Wednesday, July 09, 2008
The G8 Dine and Dash
In 2005, at the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, world leaders promised to increase global aid by £25billion a year by 2010 and raise aid to Africa, the world's poorest continent, by £12.5billion. But the bloc of rich nations is only 14 per cent of the way towards hitting its target. This year, in Hokkaido, Japan, they're dining on a variety of delicacies such as caviar, milkfed lamb, sea urchin and tuna, with champagne and wines flown in from Europe and the U.S., while they discuss the international food crisis, and try to forge out an agreement about climate change.
George Bush: All y'all, I think this here crab bisket soup is a li'l bit hairy.
Gordon Brown: George, really, it's Hairy Crab Bisque, a real treat.
George Bush: An I thought it was a crisis in crabs. Hell, yes.
The menu is a tour-de-farce. Dominic Nutt, of the charity Save the Children, called the conference deeply hypocritical. I think that is an understatement at best, and typical of that British Reserve thing.
It is more than hypocritical to injest such a meal while wheat prices soar, and floods savage crops. It is more than hypocritical for a leader of a nation to call for "prudence and thrift in our kitchens", as Gordon Brown told the citizens of the United Kingdom, and then sit down to an 18-course banquet.
And while George Bush was hobnobing in Japan, Vice President Dick Cheney's office sought to prevent a federal official from publicly discussing the health consequences of global warming. I don't get it. I really, truly, cannot comprehend how people can be so callous, so deceitful. We all write about this, we all point out the abuses of power over and over and over again, and yet some part of me cannot comprehend how we can allow this to happen. I am overwhelmed by it all.
I admit that a lot of my clients are highly affluent people and I send them on lavish and elaborate trips. I am mindful of where they go, and my goal, my aim, is to expose them to other cultures so that their hearts are touched. But when I encounter the blatant, wanton excesses like this G8 conference, and the comments of Prime Minister Gordon Brown to the citizens of the UK, I am absolutely rendered dumbstruck. To say that I am enraged would not do the feelings I have justice. Someone, somewhere, help me to understand just how we allowed this to happen. Because I can't get it at all.