January 07, 2005

Talk Is Cheap

In the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami, there are a lot of politicians spouting a lot of fine-sounding words.

As John Pilger writes, "the hypocrisy, narcissism and dissembling propaganda of the rulers of the world and their sidekicks are in full cry." Recalling a Tony Blair promise from 2001:
"To the Afghan people, we make this commitment . . . We will not walk away . . . we will work with you to make sure [a way is found] out of the miserable poverty that is your present existence."
... Pilger points out today's reality in Afghanistan:
Just 3 per cent of all international aid spent in Afghanistan has been for reconstruction, 84 per cent is for the US-led military "coalition" and the rest is crumbs for emergency aid. What is often presented as reconstruction revenue is private investment, such as the $35m that will finance a proposed five-star hotel, mostly for foreigners. An adviser to the minister of rural affairs in Kabul told me his government had received less than 20 per cent of the aid promised to Afghan-istan.
Today Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, outlined a new plan to tackle global poverty, calling for full international debt relief for developing countries, a new round of trade talks that would benefit poorer countries, and the creation of a new international trust fund for aid and development projects:
Mr Brown renewed his call for the world's richest countries to cancel the $US80 billion of debts owed by poor nations to the IMF, the World Bank and the African Development Bank. He also reiterated British proposals that the IMF revalue its massive gold holdings to help finance debt relief for poor countries.
Fine words and fine ideas. Let's see what happens as the year wears on... Pilger recalls a 1990 Paris summit on World Poverty:
A decade later, virtually every commitment made by western governments had been broken.. Very few western governments have honoured the United Nations "baseline" and allotted a miserable 0.7 per cent or more of their national income to overseas aid. Britain gives just 0.34 per cent, making its "Department for International Development" a black joke. The US gives 0.14 per cent, the lowest of any industrial state.
In spite of all this, says Pilger, there is cause for hope. A new momvement is stirring in the hearts and minds or ordinary people around the world:
That the system causing this has democracy as its war cry is a mockery which people all over the world increasingly understand. It is this rising awareness, consciousness even, that offers more than hope. Since the crusaders in Washington and London squandered world sympathy for the victims of 11 September 2001 in order to accelerate their campaign of domination, a critical public intelligence has stirred and regards the likes of Blair and Bush as liars and their culpable actions as crimes.

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