/ pro / bono / apologetics
George Monbiot is alarmed at Bob Geldof's and Bono's assuming the mantle of debt-relief potentates, for the people and instead of the people.
"...The real danger at the G8 summit is not that the protests will turn violent – the appetite for that pretty well disappeared in September 2001 – but that they will be far too polite.
Let me be more precise. The danger is that we will follow the agenda set by Bono and Bob Geldof.
The two musicians are genuinely committed to the cause of poverty reduction. They have helped secure aid and debt relief packages worth billions of dollars. They have helped to keep the issue of global poverty on the political agenda. They have mobilised people all over the world. These are astonishing achievements, and it would be stupid to disregard them.
The problem is that they have assumed the role of arbiters: of determining on our behalf whether the leaders of the G8 nations should be congratulated or condemned for the decisions they make. They are not qualified to do so, and I fear that they will sell us down the river.
Take their response to the debt relief package for the world’s poorest countries that the G7 finance ministers announced ten days ago. Anyone with a grasp of development politics who had read and understood the ministers’ statement could see that the conditions it contains – enforced liberalisation and privatisation – are as onerous as the debts it relieves... But Bob Geldof praised it as “a victory for the millions of people in the campaigns around the world”,... and Bono pronounced it “a little piece of history”... Like many of those – especially the African campaigners I know – who have been trying to highlight the harm done by such conditions, I feel betrayed by these statements. Bono and Geldof have made our job more difficult..."
Monbiot has written about the G7 debt-relief offer and has decried it as "...little better than an extortion racket". The Committee for the Abolition of the Third World Debt is similarly unimpressed by the gesture...
South African activists Patrick Bond, Dennis Brutus and Virginia Setshedi, are also noticeably furious at U2's lead singer and the NGOs he rode in on.