Skewed News — They scan the horizon constantly, seeking the next target. Cuba looks so tasty. Iran is starting to smell good, too.
And so they bide their time, hungrily dreaming of the day when their advances will finally be accepted, reluctantly or not. That doesn’t matter at all.
It all starts out with a bit of sympathy, kind words and a sincere and caring offer of help for exactly the kinds of problems you are facing.
“I’ll teach your children to read,” murmurs Saudi Arabia to Bangladesh.
They soften you with non-profits and missionaries bearing gifts like free education, health care or economic assistance.
“I’ve got some pharmaceuticals to combat Malaria for you,” purrs Bill Gates to Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique.
You don’t want to seem like a jerk. These do-gooders act as if they’re the high appointed, humble and innocent servants of God. And anyway, your people need the help. So you accept these gifts. Some of it screws you up, though. There’s the food aid that floods the market, for example, and drives your own farmers out of business. Whoops.
Also, you are starting to have a bad feeling: Have they really tested these medicines before giving them to your country’s kids? They wouldn’t be testing them on your kids, would they?
But your benefactor insists that it’s all above board, all this kindness, and you stop short of insulting their generosity. You also can’t afford to make it look like you don’t care about the welfare of your people. And so it continues.
Back at home, the benefactors justify the outflow of funds by pointing out that most of it boomerangs anyway, somehow it always seems to fall back into the pockets of the benefactors’ own firms and agencies, minus a few crumbs.
“Want corn? Here’s some corn to feed the hungry,” Monsanto breathes into the ear of Mexico.
The courtship heats up. Things get hot and heavy.
“If we build some hotels along your coast, we could give your people jobs serving tourists. You need jobs, right?” asks the Clinton Foundation, awash in sincere smiles. “We’ll open up an industrial park, too, so all the people evicted from the land we build it on can earn a living sewing clothes for U.S. sweatshops, I mean, respected American firms.”
Adds Hillary: “By the way, thanks for the gold mine permit you gave my little brother.”
And so you accept these things with good grace, if not a little shame.
Partly, this is out of habit. After decades or centuries of being beaten down by colonialism, which — ah, better not to think about the past. Think about the problems of the present and the promises of a better future.
The point is, your people could really use the help. And you may gain some political prestige from being the broker. And if you received a modest kickback for helping do gooders do good by your people, there’s no harm in that, right?
Turning down offers of assistance to preserve abstract principles like “dignity” and “self-reliance” would only be selfish.
Then come the offer of loans.
“We see you’re still struggling,” whispers the IMF and European Central Bank to Greece, “so let’s just start you on a small loan that will strengthen your economy. Goldman Sachs says you’re good for it. They’re the experts. And if they say you can pay it back, it’s solid. “Once you’re on better footing, you pay it back with a little interest, we’ll be even.”
“You have all this money now,” muses Germany, France and the U.S. to Greece. “Why not import our goods? It’s give-and-take, we help you and you help us and we all benefit.”
It sounds so reasonable.
“We’ve got plenty of warplanes and other military hardware you probably need,” they add with a soothing smile, and then a handshake.
When you demur, they point out wisely that having access to unlimited goods and services helps everyone, obviously. Global free trade agreements are finagled accordingly.
And now you find that you are importing a lot more than you are exporting. And you start to lose ground.
Now they’ve got you.
“Listen, we loaned you this money in good faith,” Germany snaps sternly at Greece before its third Greece bailout, “and you fell behind in your payments. We’re willing to bail you out — well, not we, exactly, and not our banks, but we’ll make our people do it. And they are pissed.”
“But you’ve got to prove you’re serious about being responsible. So you’re going to have to implement some serious austerity measures. For a start, you can cut pensions, wages, health care, and sell off your infrastructure. We’re not asking. We’re telling you. And this is an order.”
This arrangement doesn’t come with an exit.
Next come the threats. “Do what we ask or we’ll make your economy scream for mercy,” Nixon said to Chile.
“You’ll build our oil pipeline or we bury you under a carpet of bombs,” said Bush to Afghanistan.
“We’ll kick you out of the Eurozone and you’ll starve,” says the EU to Greece.
If Greece withholds its cooperation, they’ll make an example of it is the general consensus. And they’ll do that until Greece bends over for them, again and again and again.
“Just remember, we’re spreading democracy by eradicating dictators, strongmen and terrorists … and we’ll fight to make sure that happens. Nothing personal, it’s just the American way,” asserts the United States to El Salvador, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Korea, Vietnam, Honduras, Iraq, Indonesia, Cambodia, Argentina, China, Guam, the Dominican Republic, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Panama, Libya, Germany, Lebanon, Somalia, Liberia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Hawaii, Cuba, Afghanistan, Haiti, Bolivia …
For aNewDomain and SkewedNews, I’m Stephanie McMillan.
Cover image of The Gangsters: Superfriends.wikia.com, All Rights Reserved.