Saturday, July 09, 2005

Tony, George, and Bob Too

The Economist has a fairly balanced summary of what's emerged from the G8 conference.

It's the in-continent...

I think pretty much everyone knows - or should know - that in the case of Africa it's not so much the money as how it's spent. As various commentators have noted, it's all very well talking about a Marshall Plan for Africa, but Africa has actually already had the equivalent of several Marshall Plans and the money has been pissed away into slush funds, structural corruption etc etc. So we'll see.

That said, I was watching a special edition of Question Time broadcast from Africa, with an African audience and African panellists on Thursday and by the time the credits rolled I was somewhat heartened. The least impressive panellists were the Westerners, Baroness Amos (who, in fairness, had a pretty losing hand to start with and gave a workmanlike and honest performance) and Bianca Jagger (who was a royal pain in the backside and sat throughout with a face that looked like she was sucking on lemons). The Africans, Edna Ismail (foreign minister of Somaliland), Morgan Tsvangirai and Moeletsi Mbeki were largely impressive with balanced ideas and a clear sense that Africa has to take on more responsibility. The ethos was very much around teaching people to fish rather than giving them fish. I don't know how representative the audience was but by and large they seemed far more grounded than the usual British equivalent. Snarky questions regarding the guilt of the West and the loveliness of Robert Mugabe were largely met with the response of people sitting on their hands. So all in all it was encouraging and it seemed to me to showcase good people with sound ideas.

Oooh, shut that door...

Given that we're operating in the real world as opposed to some whimsical, chintz-upholstered fantasy world I think this is a fairly reasonable result. I think the Americans are almost certainly right to focus on technological developments as a key aspect of the fight against climate change, but frankly the stuff that has emerged from the conference on that issue is pretty ephemeral and I think they might have come up with something more solid. We don't know what the dynamics of the discussion were behind closed doors, of course.

Mental Oriental(ism)

The money for the Palestinian Authority is not necessarily unwelcome. My personal view has long been that, while a not insignificant minority of Palestinians are clearly completely barking, groups such as Hamas draw substantial support simply from the fact that in matters such as providing security, basic services on the ground and relatively clean government they beat Fatah like it's a ginger stepchild. Never underestimate basic human desires for security and certainty as motivational factors. I maintain that good governance on the part of the PA is ultimately going to be at least 50% of the fight to win broad acceptance among the Palestinian people for a settlement. That said, it's not like the Palestinians have actually been cash-strapped. The European Union has, for some time now, been lavish in its financial largesse toward the Palestinians and has imposed minimal (ie. scandalously lax) oversight in the matters of whether the money is disappearing into slush funds and arms deals and whether or not (the answer's "not", incidentally - at least not under Arafat) the Palestinians were bothering to make good on the committments (especially with regard to ending the institutionalised anti-semitic incitement that is entrenched in the Palestinian education system) they made in exchange for the cash. So while this could be a good thing, it's important that there's a quid pro quo involved and I hope the Americans have been very firm on this point.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you spell ransom? That's all this is about.

6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice site. Check mine out if you can. fast cash advance

4:31 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home