The terrorist attacks in London have given the Russian press more food for thought and discussion. Had it not been for the explosions, death of people, search for the malefactors, the journalists wouldn’t have had the slightest clue of what to write about the "Big Eight" Summit in Scotland.
Vladimir Putin himself felt quite lost at the beginning. This time it wasn’t terrorism that united the statesmen but the discussion how to better help the developing countries in Africa. This issue doesn’t concern Russia and therefore is of no interest to it.
Moscow will not spent money on developing countries of Africa. If it’s impossible to raise funds for teachers and village schools in one’s own country having a multi-million stabilization fund, it’s more than obvious that Kremlin will never waste money on Africans. Having this kind of plans on the agenda there was practically no reason for Vladimir Putin to be at the Summit, but the protocol norms demand the gathering of the Eight in full size, even if it is visible to an inexperienced eye who is definitely out of place.
After the explosion disaster President Putin has regained his self-confidence and took up his favorite topic, the one about uniting forces of the civilized world to fight against the terrorist menace. Actually one could tell the same about his Summit colleagues: no doubt, they felt considerably relieved. The "how to help the poor" plan was solemnly proclaimed, but there was no time left to start thinking about it. Everyone became anxious about London’s disaster.
Anyway, the plan of the "Eight" deserves attention at least because it in the best possible way displays the desire of the "almighty" to resolve problems of the "weak". A sum of 55 billion dollars aimed at paying off the debts of the poorest African states, looks quite inspiring. However, this sum is destined to help 18 countries. In other words, each country gets an average sum of 3 billion, which is very little. But the generosity of the superpowers doesn’t end here. It is mentioned in the documents of the "Eight" that these countries will receive reduced help in all other items of financing. According to John Pilger, a famous British journalist, after all these reductions there will be left no more than 1 billion dollars net per country. Maybe less. In other words, we are not just talking here about allocating new funds, it is more about the redistribution of the financial resources. And it’s appropriate to note that they are redistributed not for the poor countries’ benefit but on the contrary, they favor Western banks-creditors.
As 18 African countries chosen for charity acts are bankrupts, while 2006—2015 is a high time to pay off the credits, it is easy to guess, that all of the above-mentioned debts will not be returned at any rate. In its desire to prevent the "debt default" the "Big Eight" in the first place gives a helping hand not to the poor Africans, but to its own banks. With all that, payments will be made either by the Western tax-payers or by the citizens of the poor African countries themselves, having received reduced financing on other items.
Banks, on the contrary, won an all-prize lottery, and what’s more, they managed to win it twice. The thing is that credits given to poor countries with unstable economies have very high interest rates: it is definitely not fair, but from the point of view of the market it is justified, as the risk to have one’s credit not paid off is high enough. In the described case bankers will have both the interest paid and the credit returned with no risk involved.
Still, this is not the end of the story. This help has a lot to do with another set of the neo-liberal reforms, additional measures concerning privatization, opening local markets for foreign competition and reducing public expenses. From the neo-liberal ideologists’ point of view, there is no contradiction here, as all of the neo-liberal reforms are mere blessing. Introducing them will make the economy more efficient and people happier. Unfortunately, the majority of the African population has a different point of view on this subject. And to tell you the truth, Russians will agree with them. Several sets of the neo-liberal measures had destroyed the life standards, drastically increased the gap between the wealthy and the poor, ruined a significant part of the local industrial sector. In these circumstances the demand to link the debt payments and a new wave of reforms looks like adding offence to injury. Actually there is not much left to be reformed: everything has already been privatized and stolen away.
Terrorists, as usual, were just in time. Instead of hearing millions of indignant voices we heard moaning of hundreds of dead and injured. London citizens had won our compassion, especially considering the fact that the inhabitants of this city are by no means to be blamed for the war in the Middle East started by George Bush and Tony Blair. The British capital has set a world record in the number of the participants attending peace demonstrations (more then a million and a half people). Moreover, the Londoners definitely favor radical Ken Livingston as their Mayor, famous for his strong disapproval of Blair’s policy.
Blood and tears were left to the lower class members as they were the ones to crowd the London tube on the day of doom. As for the members of the Summit, they had another chance to exhibit their endurance and firmness. The Summit itself was not suspended, the political course was not abandoned. Tony Blair, warmed with approving glances of George Bush and Vladimir Putin, claimed that the fight with terrorism will be carried on.
And why not? I think this man wouldn’t be overly disappointed even if half of the city would surge into the sky. His parents and friends don’t use the tube, as well as the members of the higher society don’t suffer terrorist attacks.
Actors in this show performed their parts excellently. Terrorists always come on time to help out the politicians, while the latter make pathetic speeches about terrorism.
It is sad though that with each new explosion the number of spectators to appreciate the outstanding performance is constantly diminishing.
Copyright 2005 Eurasia Heritage Foundation