Friday, 7 August 2015

Save the Children and the Humanitarian-Military complex

March 4 2015.

It is all very well for Justyn Forsyth to spin the outcry over Tony Blair's "Global Legacy Award" as “a really unnecessary distraction” from the work Save the Children does. But in doing so, while apologising for the way in which the award was presented as opposed to the fact it was, raises serious questions about the organisation.

Humanitarian work should always be as strictly divided from power politics as is possible unless it is to be co-opted to serve the justifications for a form of 'enlightened self interest' in British foreign policy. In the case of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, it is clear that this foreign policy was self interested as regards oil but not that enlightened.

Forsyth is a former aide to Blair as well as a communications director for Gordon Brown. There was no "mistake" in the Blair award. STC is part of the emerging humanitarian-military complex emerging in the West. It aims at working with governments to "deliver" on providing aid to those dislocated by wars in which the Western powers play a part.

Britain has stoked up the war in Syria by aligning with the Gulf states which bankrolled and backed Sunni militants in a brutal proxy war with Iran. That- and making it a precondition for peace that Assad's government should be removed-was a stance backed by David Miliband, who supported the drive to military intervention in 2013.

Miliband is a close associate of Forsyth on the issue of the plight of Syrian refugees. It is difficult to see how Western military intervention ( i.e war ) would have alleviated a crisis. The point here is that when politicians such as Miliband use their humanitarian positions to call for war- rebranded as ''humanitarian intervention'- they are acting as agents of power politics.

Miliband is head of the New York-based aid charity International Rescue Committee whose directors and overseers including those well known doves of peace Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger. Humanitarian credentials are thus a way to distinguish the US and Britain's foreign policy from that of 'cynical' great power rivals.

That was clear when Miliband when he chimed in 2013 with this soundbite sentence‘Humanitarian intervention is about human need, not political sides – but it has political consequences...There is capacity to save more lives, but this needs resources and political will. The drums of war are reason to redouble humanitarian efforts, not forget them.’

In this sense the STC award for Blair is entirely consistent with the ideology of humanitarian intervention. Thus war and charity are two means through which the Western powers can advance their geopolitical interests and 'our values' simultaneously with each other, to ensure the triumph of Moral Forces for Good in the World.

While no explicit backing for 'humanitarian wars' ( "The Duty to Intervene") have come from STC, the way its leaders, such as Justin Forsyth, tend to work hand in glove with figures such as Gordon Brown, David Miliband and Tony Blair, giving them legitimacy and kudos as 'humanitarians', is both disturbing and quite sinister.

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