Uh, this question is for Professor Ayittey. With the figures you gave it sounds like the corruption problem is much larger than aid. If aid stops, won’t the people suffering from the corrupt governments suffer further from that corruption. GEORGE AYITTEY
Well, I think your question supplies its own answer. And that is…if corrupt governments…are making poverty worse, and I think the object of aid is try to remove those corrupt governments, and not to hand money over to them and sort of, uh, strengthen them.
Because, we know in the past, foreign aid simply propped up these bad governments. BRIAN LEHRER [PAUSE] A question up on the left. EUVIN NAIDOO
Hello, Euvin Naidoo, President of the South African Chamber of Commerce in America. I have a question for both sides. I think the example that John McArthur picked of Malawi’s success that was flagged, uh, over the weekend on the headline news in the United States, it’s quite prescient.
Malawi had a choice to make. They could have dropped bags…of maize, as well as food from the sky…flooded the market with product, and stopped farmers from…selling their product profitably and stopping that market, instead they decided to empower farmers.
So clearly to George’s point smart aid is important. So the question is, what can be done… mechanisms in place, to create or push governments to making those type of smart decisions. That stems to two quick questions, number one.
As a fourth-generation South African and African people often talk about a Marshall Plan. Discussing this with my African colleagues is often met as a suggestion of utter nonsense, or, it’s met as a suggestion that’s needed.
It’s also been echoed by many US leaders as something that Africa needs. Is this part of the solution. The other point is that, in many discussions on aid, and particularly with African colleagues, many of us feel excluded from the decisions of where aid goes.
Is this a perception. If it is a perception, what can be done to alter this perception. If it is a reality that Africans are not involved in these decisions of where these billions of dollars go, what can then be done, thank you. BRIAN LEHRER
Would somebody on the con side like to answer first? GAYLE SMITH Um, [UNCLEAR] that— JOHN McARTHUR
I just would wanna make a couple of quick points, uh, what— BRIAN LEHRER John McArthur. JOHN McARTHUR
Thank you, great question, and the Malawi example is really important because it was about providing subsidies for fertilizer and seeds again, and it was, uh, donors who provided the aid to make that possible. It was a big fight, and then the government said that they wanted to do it, the President took the bold stand, his ministers took the stand, and they did it, and it reached a million households, again, doubling food production in just two years.
The Marshall Plan is actually an interesting example for many reasons, because that actually worked out to, just for reference, $85 per European per year, in constant dollar terms.
That was to a rich country doing a bunch of stuff after a war, we give, you know, a fraction of that to Africa which has much deeper needs, and much deeper poverty today, when we give support totally of $30 per capita.
But in terms of your last question of the exclusion from where the aid goes, it actually answers the Marshall Plan point too. I think the basic proposition has to be that the Africans are empowered, the African countries, the societies within those countries, are empowered to put forward their own plans.
To put in action their own proposals, that’s actually what’ s happened, with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. The countries put forward their proposals, they submit the proposal to the pool of funds, and then, the funding actually is made available to finance that proposal.
That’s how we’ve got so many people on anti-retroviral treatment, that’s how we’ve got tens of millions of bed-nets distributed, so we’ve got millions of people on tuberculosis treatment as well. It’s that notion of supporting the African countries just like Malawi, and just like it’s happened all over the world, to put in action their own plans. BRIAN LEHRER
Someone on the pro side? DAVID RIEFF Yeah. Um, let me do it, if I may— BRIAN LEHRER David—David Rieff. DAVID RIEFF
The, um—I, I, I think the Marshall Plan is precisely interesting because it, it…comes back to the point that George Ayittey keeps making and, and I think is the essential point which is the point of the state. The problem with the Marshall Plan, John, is not that it was $85 to a small number of states rather than $30. It was that there were functioning states there to administer it.
The Marshall Plan would have had no hope whatsoever, of working historically, had the Allied powers in the aftermath of World War II not reestablished the German state…for one thing, it was the first thing they did when they arrived.
