July 2, 2005
The Agenda the G8 should haveBy Stefania Lapenna
On Tuesday, July 6, the leaders of the eight most powerful nations will meet in Scotland to take stock of the world and debate about what is still to be done on issues such as the fight against mass poverty and terrorism.
Simultaneously, hundreds of anti—globalization protesters will march against what they see to be the cause of all evils: global trade and capitalism. These people seem to ignore how world politics works and what is being discussed at the G8 summits.
The leaders of the richest nations — who have been elected through free and fair elections — will renew their commitment to fight terror and discuss debt relief toward the poorest countries.
These are the noblest of goals. However wrong the strategies to pursue them may be.
A list of the countries to be relived of at least some debt was released two weeks ago. While most of those nations are ruled by more or less democratically—elected leaders, committed to political and economic liberalization, the list includes African nations that are ruled by corrupt autocrats.
What some G8 leaders, as well as anti—globalization protesters, overlook is that debt relief directed to those undemocratic nations will end up enriching the local autocrats — who will buy weapons and will declare war on their own people and neighbors.
The ultimate victims will be the poor people the G8 leaders wish to help. Neither food and economic aid, nor worldwide Live 8 concerts have done anything truly important to defeat poverty.
Debt relief should be directed only to those nations who are:
Even among those nations meeting the test, the rich nations must really monitor how the money and aid will be used. Free money is inherently corrupting in a poor society. It is a dangerous drug, and it is irresponsible to prescribe it without close supervision to counteract negative side effects.
While discussing on how to reduce poverty and help the countries and peoples in need, the G8 leaders should commit themselves to promote democracy and self—government in Africa. They should help strengthen the newborn democracies like Senegal, Nigeria and a few others.
Don't expect that the G8 will do any of this. Don't expect any word on the subject from moral leader Nelson Mandela, whose country — and he himself — endorsed these brutal policies in the name of "respecting the internal affairs of sovereign nations."
Fighting terrorism will be surely one of the hottest topics. Every G8 leader agrees that the ultimate goal is the defeat of the Islamist terror. But there are deep differences between the US and the European countries on how to reach that goal.
While the U.S. has since long time realized that the spread of democracy in the Middle East is the key to defeat terror, the Europeans still think that only by resolving the Israeli—Palestinian conflict — no matter how the Arab and Middle Eastern tyrants treat their own citizens — will peace be assured for the world as a whole.
Europe seems to ignore the fact that in the last 25 years, the Islamic Republic of Iran is the main exporter of terror worldwide, and the major obstacle to the peaceful resolution of the Israeli—Palestinian issue.
We can always hope that finally the Europeans will see the threat posed by the Islamic Republic's Mullahs. Sadly, it has taken 25 years and the selection of Ahmadinejad by the "Supreme Leader" Ali Khamenei, disguised as an election, to understand — if they really do even now — that it's high time to take concrete action against the regime.
The G8 leaders should say publicly what they intend to do with respect to Iran.
If they really want to defeat the threat posed by the Mullahs' deadly plans, they have to stand with the people of Iran. There is no need to invade the country and nobody seems to want do so. These are some of the things they (in particular the U.S.) might decide to do:
1)�Impose new and strengthen existing economic and diplomatic sanctions against the regime;
The G8 summit should make it clear that it intends to help promote and spread democracy wherever it is lacking. It should condemn, not endorse, rigged and sham "elections" such as those held recently in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Palestinian Authority.
Elections without democracy are meaningless and often serve the local tyrants strengthening� their grip on power and prolonging the suffering of their citizens. Instead of supporting the alleged "change from within", the Western powers must encourage the removal of those tyrants by secularist opposition groups.
Democracy and the basic human rights, not simply food and debt relief, will make poverty and terror history.
Stefania Lapenna is an Italian activist and author of the weblog Free Thoughts