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Monday, July 04, 2005

Rock-a-bye World

A couple of rockers were rocking the world yesterday, but now the world stands still and waits for the result of the G8 summit.

The summit already looks ready to become a stage of nationalistic backbiting with comments from Chirac about Britain. Unofficial remarks made over the weekend at a meeting with Russia and Germany, but overheard by journalists and published in French newspapers such as "They can't cook and all they've given European agriculture is mad cow's disease," given the present sutuation doesn't help. The out-going French President's quotes have been met with silence by 10 Downing Street.

Even the man who had the British Prime Minister Tony Blair as his staunchest ally in the military occupation of Iraq to the point of damaging his own political reputation, going against UK public opinion and his own backbenchers, when interviewed by Tevor Mcdonald on ITV's Tonight programme today, George W. Bush repeated firmly that there would be no "quid pro quo" for Iraq when it came to supporting Blair's agenda in the G8 about Africa, trade restrictions and climate change. Simply put, Mr Bush is looking out for American interests and the success of the summit arguably rests on the most powerful man in the world who governs the world's biggest pollutor. So, don't expect any favours back Mr Blair.

And it doesn't get any better. The matter of ending Europe and America's agricultural subsidies, which makes their own farmers unfairly produce goods cheaper than third world farmers whom cannot compete, forcing them to go out of business, is far from resolved and will have to wait for World Trade talks in December.

Trade Not Aid Will Solve African Poverty

The irony is also apparent when you consider that increasingly China (not a member of the G8) has done more for Africa in terms of investment than America or Europe, two of the eight powers that still cannot agree to free up trade restrictions and would rather keep Africa dependent on charity then let it feed itself. So what about trade justice in place of the benefits of aid? Surely it would be more beneficial in the long run to produce a solution that will be far reaching into the future and not just a stop-gap to soothe today's problems with charity. Is it a cure just to feed the hungry continent today and not to think about how she will feed herself tomorrow?

The great powers of the world are allowing China to aid and invest in corrupt governments without heeding UN resolutions or first showing corrupt regimes that they also have a role to play in becoming more humanitarian and transparent, while giving aid and support to their own citizens. But who can blame China in taking the chance to make Africa less dependent on the West, while the G8 squabbles over how to treat the starving in Africa. China just goes in and gets the job done, constructing oil mines, buildings, roads and railways in Africa, bringing in jobs, money and investment. Of course no one can question China about their business practices and the treatment of the nearby people...can they? As America will tell you too, business is business.

With China fast becoming the largest investor in Africa, already in front of Britain, people such as Live 8 organizer Geldof now say that, unlike China, using corruption as an excuse to withhold money is wrong. The situation is even more worrying when you have to battle with America's double standards on its foreign policy, for example it does not hold Uzbekistan to the same rule of thumb, where millions of dollars of aid are sent corruption notwithstanding, simply because of the American bases there and the country's support in the Iraq War.

It was heart-warming to hear Bono from U2 raise his hand in the air at the Live 8 concert in Hyde Park yesterday and say, "We dont want charity we want justice." But I'm afraid when the results from the G8 summit's discussions come out, charity is about all we're going to get.

Because sticking the world in a cradle and rocking it to songs isn't enough. That will just put us all to sleep.

Hard Core Activists Blur The Message, Too

Police and protestors have been squaring up against the backdrop of the up-coming summit. Thirty-six hours before the meeting of the G8, what the police feared has come true. Sporadic bouts of violence on the streets of Edinburgh have managed to mar the campaign to "Make Poverty History", something the campaigners did not want.

In my opinion behaviour like this is completely unacceptable and is not part of the movement that walked peacefully in Edinburgh yesterday. However, violent confrontation has always been a part of the summit's history. If you look back at past events, this was always going to happen.

Another prime example how hope is not enough.

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