New Internationalist

Letters

Issue 106

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[image, unknown] LETTERS

[image, unknown] BRANDT REPORT[image, unknown]

Cartoon by R. K. Laxman. Heathnote

Mr Heath, in arguing that multinational corporations (MNCs) are the main engine for development (NI No. 104), points out that 'It's the British multinationals which helped develop mining and coal and the rest of it which have given Australians their higher standard of living.'

This statement summarises the misconception of Brandt that 'development' (ie. any change in the situation of the poor) equals 'growth' (usually the rich growing richer and the poor poorer).

It is mining MNCs like Rio Tinto Zinc that have underdeveloped the Third World and the native people in Australia and America. Australia's aborigines have lost their lands and livelihood to enable RTZ to mine uranium for the West's 'development' of nuclear weapons. How can an organisation which supports Apartheid in South Africa, breaks international sanctions in Namibia and exploits resources and people in Bolivia, Indonesia and elsewhere be said to be of any benefit to the world?

Surely development is not about a 'higher standard of living' for the rich but about justice for the poor.

John de Waal
Pembroke College
Cambridge

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Not all bad

Whilst I am in much sympathy with your suspicions regarding the multinational companies, I find myself disappointed at the manner in which you have criticised the Brandt Report (NI No. 104).

The Report contains many good proposals, is a great advance on present trends in world affairs and provides one of the few rallying points to avoid world disaster. I suggest it would be more profitable to concentrate on the report's proposal for initiating a 'World Development Fund . . . channelling an increasing share of development finance through regional institutions'.

With many international conferences due to take place in the next few months I believe that the time is very opportune to initiate more study on the implications of regional development. My fear is that your articles on Brandt may tend to discourage support for the Report.

Ted Dunn
Lawford,
Manningtree
Essex

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Comrade Reagan?
The newest in-word is 'stability'. Often the meaning behind it is 'keep the old system going or we shall get revolution and communism.' That is the message behind the Brandt Report - an appeal to enlightened self-interest.

But the hard-faced old man at the White House turns a deaf ear to even this selfish appeal for more aid. Instead, just before the Mexico summit, he lectures the developing countries, saying that economic freedom and not massive transfers of wealth from the industrialised countries offers the best answer to their deep-seated problems.

To help themselves they should 'improve the climate for private investment'. I sometimes wonder whether Reagan is not a secret Russian stooge. If he were he couldn't be doing more than he is doing to hasten the collapse of the 'free world' and a communist takeover.

Peter Little
Henley-on-Thames
UK

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Develop and divide
I read with some interest your brief Update on, Least Developed Countries (NI No.103).

The day that the magazine arrived CBC radio carried a report, on the eve of the Mexico summit, to the effect that the US government was to implement a plan for development in ten developing nations based on 'private sector', 'free enterprise' development tactics, to 'show how it can be done'. I do not recall the whole list, but it included Costa Rica, Jamaica, Indonesia, Kenya.

The fascinating thing is that this list does not include a single one of the 31 countries in your Update column. Is this a strategy of triage?

Jordan Bishop
Sydney
Cape Breton

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[image, unknown] DISARMAMENT[image, unknown]

Nothing left
To Margaret Taylor (NI Letters No. 100), I ask what rich pickings she can imagine after a nuclear war. My mind is blank.

Joe Johnson
South Derry
Northern Ireland

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Categories of killing
I am a Catholic, and over 20 years ago I marched with CND. At the time I was scorned and jeered at by members of my own Church.

With few exceptions, Catholics shunned and reviled the anti-nuclear movement, so it is with some surprise, and not a little cynicism, that I listen today to the protestations on behalf of human life that are coming from that source.

Nowadays I have decided to treat with contempt passionate pleas against abortion except from Church members who are also very active in the anti-nuclear movement I turn my head away from and close my ears to those who use Jesuitical arguments in favour of this or that category of killings. They have been hypocritical for too long.

Pat McIntyre
Durham
UK.

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Terminating the debate
It often strikes me as odd that in all the to-ing and fro-ing about abortion, people - especially men - never seem to consider the thoughts of a pregnant woman.

There are three main points:
*When pregnant, a woman's hormones automatically change: usually this contributes to a sense of contentment and happiness about the pregnancy.
*Given that point, most women on finding themselves pregnant (even if it was not planned) would be happy to have the baby as long as they had the economic means to provide for it. *Terminating a pregnancy is not an operation than many women would lightly opt for. Before the twelfth week of pregnancy, termination can be induced with the help of prostoglandin pessaries. But after this time, the usual method is dilation of the cervix (using artificial hormones to stimulate uterine contractions) and curettage (scraping the womb to remove the embryo). Obviously, this is not a pleasant procedure.

With these points in mind, abortion is seen for what it really is: a last resort for a desperate woman who cannot provide for her baby. And as such, making abortion safe and available becomes a priority.

Tessa Stone
Oxford
UK.

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Dioxin on trial
You state in 'Orange Alert' (NI No. 100) that 'of the Australian soldiers who served in Vietnam and who have since become parents, one in four has fathered a deformed child'.

I quoted your statement to the Australian Minister for Veterans' Affairs who advised me that between two and three per cent of all children are deformed at birth.

He stated that an epidemiological survey is being conducted by the Commonwealth Institute of Health and one of its aims is to ascertain whether the children of Vietnam War veterans run a greater risk of deformity than the national average.

He said: 'Should an increased risk be found a range of matters will be considered in the context of determining the possible causes, including the matter of VD.'

In the light of this advice your statement appears to be rather exaggerated.

David Sheppard
Beaumont
South Australia

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Army opposition
Michael Hare Duke's article 'Salvation Suspended' (NI No.104) implies that the resignation of the Salvation Army from the World Council of Churches (WCC) shows commitment to 'an opposing political point of view' to that of the WCC.This is about as sensible as saying that a deserter from the Conservative party is automatically a Labour supporter.

I share the author's doubts as to whether a 'strong social conscience' can operate 'without political bias' but that does not mean that I agree with all the actions of the WCC.

You can be committed to grass roots development without being committed to violent means of attaining it. I'm sure many Christian pacifists were worried about the WCC's support of the Patriotic Front in Zimbabwe for that reason.

Ian S. Henderson
Edinburgh
UK.

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Enter stage left
We have just received the July issue of New Internationalist (No 101) with Debbie Taylor's article on folk theatre.

Here in Papua New Guinea the Dua Dua Theatre of Lae, formed from a group of unemployed school leavers, is touring schools, villages and health centres with vernacular plays about nutrition, hygiene and accident prevention.

Using the simplest open-air staging (any grassy open space) with actors themselves representing trees, cars, furniture, etc., Dua Dua Theatre has had considerable impact on local communities.

We are making a study of health education through live drama and would be glad to have details of similar groups anywhere in the world.

Peter Poore and Tracey Lloyd
Angua Memorial Hospital
P0 Box 457, Lae
Papua New Guinea

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