We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

In South Sudan, food aid is used as a weapon and is either looted and destroyed or blocked from reaching those in areas controlled by the opposition. Similar instances occur in Somalia where aid organizations are heavily taxed, which results in additional funds that are used to perpetuate the conflict. In fact, receiving U.S. food aid literally feeds the violence and is positively correlated with a higher probability and increased duration of civil war.

Tirzah Duren

24 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • llamas




  • Ken Mitchell

    And your point? P.J. O’Rourke made that point many times in “Holidays in Hell” and “All the Trouble In The World”.

  • bobby b

    Ah, but Duren is making this argument as part of a very timely fight over the fate of the Cargo Preference for Food Aid (CPFA) Act in the 2018 US farm bill. In FEE.

    A cynic might suspect that she was trying to place a wedge into what would normally be a fairly straight partisan issue. But the lines are already blurred – Trump fighting for union preferences and jobs? Sen. Corker fighting to make shipping free of “American labor” requirements?

    Dogs and cats living together!

  • There is no winning here.

    If you send food to a country run by kleptocrats and militias, they will take the food, and the starving will get little of it (and that, with strings attached). And the (echo)International Community(/echo) will scream at us for making things worse.

    If we don’t send food, the same people will scream at us for not caring.

    Since the International Community are going to scream and scorn either way, I figure it’s cheaper not to send the food. It won’t end up with the people that need it anyway.

  • Mr Black

    It’s Africa. Put up a fence around it and let them do their thing. It’s only a problem when Africans come to our shores.

  • JadedLibertarian

    I’ve thought about this one a lot.

    If people are starving and you don’t give them food they will die. If you come into an area and give away food, you’ll collapse what’s left of that area’s clearly inadequate food delivery infrastructure. It’s seemingly a catch 22.

    What I’ve concluded is the best form of crisis relief is that you bring in a single shipment of food to give away, and announce you’re willing to pay silly money for more on site. International aid is stupidly expensive so buying food at 20x the local going rate would still work out cheaper than shipping it in. You give this food away too while the crisis bites, and then gradually start charging as it lessens. By making it profitable to bring food into the area, you rebuild the food infrastructure. Over time you normalise both your sale and purchase prices.

    You buy by the sack but then give it away by the cup to reduce the chance of people just selling back to you. Even if this happens, it implies the reselling gang have found some means of feeding themselves, which of course all adds to the rebuilding of the local food infrastructure.

  • If you’re going to spend money on international aid, spend it on eye operations for kids rather than food aid.

    (Although a cynic might say that all that does it improve the accuracy of their shooting when grow up to be a soldier fighting in the civil war.)

  • >Ah, but Duren is making this argument as part of a very timely fight over the fate of the Cargo Preference for Food Aid (CPFA) Act in the 2018 US farm bill. In FEE.
    >A cynic might suspect that she was trying to place a wedge into what would normally be a fairly straight partisan issue.

    But FEE is a free market thinktank. So the supporters of foreign aid will say it’s no surprise that they’re attacking aid.

  • Paul Marks

    It is the same in most conflicts – sending food and water to people just prolongs the siege of cities, towns, or areas. It is pointless to provide aid unless you also provide LAW AND ORDER.

    In the old days a British District Commissioner (or some such) would have ended the intertribal war and Arab slave raiding in South Sudan (or elsewhere) – but today that would be denounced as “Imperialism” which, of course, is exactly what it is. One could try and explain to the modern, brain-washed, generation that the British Empire of the late 19th century and early 20th century was a good thing (not a bad thing), but the brainwashed modern people would just scream-and-spit so trying to reason with them is pointless.

    The lady might not scream-and-spit (the lady is not a university student), but I still (sadly) think that trying to explain the above to the former “Equalities Minister” who is Prime Minister – whatever rational arguments or evidence one provides the lady, she will just carry on throwing billions of Pounds (money we CAN NOT AFFORD) on pointless, indeed counter productive, overseas aid.

    However, President Donald Trump is not an “educated” person (he went to a Business School in the 1960s – not a Liberal Arts university) so he might understand that American “humanitarian aid” is actually counter productive – prolonging war and human suffering.

  • EdMJ

    What Paul said.

    Perhaps it’s time to bring back the Empire? There’s plenty of deserving countries that are crying out for some imposed civilisation.

    Something along these lines perhaps, but without the mishaps:


    (Maybe if they’d sent Connery and Caine instead? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0073341/)

    It doesn’t actually even sound all that complicated: https://warontherocks.com/2015/05/how-to-take-over-a-small-country-in-10-easy-steps/

    Although given the current state of our own country, I’m not sure that exporting what currently counts as British values could be considered much of a boon to the rest of the world…

  • bobby b

    Hector Drummond, Vile Author
    February 6, 2018 at 8:49 am

    “But FEE is a free market thinktank.”

