“ CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME: PART IV: THE GLOBALIZATION OF HUMANITARIANISM ”
“For only a great and noble cause can
Arouse humanity’s profoundest nature.
In smaller spheres, the mind contracts,
But, with a nobler purpose, grows greater.”
In his 1993 book The End of History and the Last Man, Francis Fukyama made the famous statement that, because the major alternatives to liberal democracy had exhausted themselves, history as we knew it had reached its end. Quoting Immanuel Kant as saying that history would have an end point, Fukyama suggested that that end point would be the realization of human freedom.
The 20 th century had seen the defeat of imperialism in WWI, the defeat of Fascism in WWII, and the defeat of communism in the Cold War. It seemed that democratic capitalism had won, and the United States—the only remaining superpower—had attained the power, the prestige, and the resources to remake the entire international order along the lines of the democratic ideals expressed by Woodrow Wilson in the early 20 th century: self determination, democratic government, collective security, the rule of law and a league of nations. Even Henry Kissinger, that arch realist, conceded that “ Wilson’s principles have remained the bedrock of American foreign policy thinking” throughout the 20 th century. Have we reached the end point of history, or have 9/11 and the war on terrorism imposed one more obstacle before freedom, democracy and the globalization of business can rule the world?
President Bush, in his State of the Union speech last January, renewed the commitment of our nation to the guiding ideal of liberty for all, and defined human freedom as the only force “powerful enough to stop the rise of tyranny and terror, and replace hatred with hope.” Unfortunately, human freedom has its limitations, and is not created instantly, like Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, who sprang from her father’s brain, fully grown and clad in armor. Our founding fathers and the documents that form the foundations of our freedoms drew upon centuries of conflict, not only of armies, but also of ideas.
Joseph Nye, Dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, in his book The Paradox of American Power, offers his belief that, for American, Wilsonian, or Bush’s ideals to triumph, our country needs more than just the “hard power” of military and economic forces to induce others to change their ways. We also need “soft power”, which, as Nye says, “is more than persuasion . . . It is the ability to entice and attract. And attraction often leads to acquiescence or imitation” (p. 9). “Soft power”, according to Nye, reflects the values of the American people and “looms larger than its economic and military assets” (Ibid., p. 11). It includes our culture, our technology, our economic opportunities, quality education, a foreign policy that is open to the needs and ideas of others, and how we treat our own and other people. Of these values, our long tradition of humanitarian assis-tance to those in need and those who are striving for freedom is one of the more important.
THE GLOBALIZATION OF HUMANITARIANISM
While the force of freedom is a stirring theme to march to, another force—the force of humanitarianism—is also gathering momentum. Much of written human history deals with evil and violence: wars, conquests, revolutions, corruption, slavery, inquisitions, unequal distribution of resources, and so on. Humanity’s goodness, on the other hand, has often gone unrecorded or not given equal space. Nevertheless, humanitarianism has a long and honorable tradition. The idea of people helping other people is as old as mankind itself. As Carlos Fuentes, Latin American intellectual and political writer, puts it: “[N]one of us will ever be able to find the humanity within . . . [ourselves] unless we are able to find it first in others.”
Our country has about 800,000 nonprofit humanitarian organizations that help to meet the needs of the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the young, the elderly, the sick and the ignorant. A record 300,000 of these organizations were granted tax exempt status in just the past decade. They range in size from the very large—such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which is worth $28 billion dollars and is dedicated to worldwide health and education—to the very small, such as hometown churches. Most of them are small organizations focused primarily on local interests and are operating with no paid employees. The recent growth in the number of religious organizations has been most noticeable, and while Christian organizations account for more than half of these new religious charities, over one thousand new Buddhist and Islamic charities were also created in the U. S. at the same time. William Schambra, director of the Hudson Institute’s Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal points out that these small organizations, especially the religious ones, “have nothing if not a strong sense of purpose. They understand that charity, volunteerism and immediate community engagement are not romantic atavisms, but essential attributes of spiritual and humane citizenship” (Schambra, 2005, p. 51).
