The World at War
War close to home - in Ireland - is news. War fomenting East/West conflict - in Afghanistan or the Middle East - is news. War threatening the West's economic lifelines - in Iran or South Africa - is news. Front pages and leader columns smoulder with opinion, analysis, even hysteria.
But whatever happened to the wars in Chad, and Ethiopia, in Thailand and Peru? The Pacifist has been scanning the press to compile its own picture of a world at war. And it's not a pretty picture.
The Pacifist defines war as being 'armed conflict involving government troops'. And it reports that even our limited and biased press identified over 30 regions fulfilling this definition in the first four months of this year.
Afghanistan: 100,000 Russian troops together with a depleted Afghan army are fighting the Mojahadin guerrillas. More than 1,000,000 Afghan refugees are in camps in Pakistan. Possibility of US military aid for rebels.
Angola: South African raids into Angola - more than 3,000 Angolans killed over the past four years.
Bangladesh: Bush war between government forces and tribal people in the Chittagong hill tracts over the question of regional autonomy.
Chad: Civil war between 11 warring military and political factions ended by the intervention of the Lybian army. Over 300,000 refugees.
Colombia: Government military forces mount large-scale operations against left-wing guerrillas with weapons reputedly from Costa Rica.
East Timor: Small scale guerrilla activity against Indonesian troops.
El Salvador: Civil war waged by the Farabundo Marti Liberation Front and government forces. Guerrillas allegedly receive weapons from Cuba and Nicaragua. Government financed by Washington.
Ethiopia: Guerrilla war in the Ogaden (Western Somali Liberation Front); near the Kenyan border (Coromo Liberation Front); and north-east of Addis Ababa (Afar Liberation Front). War of secession between the Ethiopian Army and various liberation fronts in Tigre and Eritrea.
Guatemala: Guerrilla war between left-wing insurgents and the right-wing military dictatorship has escalated.
India: Crackdown by the Indian army on tribal insurgents in the state of Assam - fighting for the removal of Bangladesh immigrants. More than 35 bomb blasts this year.
Indonesia: Bands of West Papuan freedom fighters still resisting Indonesian rule.
Iran: Clashes between Kurdish rebels and revolutionary guards.
Iran-Iraq: The 8 month war has come to a stale-mate. Iraqi casualties - several thousand. Iranian casualties - 20,000.
Israel: Incursions and skirmishes between Palestine Liberation Organisation and Israel.
Kampuchea: Armed resistance against the Vietnamese backed government is soon to be brought under a unified command. At present three separate guerrilla forces - some 40,000 fighters - are fighting the Vietnamese army along the Thai/Cambodian border.
Laos: Armed border clashes between Thai and Lao troops.
Lebanon: Syrian troops are fighting Christian forces to establish control over the Lebanese mountain region. Israel has stepped up air raids on Palestinian positions in southern Lebanon.
Mozambique: South African raids into Mozambique. Clashes between guerrillas of the pro-Western National Resistance Movement and government forces.
Namibia: Liberation war between South West African People's Organisation and South African armed forces has escalated with some 320 guerrillas killed this year.
Nicaragua: Armed incursions by former members of Somoza's National Guard continue from Honduran territory.
Peru: Territorial conflict with Ecuador over an area in the Andes.
Philippines: Attacks by both Muslim rebels and the Movement for a Free Philippines have claimed 30 lives so far this year.
Spain: Spanish army units have joined the Guardia Civil in fighting the Basque separatist movement after a spate of violence earlier this year.
Somalia: Western Somali Liberation Front financed by Somalia, continues to fight guerrilla war against Ethiopian forces in the Ogaden desert; the influx of refugees from the battle zone has not been halted - at present more than 80,000 refugees in camps inside Somalia.
Syria: Armed clashes between Muslim Brotherhood and Syrian troops.
Thailand: Large-scale counter-insurgency operation against communist guerrillas and hill tribesmen in central Thailand.
Turkey: Military security operations against left-wing groups and racial minorities.
Uganda: A situation bordering on civil war has arisen in Uganda. Ugandan Freedom Movement and Movement for the Struggle for Political Rights are fighting government forces who are backed by Tanzanian soldiers. Tribal massacre in the West Nile province.
