False pledges

Deprivation, poverty, lack of democracy and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East are terrorism’s underlying causes. Who is speaking here – in a language that, despite its generalizations, drills to the heart of the matter? Is it perhaps the representative of some human rights organization? Is it the UN secretary-general? Is it Gore Vidal, Noam Chomsky or Tariq Ali? It is none of these. The diagnosis belongs to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, host of the G8 summit and head of the EU’s rotating presidency, whose country last week was the target of bloody terrorist attacks. But what is the weight of Blair’s diagnosis and how likely is he to apply the rule that he who broke it will also be the one to fix it? Contrary to the more «practical» George W. Bush, whose rhetoric is limited to invoking some divine mandate, Blair has quite a deft touch. Sure, the British premier proved very competent (or perhaps cynical) when he needed to con the public to serve his aims. Blair kept insisting that Iraq was invaded because it had weapons of mass destruction, even when US and British intelligence admitted that no nuclear arsenals had been discovered and that the «threat against humanity» had been conjured up in order to win popular backing for the campaign. An accurate and timely diagnosis usually makes for half the cure. But when it comes to global politics, such rules won’t do. Politicians’ words, however virtuous, rarely translate into virtuous actions. Before the G8 meeting, Blair described poverty as the mother of all evil and portrayed himself as the savior of starving Africa. That did not prevent him from being satisfied with the summit results, even though Africans and development activists called the aid a «drop in the bucket.» The therapists, those to blame for the Third World illness called poverty, fell short of their very own pledges.

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