In the past, charity was primarily a local matter until the 1930s when the huge social dislocations of the Great Depression—including an unemployment rate of 25%--brought the federal government into the business of meeting the health, education and other basic human needs of the American people. Beginning with Social Security in 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal opened the era of government involvement in social programs, but the burgeoning costs of these programs over the years have led to significant agitation for “reform” or, more accurately, relief from the tax burden that the cost of these programs levies on wealthier individuals and corporations. President Bush’s budget for 2006 reflects his intention to reduce federal support for human service programs—including health care and housing as well as Social Security (WSJ, 2/28/05, p. A1), and to return responsibility for their operation to the private sector meaning the business world, the stock market, local governments, and nonprofit organizations including faith-based organizations. One has to wonder if the growing numbers of nonprofit organizations will be able to find sufficient support in the private sector to match the loss of government grants and other federal funding, and if they will be able to coordinate their activities to focus on major human needs effectively rather than merely compete for dwindling government resources. Each community needs something like the United Way or a community foundation, not only to raise funds, but also to identify the needs of the community, to establish priorities for distributing limited financial resources to what is bound to be a growing variety of needs as our population continues to grow and diversify, and coordinate the activities of individual nonprofit organizations to meet those needs.
Concurrently with the growth in the number of charitable organizations in the U. S., the growth of non government organizations (or NGOs) with international agendas has also taken a remarkable upward surge. “Transnational religious organizations opposed to slavery date back to 1775, and the nineteenth century saw the founding of the Socialist International, the Red Cross [with chapters in many countries], . . . women’s suffrage movements, and the International Law Association, among others” (Nye, p. 60). By World War I there were 176 international NGOs. In 1956 there were nearly one thousand. By 1970, nearly two thousand. And then, by the year 2000, the number of NGOs had increased to over 37,000 (Global Policy Forum).
This recent growth in the number of NGOs for various purposes means that—like American nonprofits—there are many dissimilarities among them. Some are organized for humanitarian purposes and some for other reasons. Some, like environmental-protection NGOs, straddle the line. There is no commonly agreed-upon definition of NGO although the name itself—“non government organization”—indicates that they are part of the citizen sector or “civil society” as opposed to the governmental sector. Representing people rather than institutions, they do have certain defining characteristics:
- They are formal organizations (as opposed to ad hoc entities).
- They are or aspire to be self-governing on the basis of their own constitutional arrangements.
- They are private, in that they are separate from governments and have no ability to direct societies or require support (such as taxes) from them.
- They are nonprofit (i.e., the money they raise goes to fund their programs, not to shareholders), and
- They often have transnational goals (such as environmental concerns), and
may have active contacts with the United Nations, the major coordinating body of their efforts.
Although not organized to make profits, NGOs, like other nonprofit organizations, must have funds to support their activities. Despite the “non government” part of their title, some—like CARE International and Catholic Relief Services—receive a large portion of their money from government sources. These Government-oriented NGOs often contract out services such as disaster relief to governments, but remain independent of government oversight. Others, such as British-based Oxfam International, Lutheran World Relief, and the International Red Cross/Red Crescent, rely primarily on private funding to insure their independence. Other NGOs take on the appearance of business organizations with fund-raising commercial activities to support their main missions. However, these “Business-Interest” NGOs are often felt to be too close to the interests of the business world—such as the logging industry—to take an impartial position on such matters as the environment, or the privatization of “common goods” such as water, health services, forests, and human rights.
One example of the growing number of NGOs engaged in humanitarian relief operations is the long list of organizations providing various forms of assistance to the victims of the tsunami disaster in south Asia. The web site for “Network for Good”, an NGO itself, whose principal business is to assist individuals in making secure donations and learning about volunteer opportunities, lists over 100 “important relief organizations” engaged in tsunami relief, as well as six others that are devoted exclusively to providing relief for animal victims of the tsunami. The Wall Street Journal reports (3/01/05) that private U. S. donors have contributed an eye-popping $1 billion in cash and goods to these and other relief agencies, independently of the contributions of the U. S. Government and other donors.
