"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Geldof's defense

Bono paraphrased Churchill. Geldof, however unintentionally, quoted Bush.

'A great justice has been done ... On aid, 10 out of 10; on debt, eight out of 10 ... Mission accomplished, frankly.' Bob Geldof

Nine million people in Britain alone watched the Hyde Park concert on television; the crowd of 200,000 who saw it live easily broke the venue's records. Make Poverty History, the charity coalition whose cause Geldof had adopted, distributed more than 6m white wristbands, and persuaded hundreds of thousands of people to march on Edinburgh. Chris Martin, the lead singer of Coldplay, called Live 8 "the greatest thing that's probably been organised ever in the history of the world"; Madonna called it a revolution.

In that context, Geldof is plainly angered by the allegation that Gleneagles, in the words of Christian Aid, was "a sad day for poor people in Africa".

The defense:

"I'm not trying to big it up," he says. "But outside narrow national politics... the international experts are just amazed that so much got done or agreed upon... If we get $25bn that wasn't there before, where those monies come from doesn't fucking matter. They weren't there, they didn't exist, and now we've got a means of getting them." Even if the debt money and the aid money are one and the same? "Everyone knew that! That's nothing new! Besides, the debt is only $1bn of $25bn. But it was always included."

The Guardian

Charities working in Africa, many of which are now critical of Geldof, accuse the G8 of double accounting and massaging the figures, saying much of the total “aid” package is made up of a supposedly separate debt cancellation programme announced at Gleneagles.

According to the charities, only an additional $1 billion will be available next year.

But the UN is only the first hurdle for Geldof. Leaked documents from the World Bank suggest its development committee meeting later this month may want to place more conditions on African countries before they are approved for debt cancellation. The documents say the total cost of debt cancellation could be lowered by $10 billion if “fully disbursed credits (money already provided and spent) only are included in the G8 proposal”.

The Sunday Times