Further to the discussion on the G8, you might not have seen
these 2 article which together give a useful perspective on the
lies, spin, and Western government complicity (and indeed
fundamental interest) in the destruction of lives and
livelihoods in developing (de-developed for the most part)
countries. The first is from John Pilger, and he contrasts the
attention to the G8 with the total lack of coverage to the
US/British barbarity going in in Iraq and the committee of
investigation meeting in Istanbul.
THe second id from the ex director of the WDM, on the role of
British corporations and government in keeping Africa poor.
Writing in the New Statesman (also printed in Morning Star),
John Pilger contrasts two related 'global' events: the World
Tribunal on Iraq and the G8 meeting in Scotland and the
Make Poverty History campaign. : Pilger : 06 Jul 2005
FROM IRAQ TO THE G8: THE POLITE CRUSHING OF
DISSENT AND TRUTH
by John Pilger
Over the past two weeks, the contrast between two related
"global" events has been salutary. The first was the World
Tribunal on Iraq held in Istanbul; the second the G8 meeting
in Scotland and the Make Poverty History campaign. Reading
the papers and watching television in Britain, you would know
nothing about the Istanbul meetings, which produced the
most searing evidence to date of the greatest political scandal
of modern times: the attack on a defenceless Iraq by America
The tribunal is a serious international public inquiry into the
invasion and occupation, the kind governments dare not hold.
"We are here," said the author Arundathi Roy in Istanbul, "to
examine a vast spectrum of evidence (about the war) that has
been deliberately marginalised and suppressed, its legality,
the role of international institutions and major corporations in
the occupation, the role of the media, the impact of weapons
such as depleted uranium munitions, napalm, and cluster
bombs, the use and legitimising of torture . . . This tribunal is
an attempt to correct the record: to document the history of
the war not from the point of view of the victors but of the
"Temporarily anguished" implies that, even faced with such
rampant power, the Iraqi people will recover. You certainly
need this sense of hope when reading the eyewitness
testimonies which demonstrate, as Roy pointed out, "that
even those of us who have tried to follow the war closely are
not aware of a fraction of the horrors that have been
unleashed in Iraq."
The most shocking was given by Dahr Jamail. Unless you
read the internet, you will not know who Dhar Jamail is. He is
not an amusing Baghdad blogger. For me, he is the finest
reporter working in Iraq. With the exception of Robert Fisk,
Patrick Cockburn and several others, mostly freelancers, he
shames the flak-jacketed, clich? crunching camp followers
known as "embeds". A Lebanese with American citizenship,
Jamail has been almost everywhere the camp followers have
not. He has reported from the besieged city of Fallujah,
whose destruction and atrocities have been suppressed by
western broadcasters, notably by the BBC. (See
www.medialens. org/ alerts).
In Istanbul, Jamail bore his independent reporter's witness to
the thousands of Iraqis tortured in Abu Ghraib and other
American prisons. His account of what happened to a civil
servant in Baghdad was typical. This man, Ali Abbas, had
gone to a US base to inquire about his missing neighbours.
On his third visit, he was arrested without charge, stripped
naked, hooded and forced to simulate sex with other
prisoners . This was standard procedure. He was beaten on
his genitals, electrocuted in the anus, denied water and forced
to watch as his food was thrown away. A loaded gun was held
to his head to prevent him from screaming in pain as his
wrists were bound so tightly that the blood drained from his
hands. He was doused in cold water while a fan was held to
"They put on a loud speaker," he told Jamail, "put the
speakers on my ears and said, 'Shut up, fuck, fuck, fuck!' He
was refused sleep. Shit was wiped on him and dogs were
used on him. "Sometimes at night when he read his Koran,"
said Jamail, "(he) had to hold it in the hallway for light.
Soldiers would buy and kick the Holy Koran, and sometimes
they would try to piss on it or wipe shit on it." A female soldier
told him, "Our aim is to put you in hell . . . These are the
orders from our superiors, to turn your lives into hell."
Jamail described how Fallujah's hospitals have been
subjected to an American tactic of collective punishment, with
US marines assaulting staff and stopping the wounded
entering, and American snipers firing at the doors and
windows, and medicines and emergency blood prevented
from reaching the hospitals. Children were shot dead in front
of their families, in cold blood.
