Brutal Population Control

By Abid Ullah Jan (Canada)

The "conventional wisdom" of the western-sponsored family planning programs is very simple: There are too many people in the world. Population is growing too fast and family planning methods must be made available to every couple on earth. This point of view has been stated so often and so forcefully, that some people are beginning to believe that it is really true. But behind all these cooked-up truths are some strange contradictions and some fascinating puzzles that need to be explored, exposed and known to our public that has been subjected to a one-sided propaganda for far too long.

Contrary to our misconceptions, population policies in the West are rather intended to increase birth rates. For instance, a family in Germany receives cash "birth bonus" for having a baby. The government approves the bonus for the sole purpose of increasing the number of births by 200,000 per year. France, Switzerland, Greece, and the Scandinavian countries have all adopted "incentive" measures to encourage larger families. These include housing benefits, state maternity allowances, and a wide variety of regulations and subsidies making large families more attractive and affordable. Similarly, the rest of the developed world is giving tax breaks to large families and other measures are undertaken that have a positive impact on fertility.

Yet the same western countries, except one or two like Greece; are contributing money for reducing population size in the developing world through the most repressive population control schemes. In mid-1970s, they bankrolled the "state of emergency" declared in India that resulted in millions of men being hauled away in trucks and forcibly sterilized. They inspired the notorious "one-child" population policy in China which is enforced through compulsory sterilizations and abortions. In Pakistan too, none of the development organizations has as much funds available at its disposal as the Family Planning Association for propaganda advertisements and other programs.

The US and its allies shifted their focus to growing populations of the developing world soon after World War II. According to a portion titled: Considerations for American Policy, taken from "Demographic Studies of Selected Areas of Rapid Growth," (proceedings of the Round Table on Population Problems, Twenty-Second Annual Conference of the Milbank Memorial Fund, April 12-13, 1944, New York City, pages 146-158): "Regions whose readily available resources are now less fully developed, may emerge with sufficient political unity and industrial strength to give their growing numbers power. Failing to find a solution to their problems within their own borders, they may easily become threats to world peace." The list of recommendations made in the above conference also included:

"It is important that specific and widespread propaganda be directed to developing an interest in the health and welfare of children rather than in large families for their own sake. Such education would also involve propaganda in favor of controlled fertility as an integral part of a public health program. It is important to develop a native leadership that will acquire new values rapidly and serve as a medium for their diffusion. To this end native political leaders, civil servants, and native middle classes are needed."

Essentially, there has been little deviation over the past 45 years from this formula of pursuing ideological change among people in less developed countries at the initiative of the UN's rich country members. The practice of promoting ideological change, both through widespread propaganda and through the employment of an elite leadership as agents for social policy, is likewise at the heart of the U.S. Agency for International Development's recent emphasis on programs known as "information, education and communication" and "policy development."

A Report of the Royal Commission on Population (U.K. June 1949) acknowledged in paragraphs 20, 21, 353, 354, and 613 that rapid population growth in Europe was to be an essential condition for development of the region. The report stated that the lack of "steady population increase could threaten the preservation of British influence abroad" (paragraphs 348, 355, 356, 357, 360, 613, 648, and 649). In paragraph 636, 658 and 659 pro-nationalist measures were suggested to encourage higher rates of population growth. This report was presented to the British Parliament by command of His Majesty and necessary measures were approved thereafter. Similarly, a study, in which the CIA, the Department of Defense, the State Department, the U.S. AID and the Department of Agriculture participated, concluded in 1974 that population control should be a key element of U.S. foreign policy because:

1) Significant population growth in certain larger nations would give them greater political status and influence and would thereby have adverse geopolitical implications for the United States;

2) The United States' military and industrial sectors require supplies of critical mineral resources available almost exclusively in the Southern hemisphere, and access to such resources might be jeopardized by the political demands created by larger societies;

3) The growth of population in poor nations, and the relative youth of societies with high birth rates tends to give momentum to nationalist movements that cause political problems for the U.S.;

4) Growing nations in the South might be tempted to nationalize foreign investments in order to better absorb into the national economy the wealth generated by these firms (National Security Study Memorandum 200 or "NSSM 200," is reviewed in detail in IPFA Working Paper, #1 Population Control and National Security)

Among its many recommendations, the National Security Council study urged that pressure be put on leaders of developing countries to adopt official family planning targets and national population plans. This was to be done through a complex strategy of diplomatic contacts by using U.S. economic leverage under the foreign aid program and international financial institutions to set aside development funds specifically earmarked for family planning activities, and by the dissemination of aggressive and often deceptive propaganda intended to dispel fears that support for population control is based on a desire by the United States and other northern nations to weaken the future economic and political strength of the developing countries.

