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COMMUNITYPSYCHUK Home

COMMUNITYPSYCHUK  July 2005

COMMUNITYPSYCHUK July 2005

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Subject:

What is really going on? G8 more

From:

Mark Burton <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

The UK Community Psychology Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 9 Jul 2005 17:45:16 +0100

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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
(blank space)

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 
and Britain.

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."

"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 
his body.

"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 
denied."

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 
developing countries."

Really?

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

Mark Curtis
Saturday July 9, 2005
The Guardian

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.

Article continues
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 
post-imperial world.

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 
challenged.

Mark Curtis, until recently director of the World Development 
Movement, is author of Unpeople: Britain's Secret Human 
Rights Abuses

www.markcurtis.info


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