Marshall Aid for Balkans, Africa

Doug Henwood dhenwood at
Mon Apr 26 08:52:08 PDT 1999

Chris Burford wrote:

>1) I copied an Albanian call for a Marshall Aid plan for the Balkans to
>this list. It was greeted with ridicule by the great and the good, which
>they have not been able to sustain.

You mean we're supposed to sustain ridicule of ridiculous statements?

>Within the last few days the term has been used a number of times in the
>context of the NATO discussions, including by the Brits and particularly
>the Germans.

>From the April 26 Financial Times:

<quote> After Mr Blair's visit to Capitol Hill last Thursday, Republican Senator Jesse Helms was moved to call him "the most eloquent leader in the western world".

The UK government's aggressive and often outspoken stance has occasionally rankled with more dovish EU leaders, and at times it seemed Britain was leaving itself isolated.

Mr Blair set alarm bells ringing when it said Nato's objective was to get President Slobodan Milosevic to "step down" - comments which were latter interpreted by UK officials as meaning he should "back down".

The prime minister's talk of a Marshall Plan to rebuild the Balkans - with its implication of a vast injection of international aid - even worried colleagues at the UK Foreign Office. "We have never used that phrase," an FO spokesman said.

Throughout the visit Mr Blair seemed to revel in a hardline stance reminiscent of Baroness Thatcher's appearances at international summits. British government enthusiasm for bombing a Serb TV station was not universally shared. Lamberto Dini, Italian foreign minister, called it a "terrible event".

The UK also lobbied hard for a blockade against Yugoslavia, a policy which caused President Jacques Chirac of France to ponder its legality. </quote>

>Now whether this will all amount to a Marshall Aid plan will have to be
>analysed. One parameter is the quantity of the inflowing capital. Perhaps
>people can do calculations about the relative contribution to the GDP's of
>the recipient countries of the original Marshall Aid plan to western
>Europe. No doubt the west will not wish to transfer more real capital than
>necessary to win the alliance of these relatively dependent countries.

The Marshall money was grants. Any money flowing to Eastern Europe is almost certain to be loans. Big difference.

>Another parameter is whether all these bits of aid are grouped together
>conceptually in a total development plan for the Balkans.

Insofar as there's a development plan, it's likely to be to reconfigure the region as Europe's on-board sweatshop.

Highly likely.
>One, it looks bigger and better that way. If charity is to be given let it
>be publicised as loudly as possible.

Jesus would disagree.

>But to do so dismissively may also play into a sort of tribal pecking order
>culture in which certain correspondents are thought to be ridiculous and
>others not. This merges with the received wisdom of unanalysed leftist
>prejudices, and can lead to individuals getting scape-goated and suspended
>on other lists, if not this one. Carrol's peevish and insulting
>irritability is particularly culpable in this respect because it gives
>cover for certain moderators to foreclose debate around a small group of
>people who at the end of the day are a friendship circle.

Chris, you know well I'm not going to "foreclose debate" here. What Lou does with his list is his own business.

>3) Financial credit. Doug's challenge that SDR's are somehow funny money,
>whereas greenbacks are not, does not bear examination certainly on marxist
>grounds, I venture to suggest.

Greenbacks have value because they can buy things. If Alan Greenspan were to go mad and start printing them, it might stimulate a short-term real or financial boom, but over the long term the greenbacks would only be worth what they could buy. Providing liquidity in a panic can prevent a disaster from happening, but it can't change the fundamentals of production or distribution.

My skepticism about the SDR issuance is this: the problems of Africa and other poor countries are the result of their position in the world economic hierarchy. Little is produced in Africa and much has been extracted. Printing SDRs won't do a damn thing to change that situation.

>Whatever figures Barkley produces on SDR's, what is so controversial about
>the idea that the IMF might be asked kindly to consider throwing a few
>billion into the Balkans. If the US can run a war its way without United
>Nations approval, what is to stop it leaning ever so nicely on the IMF?

The IMF and World Bank will almost certainly "throw a few billion into the Balkans." It will almost certainly be in the form of loans, not grants. That you could think otherwise is why I repeatedly ask you what planet you're on.

>The other objection was that there was no political or economic reason why
>it would be in the west's interests to arrange a Marshall Aid plan for the
>Balkans, because Communism has been defeated. Absolutely the reverse. Late
>capitalism requires large, stable supranational states with human rights
>for citizens regardless of race, colour or religion.

What, like the EU? That's not a supranational state, it's just a central bank with pretentions. Europe is still constituted of states, largely figured as ethnically defined nations. If you think otherwise, ask a Turk in Germany or a Pakistani in Britain.

>It is cheaper for western capitalism to set up Marshall Aid for the Balkans
>than to fight another war like that of Kosovo, in Macedonia, Montenegro,
>Albania, Bulgaria, Romania and Moldava. These capitalists are of course not
>entirely stupid.

It'd be cheaper to house and educate poor kids than it would be to jail them when they become teens, but that's not the American way. Stupidity, or a brutal but consistent logic of oppression?

>4) Those who dismissed my previous posts muddled up my prediction of a
>Marshall Aid plan for the Balkans with my advocacy of a Marshall Aid plan
>for Africa. The two are not the same. About Africa, it is an informed view
>in international financial circles that Africa is peripheral to the world
>economy that matters. Africa could fall off the map and the world would
>still keep turning.

Just try to get the G7 to forgive African debt, much less launch a Marshall Plan. We're now going through yet another reworking of the HIPC (highly indebted poor country) initiative at the G7 summit. If anything significant emerges from this go-round, I'll publicly apologize to you, Chris.


More information about the lbo-talk mailing list