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Libya vs Al Qaeda

I've just been watching an old episode of SBS' Insight where Rajat Ganguly said that terrorism is sometimes analysed as a type of warfare conducted in an asymetrical power relationship. Al-Qaeda didn't have the same power base as the Western / Christian world they were rebelling against. They couldn't wage a war on equal footing, so they resorted to clandestine, suicidal, indiscriminate attacks. My first thoughts were to compare the recent Libyan rebellion, but as soon as I started writing this, I realised that I would fail. From the little I know, the rebels haven't attacked innocent people. They've targeted the military power. The rebels haven't used suicide attacks. In fact, the war seemed to be on equal footing. Still, I can't shake the feeling that we in the West are too quick to take sides, labelling one group terrorists and the other liberationists; to condemn the success of the first and to celebrate the success of the latter. We support the Libyan rebels because we believe they're fighting for freedom, for an end to tyranny, for democracy and other values we imagine we share. We hate Al-Qaeda because they don't share our Christian values and push a particular form of Islam. Yet we push our own form of Christianity and capitalism on them. From the other side of the world, I sympathise with the rebels who are fighting for freedom from oppression, for a way of life more conducive to their own well-being. I can also sympathise with the minority - who see a corrupt world, ruled by Western infidels, and have no real power to do anything about it so lash out in the only way they can - even if I don't

By |October 24th, 2011|Categories: Development|Tags: , |0 Comments

International NGOs Under Attack

An article on countries that hinder international NGOs starts off with 'The news didn't come as a surprise.' While he may not be surprised, the writer clearly doesn't agree with the changes. Personally, I can understand why countries would wish to limit NGO actions. International NGOs can't help but bring biases from their own culture - after all, they have to report back on spending to their donor governments. It really should be no surprise that recipient governments want to keep a close eye on what they're up to. Can we really complain that local governments want international NGOs to "refrain from doing any act which is likely to cause misunderstanding?" Donors are going to want to know that their money isn't being spent on weapons that may be used against them in the future. I understand that there are limitations on what they'll accept their money being used for, but I don't think that donors have the right to, for example, influence the political system, pushing for democracy. As outsiders, we do have a different perspective and different skills that can be useful. We should be using them to assist in culturally appropriate programs run by locals to address issues identified by locals. That's why half of the royalties from Dragon Bones will go to Bhutanese organisations. I intend the same for any books I write in the future because I believe that only local NGOs can identify the biggest issues and address them in a culturally sensitive way. It's therefore exciting to me to see an organisation that seems to be taking that approach. In an interview, the CEO of the UN Foundation said, "That means aid won’t be a large-scale gift but

By |August 24th, 2011|Categories: Development|Tags: |0 Comments