It is also interesting to note the wide diversity of religious organizations providing tsunami relief that includes Jewish, Christian, Catholic, Orthodox, Islamic, Buddhist, Lutheran, Episcopal, Quaker, Baptist, and Methodist organizations, as well other religious groups such as the Salvation Army, Jesuit Refugee Service, and the Christian Children’s Fund. Also, it’s rewarding to note that four Muslim doctors from southern California are working in Sri Lanka for a Jewish charity called VeAhavta, which is Hebrew for “You Shall Love.” Many secular organizations are also involved including the Red Cross/ Red Crescent, CARE, the UN Children’s Education Fund, the UN Refugee Agency, the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Food Programme, Lions Club International, Kiwanis International, Habitat for Humanity, Lifewater International, United Way International, and the Solar Electric Light Fund.
This outpouring of concern for the victims of the tsunami disaster has activated a huge response from numerous smaller, but uncoordinated humanitarian organizations. Unfortunately many of the in-kind donations—such as parkas and high heeled women’s shoes—were useless in the tropical areas affected by the tsunami, and the FBI has issued warnings about tsunami relief fund-raising scams on the Internet. Some needed resources, such as the half million dollars worth of antibiotics donated by Merck, were stored but not distributed because of “bureaucratic bungling” as the Indonesian government admitted. The UN’s World Health Organization, racing against time to prevent the spread of diseases, sought to buy 80 vehicles to send mobile medical labs inland to watch for outbreaks of cholera and typhoid, and to fix contaminated water supplies and sewage systems. Its coordinator, Jon Carver, found himself in competition with hundreds of other relief organizations also searching for vehicles, with four-wheel drive vehicles in short supply. Carver finally snapped up a fleet of vehicles from a car dealer in Singapore and had them shipped to Indonesia and Sri Lanka (WSJ, 7 January 2005, p. A7).
The major NGOs, including the Red Cross/Red Crescent, CARE International, and Oxfam International, together with UN agencies and American and other military contingents, are doing most of the “heavy lifting” in South Asia to reestablish medical, sanitation, small business, and educational facilities as well as distribute needed supplies to remote areas. The need for donations of money, food, bottled water and other assistance for the emergency phase of the disaster has largely been met (or at least pledged), but the work of rebuilding infrastructure remains—including reviving agriculture, rebuilding roads and railroads, and restoring water purification plants, medical facilities, housing, businesses and schools. These long-term redevelopment requirements can be met more effectively by the larger, well-funded and better organized NGOs that have the capability to restore self-sufficiency than by a bevy of uncoordinated smaller albeit well-intentioned smaller agencies.
Taking note of the growing number of NGOs dedicated to humanitarian projects and other human needs, the United Nations has established a committee to consider ways to encourage and strengthen the participation of NGOs in the work of the UN’s subsidiary bodies including the Children’s Education Fund, the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Food Programme (WFP), the Commission on Human Rights, the Commission on the Status of Women, the Commission on Crime Prevention and others. The UN’s method of doing this is to offer consultative status to NGOs that are working in areas that parallel UN interests and that are internationally recognized as having specific competence in some areas which enables them to enrich the work of the United Nations’ activities. Volunteers from civil organizations like the International Red Cross/Red Crescent and Doctors Without Borders are often well ahead of national or UN forces in getting humanitarian aid to conflict zones (and sometimes lose their lives in the process), while other transnational organizations have unique expertise in agricultural, environmental, transportation, medical and other nation-building matters. Increasingly, the United Nations is becoming the principal coordinator of international humanitarian work. For example, in January, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the UN will orchestrate the continuing tsunami relief effort in eleven countries on two continents in South Asia. Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell noted that the U.S. and five other nations had originally conducted relief efforts of their own—mostly with military resources such as helicopters, bulldozers, trucks and engineers—but added that the efforts of that group of nations would now “fold itself into the broader coordination efforts of the United Nations” (WSJ, Friday, 7 January 2005, p. A7).