The two men responsible for this, George Bush and Tony
Blair, attended the G8 meeting at Gleneagles. Unlike the Iraq
Tribunal, there was saturation coverage, yet no one in the
"mainstream" - from the embedded media to the Make
Poverty History organisers and the accredited, acceptable
celebrities - made the obvious connection of Bush's and
Blair's enduring crime in Iraq. No one stood and said that
Blair's smoke-and-mirrors "debt cancellation" at best
amounted to less than the money the government spent in a
week brutalising Iraq, where British and American violence
was the cause of the doubling of child poverty and
malnutrition since Saddam Hussein was overthrown (Unicef).
In Edinburgh, a shameless invitation-only meeting of Christian
Aid supporters and church leaders was addressed by Britain's
treasurer, Gordon Brown, the paymaster of this carnage. Only
one person asked him, "When will you stop the rape of the
poor's resources? Why are there so many conditions on aid?"
This lone protestor was not referring specifically to Iraq, but to
most of the world. He was thrown out, to cheers from among
the assembled Christians.
That set the theme for the G8 week: the silencing and
pacifying and co-option of real dissent and truth. It was Frantz
Fanon, the great intellectual-activist of Africa, who exposed
colonial greed and violence dressed up as polite do-goodery,
and nothing has changed, in Africa, as in Iraq. The mawkish
images on giant screens behind the pop stars in Hyde Park
beckoned a wilful, self-satisfied ignorance. There was none of
the images that television refuses to show: of murdered Iraqi
doctors with the blood streaming from their heads, cut down
by Bush's snipers.
On the front page of the Guardian, the Age of Irony was
celebrated as real life became more satirical than satire could
ever be. There was Bob Geldoff resting his smiling face on
smiling Blair's shoulder, the war criminal and his jester.
Elsewhere, there was an heroically silhouetted Bono, who
celebrates men like Jeffrey Sachs as saviours of the world's
poor while lauding "compassionate" George Bush's "war on
terror" as one of his generation's greatest achievements; and
there again was Brown, the enforcer of unfair rules of trade,
saying incredibly that "unfair rules of trade shackle poor
people"; and Paul Wolfowitz, beaming next to the Archbishop
of Canterbury: this is the man who, before he was handed
control of the World Bank, devised much of Bush's so-called
neo-conservative putsch, the mendacious justification for the
bloodfest in Iraq and the notion of "endless war".
And if you missed all that, there is a downloadable PDF kit
from a "one Campaign" e-mail to "help you organise your very
own ongoing Live8 party". The suppression of African singers
and bands, parked where Geldoff decreed, in an
environmental theme park in Cornwall, in front of an audience
of less than 50 people, was described correctly by Andy
Kershaw as "musical apartheid".
Has there ever been a censorship as complete and insidious
and ingenious as this? Even when Stalin airbrushed his
purged comrades from the annual photograph on top of
Lenin's mausoleum, the Russian people could fill in the gaps.
Media and cultural hype provide infinitely more powerful
propaganda weapons in the age of Blair. With Diana, there
was grief by media. With Iraq, there was war by media. Now
there is mass distraction by media, a normalising of the
unmentionable that "the state has lost its mind and is
punishing so many innocent people", wrote the playwright
Arthur Miller, "and so the evidence has to be internally
Deploying the unction of Bono, Madonna, Paul McCartney
and of course Geldoff, whose Live Aid 21 years ago achieved
nothing for the people of Africa, the contemporary plunderers
and pawnbrokers of that continent have pulled off an
unprecedented scam: the antithesis of 15 February 2003
when two million people brought both their hearts and brains
to the streets of London.
"(Ours) is not a march in the sense of a demonstration, but
more of a walk, " said Make Poverty History's Bruce
Whitehead. "The emphasis is on fun in the sun. The intention
is to welcome the G8 leaders to Scotland and ask them to
deliver trade justice, debt cancellation and increased aid to
In Lewis Carroll's classic, Alice asked the Cheshire Cat and
the Mad Hatter to show her the way out of wonderland. They
did, over and again, this way, that way, until she lost her
temper and brought down her dream world, waking her up.
The people killed and maimed in Iraq and the people wilfully
impoverished in Africa by our governments and our
institutions in our name, demand that we wake up.