    Yep. And Ms. Duren is a Young Voices Advocate, and a very good writer on the side of angels. (Well, on my side, at least.)

    The interesting part of the situation, to me, is watching the education (or at least the influencing) of President Trump in free market principles and maybe libertarian thought. Six months ago, he was talked out of his first impulse, which was to require that 100% of aid be shipped via American ships. (Presently the requirement is that 50% be shipped via American ships.)

    Now, Senator Corker – chair of the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations – is trying to convince Trump to drop the requirement completely.

    Both individuals are playing parts in this that I might not have expected them to play, and their motivations are somewhat subtle to me.

    Ms. Duren is leading libertarians and conservatives to a rationale for supporting Corker’s efforts – one that might not occur to people otherwise. It’s not just for cheaper or more aid to other countries – it could be one (very) small step towards smaller government. The CPFA shipping requirement has always been seen simply as a vote-gatherer by most Republicans – keeping maritime workers employed, at a cost only of slightly smaller aid volumes to Africa. Dangling the idea of not plowing savings back into more aid – simply taking the savings back into our own coffers – moves the subject from neutral-budget to a net gain.

  • Paul Marks

    All government overseas aid should be ended. And the Departments concerned abolished.

    “Even for Israel, Paul MARKS?”

    Yes even for Israel, Paul “MARKS” replies.

  • Mr Ed

    Although given the current state of our own country, I’m not sure that exporting what currently counts as British values could be considered much of a boon to the rest of the world…

    It did occur to me when Hong Kong was handed over to the PRC in 1997 that at least they had escaped the rule of Fat Pang and the UK’s Blairite government, the latter might well have been tempted to erode Hong Kong’s freedoms more rapidly than the initially cautious PRC regime.

  • It is pointless to provide aid unless you also provide LAW AND ORDER. )Paul Marks (February 6, 2018 at 9:51 am)

    That is a basic truth that must inform any sane actions.

    Since sums that are small by western standards are apt to dwarf the value produced locally, who first gets their hands on it – the people or the government/warlords/agencies/whoever – greatly influences whether tyranny or restraint is the form of rule.

    One of my secondary hopes for Brexit is that British taxpayers will spend more on food from African individuals and less on taxes that (whether in their name of Britain or of the EU) ‘aid’ African governments.

  • Shirley Knott

    Tragically (perhaps), law and order are not ‘goods’ that can be ‘provided’.
    Legislation and jackboots are the most you can provide (outside of free trade).
    Commit trade, not merciless acts of ‘mercy’.
    Demonstrate values, do not impose them, if for no other reason than that ultimately you cannot. Not and maintain your own.

  • Bulldog Drumond

    Tragically (perhaps), law and order are not ‘goods’ that can be ‘provided’.

    Up to a point, Lord Copper.

  • Phil B

    Looking at the results of Foreign Aid (especially in “Crisis” situations) results in the crisis worsening in EVERY case. You read that right.

    For example, suppose a local famine occurs – food aid is dumped into the country and the local farmers cannot sell their produce at all due to the free food. Only an idiot would pay for food when you can get more and better for nothing. The farmers either go bankrupt or cannot afford the seed for next year. So no food is produced in the country the following year, so a famine occurs so … Rinse and repeat.

    Similarly with dumping charity donations of clothing into the country. The local tailors and textile workers cannot earn a living or compete with the charities so the country becomes entirely dependent on donated clothing. How does that help?

    As most commentators above have pointed out, cash aid and medical supplies are either stolen or sold by local chieftains or politicians to maintain their own power and/or punish rivals and rival tribes.

    I would infinitely prefer to see an AK47 plus 10 magazines and 2000 rounds delivered to each one of the starving population. Let them sort out their oppressors and politicians which would help change their countries for the better.

    A man can dream, can’t he?

  • llamas

    Phil B – search this site for “the C54 plan” for better details.



  • harleycowboy

    Air drop the supplies to the people in need without warning to the government.

  • Phil B

    @llamas – I tried but the search function couldn’t find it … >};o(

  • Laird

    In the fascinating book The Dictator’s Handbook Bruce Bueno de Mesquito and Alastair Smith explain precisely why foreign aid always enriches and empowers the oligarchs and dictators, never the people for whom it is intended.

    (If you’re a fan of Machiavelli you’ll like this book, too!)

  • Julie near Chicago

    Phil, I guess one must resort to Google — unfortunately. Search:

    C54 site:samizdata.net

    –results URL:


    Couple of results for “C54 Plan” there.

  • Phil B

    @Julie – Errr … I don’t use Google (the spawn of satan and all that) so that’s an explanation (of sorts). Thanks for that – I’ll peruse it at my leisure.