About me
Archive
About me

So did the G8 matter?

close

Warning: This post was published more than 12 years ago.

I keep old posts on the site because sometimes it's interesting to read old content. Not everything that is old is bad. Also, I think people might be interested to track how my views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have mellowed and matured!

But given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views might have changed in the 12 years since I wrote this post.
  • This post might use language in ways which I would now consider inappropriate or offensive.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken; embedded material might not appear properly.

Many thanks for your understanding.

A little over a week ago, I argued that the symbolism of the G8 was far more important that anything it would achieve. Now that the summit is over, the final communiqué has been issued, and the leaders are on their way home, have my opinions changed?

In my last piece, I pretty much wrote off anything the G8 would achieve in terms of African poverty, since I thought that

They are far to focused on Western cultures and ways of approaching problems to provide genuine solutions.

Whilst I still believe that, I think that real steps forward in the aid that is given to these countries have been made. There have been big pledges for increased monetary aid, not least in terms of $1.5bn per year to help to combat malaria – an easily preventable and treatable disease that kills a shameful number of people each year in sub-Saharan African. But aid will still remain below the UN target levels – instead of wanting to exceed the expectations placed upon us by the world in terms of helping other nations, we’re not even shamed enough by the current lack to come up to scratch and give what’s expected of us. Every step in the right direction helps, but every step not taken results in the deaths of thousands, and I just hope that in future that our government will support African governments in the ways that they themselves decide they need help to make their own countries better places.

On climate change, the communiqué is generally full of lots of non-committal bumph, generally about waiting for technology to provide the solution to all our problems instead of taking pro-active measures to reduce carbon emissions with the technology we currently have available. This is, of course, a valid strategy, and if the technology does indeed rescue us then it will provide the most effective solution. But it seems foolish to stake the future of the planet on such a gamble, and I think that it would be more wise to look at cutting greenhouse gases here and now, if only as a backup which may appear to represent a foolish overspend in future if the technology does come along to solve the problem.

In my opinion, not much has really changed policy wise at the G8 summit, especially when you consider that this was a summit of countries with the financial power that these have. But last time I suggested that

Achievements aren’t everything. The symbolism is just as important… we should celebrate the fact that at least these eight leading nations are co-operating and even holding meetings in an age of cynicism, distrust, and warfare.

Of course, I wrote that before yesterday’s terrible attacks on London, and it would be lovely if I could now say that the symbolism of these countries standing firm together against the attackers only heightened the point. But, for me, it didn’t. I have to say that I personally was disturbed to see eight of the most powerful men on Earth standing united against ‘terrorism’. Terrorism is subjective: One man’s terrorism is another man’s war. To see, therefore, eight men resolutely determined to fight an abstract subjective concept filled me with fear, far more that it did confidence and peace.

Clearly, if the G8 nations were on the verge of all-out war, the world would be worse-off, and of course we should celebrate co-operation between these nations – and, indeed, between all nations. But we should not support this open declaration of ‘War on Terror’. Warring against a concept is not just illogical, it’s also dangerous, particular with such a subjective concept. One would have hoped that the meeting of the eight greatest minds of a generation would have reached that conclusion, and the fact that it actually reached the opposite conclusion is cause for concern indeed. Of course all of the nations should condemn the callous attacks on London, resulting in the deaths of scores of people, but it is difficult to do so convincingly on the ground of ‘fighting terror’ when many of the countries around the table are active engaging in terror in Iraq, killing many times more Iraqi civilians. Why should the lives of citizens of the G8 nations be worth more than the lives of other human beings? Are we not all the same?

Following the G8 summit, I’ve been left feeling more uncertain about the value of the G8, and a little more concerned about its power and potential for destruction. We can only hope that the leaders choose to use their undeniable powers wisely… not something with which they have a good track record.

This 667th post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics.






More posts worth reading

What I’ve been reading this month (published 4th December 2017)

What I’ve been reading this month (published 6th November 2017)

What I’ve been reading this month (published 5th October 2017)

The BBC’s future is under threat from social media (published 16th October 2011)

FactCheck (published 30th March 2005)

Photo-a-day 217: Olympic football (published 4th August 2012)

The boy who played with fusion (published 17th August 2012)


Comments and responses

No comments or responses to this article have been published yet.

Compose a new comment



Comment

You may use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> .

If you would like to display a profile picture beside your comment, sign up for Gravatar, and enter your email address above.

By submitting your comment, you confirm that it conforms to the site's comment policy. Comments are subject to both automatic and human moderation, and may take some time to appear.



The content of this site is copyright protected by a Creative Commons License, with some rights reserved. All trademarks, images and logos remain the property of their respective owners. The accuracy of information on this site is in no way guaranteed. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author. No responsibility can be accepted for any loss or damage caused by reliance on the information provided by this site. This site uses cookies - click here for more information.