Friday, July 08, 2005

Blame Bush: A lot of hot air at Gleneagles

The rhetoric was positive, albeit overshadowed by yesterday's London bombings, but I'm not so sure that much of substance will come out of the G8 summit meeting this week in Scotland. In his closing speech, Prime Minister Blair, who once again looks like the real war leader in the bunch, hailed the summit's alleged accomplishments: a commitment to end poverty in Africa through a doubling of aid by 2010, an expansion of free trade, further debt forgiveness, and efforts to combat AIDS; a plan to deal with climate change; and financial support for the Palestinian Authority once Israel withdraws from Gaza and the West Bank.

Sure, that all sounds promising -- but, well, then there was Bush's typical combination of ignorance and unilateralism to pull the rug out from the whole thing. And however much the U.S. may claim to be on board with the other seven industrial powers on these sensitive issues, in truth it isn't. For example, the commitment of increased aid to Africa will include "no new money" from the U.S. (I should add here that Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin has also resisted -- and rightly so, in my view -- promising "a defined proportion of [our] national [income] to aid to Africa," as advocated by Bono, Geldof, et al.) Furthermore, Bush apparently blocked Blair's efforts (reminiscent of their recent Washington meeting) to set "specific targets for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases," thereby preventing any real movement to deal with climate change.

Faryar Shirzad, Bush's deputy national security adviser, called the summit "a huge success". As a photo-op, maybe. As hollow rhetoric, sure. But in terms of substance? Uh, no. Geldof was right when he said that "time only will tell if this has been historic or not," but initial reflection suggests that it hasn't been, and won't be. And, for that, Bush deserves a good deal of the blame.*

* Yes, yes, I know. Yet more anti-Bush bias at The Reaction. Forgive me. I call 'em as I see 'em, and Bush's anti-environmentalism in particular irritates me immensely. But let me say that I don't necessarily care for the other leaders at the summit either. I generally support Martin, I have a good deal of respect for Blair, I don't mind Schroeder, and I don't know much about Koizumi, but I don't at all care for the arrogant Chirac and the corrupt Berlusconi, and the tyrannical Putin leaves me ambivalently disturbed.

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