Category Archives: non-governmental organisations

Mashed potato

Asked whether Matteo Salvini, Italy’s deputy premier and interior minister, was right to arrest non-governmental organisations that rescued migrants in the Mediterranean and brought them to Italy, Ursula von der Leyen, president-elect of the European Commission, is reported as saying:

It is an obligation for people to rescue the drowning. What Italy wants above all is the reform of the dysfunctional system. I understand that the countries of the European Union with external frontiers do not want to be left to face the challenge of migration alone. They deserve our solidarity.

Dalrymple comments:

This is what a friend of mine calls a mashed-potato answer, one that does not address the question but succeeds in conveying a vague and non-committal aura of benevolence. Our solidarity: who could be against it? But what would it mean in practice, our solidarity? It would mean spreading out all the illegal migrants who have arrived in Italy among the other countries of Europe, whether those other countries wanted them or not (and whether or not the migrants wanted to go to the countries allocated to them). Solidarity might not last very long, and might turn into its opposite: extreme hostility. The word solidarity suggests something that those in favour of mass migration are at pains to deny: that the migrants, far from being an asset to the countries they have migrated to, are a burden on them.

Dalrymple points out that von der Leyen

disregards the evidence that Salvini’s policy has been a great success, at least from the point of view of preventing illegal immigration into Italy and deaths by drowning of those trying to reach it. He has saved incomparably more lives by his firmness than have all the NGOs put together who try to save the drowning.

The self-righteous NGOs, who make a mockery of national laws, have by encouraging people to try to reach Italy

underwritten thousands of deaths. It is one thing to save the drowning whenever you find them, but another to go looking for them. The NGOs are an illustration of Wilde’s definition of the sentimentalist: one who desires to have the luxury of an emotion without paying for it. The costs are imposed on others.

There is in von der Leyen, Dalrymple observes,

very little other than slogan, cliché and evasion, with a leavening of humbug.

Modern philanthropy

Doing good by making others pay for it

When the Rome government refused to let a vessel carrying 629 African migrants dock in Italy, Spain took them in. Dalrymple points out that the migrants

were rescued by the boat of a non-governmental organisation dedicated to saving them from floundering in the Mediterranean.

This is, he notes,

typical of modern philanthropy: you do good by making others pay for it, by imposing financial burdens or obligations upon them that they have not chosen. Of course, to rescue drowning people is humanitarian: the question that the Italian government asks is whether the supply of rescue creates the demand for it.

Proconsuls of the Apocalypse

Supposed humanitarian aid has, writes Dalrymple,

hitherto been auto-legitimating, and has always relied on donors mistaking the wish for the fact.

NGOs, he points out, are

arrogant and behave with a kind of imperial impunity in the impoverished countries in which they operate. It is the imperial or proconsular nature of the organisations and their work that appeals to the ‘humanitarians’ that they employ. It is the power in the power to do good, or confer benefits, that attracts them.

Not a sparrow falls but it is our moral concern

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Mission creepy

This is the syndrome from which Amnesty International has been suffering for some time, Dalrymple notes.

It is as if, he says, the taxpayer-subsidised human rights NGO at some point along the way

grew bored with its original purpose.

Of course, the sad change in the character of this once-laudable organisation results, Dalrymple points out, from the increasingly general belief that

virtue is proportionate to the number of good causes that one espouses.

Byeon Sang-byeok, Cats and Sparrows, mid-18th century

Byeon Sang-byeok, Cats and Sparrows, mid-18th century

Dalrymple given the brush-off by Amnesty apparatchik

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Abimael Guzmán and Mao Zedong

On the way back to Europe from Peru, Dalrymple falls into conversation with the person seated next to him on the aëroplane, who turns out to be an investigator for Amnesty International, the human rights NGO. When Dalrymple tells the investigator about the things he has seen done by the Peruvian army, the investigator

looked like a man who had just been fed with a tantalisingly delicious dish, or a cat at the cream; it was, it seemed to me, exactly what he wanted to hear. He almost purred.

But when Dalrymple tells the investigator about the things he has seen done by the Communist Party of Peru (the Maoist guerrillas Sendero Luminoso or Shining Path), the investigator’s

'He turned away from me and took no further interest in my conversation'

‘He turned away from me and took no further interest in my conversation’

expression turned sour and he looked at me as if I were a credulous bearer of tales about unicorns or sea monsters. He turned away from me and took no further interest in my conversation.

Dalrymple points out that

constituted governments do a lot of evil, but they are not the only ones to do evil.

In the case of the insurgency in Peru,

the government was the lesser evil, and by far.

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Western policy is terrorism’s ally

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 12.39.04It is not just Oxfam, Save the Children, etc., that have become contemptibly bogus charities; the same thing has happened to many Muslim NGOs. Some of these bodies may very well, indeed, be financing Boko Haram. Dalrymple writes:

[The Niger president] mentioned that Islamic ‘charitable’ non-governmental organisations might be funding Boko Haram. He offered no proof, but it struck him (as it strikes me) as likely. Boko Haram’s arms came from Libya, he said, after the Western overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi; the arms, alas, were liberated with considerably more success than the country as a whole. Therefore Boko Haram might even be called Gaddafi’s revenge (or rather, one of his revenges, the other being the war in Mali). Western policy, then, was terrorism’s ally.