United Kingdom: British 'peace-keeping force' still clashes with Irish Republican Army.
Vietnam: Small-scale guerrilla and propaganda war on the Vietnamese-Chinese border involving non-Vietnamese tribal people.
Western Sahara: Struggle between Algerian and Mauritanian-backed Polisario forces and Moroccan troops for the phosphate-rich former colony.
Zimbabwe: Violent clashes between ZIPRA and ZANLA guerrillas - more than 1,000 people homeless.
Laying it on the line
And you always thought aid was about feeding the hungry and helping the poor right? Wrong. Just in case there were any lingering doubts about the real motives for aid, a spokesman for the Reagan administration has spelled things out in black and white.
According to a US State Department official quoted in the Journal of Commerce, America's allocation of foreign aid will depend on how Third World countries come to heel-and-toe the US line during United Nations votes. 'US policy will be to demonstrate with action why it is beneficial to vote with us,' the official warned. 'When somebody comes to us and says "I need more foreign aid",' he continued with the astonishing candor of the new US administration, 'we will say "Wait a minute - last week there was an interesting issue in the UN and a very close vote. Where were you?"'
President Reagan and his advisors refer to this approach as 'linkage'. Less charitable critics call it blackmail. But this attitude is nothing new to Third World nations.
Now the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has raised its concerted voice in criticism of the aid policy of the Reagan administration. Meeting in Paris at the beginning of June, the OECD's Development Assistance Committee pointed out that official US aid was only 0.27 % GNP - a record for meanness outdone only by Austria and Italy. And of $2.5 billion in US economic assistance proposed for 1982, two countries at the heart of the Middle East tensions - Israel and Egypt - will receive 60 per cent, while nearly a third of the aid budget went to the Middle East last year.
The administration promises that what it calls 'emphasis accorded to security considerations' will not cause, development to suffer. But the 1982 aid allocation is considerably lower in real terms than that pledged in 1979.
And, as a logical extension of its concept of 'linkage', the US has decided to devote only a small proportion (13 per cent compared to Britain's 43 per cent) of its aid budget to UN agencies and other multilateral bodies. Clearly Reagan's global police force wants to know exactly where its money is going.
The Panthers bare their claws
The violence led by upper caste medical students in Gandhi's home state of Gujarat against harijans ('untouchables') during the early months of this year seems to have backfired on the instigators.
The students were demanding abolition of the 'reservation' system which guarantees harijans and tribal people representation in Parliament and State assemblies, places at educational institutions and government jobs in proportion to their numbers. The violence produced only minor concessions by the government. But, more importantly, the shock of the students' physical onslaughts on harijan communities has forced harijans to organise for their own defence.
Instigating counter agitation and running refugee camps for victims of caste violence, the militant group known as the Dalit Panthers (dalit means oppressed) came to the fore in taking harijans' grievances to the government.
The Dalit Panthers, modelled on the Black Panthers of the US, and aiming to defend and promote the interests of down trodden communities, began in 1972 as a radical literary movement in Bombay.
The Gujarat Dalit Panthers, of more recent origin, whose members are mostly government employees of harijan origin have often been mocked as being 'panthers without teeth or claws'. But their determined and effective stand during this year's protests has shown them to be a real force to be reckoned with in future intercaste struggles.
Yet the Dalit Panthers are far from being staunch defenders of the present 'reservation' system that is supposed to uplift lower castes and tribal people. Arguing that this system has created its own privileged class, Dalit Panther philosophy represents 'a revolt against their own elite and also against the obvious enemy, the upper caste,' according to India Today columnist S.Nihal Singh.
In education, for example, reserved places at colleges and universities are snapped up by children of affluent harijan and tribal families who have already 'made it' and now form an exclusive, self-perpetuating elite.
The Panthers also reject the present system of reserved seats for harijans in Parliament and State assemblies, in which candidates are selected - not by their own communities - but by political parties in which the powerful intermediate and upper castes are dominant.