Brown's doleful role at Gleneagles
True to form, Britain has promoted the interests of
corporations, not of Africa, at the G8
Saturday July 9, 2005
The government will try to pull off a PR coup in the aftermath
of the G8 summit by posturing as Africa's champion - hiding
Britain's real agenda and how agreements on debt and aid
will further impoverish the continent.
While the G8 agreement commits the richest countries to
increase aid and write off the debt of 18 countries, it requires
developing countries to pursue a raft of free-market policies.
The G8 is united behind this agenda, which Britain has taken
a lead in pushing.
Gordon Brown's new deal talks of the poorest and richest
countries "each meeting our obligations". Poor countries'
obligations are to "create the conditions for new investment"
and "more favourable business environments" while "opening
up trade". Only in return for these will rich countries provide
aid and debt relief and open up their markets.
One might think that countries where poverty kills thousands
every day have no obligations towards the rich. But in the
world of Brown and the G8, they are to help western
companies make more profits by pursuing policies that have
increased poverty and inequality from Ghana to Zambia.
New Labour appears to be keen on debt relief because it is a
lever to reshape the global economy for the benefit of private
investors. It's a cheap strategy, too - last month's G7 finance
ministers deal cut in aid what countries got in debt relief.
The new deal was recently morphed by spin doctors into a
Marshall aid plan. Brown told a Chatham House audience that
this was "a smart business proposition: enlightened self-
interest at its best ... for the world economy to prosper and for
the companies operating in it to have markets that expand,
developing country growth is a necessity". Without this, rich
countries were "unlikely to maintain the growth rates we have
enjoyed over the past 20 years". Again, poor countries help
western companies, at their own expense.
A March Treasury report on priorities for the UK presidency of
the EU calls for "greater flexibility in product markets, labour
markets and capital markets ... a new approach to regulation
and "taking a lead in multilateral trade liberalisation". This is a
strategy that would make Margaret Thatcher blush.
While Brown has been telling development groups of his
commitment to Africa, he has given speech after speech on
his pro-business policies. Last November, for example, he
told the CBI that "rewarding enterprise is ... central to a
renewed British national economic purpose".
Deregulation is to be applied globally. The white paper on
trade states that "the UK government has a key role to play at
the international policy level to ensure that ... the UK can
compete in global markets - a more eloquent rendition of
former trade secretary Patricia Hewitt's comment that "we
want to open up protected markets in developing countries".
The G8 and British goal of free trade for poor countries
deprives them of levers to regulate trade for development and
is a recipe for deep ening poverty. Brown's only concession is
that poor countries should have time to adopt such policies.
Richard Caborn, the former trade minister, explained that this
"is the message we need to hammer home if we are to get
the developing world to agree to another round of WTO talks"
- ie further opening of their markets.
Here is where aid comes in. The Foreign Office was not
joking when it stated in a 1958 file that aid was "a weapon in
the armoury of foreign policy". The Department for
International Development's (DfID) recent document,
Partnerships with Business, states that most aid recipients
"are commercially important to the business sector, not just
as export markets, but also for sourcing inputs and raw
materials, for foreign investment and joint ventures ...
Business may become involved in the identification of key
policy and regulatory constraints to the business
environment." DfID's aid is "typically" used to "enable the
private sector to invest with more confidence". This explains
why tens of millions of pounds go to British companies to
force water privatisation on poor countries.
A frica needs less aid like this. And less debt relief, if it comes
with these conditions. And less trade with rich countries, if it is
forced to open up markets.
The basic aim of British elites has traditionally been to help
companies get their hands on other countries' resources.
Secret 1960s files state that "we should bend our energies to
help produce a world economic climate in which our external
trade, our income from invisibles and our balance of
payments can prosper". The key was to protect sources of
raw materials in the Middle East and south ern Africa by
promoting "freer" global trade and "increasing our efforts to
open up new markets".
Postwar planners never intended to allow African countries to
be truly independent. After decolonisation, they sought to
establish pro-western elites - like those who now welcome the
G8 agreements - and impose indirect economic rule through
levers such as aid. The Attlee government, which established
the aid programme in 1948, drained millions from Africa to
help Britain's postwar recovery. Current development policies
are ways to control nominally independent economies in a
G8 leaders favour private business interests, and their
agreement is a vehicle to facilitate the corporate plunder of
Africa. Britain's lead in this needs to be exposed and
Mark Curtis, until recently director of the World Development
Movement, is author of Unpeople: Britain's Secret Human
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