overseas aid

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I found this fascinating in this little noticed speech. The Chinese president repeatedly used the words harmonious, common, mutual. Everything was about one integrated world operating together. We all know the problem with Chinese repression of the Tibetan people, and of their own best writers and journalists. The flip side of an emphasis on the positive idea of harmony is the negative reality of tyranny. The flip side of freedom is chaos and anarchy. Nevertheless, I think it is interesting that there is a kind of outgoing new emphasis in the rhetoric, a conscious decision to at least rhetorically move beyond the Wall of China. This is good, and it provides an opening to discuss the ethics of harmony and mutuality, especially in Confucian terms, which always requires MUTUAL respect between governors and the governed. I hope there is more open debate as time goes on with Chinese leaders in …

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In Refugee Aid, Pakistan’s War Has a New Front
Jane Perlez

Refugees from the Swat Valley in Northwestern Pakistan

Refugees from the Swat Valley in Northwestern Pakistan

QASIM PULA, Pakistan — Islamist charities and the United States are competing for the allegiance of the two million people displaced by the fight against the Taliban in Swat and other parts of Pakistan — and so far, the Islamists are in the lead.

Although the United States is the largest contributor to a United Nations relief effort, Pakistani authorities have refused to allow American officials or planes to deliver the aid in the camps for displaced people. The Pakistanis do not want to be associated with their unpopular ally.

Meanwhile, in the absence of effective aid from the government, hard-line Islamist charities are using the refugee crisis to push their anti-Western agenda and to sour public opinion against the war and the United States.

“The Western organizations have spent millions

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American Islam

American Islam

The recent U.S. report on Muslim engagement was crafted carefully by a very bipartisan group in which I played a role, but this article argues that it strongly favors Obama’s foreign policy.

U.S.: Bipartisan Group Urges Deeper Diplomacy with Muslim World

WASHINGTON, Sep 24 (IPS) – In an implicit indictment of President George W. Bush’s “global war on terror” and the hawkish pronouncements by Republican candidate John McCain, a bipartisan group of nearly three dozen U.S. leaders called here Wednesday for Bush’s successor to place much greater emphasis on high-level diplomacy — including direct engagement with Iran and Syria — in dealing with the Middle East and the Muslim world.

In a 152-page report, the group, which included former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Bush’s former Deputy Secretary of State and McCain adviser Richard Armitage, also called for any new administration to work “intensively for immediate de-escalation

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A New Direction for US-Muslim Relations

by mgopin on September 25, 2008 · 7 comments

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Yesterday Marc participated in panels on Capitol Hill and at  The National Press Club to coincide with the release of a seminal report entitled “Changing Course: A New Direction for Relations with the Muslim World” issued by The US-Muslim Engagement Project. Marc was one of thirty four Americans who constituted the Leadership Council on U.S. Muslim Engagement. It was a bipartisan group of leading Republicans, Democrats, Muslims, Christians, and Jews, secular and religious, liberal and conservative. They met over a period of two years to create this report which has detailed recommendations for the United States Government, NGO’s, and for the governments of the Muslim world. The convening this extremely diverse group was also meant as a model of how to change course and what kind of negotiations need to take place in the United States in order to create positive change, as well as in the global …

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Pakistani students recite the Koran in an Islamic school in Peshawar

A young Pakistani man who I met recently said to me, “If Pakistan is safe the world is safe, if Pakistan is in danger then the world is in danger, because we have “atom.” And Pakistan is in deep danger.” He was sincere, persuasive, brilliant, but also blunt in that special way that survivors whose lives are in danger tend to be. He was also on a mission to rediscover the religion of his youth, an Islam he could be proud of. He watched helplessly in his lifetime as the contest for Pakistan and Afghanistan that ensued between the Soviet Union, Iran, the United States, and Saudi Arabia morphed into a bloody battle in the name of religion.

The young man, who we will call Malik, has been searching to restore the earlier Islamic culture to his native Pakistan, but the forces arrayed against him are enormous. This is what …

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The world of disaster relief, overseas aid, and development has always had a difficult time with mixed motives. Why does anyone give large sums to poor nations in desperate need of help? Millions of people donate money to thousands of non-governmental organizations precisely in order to help people who are sick, poor, and in disastrous circumstances, especially when natural calamities occur. The motivation is mostly altruistic. But governments are massive donors as well. The problem is that once government gets involved there is always the question of mixed motives, national interests and economic interests mixed with public expressions of altruism. The problem is even more acute when it is not just the government but the military. That is why there are strong objections to the U.S. military getting into the business of aid and disaster relief:

“Our [foreign] policy is out of whack,” said Kenneth Bacon, a former assistant secretary

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