So you cannot get around this question, that as I say George Ayittey keeps raising, which is, your are talking— And it gets very fluid here, the answer was, well, societies, countries— Well, what do we mean. What’s gonna happen, you’re gonna shoot your way in if you don’t like the state?
Uh, I mean societies, countries, we talk all this—I mean civil society is a… descriptive term that keeps being min— misused in the, in the NGO world as a, as a—sorry, descriptive term, misused as a prescriptive term all the time.
It’s not as if civil society can stand up to the power of the state like that. So that, you know, these, these models seem to me to avoid…the problem, because precisely people don’t wanna talk about politics, precisely because I think,
with all due respect, the mistake that both particularly US NGO’s and the UN system make, over and over again, is the idea that as I believe one, either Gayle or John put it, you can ring-fence it from politics. You can’t. GAYLE SMITH
Let me… May I? ‘Cause, ‘cause I—I… I have a trouble—a problem with this…motion ‘cause it’s not very scientific, I mean, what is aid. There’s US government aid, there are billions of dollars in aid, there’s the Gates Foundation. The prize that C. Payne mentioned that was given to President Chissano of Mozambique was given by an African foundation.
That was African aid, if you will, or African philanthropy. But I—I think there are, uh… So, a number of things that are being conflated, and these tools can be used effectively or ineffectively, and they’re not all the same, and some have constraints on them and some don’t.
I—I think also on, on the Marshall Plan there’s something we’re ignoring here, we’re—again, we are suggesting somehow, that aid is like the invention of the wheel. And that aid is going to be the thing that transforms Africa and I—and I think if we all thought about that we would reject that but the way we’re discussing it suggests otherwise.
The Marshall Plan, yes, had to do, with reestablishing states. It also had a lot to do with policy, it wasn’t just aid. There were policies regarding the terms of trade and other things that were afforded Europe that have not been afforded Africa, so let’s not hold aid accountable, for the fact that the terms of trade are skewed against Africa. BRIAN LEHRER
Our time is— GAYLE SMITH The last—the last— BRIAN LEHRER —our stime [sic] is—time is starting to run very short— GAYLE SMITH
Okay, just very quickly— BRIAN LEHRER But if you’re gonna— If you’re gonna make a distinction between government aid, and private aid like from the Gates Foundation, what is that distinction, very briefly, and can private aid do things that government aid cannot— GAYLE SMITH
Yes, I think private aid is much, much more flexible. At—at one level you’re right, David, I mean government aid is always going to have, to some extent politics but also taxpayer accountability, oh, but assuming that that’s something we can achieve again in the near term. BRIAN LEHRER
Is there any kind of— GAYLE SMITH I—I— [LAUGHTER] Uh, but, but…I have to make one point here. I think it is a gross disservice to Africa, to suggest that all African governments are corrupt, that every leader is, is evil, that there are no African states, Africa’s a very, very diverse place.
And to that young woman who is 18 or 19 years old in Ghana or Zambia or even Zimbabwe, who hopes to go to work in a government ministry to serve her people, I think we need to be a little bit careful, about suggesting that all governments in Africa are bad. Because God forbid if they don’t have governments, it all looks like Somalia— DAVID RIEFF
There were 18-year-old women in Stalin’s Russia— BRIAN LEHRER Right— DAVID RIEFF —who had the same ambition— BRIAN LEHRER
But just thir—David, just— DAVID RIEFF —I don’t see the point of that really. GAYLE SMITH But— BRIAN LEHRER
Just 30 seconds on private aid, is there any— GAYLE SMITH The point of that— BRIAN LEHRER —com—is there any common ground there? Is the Gates Foundation aid— DAVID RIEFF
I—it used to be said in the '90s when George Soros had more money, that he did what the United States didn’t have the money to do. I think this is quite, uh, an interlocking net of institutions. Aid is a system, it’s an international system. The idea that somehow you can say, well, governments, that’s not good but somehow Gates or Soros— The truth is, this is one system, and again, it’s a system that doesn’t work. BRIAN LEHRER
Okay, one more question, from the floor, who’s got it. Does somebody? Or no. All the way in the back. BILL HARTUNG
Yes, Bill Hartung from the New America Foundation. There was a brief mention of things like military aid, arms trade, war, so I figured I’d have a nice narrow question for the last one. Um… Do you think that aid, military or economic, can be part of a platform, can contribute to an effort to reduce conflict in Africa. GEORGE AYITTEY
No, uh, I will also echo that, uh, I think, uh, generally when, when, when you talk about foreign aid, now of course there are several types of aid, there is humanitarian aid, uh, assistance, relief, like, you know, those that, uh, uh, the rich, uh, countries send out to victims of earthquakes and flooding, I mean that’s another thing, humanitarian aid.
