Arms aid

US gives 
arms and aidUS gives arms and aid

Ethiopia is to increase its military spending from $50 million to $400 million in order to fund its two external wars in Eritrea and Somalia.

Eritrea, formally a province of Ethiopia, gained its independence in 1993 after a long guerrilla war; parts of the border was never fixed and the ensuing wars and disputes have often been likened to the trench warfare of the First World War.

In Somalia there is a failed state with only a government in exile backed by the US and the West. The Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) briefly brought some security to the country but the Ethiopians, with US backing, invaded. The UIC may be inimical to us but, if I were a Somali, I think I would appreciate the fact that they have been the only force able to bring security during the brief period they held some control. To support a powerless government in exile in a country that consists of numerous warring tribes seems crazy. Virtually all Somali women have to suffer genital mutilation so could an Islamic government make their lives any worse for them?

In Ethiopia we again see emaciated children and aid agencies beg for funds to avoid mass deaths. Yet the government's priority is to spend money on military power and incursions into neighbouring countries. So aid will, in effect, be subsidising the Ethiopian military to expand its array of tanks, aircraft and helicopters. A million and a half people were displaced from Mogadishu alone in 2007 and tens of thousands have been killed.

We should not be giving money to support more wars in far away places, wars which are so complicated that there is no 'good guy' to support. However, by the time the photos of emaciated bodies appear, it is too hard not to give. One tenth of Ethiopia's 80 million population routinely rely on food aid already. The government appealed for $325 million to avert the present crisis which almost equates to the increased arms' bill.