Wednesday, December 24, 2008

US funds luxury hotel in Georgia, and other overlooked foreign policy stories for 2008

It turns out that Wall Street isn’t the only one ripping off the US taxpayers.

After their brief, disastrous war with Russia this past August, the United States pledged nearly $1 billion in emergency aid to help Georgia "rebuild". Foreign Policy magazine though has found that nearly 20% of that relief aid was earmarked for Georgian businesses, and that $30 million went not for food or medical supplies, but to help build a luxury 5-star hotel in downtown Tbilisi (obviously not the sort of accommodations usually open to refugees...). Other development projects in the capital also received millions in relief funds, all for a city not touched by fighting during the war. The president of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the government agency managing the funds, defended their use to build luxury hotels and office buildings as a sign of the United States "confidence" in the future of Georgia.

The Georgian story is part of Foreign Policy's "Top 10 Stories You Missed in 2008", other highlights include a report that solar panels may in fact be more harmful to the environment than coal-fired power plants and that the US is helping India build a missile defense shield of their own. It’s definitely worth a read.
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