G20 in Hamburg. From tragedy to farce in one easy step as the media get Macron wrong

A howl of protest went up following the press conference of French President Emmanuel Macron at the G20 summit in Hamburg.

A journalist from the Ivory Coast asked Macron why there was no Marshall plan for Africa?

Macron answered that Africa had “civilisational” problems, adding that part of the challenge facing the continent was the countries that “still have seven to eight children per woman.”

Macron was duly slammed for his “racist” slurs and denying France’s alleged role in African underdevelopment due to its history of imperialism, colonialism and slavery, while the conversion to Catholicism allegedly resulted in a refusal to use birth control.

In fact, the developing world has received multiple Marshall plans over the decades.

According to Wikipedia,

The Marshall Plan (officially the European Recovery Program, ERP) was an American initiative to aid Western Europe, in which the United States gave over $13 billion (approximately $130 billion in current dollar value as of June 2016) in economic support to help rebuild Western European economies after the end of World War II.

Angus Deaton, who won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Economics, notes that

According to the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OECD, which is the scorekeeper, total ODA [official development assistance] in 2011 was $133.5 billion… The cumulative amount of aid since 1960 is approximately $5 trillion (at 2009 prices).

Angus Deaton, The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality, 2013, p. 275.

So in 2011 alone, the developing world received roughly the same amount as Europe under the Marshall plan after adjusting for inflation – and

As so often nowadays, people are more worried about rhetoric of which they disapprove than thinking and mastering the facts.

With regard to Africa’s huge problems, the idea that they were caused by European imperialism is nonsense – the question is misconceived because Africa has always been poor – so aid doesn’t help much.

Sub-Saharan Africa barely developed writing, ancient Meroitic being a major exception, and Africa as a whole has a shorter coastline than Europe despite being much larger, has few navigable rivers compared to Europe, the USA, China and India and, like the Arab and much of the Muslim world, has hundreds of tribes compared to Europe’s relatively few nation states or China’s “civilisational state” etc.

The Europeans did indeed carve up Africa and impose artificial borders – but critics of this policy need to answer how else could it be done, given the continent’s tribal structure?

Western Europe, on the other hand, was highly developed with an educated population, so despite huge material losses, it was able to recover quickly after World War Two, as did Japan.

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