Furthermore, in a commercial paperback book, Ray S. Cline, former deputy director of the CIA and now chairman of the U.S. Global Strategy Council (USGSC), reports that changes in global population distribution are moving world centers of power away from the U.S. and Europe. The publication called The Power of Nations in the 1990s: A Strategic Assessment, by the University Press of America, 1975. It said, "The spirit and competence of the individual human beings in a society, in the long run, may count as much as or more than the concrete and material resources a nation possesses. Population size is clearly a major element in the international perceptions of whether or not a country constitutes a critical mass in terms of national power."

The Western analysts, thus, conclude that except in special cases, it is the most populous nations who will dominate the world in the next century. "It is hard in normal cases to think of nations with a population of less than 20 million as having truly treat power in their own right, independent of the interests or actions of larger nations. For example, Israel(4 million), New Zealand (3 million), and Singapore (2 million) -- have a disproportionate influence in international affairs because of some special circumstance, such as advantageous strategic location or world-wide commercial activity," says the publication. However, it is the 23 countries with the largest populations that will be "automatically powerful" in coming years. Those countries include the Peoples Republic of China, India, Brazil, Nigeria, Pakistan, Egypt, Bangladesh, Russia, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Vietnam, the Philippines, Iran, Turkey, Thailand, and Ethiopia.

The Western perspective in this regard is so obviously contrary to what we are being presented with. For example, Matthew Connelly and Paul Kennedy, argued in an article appeared in the December 1994 edition of Africa 2000, that the "key global problem" for the immediate future can be found in "unbalanced demographic trends" and the impact this situation might have on power structures that maintain the present inequitable distribution of wealth. They point out that "Europe and North America, which contained more than 22 percent of the world's population in 1950, will contain less than 20 percent by 2025" and elsewhere observe that the low-birth rate societies of the West "are committing demographic suicide." They also contend that potential economic progress in "some of the poor regions of the globe" poses a danger to the West because it will set in motion a trend which will result in "the economic and political balances of power" moving away from today's allied powers.

This is the crux of the Western objectives behind sponsoring family planning programs in the developing world. Even Jacques Chirac of France remarked not long ago: "When you compare Europe with the other continents, it's terrifying. In demographic terms, Europe is disappearing. Twenty or so years from now our countries will be empty, and no matter what our technological power, we shall be incapable of putting it to use." And he also includes the words of K. Mahbubani from Singapore's Foreign Ministry who criticizes what he calls the "siege mentality" of Western leaders. "Simple arithmetic demonstrates Western folly," Mahbubani says. "The West has 800 million people; the rest make up almost 4.7 billion.... No Western society would accept a situation where 15 percent of its population legislated for the remaining 85 percent." Thus, he concludes, "power is shifting among civilizations." And indeed the West acknowledges as stated by Connelly and Kennedy that it is "undeniable that a shift in material power toward Asia is under way.

The Coming Anarchy by Robert D. Kaplan (February 1994 edition, Atlantic Monthly at pages 44-76), is another representation of the Western thought that says the developing world has become an explosive mix of "overpopulation", corruption and disease. The youth in the developing world, he says, are "like loose molecules in a very unstable social fluid, a fluid that [is] clearly on the verge of igniting."

The West is worried in particular about the Islamic movement around the world that appeals to the masses and "spreads across artificial frontiers, fuelled by mass migrations into the cities and a soaring birth rate." But all such analysis and commentaries boil down to the worry about a declining white race -- determined to hold onto privilege by brutal force if need be -- even as it finds itself increasingly outnumbered by people from the developing world. All this makes "the revenge of the poor" seem very much well justified, indeed. Environment is a new factor that has been added to the family planning propaganda. It is argued that population increase is going to adversely impact on the environment. In fact, the environment depends on other factors.Indeed, populous countries tend to have greater resources available for environmental projects than do nations with fewer people. The Western policy of boosting fertility in its own societies makes the whole environment argument seem ridiculous because advocates of faster population propose growth at home among the very people who already are consuming nearly 80 percent of the world's resources.

Who's Crowded?

