Power means never having to say you're sorry (... or, "Love Story" without love)

“Power Story XXXI,” this summer’s docudrama directed by Tony Blair and produced by the G-8 was hurriedly completed, due to Blair’s commitments following London’s unfortunate events, and had its release at the Gleneagles Hotel, in Perthshire, Scotland.

“Rocky,” the movie, never made it past V; but the old “group of six,” later to become G-7 as Canada was included, then G-8 by adopting Russia, is sure to continue with its annual sequels, as other VIN (Very Important Nations) wait in the wings to join.

A cast of eight had two of them sharing top billing: the director-host himself, Tony Blair; and George Bush, current “Imperator Dei Gratia.” In an atmosphere of global terrorism and a changing climate, the script focused on poverty; more specifically, Africa’s poverty… and how the G-8 and other rich nations could help. An underlying theme at Gleneagles also had Blair, and the leaders from the six other nations, trying to convince Bush… through ego-polishing, or whatever else became necessary; that it’s preferable to be seen as a concerned, merciful mperor… than as the reckless, arrogant individual for which he’s known. Needless-to-say, all were miserably unsuccessful in their quest … with Bush remaining as miserly and adamant in his ways as predicted, or worse.

One gets the feeling that this group of exalted leaders is becoming an intramural council of nations that has for all practical purposes replaced both the discussion and decision making processes once thought as belonging to the United Nations. The G-8 has in fact become a self-appointed board of directors for the world; while aspiring superpowers, such as Brazil , China and India , keep discreet silence and a wait-and-see attitude until they come of power-age.

As long as the G-8 remains in the limelight, unchallenged, there appears to be little need for other organizations, formal or informal, to take on the mission of facilitating cooperation between nations. Issues of international law, security, social justice and economic development are likely to find favor, or disfavor, in the court of G-8 opinion. Unfortunately, past behavior of those “judging nations” that make up this group, except perhaps for Japan, does not bode well for most people who share this earth, particularly the weak and the poor.

For the G-8, the issue of dealing with poverty in Africa , where economic development has been marching backwards for over a generation, is one, they claim, of moral responsibility and commitment to help. As to how that help is granted… well, formulas and conditions offer a wide range. And for all the platitudes, only a fraction of what’s needed is all that was pledged, often requiring conditions that could be seriously questioned as conducive to further economic gain for the donors, and a greater exploitation of those intended to be helped.

Enter the critics, a mixture ranging from much-traveled anarchists, and anti-globalization people, to men and women of the cloth. The protesters, as the militant voice of those critics, summed up their feelings as they shouted from Gleneagles’ perimeter their contempt in the direction of the gathered G-8 leaders: “Blood on your hands!” Are these protesters simply radical, misguided idealists; or, are they people who see things clearly, exactly for what they are? Could it be that greed, waste and a materialistic society have slowly built cataracts over our eyes?

One can list many intervening variables that help create this poverty… from lack of economic, educational and social infrastructures; to wars and corruption. We can even point the blame to degenerate actions of G-8 members who export arms to these poor nations, allowing them to conduct fratricidal wars; weapons which still remain a significant part of their debt. But these are all intervening variables; the causal variable, and the raison d’ètre for this poverty, is one that the G-8 and the WTO know full well, but are unwilling to face: unfair trade, including the manipulation of commodity markets.

Poor nations deserve not alms but the dignity of fair trade. Rich nations do want poor nations to come out of poverty, to succeed… but only by sharing from a larger pie. Giving up part of the existing pie, which may represent as much as $600 bn annually for African and Latin American nations in fair trade value, is not in the cards. Not for the US; not for other rich nations. Better to give the poor nations $10-15 bn annually in alms, and have them kiss your hand in gratitude, than to let them have what’s theirs.

Will the West ever accept the simple fact… that most poverty is the direct result of unjust enrichment?

The bottom line to what took place in Gleneagles, as it was a year before in Sea Island, or the year before that at Évian-les-Bains… and 28 other resorts before, is prearranged: every quart of fresh honesty brought to these meetings always gets diluted in a barrel of self-interests. As a result, everything and everyone in the world gyrates around power… and by destiny or default we all end up bankrupt: powerful or powerless. The powerless bankrupt in dollars or euros; and the powerful morally bankrupt.

It is sad that tragic events, like those which occurred in London on Thursday, tend to derail our thinking, keep us blindfolded, embattled with terrorism… without realizing that terrorism is nothing but an offshoot of the West’s planted seeds… in both foreign and economic policy.

As sad as it may seem, the nature of power always seems to drown love. Will it be so again next year in Saint Petersburg during the sequel “Power Story XXXII”?