Africa needs justice not charity An excellent analysis of the G8 agreement.
Casual readers of the newspaper headlines could be forgiven for believing that the leaders of the richest and most powerful countries have had a miraculous change of heart. If the papers are to be believed, the key decades-long demand of the global justice movement — debt cancellation — had been agreed to, thanks to an unlikely alliance between Tony Blair’s British Labour government, leading aid agencies and pop “legends” Bob Geldof and Bono. However, the devil is in the details, as Green Left Weekly’s Norm Dixon discovers.
“$55-billion debts write-off agreed”, declared the June 11 British Guardian. “Debtor nations freed of burdens”, the Los Angeles Times announced on June 12. “Victory for Millions”, trumpeted the June 12 British Observer. “Blair, Bono Win One for Africa”, cooed the June 13 Christian Science Monitor. “Debt deal just the beginning, says Geldof”, assured the June 13 Sydney Morning Herald.
THE G8 SUMMIT: A FRAUD AND A CIRCUS
Tony Blair's "vision for Africa" is about as patronising and exploitative as a stage full of white pop stars (with black tokens now added). By John Pilger New Statesman
The front page of the London Observer on 12 June announced, "55 billion dollar Africa debt deal 'a victory for millions'." The "victory for millions" is a quotation of Bob Geldof, who said, "Tomorrow 280 million Africans will wake up for the first time in their lives without owing you or me a penny...". The nonsense of this would be breathtaking if the reader's breath had not already been extracted by the unrelenting sophistry of Geldof, Bono, Blair, the Observer et al.
Africa's imperial plunder and tragedy have been turned into a circus for the benefit of the so-called G8 leaders due in Scotland next month and those of us willing to be distracted by the barkers of the circus: the establishment media and its "celebrities". The illusion of an anti establishment crusade led by pop stars - a cultivated, controlling image of rebellion - serves to dilute a great political movement of anger. In summit after summit, not a single significant "promise" of the G8 has been kept, and the "victory for millions" is no different. It is a fraud - actually a setback to reducing poverty in Africa. Entirely conditional on vicious, discredited economic programmes imposed by the World Bank and the IMF, the "package" will ensure that the "chosen" countries slip deeper into poverty.
Is it any surprise that this is backed by Blair and his treasurer, Gordon Brown, and George Bush; even the White House calls it a "milestone"? For them, it is an important facade, held up by the famous and the naive and the inane. Having effused about Blair, Geldof describes Bush as "passionate and sincere" about ending poverty. Bono has called Blair and Brown "the John and Paul of the global development stage". Behind this front, rapacious power can "re-order" the lives of millions in favour of totalitarian corporations and their control of the world's resources.