Then comes the complicated question of the "carrying capacity" of the planet. Calcutta might be called "crowded." Mexico City could be considered the same, and so could Manila or Lagos or Cairo. But the word "crowded" is almost never used to describe cities in developed countries like New York, London, or Tokyo - despite the fact that these cities are even more densely inhabited than major cities of the developing world. Population "density" actually measures "crowding" and it works like this: Netherlands, for example, consists of 37,466 square kilometers of land. The country's population is 14.9 million. Therefore, Netherlands has 397 people per square kilometer of its territory and 397 is its population density. England consists of 245,778 square kilometers with a population of 57.4 million, giving that country a density of 233 persons per square kilometer. In Germany, there are 221 people per square kilometer. And all of these countries want their own populations to increase.

Now look at the population figures for the countries that are being forced to slash birth rates by foreign aid donors and lenders. In Pakistan, there are just 142 people for each square kilometer of territory. China, the most populous nation on earth, has a total land mass of 9.6 million square kilometers with a population density of just 116. Indonesia and Thailand - two countries that have been subjected to particularly ruthless population-reduction campaigns - have densities of only 99 and 108 respectively. The ratio of people-per-kilometer in Mexico is barely 45. In Ethiopia it is 42, meaning that Britain is more than sixteen times as crowded as Ethiopia. Elsewhere the figures are even more startling. In Senegal, for example, there are 37 people for every square kilometer of land. In Brazil, there are fewer than 18. Somalids population density is a mere 13. And in some places - Namibia and Mauritania, for example -there are less than two people for every square kilometers of territory. Which means the problem is not with population and resources, but with development and the economic inequality.

The debate on the carrying capacity implies that less-developed countries cannot "sustain" as many people as rich countries can. But why not? The Western nations became wealthy through industrialization - and industrialization was made possible by raw materials extracted mainly through the construction of vast colonial empires, from the present developing countries and their natural resources. Even today, the natural resources on which the powerful countries depend must be imported from Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. The developing countries only need systematic and organized efforts toward sustainable development provided they are left in peace. As long as the West keeps on interfering in their internal affairs, the developing nations won't get an opportunity to focus on development. Stop all population planning programs and just help India and Pakistan resolve the Kashmir issue and then see the level of development in this region.

Irrespective of the disproportionate use of fuel for heating and other purposes in the temperate regions of the West, the warm climates of the developing countries can sustain - in terms of food - about twice as great a population density as the North. And this answers the other half of the "sustainable population" question - that is food. Most of the 549,146 square kilometers of land that make up France can produce crops for only about half the year. But in tropical Kenya, with roughly the same amount of space, the land can produce year- round.

Unfortunately, however, there is a lack of basic justice in international relations and politics. Most of the usable land in the developed countries is cultivated, their technology is advanced, and they can afford to import what they cannot grow. In developing countries, however, only a small percentage of fertile land is in cultivation, and the countries are so poor that they must export most of what they grow.

The next question is of stability: Will population growth in the developing world lead to conflict? Birth control advocates are quick to use this argument as a last resort. They argue that the crime rate would increase and there would be a conflict for capturing the resources. Of course, urban areas tend to have more crime than do rural villages, but this rate also varies from Society to society. The number of serious crimes reported compared to the total population in Shreveport, Louisiana, US, with 200,000 people, for instance is immensely higher than it is in Cairo, Egypt with 20 million people.

In fact, the western strategic planners are more worried about international conflict than they are about robbery and assault in the streets. They fear that as populations grow in the less-developed areas, pressures will mount for a redistribution of wealth from rich to the poor. In this respect, they are undoubtedly right. This explains why such enormous effort is expended by the powerful nations of the world to gather census figures, project population growth rates, evaluate political-demographic trends, sponsor family planning and fund poverty alleviation programs - a fund that is no more than a few drops in a desert.

The nature of the population and conflict equation with a few examples is somewhat like this In Sudan, slightly more than half of the 6,488,864 males between 18 and 49 are considered fit for military duty and another 301,573 are expected to be added to this number each year. India is reported to have 143,008,471 men suitable for the military, with more than 9 million added to that number each year.

And fully 71 percent of males in the Philippines between the age 15 and 49 are fit for combat, with over 700,000 more expected to join their number annually. It explains the eagerness of densely populated western countries to encourage births at home, while demanding at the very same time to take outrageous steps to prevent fertility in the developing word to avoid a shift in the balance of power at some time in the future. This also explains otherwise inexplicably cruel programs of structural adjustment, the conversion of agriculture to export production, and other policies that impoverish the developing nations. The "over-population" propaganda may be simple. And it may have been freely circulated around the world for so long that it has come to be taken for granted. Its contradictions are not invisible. And suspicions of evil motivation do not die. Rather, they grow in proportion to pressures from overseas.