And then there’s military aid, and then there is official development assistance, ODA. Uh, that is what, uh, technically is called development aid and I think this question is about that type of, uh, assistance. BRIAN LEHRER One minute from this side? JOHN McARTHUR
Yeah, can I just say I think it’s important to keep in mind, uh, how poor much of Africa is. So, it’s actually not the right comparison to compare it to Europe which was, you know, poorest country was maybe $5,000 per capita, uh, 50 years ago, 50 years ago. We’re talking about countries that, $200 per capita. Where a bed net, or $8 for a school fee makes a big difference.
So if you wanna actually, uh, prevent conflict, in places where the rains fail and people fight, and conflict is exacerbated, when the rains fail ‘cause there’s not enough food, I would support fertilizer and seeds to grow more food.
This is a really practical point. I think we need to understand also that there are so many countries with great governments, and if there are 16 or 18 or 25 or however many where we can all agree the governments are fantastic, if it’s just about governance, why aren’t those countries just taking off all across Africa, why aren’t we seeing 10 percent growth all across Africa.
Because there’s more to it, and even the most heroic leaders in Africa, in Mali, and Burkina Faso, and Tanzania, and Malawi…they’re all facing deep challenges of extreme poverty where people have no money, they can’t afford a bed-net,
they can’t afford a $25 bag of fertilizer, a $10 can of seeds, and they’re too poor to get on that first rung of the ladder of economic development. And aid can help do that, it’s not enough to do that, but we have to understand what it is trying to achieve, and I think 1.3 million people on anti-retrovirals is a pretty good start. Thank you. BRIAN LEHRER
And now the final remarks from the panelists, beginning with the side opposing the motion, panelists, please stay in your seats for these remarks. Each debater has two minutes with a one-minute warning. Gayle Smith. GAYLE SMITH Uh— Thank you. Excuse me. I think it’s important to note that this debate is in the present tense. It’s not in the past tense, the question is, is aid to Africa…doing more harm than good. No, I don’t think it is, I think it’s more—doing more good than harm.
Can it do more good? Absolutely. But I think if we hold aid accountable for all of Africa’s ills we’re going to lose sight of what aid can do. Aid is changing people’s lives, it is investing in transformation, it is imperfect but it has improved exponentially.
And I think if you asked a majority of people, whether they be people whose children are alive today because they’ve got ARV’s, or whether they be people who now have access to wireless Internet and whether that aid came from a private foundation,
from a government, from an individual through an NGO, I think they would say it’s doing a lot of good and I hope you will vote accordingly. BRIAN LEHRER One minute. You’re done. Um— GAYLE SMITH I’m—I’m done. BRIAN LEHRER David Rieff. DAVID RIEFF
Well, I—I think the first thing you have to do is distinguish between aid and help. The reason that this side of the…table has kept arguing and insisting that aid does more harm than good is not because we’re against help, but because aid is a system, and that system is corrupt, inefficient, and wrongheaded, in the main. That you can have a zillion anecdotes, that anyone would rather have, as I put it about humanitarianism, a bed for the night than no bed for the night, doesn’t make it a good system.
