Development assistance should be prioritized over military aid in the Sahel region of Africa.
Debate Rounds (4)
I. PRESERVING HUMAN LIFE SHOULD BE THE PRIORITY IN DETERMINING THE TYPE OF ASSISTANCE.
Human life is the precondition for all values attributed to human persons. Human life has been referred to as "an almost absolute value in history." The need to protect human life and the more stringent imperative of do not kill are regarded as basic, constitutive elements of the moral life of any society. The relationships embodied in and shaped by humans rest on the inviolability of human life. The inestimable
value of human life is based on the consideration that each person has been raised to a sublime dignity.
II. DEVELOPED NATIONS HAVE A MORAL OBLIGATION TO PREVENT SUFFERING WHERE POSSIBLE.
"Famine, Affluence, and Morality," Peter Singer claimed that affluent people in the developed world are morally obligated to transfer large amounts of resources to poor people in the developing world. He derived this conclusion from two principles, both of which he believed are backed by the authority of common sense. The first principle is "that suffering and death from lack of food, shelter, and medical care are bad." The second is that "if it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought morally to do it."
I. HUMANITARIAN NEED REPRESENTS THE GREATEST THREAT TO LOSS OF LIFE IN THE SAHEL REGION.
A. ECONOMIC DEPRIVATION THREATENS MASSIVE LOSS OF LIFE IN THE SAHEL REGION.
Key socioeconomic indicators and the living conditions of the population continue to deteriorate, while Mali"s health and development indicators rank among the worst in the world. Urban populations are most affected as a result of job losses and the need to sustain large displaced populations in the cities. At least 77 per cent of Malians live under the international poverty line, most of them lacking access to safe drinking water and sanitation services of any kind. Medical facilities in Mali are very limited, and medicine is in short supply. Mali"s population also suffers from a high rate of malnutrition, as well as high rates of child death, and high risks of infant and maternal death.
The humanitarian situation remains critical, with millions of people affected by the crises. More than 4.3 million Malians were in need of assistance in 2012 because of the food and nutrition crisis. Despite good harvests in late 2012, approximately 747,000 people were in need of immediate food assistance and an additional 1.3 million were at risk of food insecurity. As access to commodities has been dramatically curtailed in northern Mali, humanitarian partners are scaling up to meet protection needs, such as prevention and support to victims of sexual and gender-based violence and exploitation, as well as assistance to children who had been recruited into armed groups.
Last year was a very dramatic year in terms of food crisis. The Sahel was plagued by an historic drought, which created serious food shortages for some 18 million people. This year, the Sahel has enjoyed better rainfall and better harvests. Despite this, Piper says 11 million people continue to be food insecure.
Contention 2: MILITARY AID FAILS TO INCREASE SECURITY IN THE SAHEL REGION
Western governments look set to increase their military support for Sahelian and Saharan countries. But they do this based on incorrect assumptions, misguided objectives and questionable methods. At best, this trend will cost a lot of money and lives, and achieve little. At worst, it will lead to a worsening spiral of violence, producing the very outcomes Western powers fear.
More military aid to countries in the region means even more weapons and
resources to go around. More foreign military personnel means more potential targets, maybe providing the incentive for thus-far local terrorist groups to adopt a more global agenda, as with al-Shabaab in Somalia. And increased terrorist activity will sooner or later lead to calls for drones to be armed and the Sahara to become the latest theater in the "shadow drone war". All these dynamics will introduce new
layers of violence. It is not clear what Western politicians and strategists are hoping to achieve by going down this road. No exit strategy and only vague objectives have been formulated. It appears that in their quest to find military solutions to fundamentally non-military problems, Western governments will get themselves lost in the sands of the Sahara, and so far they do not even seem to realize it.
I. AGREED: PRESERVING HUMAN LIFE SHOULD BE THE PRIORITY
I agree wholeheartedly with Pro on this point, but I disagree with the methods. Pro argues that, because human life is invaluable, nations that give aid to this region should focus on non-military humanitarian aid. However, for any economic growth on a metropolitan, National or Regional scale, there must be stability. Stability comes, ultimately, from power, generally military power.
II. MORAL OBLIGATIONS ARE CONSTRUCTS OF OUR OWN SOCIETIES
Morals are determined by regional truths, religion and societal norms. If we are to limit our view of morality to Western thought, as I predict Pro wishes to, than we shall. However, it appears to me that different cultures determine their own values, and if providing food is viewed as less moral than providing military aid to a struggling regime that espouses all of a person's other morals, that is their concern. (This is not my personal thought, but those thoughts are not a part of this venue).
I. THE GREATEST THREAT TO LIFE IS INSTABILITY
A. ECONOMIC GROWTH CANNOT EXIST WITH UNCERTAINTY.
Pro is correct that loss of economic viability is one of, if not the greatest threat to lives in the region. However, economic instability is caused often by instability of social order. If soldiering is more profitable than water sanitation, for example, and less dangerous to your health (as all factions fight over water), who will run the sanitation? If you are an international bank being asked to lend money for economic purposes, or to build infrastructure in the region, you are nearly guranteed to see a loss on your investment at this time.
Medecins Sans Fronteirs (Sic) offers free clinics to people all over the world, yet, sadly, they are often pawns in the schemes of the powerful. Take the example of doctors in Syria (http://www.nytimes.com...). Though admittedly not the same region or exact same circumstances, in Syria doctors are targets of the military and rebels alike. Without stability, people are unlikely to get basic medical aid, much less regular doctors visits.
Food aid is similar. In Somalia, for example, looting of food aid is one of the ways that groups keep and expand their power (such as Somalia in the 1990's, when the events captured in Black Hawk Down happened. See this article for an idea: http://www.nytimes.com...). That same system of theft is continuing today (http://www.nytimes.com...).
CONTENTION 2: MILITARY AID CAN END THE FIGHTING WITH A CLEAR VICTOR AND A CLEAR POWER.
Though, again, my personal views would prefer to see no wars and no death, I must state that, when wars have a clear victor, life for "everyone else" can begin again. Take examples of brutal dictatorships in 1950's China, 1930's Germany and Soviet Union. Yes, life in all of these places was devoid of freedom, at least to the extent Pro and I enjoy (the evidence of debate on the internet shows at least that.) These systems did not arise from nowhere. People, in desperate situations, will often seek a "strong man" to run the show so that life can continue. As much as freedom of the press is important, the ability to eat is moreso. Military aid to the side viewed as most in line with the morals of freedom and equality can establish a system that fosters that. Or it may not (see Afghanistan aid in the 1980's). But undoubtedly, the best way to save lives is to end the fighting so that individuals and organizations can rebuild infrastructure, trade and receive investment from outside of their region. This cannot happen until the fighting ends.
A caveat. Pro may attempt to argue that, without weapons, the fighting will end. Sadly, this is not the case. For one, many armed groups in the region get their weapons illegally, much like drugs and human beings are smuggled. Also, if firearms and heavy weapons are removed, the fighting will often merely turn to more medieval weapons such as machetes. (See this story on 500 killed by machetes in Nigeria https://www.google.com..., this story on Rawandan genocide planning here: http://news.bbc.co.uk...)
War is an unfortunate state of being. It is clear that economic, food, water and medical aid cannot take enough effect to ease the suffering until it ends. The fastest and most precise way to end fighting is for one side to win.
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