Rotary International offers an excellent example of international organizations working cooperatively with the United Nations by raising millions of dollars from the members of its 32,000 clubs in 165 countries to assist the UN’s World Health Organization in eliminating polio around the world. Also, Rotary International and individual members of African Rotary Clubs, with the assistance of UN grants, are making significant humanitarian contributions to the rebuilding of trust and brotherhood in Rwanda and Uganda, countries that have been torn by genocide and tribal strife.
Disaster relief is only part of what NGOs do. “NGOs form part of what is broadly referred to as “civil society” to distinguish them from governments or international governments”. The missions of NGOs are broad and diverse, ranging from environmental protection to the banning and disposal of land mines, and from the protection of basic human rights to disease control and the eradication of poverty. The Global Policy Forum, another NGO, reports that the 37 thousand-plus NGOs in the world can be categorized into eleven broad purposes or missions including culture and recreation, education, research, health, social services, environment, economic development and infrastructure, law and policy advocacy, religion, defense, and politics. Interestingly, the category of Economic Development and Infrastructure (i.e., the development of economic and social infra- structures in third world nations) includes the activities of 9,614 different organizations.
In addition to saving lives, NGOs promote democracy and civic participation including the recent Ukrainian election and in such remote places as Kyrgyzstan where Freedom House, an NGO funded by the U. S. Agency for International Development, runs a printing press that assists opposition activists who are trying to oust an autocratic regime. (WSJ, 2/25/05, P. A1). Thus, the consultative relationship of NGOs with the UN extends beyond the economic and social sector, and has led to cooperation in such matters as peace and disarmament, opposition to apartheid and racial discrimination, refugee relief in Sudan, child labor, slavery, the sex trade, decolonization and human rights.
It would be impossible to describe the activities of all or even many of the NGOs that are making substantial contributions to the well-being of humanity throughout the world. However, a few of the better known NGOs include:
- The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies which
is the largest humanitarian network, incorporating the activities of National Societies in 178 countries and boasting 115 million volunteers worldwide (a number that is larger than the armies of all but a few nations). The Federation promotes humanitarian values, seeks to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever it may be found, works to ensure respect for the human being, and develops mutual understanding, friendship, cooperation and lasting peace among all people. Its leading role in tsunami relief is reflected by the confidence in its reliability of the many donors who have contributed to tsunami relief through the RC/RC organization.
- CARE International, which got its start at the end of WWII aiding
refugees in Europe by packaging surplus military foodstuffs into boxes that came to be famously known as “CARE packages,” is today a $500 million-per-year operation with a wide variety of projects in the developing world. It is one of the largest humanitarian organizations in the world, currently working in 72 developing countries. CARE has been in Afghanistan since 1961 except for a break in operations during the Soviet invasion, and was active in relief activities for the Iraqi people for 13 years until the tragic murder of their director of Iraq programs. CARE provides clean water and drainage systems, food distribution, medical training, community-organized primary (K-6) education for boys and girls in rural areas, and is currently running transportation systems in South Asia to get needed supplies from collection points where they are plentiful to remote places where they are sorely needed.
- Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontiers or MSF) was
formed in 1971 by French doctors who had served in war zones and were determined to bring emergency medical aid to places where others feared to tread and to document violations of human rights for world notice. Today there are more than 2500 MSF volunteers—mostly doctors and other medical professionals—in 80 countries; in “hot spots” from Kosovo to East Timor and from Afghanistan to Africa;
- Mercy Corps, headquartered in the U. S. and Scotland, is another
transnational organization that coordinates the activities of “an international family of humanitarian agencies that, since 1979, has provided over $830 million in assistance to 80 nations for emergency relief, development of sustainable communities, and the promotion of civil society initiatives.” Its programs are worldwide, and focus on the needs of children and families first while laying the long-term foundations for safe, just, and productive communities.
