I could start out my remarks tonight by saying that the international humanitarian response to emergencies is generous, multinational, reasonably quick, sometimes well coordinated, and overall responsible for saving many lives. Just consider the international response to the tsunami. There was immediate international humanitarian action combined with rapid military relief and rescue operations from a number of nations, the mobilization of $13.6 billion with a good percentage received, and a notable role by the UN in coordinating one of the largest relief operations in history. Indeed, UN officials often point out that as a result of its efforts, epidemics were averted, food assistance was delivered, most children are now back in school, and tens of thousands are employed and earning money again.
Yet something is missing from this picture. What is missing is that the international humanitarian response to emergencies is more likely to be unpredictable, highly fragmented, frequently inequitable and subject to the vagaries and political interests of donor governments.
For the tsunami, $13.6 billion was pledged, far more money than was actually needed, but for the earthquake in Pakistan, or the mudslides in Central America, or droughts in Africa, the international response has not been comparable. One disaster captures international donor and media attention whereas others meet with indifference, donor fatigue and scarce resources. One major reason is that donors generally put funds where they have compelling national security interests. Thus large amounts of funds can be found for Iraq and Afghanistan but when it comes to Africa, emergency needs are often under-funded. In fact, international organizations receive only about one-third of the funds they appeal for to feed and house people affected by humanitarian crises in Africa. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in 2005, where 1,000 people were dying every day from preventable disease and malnutrition and up to 2 million were uprooted, only 36 percent of the $175 million appealed for by the UN was received.
I’m sure the demise of a Washington Post journalist is not a priority for a ‘fake news’ president. I don’t think the Trump administration is going to do anything about Khashoggi... Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy, but that said, it has behaved within international norms for the most part. It did not used to kidnap and murder critics in such an egregious way. It didn’t round up hundreds of its own citizens and shake them down in a Ritz-Carlton [as Mohammed bin Salman did last fall]. It has not put a former crown prince under house arrest. This … reflects the somewhat precarious nature of bin Salman’s position. His legitimacy is open, and his judgment is reckless. Saudi royal family members have gone out of their way to say [the war in Yemen] was not a family decision... [bin Salman] continues to enjoy the protection of his father, and that’s what’s crucial. But I would not be surprised if he were moved out of the line of succession or there was an assassination attempt.
How will values shape U.S.-China competition?
The crocodile tears of the crown prince and other Saudi officials are probably for deception and prevarication. The disappearance of Jamal [Khashoggi] fits with a pattern of crude intimidation and the silencing of criticism and dissent.