“War By Other Means” is a thought-provoking documentary by John Pilger and David Munro, released in 1992. Pilger highlights a striking imbalance in global aid and debt dynamics: in 1985, Africa contributed twice as much to developed nations as it received in aid. Even funds raised during events like Live Aid and Red Nose Day often circle back as interest payments on loans, exacerbating the debt burden of developing countries.

Pilger characterizes the debt system as a form of modern warfare, where control over people and resources is exerted through sophisticated financial mechanisms rather than outright colonization. He traces the roots of this system to the Bretton Woods agreement in 1944, which led to the establishment of the IMF and World Bank.

The documentary vividly portrays the impact of debt on the Philippines, where a significant portion of the national budget is allocated to servicing foreign debt. Scenes of poverty, such as those at ‘Smokey Mountain,’ underscore the dire consequences. Structural Adjustment Plans further prioritize debt repayment over humanitarian and environmental concerns, perpetuating the cycle of poverty and exploitation.

Despite optimistic rhetoric from World Bank representatives, little has changed since the documentary’s release. The Philippines continues to grapple with a staggering national debt and widespread poverty. Pilger advocates passionately for debt cancellation and calls for the abolition of institutions like the World Bank and IMF, proposing the establishment of a genuine development agency aligned with the national interests of affected countries.

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