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G8 and Live 8


John Simkin
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It was good to see some of the old bands performing live over the weekend but I think the stars seem to be very naive in what they think such events can achieve and end to world poverty.

Chris Martin (Coldplay) said: “This is the greatest thing that’s ever been organised probably in the history of the world”. History is obviously not his strongpoint.

Madonna claims we are on the verge of revolution: “Are you ready, London? Are you ready to start a revolution? Are you ready to change history?”

Johnny Borrell (Razorlight) was at least funny with his comments about the concert: “This is their (G8 leaders) chance to show that world politics is not just show business for ugly people.”

However, as Bob Geldof pointed out: “The world is watching”. How will they react when Bush refuses to go along with any attempt to change a situation where a child dies every three seconds because they do not have the food, water and drugs that we have in the developed world.

Blair has obviously tried to portray himself as an idealistic world leader. When the public discover he cannot deliver, he will soon lose more than he gained from this public relations exercise.

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It was good to see some of the old bands performing live over the weekend but I think the stars seem to be very naive in what they think such events can achieve and end to world poverty.

Is it not also painfully hypocritical for these ageing multi millionnaire beneficiaries from global capitalism to be lecturing any of us about the state of the world?

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You can see the latest figures for overseas aid here:

http://www.globalissues.org/TradeRelated/D...to07%ofGNPToAid

The US does provide the largest amount but that is because of the size of its economy. When you look at it as a percentage of GNP then US falls to 22nd position.

The US and the UK have been criticised because they often link aid to certain conditions. For example, Bush and Blair have used this aid to force countries in Africa to privitize water supplies.

Another way of looking at overseas aid is to compae it with defence spending. Again, the UK and the US do very badly in this. For every dollar the US spends on overseas aid it spends 25 on defence. The UK is the next worse with ratios of 1-8. Countries like Japan, Germany, Canada and Italy have over the last few years reduced military spending and used these savings on overseas aid. Whereas the US and UK have increased military spending. For example, between 2000 and 2004, in the US military spending increased from $1,170 to $1,549 per head. In the UK it increased from $698 to $790 (£450 per head).

Of course if the G8 countries decided to redirect, say 10% of military spending, to overseas aid, we could prevent a child dying every three seconds because they do not have the food, water and drugs that we have in the developed world. However, that is a question of morality. Our political leaders prefer using money to kill people. That might well be linked to the fact that their political parties rely heavily on donations from companies that make vast sums of money from the arms trade.

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Well I would rather Sir Bob was concerned to oppose poverty than just to further his selfish interests. He is not an astute political leader and that is hardly surprising. Blair has been able to use people like him to paint a positive picture of the G8.

In reality it seems that the debt relief is likely to be funded by cutting back on other projects, tied to privatisation deals and in any case just a writing off of bad debts which they would have had to do anyway.

Geldof is so bewildered by Blair's spin he is unable to see this. He is also used as a counterweight to denounce the more "extreme opponents" who do violent things like sitting in a field chanting 'peaceful protest' while the police hit them round the head.

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