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G20 and C5 - Connecting the dots?

Or, Reality Show for Real Politicians - Part I

Jan Oberg, TFF director

April 5, 2009
Lund, Sweden


Within a few days, Europe is host to the G20 in London, NATO’s 60th Anniversary in Strasbourg-Kehl and the Alliance of Civilizations in Istanbul. What shall we make out of these frantic travels, meetings and meticulously edited press conference sound bites by world leaders? Here is the first of two dissident analyses.

C5 - Five huge crises coming together

The world is facing five hugely complex crises simultaneously:

Economic (system breakdown).
Environmental (global warming +).
Cultural (intolerance, clash of religions, Western cultural dominance).
Political (democratic deficits everywhere, lack of hope and political interest in media and among young).
Security (drug-like, ever increasing military expenditures to satisfy the Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex, MIMAC yielding ever less human security).

Five crises coming together = C 5.

In this perspective, watching these leaders, Western ones in particular, deliver self-congratulatory speeches and answers to journalists on the outcomes of the G20 and the NATO Summits is almost unbearable.

Apart from the reflective, eloquent rhetorical performance of President Obama, there is little change we can believe in to be seen and heard anywhere. It’s difficult to not notice:

- the fundamental absence of innovative, creative thinking, new theories and a holist understanding enabling the leaders themselves to see C 5 as one cluster happening at the same time on our common globe;

- a consistent wish to give a comforting “we-are-in-charge” attitude to not worry citizens about how serious the C 5 actually is;

- a style of meeting which in its elitist ‘high-level’ luxury - opulent meeting palaces, exquisite means, posh hotel rooms, limousines, ‘security’ – speaks volumes about the fact that they themselves do not intend to be role models on the road to a more just and balanced world.

It’s hardly going to be better with the UN Alliance of Civilization Forum hosted by Turkey in Istanbul to open Sunday April 5. It’s the same cluster of ‘high-level’ people (implying that others are low- or lower-level) and they meet at the Ciragan Palace Kempinski Hotel where the hotel suites range from € 950 to 5.000 a night.

Don't ever mention militarization and war - a major common cause of the C 5

In London the 19 countries decided various activities that “constitute an additional $1.1 trillion programme of support to restore credit, growth and jobs in the world economy. Together with the measures we have each taken nationally, this constitutes a global plan for recovery on an unprecedented scale.”

Journalists of the leading mainstream media lie flat on their – power-loyal - stomachs to tell that that is a huge sum. However, consider this: The world’s annual military expenditures in 2007 amounted to $ 1340 billion and will likely in 2009 passing 1500 billion. The 2007 figure is, according to SIPRI, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) no less than 45% more than the world spent in 1998 and it is growing, in real terms, 6 per cent per year!!

Do the same journalists ever tell you that that is a lot of money for weapons and war? Did one mainstream media report highlight for you that world leaders did not “pledge” as much to solving humanity’s economic crisis as they do planning how to kill each other’s people! Did any politician connect the economic crisis dot with the militarization dot?

Defence budgets are research- and capital-intensive and yield much less employment and civilian products than comparable civilian investments. By reducing military expenditures, we would not only free billions of dollars for civilian development all over the globe but also much more effective dollars in terms of solving the global economic crisis? Journalist didn’t connect those dots and thereby abdicated their critical, objective function. Or, you may say that they (un)consciously sided with power and the media that are owned by MIMAC and thus avoided risking their jobs.

G20 incomprehensibles and incantations - and dots never connected

Back to the G20 communique which then says:

“We are undertaking an unprecedented and concerted fiscal expansion, which will save or create millions of jobs which would otherwise have been destroyed, and that will, by the end of next year, amount to $5 trillion, raise output by 4 per cent, and accelerate the transition to a green economy. We are committed to deliver the scale of sustained fiscal effort necessary to restore growth.”

How can jobs not yet created be saved from destruction? Just how did they arrive at $ 5 trillion? Raise which output? What guarantees it will be a green economy and what do they imply by that? 

Sorry for being so pedantic. But it reads more like a PR exercise that no one will be able to operationalize let alone check “at the end of next year”. Good question could have been asked at the press conference. 

All the right words are in the communique: sustainability, market, prosperity is indivisible, human needs, and the needs of future generations too…commitment, urgency, reach agreement, determination, pledge to do whatever is necessary…


The all-is-possible, conflict-free world where the rich won't have to make any concessions

The communiqué makes it clear that the leaders wish to do everything good and that no two things they want to do will ever conflict with each other. This being so, the commitment to do something about another C 5 crisis, that of the environment, is mentioned as the last point. No wonder, because the leaders commit themselves repeatedly to things like “reinvigorating world trade and investment is [as] essential for restoring global growth.”

The underlying assumption, always unchallenged, is that we are going to produce ourselves out of the capitalist crisis, create more material economic growth and simultaneously stop global warming. How many times can world leaders state the same contradictions and never see other lines between the dots than their own flight connections to the next crisis meeting?

“World trade growth has underpinned rising prosperity for half a century,” – they state. They also state that they believe that “prosperity is indivisible”. How come, then, that there is a need for such huge programs to alleviate poverty and despair? How do people actually have the guts in the midst of a crisis caused also by unbelievable greed among politicians, corporate managers and finance managers to state that “prosperity is indivisible”? Are they going to share their € 5.000 Presidential Suites with the street kids of Burundi that I work with? 

If all this was what they know should be done, how come they start out saying that “We face the greatest challenge to the world economy in modern times; a crisis which has deepened since we last met, which affects the lives of women, men, and children in every country, and which all countries must join together to resolve. A global crisis requires a global solution.”

They last met in November 2008. They made the same type of incantations and firm pledges and urgent measures then. And only about 5 months later, the crisis has deepened even further. Well, this time it is really going to be different and we will see a much better world soon. Because “a global crisis requires a global solution”?

Intellectual poverty: To solve the crisis, let's have more of what caused it. Forget the environment!

No, this crisis is one that has global consequences but has not been created globally; it is a systemic malfunctioning in the wealthiest economies – that of the United States (among other things due to over-militarization, warfare and other squandering of resources financed by China) and the European Union.

Even if global in its consequences the crisis requires local action, real action, the synergy of which will change the global system. Lofty promises and low-level platitudes like “a global crisis requires a global solution” is – well, revealing of the intellectual poverty of the combined brainpower of world leaders and their economic advisors.

So the G20 meeting promises to be singularly inefficient because of the way it deals with one of the five crises – not a trace of serious analysis of root causes, diagnosis - and because it lacks every serious consideration of the other four.

Indeed, the most likely, visible result of the G20 and the NATO summits will be a deteriorating situation on the C 5 as a total.

Media & Reality shows

But did mainstream media read the text, analyze and raise critical questions about these shows? No, they applauded it all and focused on performance of the main actors and on Ms. Obama’s and Mme Bruni’s fashion-trendsetting dresses.

And why not, it’s after all a kind of ‘high-level’ reality show for Real politicians. A reality show “portrays a modified and highly influenced form of reality, with participants put in exotic locations or abnormal situations, sometimes coached to act in certain ways by off-screen handlers, and with events on screen sometimes manipulated through editing and other post-production techniques.” (Wikipedia)

April 5, 2009



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