But, it is in their attacks on the very fountainhead of Indian society that the Panthers' radical critique goes deepest: Hinduism itself is criticised because it condemns the lowest castes to a position of perpetual inferiority, subservience and indignity. Many Dalit Panthers in Maharashtra State have totally rejected Hinduism and adopted Buddhism instead. Armed with the new self-confidence gained from successfully resisting the attacks of upper caste agitators earlier this year, Gujarat's Dalit Panthers are now well-placed to widen their membership and start building up a solid power base in rural areas. This will inevitably bring them into conflict with supporters of the Congress Party who have a vested interest in keeping harijans in a position of subservience. Further caste conflict seems certain. But the Dalit Panthers demonstrate that oppressed minorities in India will not forever accept injustice and exploitation without protest.
Arming the right
The carefully orchestrated media campaign by Alexander Haig and the US State Department to publicise the supposed threat of Soviet-backed terrorism in El Salvador has temporarily abated. The retrenchment was at least partly due to the mounting level of public opposition in the US to another Vietnam-style debacle. Opinion polls consistently showed the majority of the American public was opposed to military intervention in Central America and countless small protests across the country culminated recently in a massive 100,000 turn-out in Washington to demonstrate against US involvement in El Salvador. It was the largest demonstration in Washington since the Vietnam war.
Although the media hype has simmered down now, there is no indication that the Reagan administration has changed direction or lowered its hysterical banner of communist subversion. In fact there is new evidence to indicate US support for Guatemala - El Salvador's neighbour - another dictatorship with a pitiful human rights record.
Paramilitary death squads linked to General Garcia's government are believed to be responsible for the murders of 76 leaders of the centrist Christian Democratic Party since February 1980. And Guatemala's military leaders and their right-wing supporters in agribusiness and the export/import sector are reputed to be among the most virulent and mindless anti-communists in the region.
President Jimmy Carter, riding high on the crest of his human rights campaign, suspended military aid and training to the Guatemalan regime four years ago. But the Reagan administration is now poised to reach for its cheque book in support of renewed military aid to counter what it terms 'major insurgency' in the area. Such 'major insurgency' consists of an estimated 2,000 poorly-armed guerrillas scattered in small pockets throughout the largest of Central American nations.
Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs John Bushnell told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the level of violence in Guatemala is now similar to that in El Salvador last year. Predictably, Bushnell pinned the blame for the growing strength of guerrilla opposition on Cuba and the Soviet Union. 'Its hard for any small country to withstand a major assault with ,assistance from one superpower and its friend without help from another superpower', Bushnell explained. No formal request for aid has been made by Guatemala, but Washington has received 'feelers' about selling spare parts for the country's US-built helicopters. The light, manoeuvrable aircraft are critical for attacking guerrillas in Guatemala's mountainous countryside.
But before the US could begin to re-arm the Guatemalan military, the State Department will have to find some way to duck the current law banning military aid to countries guilty of 'gross and consistant violations of human rights.' That may not prove too difficult for Mr. Bushnell and his associates, however. Human rights, like any other convenient piece of vote-catching rhetoric, are expendable when they conflict with other US interests. The US House Foreign Affairs Committee, with Bushnell's urging, recently repealed a 1978 embargo on arms sales to Argentina. The original embargo was passed because of widespread human right violations: the Argentine government has yet to explain the 'disappearance' of almost 20,000 persons during the last six years of military rule.
Friends and neighbours
Of all the prescriptions for Third World economic development, probably none has more potential than regional co-operation between developing countries themselves. The theory is simple enough: developing countries find it hard to industrialise because they have little money to invest and because their people are too poor to buy whatever is produced. So their investments have to come from abroad and their goods have to be exported for sale. That leaves the Third World dependent as ever on the market trends and meager mercies of the rich nations.
The obvious escape from this vicious circle of underdevelopment is for Third World countries to agree among themselves and plan their economies on a regional basis - thereby excluding the West and its remorseless economic logic as far as possible. One country makes steel, another smelts aluminium, a third manufactures machine tools, and so on. Economies of scale are achieved, trade barriers between the co-operating countries are knocked down, and goods begin to flow between them. Co-operation can replace the competition when countries need no longer vie for the favour of the fickle industrial West and self-reliant regional development should result.
