Why Do They Bother?
G8 Summit: Vagueness, Deception, and Bullyocracy
This commentary is reprinted from tanosborn.com with the author's permission.
by Ben TanosbornStefan, my Athenian friend from college days, had a warning for me prior to this G8 Summit: “Forget about any accomplishments taking place in Heiligendamm; just be concerned that your ‘supreme leader’ doesn’t engage in some risky behavior.” And I knew exactly what he meant by that.
Heiligendamm, a fashionable resort for the nobility and high society of old that once welcomed the German Kaisers in their imperial splendor, has extended this year its red carpet to the elected-kaisers of the Fortunate7 plus the Lesser1: the group of eight.
This time the shindig for the politically beautiful people was hosted by Frau Merkel; very appropriately, at this “White Town by the Sea.” Political celebritism staged Bush, his four European courtesans (the leaders of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy), his two Pacific anchors (the prime ministers of Canada and Japan) and “that other slow-on-democracy guy” with beaucoup nuclear weapons and very adequate missilery to deliver them: President Vladimir Putin.
A great junket, and plenty of photo-ops, for the mandataries of eight nations, and their mates, which jointly tally about 60 percent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (IMF – 2006) but only about 13 percent of its population (UN – 2007 estimate). Lots of clout… few will question that. But do these reunions really have a purpose?
The summit which has just concluded was the 33rd; starting with the first at Rambouillet back in 1975, and expected to continue next year in Toyako, Japan. Although I have only followed closely the agendas of the last seven years (Jr. Bush’s presidency), I have gone over the summaries of the other 26 gatherings. And there is definitely a common thread to these meetings, where aspirations have ran high, as have the promises made to help those less fortunate economically; or those in need of peace or social justice; or the self-imposed obligation in a vigilant role as caretaker of our planetary environment. The common denominator: lofty undertakings with poor to dismal results.
If there is something truly lacking in theses annual meetings is the lack of accountability from year to year. For those of us who’ve been involved as corporate board members of either profit or not-for-profit organizations, looking at these G8 meetings we seem to be missing the first – and most important – part of their annual get-together; and that is the initial item in any logical agenda: old business. But old business to the G8 is just that: old. Africa can wait, and so can the sick, poor and warring people in the world; and you can bet that any concern for carbon emissions is readily vetoed by Bush.
I can think of no proposed joint commitment by this group of rich, powerful nations that has come to fruition during more than three decades. Some programs have had more success than others, but for the most part all have fallen short… way short. Only the special summit on nuclear security in April 1996 held in Moscow, which actually did precede the 22nd summit and involved the G7 and Russia, had the level of commitment that these powers seemed to adhere to. (Russia would receive membership in another two years.)
But just one decade after Boris Yeltsin came to terms accepting a modus vivendi with the West, his successor, Putin, finds himself in dire straits trying to cope with demands made by George W. Bush on both Kosovo and a missile defense shield that while said to be designed as “protection” from Iran, its intent is far more purposeful than that. And Russia is nobody’s patsy, showing a critical concern.
Kosovo may pose a question of pride because of historical Russia-Serbia relations, but something that could be ultimately negotiated and resolved. Not so, however, US intentions to go ahead with installation of interceptor rockets in Poland and radar screen in the Czech Republic. Such installations would likely undermine Russia’s nuclear deterrent, something which can be easily assumed that country is unwilling to give up.
Putin’s insistence that the US find a location for its missiles shield outside of Eastern Europe was not a podium-grabbing, ego-trip by him. He was dead serious; and Bush and his allies, not just in the G8 but the other NATO members, should realize that the pot in this poker game is too large to allow an option for calculated bluff.
Bush’s stated concern about Iran posing a military threat to the US is as baseless as his prior concern with Iraq, even if that nation ultimately attains nuclear capability. The only relevant issue that comes into play is Israel’s safety and its parasitic relationship with the United States. Of course, the declaration of Iran’s danger serves in multiple ways.
If instead of charting US-Israel hegemony in the Middle East, the US would put its best efforts in helping bring about the reconciliation of the “irreconcilables” (Israelis and Palestinians), Syria would not be a problem, and neither would Iran. And, rest assured, the Russian federation would have no reason to be up in arms.
As for this last summit in the yet cold Baltic, little can be expected to come out of it. Maybe some help to fight AIDS, vagueness on carbon-emissions, and a little extra time to work things out between Belgrade and Kosovo PM Agim Ceku. Although we are well accustomed to few positive results out of these meetings, let’s hope that, at least, no major negative outcome spills out of Heiligendamm… like a return of the Cold War.
But as my Greek friend Stefan keeps telling me, “it’s in the nature of your current neocon leadership to go around the world spreading tyrranocracy.” I prefer to call it bullyocracy… but the effect is the same. A bully is a bully by whatever name.
Noam Chomsky on World Summits and How They are Looked At
Promises, Promises: The G8 and Debt Relief
G8: Failing Model of Global Governance
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