- Lifewater International: A Christian-based nonprofit group that helps poor
countries establish sources of clean water and trains local teams on how to set up a water system, repair it and practice proper hygiene and sanitation. Qualified Lifewater volunteers have served on 50 projects on five continents around the world and have helped an estimated one million people obtain safe drinking water.
- The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship is an international organization whose
mission is to reduce disparities in health and health care by developing “leaders in service”: individuals who are dedicated and skilled in helping underserved communities, and whose example influences and inspires others. Since 1979, the program has sent more than 100 senior U. S. medical students to the African nation of Gabon for three month rotations as junior doctors, and, since 1991, has selected more than 1000 U. S. students who are enrolled in health-related fields for year-long community service fellowships.
Although not an NGO, the U. S. military, being well-funded, does humanitarian work in developing nations by rebuilding roads, schools, hospitals, and other infrastructure. In Najaf, Iraq, the scene of heavy fighting last fall, Marine officers have doled out 15 million dollars in cash—on the spot—for reconstruction efforts such as the building of four “gleaming new markets” in the city’s poorest quarters, to repair bullet holes and mortar damage to private homes, to refurbish dozens of schools, and to reimburse families $1500 for each verifiable death caused by the fighting. In Afghanistan, where the United States contributes half of all the foreign aid being spent on rebuilding the country, American soldiers are building hospitals and schools, digging wells, treating illness, training Afghan soldiers and police, and advising local officials. These efforts, undertaken by what the Army calls Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs), are part of a new nation-building effort by the American government, from an administration that was once adverse to the very idea. The results are considered by military officials to be successful in the American attempt to win hearts and minds, but NGOs in the area beg to differ (“The Economist”, February 12, 2005, p. 41).
The PRTs have proved to be expensive and hugely controversial. “Paul Barker of CARE international . . . [says] the Army does development work poorly and . . . PRTs do not have the time or the training for it” (ibid.) Much of the work, Barker adds, is destroyed later by the Afghans who don’t like foreign soldiers in their country. The American military responds by saying that NGOs like CARE, who are in the country to provide similar redevelopment work, are not operating where needed—even in provinces that are secure. But the PRTs have been charged with blurring the distinction between civilian and military operations, and 35 NGO staff, including medical personnel of Doctors Without Borders, have been killed by insurgents who may have thought they were part of the American forces.
Like governments, businesses and domestic nonprofits, NGOs have their scandals and conflicts with each other and with businesses and governments whose policies or practices they disagree with. NGOs like Doctors Without Borders and the American Red Cross, which have declared that they have reached their fund-raising goals for tsunami emergency relief, anger other NGOs which focus on long-term continuing assistance rather than emergency relief, and still need donor contributions. The murder of CARE International’s Iraq Director Margaret Hassan led one CARE director to claim that CARE’s growth as an aid agency has led it to trade in its independence for government funding, and that its failure to condemn the Iraq war outright has led to a backlash against its activities. The British NGO “Breakthrough Breast Cancer” turned down a one million pound donation by the Nestle Corporation fearing that the company wanted to use Breakthrough’s positive image to boost its own business reputation. Activists have accused Nestle of jeopardizing the lives of mothers and infants by pushing powdered baby milk sales in developing countries where water supplies are often polluted.
Some NGOs, whose main interests are environmental protection, HIV/AIDS, child labor, protection of American jobs, human rights and so on, object to the globalization of business and its adverse effects, and have staged street protests in Seattle, Washington, Prague, and Genoa to disrupt meetings of the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the Group of Eight. Other, more moderate NGOs that prefer to advance their objections to harmful business activities through negotiations and legislation, consider such demonstration as “low-class” or even “nihilistic” and contributing to a negative image of NGOs in general.