Yet despite these advantages the majority of developing countries continue to devote their efforts to seeking development on the West's terms - asking for more aid, pleading for greater market access.
But attempts have been made to forge development from the alloy of regional co-operation. Some have failed dismally - like the East African Community which promised so much but finally fell apart when the political differences between Nyrere's Tanzania, Kenyatta's Kenya and Amin's Uganda grew too wide for the economic stitching to hold.
Most notable of the survivors is the Andean Pact. Loosely uniting Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, the Pact celebrates its twelfth anniversary this summer. And its achievements over the last decade speak for themselves. Trade between Pact members has grown from $0.1 billion to $1.4 billion a year, a much faster increase than trade between Latin America and the outside world. Peru, for example, has increased exports to its Pact partners from a mere $20 million in 1970 to today's $550.
Nonetheless the Pact has problems. Peru seems about to flout the agreed rules on foreign investment. Venezuela and Columbia are haggling over borders and illegal immigrants. Ecuador and Peru are also disputing territory and last year's military coup in Bolivia has set back plans for increasing political unity in the group. Most important of all, the collective industrial planning which holds the key to successful regional co-operation is proving difficult to achieve.
All the members are agreed on the theory: that particular types of industrial activity should be allotted amongst themselves, allowing each to specialise and benefit from large-scale production and markets. But the nitty-gritty of who gets what is proving a tricky negotiating issue.
Still, it would be surprising if the Pact's progress were painless and the history of co-operation in the five Andean countries remains the Third World's most successful attempt at development through regional economic integration.
Twenty years a paying
Trying to stir up interest in Washington about something which happened twenty years ago in Africa may seem like a definition of whistling in the wind. But that's the aim of the Association of Ghanaians in North America (AGNA). 'We can't let sleeping dogs lie any longer' says Kojo Arthur, spokesman for the Association 'because Ghana is still paying the price of what happened in the 1960s.'
The price referred to is the Akosombo Dam on Ghana's Volta River - a project which Kwame Nkrumah thought would bring electricity to Ghana's homes and industries and power his nation into the twentieth century. Today, thirteen years after the dam was completed, less than a half of one per cent of the rural population lives in homes with electricity and Ghana faces severe power shortages.
Such a colossal failure did not come about by accident, says the AGNA. It happened, they claim, through the connivance of the State Department, US intelligence agencies, the World Bank, and a major multinational corporation. And the plot is just as familiar as the characters.
Eager to save Nkrumah's Ghana from the Russian bear-hug, the West offered to finance the new leader's craving for a quick fix of industrialisation. With Western aid thus assured, the giant multinational Kaiser Aluminium picked up the contract and digging began.
Today, the Akosombo produces 99 per cent of all the electricity generated in Ghana. But it has hardly electrified the nation's progress. And one of the reasons is that 70 per cent of the dam's electricity is diverted at cut-rate prices to a private aluminium smelting plant run by - you guessed it - Kaiser Aluminium Corp.
Many Ghanaians now believe that the Akosombo Dam project and all the promises it held for Ghana's future were merely a front for the Corporation's real purpose - cheap electricity for its smelting operation. Smelting aluminium takes ten times as much electricity as smelting steel - and accounts for two-thirds of the industry's capital costs. So cheap electricity is vital. And that's just what the Volta River project has given Kaiser.
Meanwhile Ghana's own reserves of bauxite lie unexploited in the ground because there are no facilities to convert it to aluminium. Instead, Kaiser ships bauxite from Jamaica for conversion to aluminium in Louisanna and then imports the product to the smelter in Ghana where electricity costs are, of course, drastically lower.
No such story would be complete without a guest appearance by the International Monetary Fund and, sure enough, the AGNA has also shown that, an IMF team did indeed visit Ghana shortly after the overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah in 1965. The visit, was to advise the new military government to scrap almost all Nkrumah's schemes for industrial and rural electrification. With no domestic 'demand' for electricity, a 'surplus' was created. And the Kaiser Aluminium Corp found itself in a position to help out.
Now Ghana's new government is trying to renegotiate its contract with Kaiser - a contract which includes a 30-year guaranteed tax rate, a 30-year import duty exemption, and 50-years of cut-price electricity.
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