Sunday, July 03, 2005

Africa - "Are you listening?"

That's the question I've seen and heard asked many times ever since Geldof announced the Live 8 concert. The question is directed at the G8 leaders and is a reference to the world's appeal for them to give money, debt relief and trade concessions to African nations.

But there is something new being said here, something that many seemed not to have heard over the loud music. I heard Geldof say it at yesterday's kick off of Live 8 in London and he wrote it in yesterday's Sun Newspaper on page 2 of the live 8 souvenir pull out. I've even seen a subtle reference to it on the BBC website, of all places. And while many accuse the G8 leaders of not listening to the world, I wonder if the world is listening to the this new message from people like Geldof?

Listen carefully to what Geldof says in his open letter to the G8 leaders published in the Sun.

Let this be absolutely clear before the first note is played. Everyone taking part in these concerts is there because the many millions watching will not tolerate the further pain of the poor while we have the financial and moral means to prevent it.

What does Geldof mean by "moral means to prevent it"? Moral means being concerned with right and wrong. Is Geldof suggesting that we have the power to right the wrongs in Africa and we should use that power because "the many millions watching will not tolerate the further pain of the poor"? The left will not tolerate the use of power to help Africa. The left will size on Geldof's words and say he meant we have the moral obligation to help financially.

But this is not the same Geldof of 20 years ago when we had Live Aid. Here is what he says a few paragraphs later in the same article.

Let it be equally clear - at the same time, African governments must be free from corruption and thuggery and put in place recognised practices of good governance, accountability and transparency towards their own people and to the world.

That sounds like a pretty good description of democracy to me. Left unsaid is how exactly to bring all this about.

In this BBC article Fergal Keane bemoans the over use of "never again" when genocide occurs again and again.

We have been here before.

A government threatened by rebellion turns on a segment of its own people. It uses militia, as well as its own military, to do the killing.

There are mass graves and there is mass rape. Men and boys are taken away to be killed.

Then the government denies the scale of the violence. It keeps journalists out, blocks aid workers.

Many more die from hunger and disease. The world expresses concern but does too little, invariably too late.

Sounds like Keane is talking about Iraq, doesn't it? And look what happened to the US when she decided to stop expressing concern and do something before it was too late.

In his attempt to chastise the west for expressing concern but doing nothing, Keane winds up demonstrating the utter failure of the BBC's beloved UN. And by condemning the west for doing nothing, Keane implies the west should do something. Here again, that "something" is left unsaid. Does the left finally get it? Do they now realize that doing "something" involves military intervention, i.e. war?

But that move came nearly two years after the violence erupted. The five permanent members of the Security Council - the US, Britain, France, China and Russia - collectively failed to act in time.

Each had different reasons.

The US and Britain did not want arguments over Darfur to get in the way of securing a peace deal for Sudan's other tragedy, the civil war in the south which had run for 30 years and claimed two million lives.

And they were preoccupied with Iraq and in no mood for military adventures elsewhere, let alone an Arab state like Sudan.

Sudan also had allies on the council, like the Chinese who resisted putting Darfur on the agenda.

These are the diplomatic details but they speak to a fundamental crisis that has dogged the United Nations from its birth 60 years ago.

The national interests of member states will usually take precedence over the suffering of people in Africa.

Substitute any country in the world for Africa and the same still applies. That is, until 9/11 and Bush decided to back up his words of never again with action. Since that time the left have deamonized America - for doing something.

The question "Are you listening?" needs to be asked, not of the G8 leaders, but of the rest of the world. The new message seems to be, money alone will not solve Africa's problems, democracy is also required. Only democracy will end poverty, suffering and ensure long term prosperity and stability for all Africans. Indeed, isn't that true for the whole world? And in fact, isn't that just what George Bush has been doing - spreading democracy?

Are we reaching one of those "tipping points" where the world finally realizes that democracy is the final solution to Africa's problems and force may be needed to bring it about?

Is the world listening to what Geldof and others on the left are now saying?

"Are you listening"?


Here is what Geldof told BBC News.

But Geldof told BBC News: "There's one plan. It's debt; trade and aid and governance. Prime, pump an economy, create good government and we'll get people out of poverty.

Again, left unsaid is just how Geldof plans to "create good government".

Bono had this to say, "We are not looking for charity, we are looking for justice."

Modonna went further: "Are you ready to start a revolution? Are you ready to change history? I said, are you ready?"

"Looking for justice", "start a revolution", "create good government", are these people seriously talking about, dare I say it, regime change?

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