And the thing is, yes. If a—if the only relief you get is someone bringing you a bed net, or some fertilizer, obvious—and the choice is formulated as, would you prefer a bed net, or would you prefer nothing, well, then sure, then you get a, you get a nice kind of Enver Hoxha [PH] style majority for aid. But those aren’t the choices. BRIAN LEHRER One minute. DAVID RIEFF
The choices are…talking about things that would have—if implemented, fair trade being in my view the most important, would have infinitely more positive effects, and that in effect by concentrating on aid, we’re ignoring in fact, the things that actually would make people’s lives better, that they would say, I’ll still take aid if my choices are aid and nothing. Yeah, but, that’s really not the issue here. BRIAN LEHRER John McArthur. JOHN McARTHUR
Thank you, and thank you to the panel and I, I just wanna stress that I’m of the view that we’re all aiming for the same ambition, which is to support people who want to, uh, make their own lives better throughout Africa. And so I wanna also make sure we don’t lose track of the key question which is whether aid does more harm than good.
David Rieff in his opening comments rejected the proposition, ‘cause it’s not a good way to frame the question. We’ve talked about all these elements of the question, each of which suggest it’s just not a good way to frame the point.
The point is, that for $30 per capita, even when I asked the question of the other side, they couldn’t answer what they expected— or they didn’t answer, what they expected to buy. ‘Cause $30 per person doesn’t buy you much. And the fact that we have so many successes, shows actually that aid can do tremendous good.
Does it solve all the problems in the world? No. Is it enough to provide magic across the continent? No. BRIAN LEHRER One minute— JOHN McARTHUR Should we put it into the arms of corrupt leaders? No. Do we do that on purpose anywhere? No. Do we stop doing it across the continent when it’s caught? That’s the point. We need to focus on the things that people are asking for and they want, the bed nets, the fertilizer, the medicine, the schools.
We’re seeing tens of millions of people benefit from those programs, not just the million that are getting then anti-retrovirals. That was the one that was impossible. And I urge you to reject this motion, ‘cause it’s not even the right way to think about supporting those who want it. Thank you. BRIAN LEHRER William Easterly. WILLIAM EASTERLY
Well, I wasn’t the one who invented the objective of the end of poverty being the objective of aid, that’s the title of Jeff Sach’s book, uh, the boss of John McArthur. Uh, that’s the goal of the United Nations millennium development goals to end poverty.
And what I’m arguing, and all of us on this side are arguing is that’s an unrealistic and unobtainable goal, that aid cannot achieve the end of poverty. And in fact an aid system that is designed as it now to be mainly about ending poverty, cannot even be held accountable for anyone doing even these modest, tangible things, that all of us agree are good things to do.
Because money does not unfortunately automatically translate into results. The fact that you can say, for example, that, uh, a 10-cent oral rehydration therapy kit will save a baby’s life from dying from dehydration due to diarrhea. That doesn’t mean that the 10 cents will—of course there’s enough money there to pay for these 10-cent kits. And yet still, two million babies died last year, from dehydration— BRIAN LEHRER One minute— WILLIAM EASTERLY
—for lack of these 10-cent kits. And what I cannot support is an aid system that aims at these utopian objec—unobtainable objectives, of achieving the end of poverty, which is up to the Africans themselves, not to, uh, patronizing Western donors.
And I would support a system that does focus on modest, tangible goals for the—that aid sys—that aid agencies will be held accountable for, that they will be blamed, when someone is supposed to get oral rehydration kits, and doesn’t get them and a baby dies.
That is an aid system that would work but that is not the aid system that we have now. The aid system that we have now does more harm than good by propping up the corrupt autocrats, under the utopian objective that they are un—the illusion of creating development. Which aid has failed to make any progress on throughout its history. BRIAN LEHRER C. Payne Lucas. C. PAYNE LUCAS
Well, you know, this, this motion is, uh… they’re ignoring the, uh, motion, it is not about the aid system. It’s not about ending poverty. It is about whether aid does good or harm. One of the things that we have this evening, we have to remember that aid is always changing. For the last 22 months, we have been meeting on the—a Congressional mandate on how to make aid more effective.
We created a Millennium Challenge account, which in one country like Ghana we made $500 million available to the private sector, that the government had nothing to do with. In order to get that money they had to have, uh, rule of law, they had to have freedom of speech, they had to be accountable to the bookkeeping that we imposed, and it was run entirely by Ghanaians.
