The G8 summit has not yet started, but already there is no shortage of squabbling and controversy. The pre—summit talks have been dominated by the question of how to fund a program to provide cheap drugs to Africa. As could be expected, Jacques Chirac has a brilliant idea. He is proposing a special airline tax, and he has already solicited German support for his scheme. This is not surprising, since these days there is no tax that the Germans don't immediately like. Also not surprisingly, this lunacy is opposed by the two reasonable members of the G8 club — the US and Japan. Since the airline tax is his pet project, Chirac is said to be very cross with the opposition and is threatening all kinds of mischief once the summit gets under way.
As a gracious host, Vladimir Putin refuses to get involved in this non—sense and wants to talk energy instead. And for once he is right. One would hope that the other leaders would also notice that the prices at the pump have been going through the roof lately.
It certainly promises to be an interesting summit. People always have a reason to be anxious when their politicians get together to solve the world's problems. Let's hope it will turn out better than last year's which won accolades from an assortment of rockers, always a suspect endorsement.
Vasko Kohlmayer 7 12 06