An open letter to the G8:
As you come together at Gleneagles this week I hope there are a few things you will keep in mind.
First, please remember that those young men and women who are outside the site, and the embassies of your various nations, throwing rocks, destroying cars and clashing with police
are simply misguided ideologues. They want what you want, and what I want- a better world. They are just a little confused about how to get there. You see, they have largely had the world handed to them- it would be their oyster were they not vegans. Their intentions are good- it is only that they have been misled by the Pide Piper of Aid- Bono
, and his minions. Decades of aid have had no impact on poverty in Africa- but most of these kids do not have decades of experience. You have to admit the Live 8 packaging was slick, and the slogans
are pretty good.
Second, please remember that no matter how ridiculous the messengers, the message is valid. Poverty in Africa can be made a thing of the past- and at least one man in Africa has a more or less clear view of what is needed. The man? Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi. Now that he is a more or less accepted world figure again (thank you, Bush Doctrine) we might want to listen to him
:``Pleading to the G-8 to lift debts won't make a future for Africa,'' said Gadhafi, wearing his traditional African dress while praising Africa's natural resources and treasures. ``We need cooperation between the big and the small countries in the world.''
Please do not think for a single moment that I am endorsing the call for simple debt forgiveness or increased aid, however. There is little evidence that such actions would make any difference. Poverty can not be eradicated by simply giving money to the poor in Africa- were it that simple the billions that have been given in the past would have made a visible difference. In addition what are they going to buy with it? Nothing that is produced in Africa today will make a difference in the lives of the poorest of the poor. As a result any aid that is pumped into the afflicted nations (and was not immediately scooped up by the plutocracy) would simply flow right back out as they turned to their foreign colonial masters to purchase the food and drugs they so desperately need. No, if poverty is truly to be eradicated in our lifetime I urge you to seize this opportunity to help the nations of Africa begin the “long march” to economic independence.
The first step will be the hardest- the establishment of rule of law and the basic infrastructure of a stable, self-perpetuating economy. Micro loans, trade partnerships and co-ops allow local populations to have some say in their own economic recovery. These initial steps may need to be augmented with the continuation of some sort of aid, such as food and medicine in the early stages, but the goal should be to allow poor nations to wean themselves off their dependence on aid as soon as possible. Once shown that they can do it, such a process should not be hard. No person wants to be dependent on outside assistance for his or her own survival, or that of their family. As the economy shapes up the deisre for more control over their lives politically and in matters of self regulation will naturally emerge- recall if you will that the American Revolution was largely a matter of the deisrev for economic freedom and self-governance. Natins who commit themselves to reform for the benefit of their people will need to know that they can count on us for assistance in establishing their own legal society, and protection from those who would hold them in oppression if need be.
This approach is not what the rock throwing youth of America and the EU want, it is not what the rock stars of the world want. It is however, I venture, what the people of the poorest nations on earth want- the means and ability to support themselves, and the ones they love.
So, as you meet and ponder the question of how to end poverty please keep in mind that it is an end that you seek. Finally, please do not take my word for it. Try something that never seems to occur to the left: ask the people of Africa what they want, and listen to them. Did they want ten rock concerts, none of which took plae in Africa and none of which included an African performer? Do they want cars to be vandalized and police beat up in their name? Or do they want a future, which they control? Even Gadhafi can see it- and he can’t be any crazier than those poor misguided youths in the streets of Scotland. Finally, keep in mind what exactly it was that brought the rogue Libyan leader back in line, and if the need becomes acute share that lesson with the lads and lassies in the streets. After all, the knife cuts both way, and a taste for the rule of law might just be what these kids need. I just don't have the patience to ask them how rock concerts and wanton destruction can possibly help in Africa.