The question is, the new, the new paradigm for us in aid is, it must be locally owned, it’s the ownership has to be locally owned, it has to be sustainable, it has to be accountable, and it has to be evaluated all along the trail.
So, we are now in a partnership with the religious and faith-based organizations, we’re in a partnership with our allies, we’re in a partnership with NGO’s, we’re in a partnership with Doctors Without Borders, coming together to find the right solution to make it work. We do know one thing. It has to be African-led, and African-owned. BRIAN LEHRER George Ayittey, your closing remarks. GEORGE AYITTEY Well, thank you very much, I think, you know—I certainly understand, um, how— you know, Americans are very generous people, and they certainly would like to help Africa.
But quite often, very often, they, they have been sort of encumbered by political correctness. The unwillingness to criticize…uh…bad polices in Africa for fear that if you’re a white person and criticize a black African leader you’ll be labeled racist.
That has silenced a lot of people. The nonsense in Africa must stop. Bad leadership is one of our many problems in Africa. And the foreign aid donors compound this problem. Let me give you an example, in 1979 a Norwegian agen—aid agency went to Kenya to help the Turkana tribespeople. And the Norwegian agen— agency decided, uh, the best way of helping the Takana tribespeople is to build them a fish-freezing plant. After the plant was built at the cost of $25 [sic], all the media people were invited, even the— BRIAN LEHRER One minute— GEORGE AYITTEY
—village brass band was invited. And, but there was a small problem. They discovered that the Turkana people don’t fish. They raise goats. Now, we have seen blunders upon blunders of such foreign aid programs in Africa. Now we are asking you to vote for the motion, not because we want to cut up aid—cut off aid, but, to send a strong message, that the system needs to be reformed, so that better aid, smart aid is sent to Africa. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] BRIAN LEHRER
And thank you to all our panelists for your eloquence and your passion tonight, it is now time for you to decide who carried the day. Once again, please pick up the keypad attached to the left armrest of your seat. After my prompt, press 1 if you are for the motion, “Aid to Africa is doing more harm than good,” 2 if you are against the motion, or 3 if you are undecided. Please cast your vote, now. [PAUSE] BRIAN LEHRER
So while your votes are being tabulated, and we’ll give you the results in just a minute, I wanna thank the debaters and the audience for all your good work, and before I announce the results of the vote I wanna take care of a few things. The next Intelligence Squared US debate will be Tuesday, January 15th here at the Asia Society and Museum.
The motion to be debated then is, “We Should Accept Performance-Enhancing Drugs in Competitive Sports.” [LAUGHTER] That… will be moderated by NBC’s Bob Costas. The panelists for that apparently humorous framing… [LAUGHTER] are for the motion, former Canadian Ben Johnston [sic]—uh, Johnson… [LAUGHTER]
New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell, and profe— oh, he’s not with The New Yorker anymore? And professor of pediatrics and bioethics at the University of Wisconchin [sic]— Wisconsin Norman Fost. Against the motion, sportscaster and creator of Sports Machine George Michael, former major league baseball outfielder and catcher Dale Murphy—he was good—and Richard Pound, chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency. PANELIST [INAUDIBLE, LAUGHTER] BRIAN LEHRER
That’ll apparently be an evening full of mirth. [LAUGHTER] An edited version of tonight’s Intelligence Squared US debate can be heard locally on WYNC-AM 820, on Sunday, December 16th at 8 p.m. These debates are also heard on more than 80 NPR stations across the country, please check your local NPR member station listings for dates and times of broadcast outside of New York City.
Copies of books by William Easterly—only I can see this—and David Rieff are on sale upstairs in the lobby, you can also purchase DVD’s from previous debates, here tonight or from the Intelligence Squared US website. And now, the debate results. Remember before the debate you voted 24 percent for the motion, 34 percent against the motion, and 42 percent undecided.
After our debaters did their best to sway you, you voted, 41 percent for the motion, 51 percent against the motion, 8 percent were undecided, which means those opposed to the motion have carried the day. Congratulations. [APPLAUSE] And thanks again to all of you for coming, good night. END