Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Live 8-Ball in the Side Pocket: Getting Cozy with the Man

George Monbiot gets it exactly right about the dangerous game of footsie that Bono and Bob Geldolf are playing with world leaders -- helping them paper over the true causes of ruin and despair in Africa with feel-good gestures laden with draconian conditions.

Bards of the powerful:
Far from challenging the G8's role in Africa's poverty, Geldof and Bono are giving legitimacy to those responsible

An excerpt:
The two musicians are genuinely committed to the cause of poverty reduction. They have helped secure aid and debt-relief packages worth billions of dollars. They have helped to keep the issue of global poverty on the political agenda. They have mobilised people all over the world. These are astonishing achievements, and it would be stupid to disregard them.

The problem is that they have assumed the role of arbiters: of determining on our behalf whether the leaders of the G8 nations should be congratulated or condemned for the decisions they make. They are not qualified to do so, and I fear that they will sell us down the river.

Take their response to the debt-relief package for the world's poorest countries that the G7 finance ministers announced 10 days ago. Anyone with a grasp of development politics who had read and understood the ministers' statement could see that the conditions it contains - enforced liberalisation and privatisation - are as onerous as the debts it relieves. But Bob Geldof praised it as "a victory for the millions of people in the campaigns around the world" and Bono pronounced it "a little piece of history". Like many of those who have been trying to highlight the harm done by such conditions - especially the African campaigners I know - I feel betrayed by these statements. Bono and Geldof have made our job more difficult.