Globalization? What about globalization? Can the globalization of business interests help to relieve humanitarian problems? Globalization—worldwide networks of interdependence—means a free flow of goods, people, and capital. Its proponents claim that its advancement is “inevitable” and that it has been hastened by the internet and other technological advances, especially those in the field of communications. Quoting Adam Smith to the effect that all boats rise with the same global tide, economists claim that globalization does have a “human face”, and that its activities, especially the removal of trade barriers, is the most powerful way to create wealth and reduce poverty and solve other social issues through the creation of jobs and the improvement of working conditions—especially for women (Bhagwati,, 2004, 73-91).
However, as the Economist magazine points out in a recent special report on the subject of corporate social responsibility (CSR), “the business of business is business. No apology necessary,” and that the selfish pursuit of profit serves a [larger] social purpose through competition that keeps prices low and the employment of cheap labor abroad that pays foreign workers more than they would otherwise earn locally. In other words, the uplifting of humanity—when it occurs—is more a byproduct of the globalization of business than a deliberate strategy. Or, as the author of the Economist’s report put it, “all things considered, there is much to be said for leaving social and economic policy to governments” (p.11). Or to NGOs.
Can the juggernaut of business globalization uplift humanity? Some say “yes,” some say “no,” and some say “we’ll see.” However, it seems reasonable to assume that before business can take hold in underdeveloped areas, certain basic conditions of security, health and education must be satisfied. Numerous writers have made the point that the absence of those conditions in the countries of Pakistan, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere provides breeding ground for terrorism, crime and genocide, and that the war on terror cannot be declared won until these conditions are improved. As Abraham Maslow pointed out in his well-known hierarchy of needs, the basic necessities of human well-being: food, clean water; safety, housing, health care, schools, jobs and a healthy environment are essential to the realization of humankind’s highest aspirations.
The “hard power” of military and economic intervention cannot be dispensed with, but the war on terrorism will take time and requires diverse approaches. The application of the “soft power” of humanitarian improvements by NGOs in underdeveloped countries will help to reduce the circumstances in which terrorism grows and reduce the necessity for the application of “hard power” where rogue nations threaten American interests. Teddy Roosevelt’s famous adage about soft speaking and big sticks should always be on our minds
Carlos Fuentes tells us that history is not over. “We live,” he says, “in a continually incomplete history. [And t]he lesson of our unfinished humanity is that when we exclude we are made poorer, and when we include we are made richer” Inclusiveness is the best way to uplift humanity—helping others to help themselves--and it is probably a less expensive way to spread freedom and American values around the world than military intervention. Using the Iraq war as an example of the unilateral use of “hard power” to depose an evil regime and impose freedom, one writer has observed that even a rich country like America can afford only one two-hundred-billion dollar intervention every so often. The current situation in Iran shows that American military options are limited.
Perhaps the best way to spread American values is to set a good example. The growth of nonprofit charitable organizations in this country has helped to make America the land of hope and comfort for many people and a beacon for others to follow. Charity does begin at home, and continuing to sustain and further develop a humanitarian outlook among our citizens is important. The preparation of young people for two years of voluntary service or, perhaps, careers in non profit organizations, can take shape through the extension of such existing programs as Learn and Serve programs in K-12 schools and Campus Compact programs on college campuses. Learn and Serve is a national program which provides grants and other encouragement for communities to develop “real world” community service projects that enrich classroom learning. Campus Compact—already active on over 900 college campuses in the U.S., including the U of R—requires a certain number of community service hours as a prerequisite to graduation. These programs make it clear that most high school and college-age youngsters are eager to take on community service projects to help the less fortunate or, in the case of college students, reflect favorably on the experience after having performed it. As Albert Schweitzer once said, “Grow into your ideals so that life cannot rob you of them.”
Federal funding for scholarships, such as those offered to volunteers in the all-volunteer military, should be continued and extended for young people who volunteer to serve two years full time in inner city or other humanitarian work like VISTA and the Peace Corps. Although both candidates in the last Presidential election opposed a military draft (and military authorities do also), the time is fast approaching when national service legislation will be passed in which living allowances and educational benefits will be paid to every young American who volunteers to serve his or her country either in the military or in organized humanitarian projects at home or abroad.
