Libyan Rescue Missions

It is striking that around two thirds of the oil workers rescued by the RAF and HMS Cumberland were foreign nationals.  Did the Foreign Office charge them a £300 fee as they have for British citizens flown home from Tripoli on a chartered Boeing 737?  One hopes not.

But this hasn’t stopped the Honorary French Consul in the North East claiming in the Times recently that this rescue was “a practical example of a shared sense of security and protection for all (EU) Europeans when travelling in third countries”.  The EU clerisy never seem to get the point: most British people don’t mind our military forces helping foreigners in dire straits, as they always have done.  What they object to is that in having to pay the EU £10 billion a year, the EU then tries to claim the credit.

The basic point though is that a country which uses its military and civil assets to bring immediate tangible relief to those in desperate need such as Pakistan flood victims, earthquake victims in Haiti, the Libyan oil workers besieged by lawless rabbles, and the refugees trapped at the Libyan-Tunisian border, will be remembered with gratitude by those helped in such tangible ways.  This will do more for “Hearts and Minds” than anything else – as the Americans are finding in Pakistan.

Only a small fraction of the money the Department of International Development (DFID) spends on “Aid” has much impact on the poor people they are supposedly helping, because so much of the cash is spent on “studies” of various sorts.  These are very good for employing humanities graduates of British and African universities in various diversity reviews, think-tanks and consultancies, but not much use for designing, making and installing the things poor people really need – sanitation systems, water supply systems, housing, buildings for schools, medical centres, factories and workshops, and roadways – as well as training local people to maintain the pumps, pipes and electrical generators to keep the systems going.

(Watch out for a report on what the DFID actually spends taxpayers’ money on, and how this should be changed.)

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