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Misery’s cartography: New PRI web project to reveal USAID’s mischief around the world

The changing of the leadership in the US Congress, from the Democratic to the Republican parties, has led to changes in the order of business. No longer will Congress fund US foreign aid programs, including those of USAID, without examination. This new, tighter-fisted Congressional regime has forced USAID to produce much more detailed budget proposals, designed both to induce Congress to give more funding and defend the spending already ‘in the pipeline.’

Currently, USAID’s 1998 congressional presentations for each country where the agency is active are posted under the Regions and Countries section on the agency’s website at PRI took the opportunity to download those proposals, read through them, and determine from them just what it is, exactly, that USAID thinks worth funding in the bizarre world of population control. The result of our research and analysis will soon appear as an update of the PRI website under the title “USAID’s Map of Shame.”

From PRI website’s index page, visitors will be able to use a map of the world to get thumbnail sketches of all the nations where USAID makes mischief around the globe. The main map will allow visitors to jump to Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, the Near East and South America. Each region will display a map of the area and all the countries that receive USAID funding, in a multi-colored format. Nations that have population programs will be yellow, countries with USAID programs but without population control operations will be purple and all other countries in the region will be green.

Choosing a yellow coded nations will reveal a profile of that country, a report of USAID expenditures and a summary of USAID activity in that country. The summaries quote from the 1997 and 1998 USAID Congressional reports, highlighting the agency’s thinking, presumptions and claims. Additional information available on activity in that country will be included, along with links to past PRI articles about topics relevant to that country/

Each region will also contain a list of highlights detailing particularly egregious activities in the region’s nations and links to those countries. The African region, for example, will include under highlights. among other things, illegal USAID activities in Benin and Niger and psychological warfare in Nigeria. When one clicks on these highlights one will be linked to the country files that detail the activities highlighted.

The Map of Shame will also examine the premises underpinning population control programs. Many of these will be familiar to those who are veterans of this fight. When USAID claims that “People want Family Planning,” for example, they conveniently neglect the fact the agency has embarked on programs to overcome individual resistance to these contraceptives that, supposedly, everyone naturally wants. In Nigeria, Ghana, and a number of other countries, in another example, USAID has carried out marketing programs, seminars for government policy makers and scholarships for Native University students — all designed to overcome the reluctance of the people to the use of so-called “modern techniques of family planning.”

Many other countries that now seem to have a strong desire for family planning have been the subjects of years of propaganda funded by USAID and other Western governments.

USAID claims that “Family Planning Saves Lives,” asserting that “[o]ver 580,000 women die annually” from “causes related to pregnancy and child-birth,” a claim disputed by PRI in other articles that examine this number closely. USAID’s real claim is that any birth is un-safe birth so the best way to make child-birth safe is to have as few births as possible. This reasoning ignores the problems of unsafe childbirth and children’s health by placing the emphasis on preventing children rather than caring for them, and appears deeply racist. Women all over the world suffer from potential fertility problems and “dangerous pregnancies.” Why is it that in the West the solution to these problems rests in assisting women with technology to overcome the dangers, while in the developing world the solution is considered to be suppressing or removing her fertility altogether?

The agency alleges as well that “Family Planning Protects the Environment and Our Global Future” by reducing “strain on the environment,” and easing “pressures on fragile political and social systems.” The reasoning here is fallacious and appears firmly rooted in misanthropy. The problems of human beings need to be solved by human beings, not by having fewer of them. USAID also neglects to quote from the infamous NSSM 2000 document which explains that population control protects US economic interests and political power. The desire to hold down the number of people in these developing countries cannot be openly admitted in the world of the 1990s, yet this document served as the foundation for many of the US governments programs in this area and its noxious ideology lives on in a few ugly corners.

The USAID Map of Shame deals with more of the false claims made by USAID in the country files and exposes many of the propaganda techniques that USAID hides behind seemingly innocent language. Visit our website to see this exciting new update.

Joseph LoJacono most recently served as an intern at the Population Research Institute where he did yeoman’s work in researching USAID and other documents for this project.

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