Internationally, our country should give its full support to the United Nations in its worldwide humanitarian operations while assisting in the reform of its bureaucratic bottlenecks and the suppression of the illegal activities of some of its employees. In the past, bitter national rivalries have stalemated the long discussions over reform in the UN, but Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the UN, says that “a strong UN is of vital importance to humanity” calling it the “conscience of humanity,” and has promised to “reform and revitalize the UN system” during the remaining two years of his term of office. To begin with, the UN has established five reform working groups, headed by one of the UN’s most respected international civil servants, and has made significant progress in coordinating the activities of its many divisions and streamlining hidebound bureaucratic practices” (WSJ, 1/17/05, p. A10). President Bush’s appointment of long-time critic of the U.N., John Bolton, a senior State Department official, as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. has made it clear that the White House wants major reform and isn’t open to compromise. Mr. Bolton, how- ever, sees his appointment as occurring at “a time of opportunity for the U.N. which . . . requires American leadership to achieve successful reform” (WSJ, 3/08/05, p. A3).
To paraphrase Voltaire, if there were no UN, we would have to invent it. As Secretary General Annan points out, the UN has taken on the huge task of coordinating the emergency relief efforts in South Asia, is conducting peace operations in 18 war-torn nations around the world, and, even though many of its members are opposed to the war in Iraq, the UN responded to the requests of the U. S. for assistance in creating an Iraqi Governing Council and helped to organize last month’s elections. UN Special Representative Sergio Vieira de Mello and 21 other UN staffers gave their lives in Iraq while engaged in those efforts. The failure of the U. S. to participate in the League of Nations after WWI led to its ineffectiveness in preventing WWII. We should apply that lesson to the future of humanitarian and other programs that help to promote freedom and democracy around the world.
Humanitarianism is on the march—at home and abroad. Its proponents seek not to advance a cause, but to assist their fellow human beings. To quote Immanuel Kant again, the world is destined for perpetual peace. It will come “either by human foresight or by a series of catastrophes that leave no other choice” (Kissinger, 8 November 2004, p. 38).
In his book, The Paradox of American Power, Joseph Nye, Dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, poses the idea that our country needs more than the “hard power” of America’s military and economic might to induce others to accept America’s ideals of freedom, democracy and the rule of law. We also need, Nye adds, the “soft power” of America’s culture, technology, economic opportunities, quality education, and a foreign policy that is open to the needs and ideas of others in helping to develop a free and democratic world. Of these values, America’s long tradition of humanitarian assistance to those who are striving to improve their own lives at home and abroad is one of the more important.
The rapid growth of domestic American nonprofit organizations in recent years is being matched by the growth in the number of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) with international humanitarian agendas. The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, CARE international, Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam International, Rotary International, Mercy Corps, and the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship are just a few of the more than 37,000 NGOs that are committed to providing emergency relief and nation building programs around the world. Increasingly, the United Nations organization is becoming the major coordinating body of their efforts so that their work may be focused on the human problems of the world more effectively.
This paper proposes that preparing American youth for community service as a continuing and important part of their lives, and that assisting the United Nations in coordinating the work of international humanitarian organizations are objectives of major importance for our nation.
About the author
Bob Baldwin was born and raised in Connecticut. He graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1951 with a degree in English and later completed a Master’s degree in History at the American University in Washington, D. C.
Bob served 35 years in the Army, the Air National Guard and the active duty Air Force.
His last assignment was as Director of Personnel for Norton Air Force Base. He retired in 1981.
That same year he became the executive director of the United Way of the Redlands Area. He served in that capacity for eleven years, retiring in 1992. Subsequently he has been employed as an adjunct instructor at the University of Redlands.
Bob and his wife Mary have been married for 52 years and have lived in Redlands for 29 years. They have a daughter Cynthia, who lives in Chicago, and a son Robert Jr. who lives in Philadelphia.