Saturday, 21 August 2010

Plenty of money for war and the banks but nothing for 20 million Pakistanis impacted by the floods.

Pakistan’s floods as reported by Brian Hopper’s post on this blog yesterday, are wrecking havoc over the beleaguered country. Over 1,600 are dead and more than 2 million are homeless. The UN says that 20 million people have been affected by waters that have covered 1/5th of Pakistan’s landmass, more than the Asian Tsunami. 

Speaking at the UN on Thursday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton informed them that the US would contribute an additional $60 million in aid to Pakistan, bringing its total to more than $150 million, of which about $92 million would go to the UN. In calling for other nations to do more, she declared: “I realise that many countries, including my own, are facing tough economic conditions and very tight budgets … But we must answer the Pakistani request for help.”

Washington’s aid effort, however, is not prompted by concern for the estimated 20 million Pakistanis impacted by the floods. Rather the Obama administration is driven by the need to prop up the Pakistani government of President Asif Ali Zardari, on which the US relies to wage a proxy war on Islamist insurgents in areas bordering Afghanistan. US officials have warned that organisations sympathetic to the Islamist fighters might gain in influence as a result of government and international inaction on the floods.

As for “very tight budgets”, the Obama administration’s offer of aid is a total irrelevance and pittance compared to the trillions of dollars spent to fund the bailouts of US banks, financial institutions and corporations during 2008-09. In fact, the White House is implementing austerity measures against working people in the US and provides limited aid to Pakistani flood victims precisely because it has taken massive corporate bad debts onto the government’s books. At the same time, Obama can find tens of billions of dollars to escalate the US-led war in Afghanistan. Who said that Obama was a Socialist?”

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