#MOAB: What could have been done with $300 million

The Mother of All Bombs cost $300 million to develop and killed 94 insurgents leaving poor tribal farmers to deal with the trauma says Yes! Magazine.

“The money spent on this one single bomb could have fed hundreds of families and provided health care in dozens of villages. This is what a relative I spoke to this morning told me, as well.” said one commentator.

It’s a familiar argument. 15 years ago in Crimea we’d made this point about the need for economic development among the repatriated Tatars:

“In efforts to deal with communities in or near poverty, it will be useful to target progressive, peace-oriented communities just as aggressively as has been done in targeting terrorist cells. Both types of communities are quite similar, but, one has attempted a peaceful path whereas the other has not. Toward this end, the most promising and deserving communities must be “hit” with equal force as is brought to terrorist cells — the difference being delivery of resources rather than ordinance. The point is to grow the best, most promising communities with the same focus and passion brought to destroying terrorists.

Rewards must come for being decent, peaceful people to the same extent that punishment is brought for those who are not. There is no more obvious a case to be made for such reward than that of Crimean Tatars. This is a community which deserves to be rewarded first, quickly, and strongly as the opposite example of terrorist threat. Attending to those communities which represent the strongest threat very simply invites others to follow suit and become threatening. Rewarding those who represent strong and clear commitment to democratic principles and peaceful resolution of conflict will have the same effect: inviting others to follow suit and become peaceful and democratic. This is the best possible outcome, and an excellent start toward building a better world based on democracy, peace, broad prosperity, and the fulfillment of basic human rights.”

“Just as the US now heavily uses smart bombs in warfare, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the equivalent is needed in aid efforts. It is not enough to spend, say, US$ 7 million dollars for five Tomahawk cruise missiles and then spend a fraction of that amount in building a peaceful community which does not merit targeting by missiles. Yet, that is what we have in this case.”

In 2007, a similar argument was made in a ‘Marshall Plan’ proposal for Ukraine:

“It is proposed that the United States of America be actively engaged in supporting this project, financially and any other way possible. Ukraine has clearly demonstrated common will for democracy. Ukraine has also unilaterally taken the first critical step to fulfill this program, thus clearly demonstrating initiative and commitment to participation required in the original Marshall Plan sixty years ago. The US side is presumably attempting to foster democracy in another country, which never expressed much interest and shows little real interest now. That of course is Iraq, where recent estimates indicate a cost of $1.5 billion per week.

That same amount of money, spread over five years instead of one week, would more than cover the investment cost of the initial components of this project, and allow a reserve fund for creating new projects as Ukraine’s intelligentsia invents them in the Center for Social Enterprise. It is proposed that Ukraine and the US provide equal portions of this amount. Ukraine is certainly able to provide that level of funding, given that projects are designed with the same fiscal discipline employed in the traditional business sector. That means they pay for themselves, one way or another.”

It was followed up with an appeal to USAID and the Senate Committee which funds them, where Joe Biden and Barack Obama were members. The appeal concluded:

“We are grossly underfunded in favor of missiles, bombs, and ordnance, which is about 100% backwards. Now, with even the US Pentagon stating that they’ve learned their lesson in Iraq and realize (so says top US general in Iraq ten days or so ago) that winning hearts and minds is the best option, I and others shall continue to think positive and look for aid budgets and funding spigots to be opened much more for people and NGOs in silos, foxholes and trenches, insisting on better than ordnance, and who understand things and how to fix them. We can do that. We can even do it cost-effectively and with far better efficiency than the ordnance route. Welcome to our brave new world. Except it’s not so new: learn to love and respect each other first, especially the weakest, most defenseless, most voiceless among us, then figure out the rest. There aren’t other more important things to do first. This message has been around for at least two thousand years. How difficult is it for us to understand?”

Doonesbury had much the same message at the time. Muhammad Yunus had just published Creating A World Without Poverty, describing a new kind of enterprise called ‘Social Business’

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Jeff Mowatt’s story.