Saturday, 6 September 2003

Let Them Eat Cake

From The Grauniad :
The European commission yesterday launched a ferocious attack on poor countries...
For once, the Grauniad has it exactly right. It's an attack all right, and on the poor.
.... and development campaigners when it dismissed calls for big cuts in Europe's farm protection regime as extreme demands couched in "cheap propaganda".
Their propaganda has to be cheap, it's all they can afford. And has to rely on truth to convince. For expensive mendacity, and bare-faced lies, you have to look to the past masters of it in Brussels.
In a move that threatens to shatter the fragile peace ahead of next week's trade talks in Cancun, Mexico, Franz Fischler, the EU agriculture commissioner, said Brussels would strongly defend its farmers.
Except for the Poles, Czechs and so on, who as 2nd-class citizens don't qualify for the Public Trough like their Westerner counterparts do. The best form of defence is attack, and if the French and German farmers are going to be able to afford their new cars every year, well, some Africans will just have to keep on starving. <sarcasm>They breed like rabbits anyway, and it's not as if they're people like us anyway, is it?</sarcasm>
He said many recent attacks on the EU's much maligned common agricultural policy (CAP) were"intellectually dishonest" PR stunts.

Mr Fischler's comments came as Britain's trade secretary, Patricia Hewitt, warned that failure at Cancun would be "disastrous for the global economy" and a severe setback in the fight against terrorism and poverty.

Britain believes a deal to cut farm subsidies in the west is the key to developing support for a new global trade deal, and Ms Hewitt made it clear that the government saw recent reforms of the CAP as a good basis for negotiation.

"Rich countries can't preach free trade abroad and have protectionism at home. There is a danger of locking developing countries into poverty because we lock them out of our markets," she said.
Perfidious Albion! They obviously need re-education in the Napoleonic Ideal of a United Europe. Ah, if only Adolph had succeeded...
Mr Fischler, speaking in Brussels, said that although the EU was keen to give developing countries a better deal he warned that they would get nothing if they persisted with their "extreme" proposals.
"Extreme", like complying with all obligations under the WTO, not just the ones you feel like.
"If I look at the recent extreme proposal co-sponsored by Brazil, China, India and others, I cannot help [getting] the impression that they are circling in a different orbit," Mr Fischler reporters.

"If they want to do business, they should come back to mother earth. If they choose to continue their space odyssey they will not get the stars, they will not get the moon, they will end up with empty hands."
The Lower Orders should know their place, and not be so insolent to their betters. The arrogance of some of these Darkies and Chinks! Untermenschen, all of them!
Mr Fischler accused developing countries of demanding that developed countries make drastic changes while they themselves did nothing.
Maybe it's because, unlike the EU and USA, they don't go around handing out subsidies to the tunes of billions of dollars per year... so can hardly cease the practice.
Widening the scope of his attack, he accused non-governmental organisations, which frequently claim the CAP damages the developing world, of "cheap propaganda".

He took issue in particular with campaigners who point out that each EU cow receives $2 a day in subsidies.

"This may be a nice PR stunt but unfortunately this argument is not only intellectually dishonest, it is factually irrelevant.
Not incorrect. Not wrong. "Factually Irrelevant". "Intellectually Dishonest". We, the Intellectual Elite know best, and it is our opinion that your indisputable truths are not worthy of consideration, you are uncouth and churlish to mention them. Your facts are "irrelevant" because we, the Aristocracy, say they are. Begone, Varlets!
Yes, in the developed world we are spending money on many things. Not because we are all stupid, but because our standard of living is higher.
Ah, the Chewbacca Defence. With a contemptuous sneer tossed in gratis.
"What next? Criticising governments for spending public money on hospital beds, costly noise protection walls or fancy trees in parks instead of sending it to Africa? Societies around the world must have the right to choose which public goods and services are important to them."
- "these are the facts of the case"
- "but this is Chewbacca"
- "this Chewbacca argument does not make sense"
- "it does not make sense"
- "if it does not make sense, you must acquit"
Mr Fischler also made it clear that the EU did not believe all developing world countries deserved major concessions. Some African countries were really poor, but others, he noted, were net food exporters and far more prosperous.
...But we'll soon put a stop to that! I mean, if they become as rich as us, soon they'll be thinking that they're our intellectual equals. Just look what happened in America. Uncouth Barbarians. Fortunately, we have such worthy allies as Monsieur Chirac's good friend Robert Mugabe to help keep the hoi palloi in their place. The Cheek of some people...
Pascal Lamy, the EU's trade commissioner, joined the attack pointing out that 70% of customs duties paid on goods exported from the developing world were levied by other developing countries.
Thereby showing that not every EU Bureaucrat has his head wedged firmly up his posterior. Many developing countries have to rely on customs duties, as they're so dysfunctional, there is no effective taxation system. They're trapped in a cycle of poverty. But this has an important corollary: If the EU cut its extortionate tariff rates and increased its miniscule quotas, just possibly the customs duties paid to the EU would actually increase, and everyone would benefit. But they'd prefer to be Big Frogs in a small Pond, rather than increase the Common Wealth.

I'm not exactly a Leftie. Storming the barricades with shouts of "Liberte, Equalite, Fraternite" and leading the Aristos to the Guillotine is not my style. But reading Herr Fischler's words, I can understand that position. The behaviour of these Aristo-Bureau-Eurocrats...offends me.

And from a strict viewpoint of self-interest, it's worth examining Patricia Hewitt's words again. I've never been a fan of hers, I consider her an Idiotarian par excellence. But even a stopped clock is right twice a day :
failure at Cancun would be "disastrous for the global economy" and a severe setback in the fight against terrorism and poverty.
"Disasterous for the Global Economy" - that will hit me in my hip-pocket, always a sensitive place.
"severe setback in the fight against... poverty" - I have an aversion to seeing people starve. That doesn't mean I close my eyes to it, it means that I want to do something about it - not mouth pious plattitudes and ignore it. Hey, it's my money - I worked damn hard for it, and if I want to use some of it to help give someone rather less materially fortunate than myself an opportunity to make themselves better off, then that's my right. Just as it's yours not to.
"severe setback in the fight against... terrorism". - Ah, now here we have the crux of the matter. Too long, we've adopted a policy of "live and let die". We've closed our eyes to the plight of those living in totalitarian or theocratic oppression. We've let the UN pass resolution after resolution condemning Israel - sometimes with some justification, oftentimes not - while ignoring the far worse enormities committed by others. From the World Socialist Website (!!! -never thought I'd be quoting them)
In February 1982 a Muslim Brotherhood revolt broke out in Hama (Syria). Ba'ath Party officials were killed and appeals were broadcast from the mosques for a national insurrection. Assad's retribution was ruthless. The military levelled half of the city, slaughtering an estimated 10,000 to 25,000 people.
Syria is now of course a member in good standing of the UN Human Rights Commission, and until recently chaired the UN Security Council.
...of over 700 General Assembly resolutions passed since the UN's 1945 establishment, nearly 450 condemn Israel. None have been passed against any Arab country nor any Arab terrorist organizations! In other words, out of 190 nations in the United Nations, over sixty percent of all General Assembly resolutions condemned just ONE member, Israel!
In its entire existence, the Security Council has passed only 131 resolutions. Of those, 88 criticized or opposed Israel. Not one deplored or even contained a breath of criticism against Arab countries in general or those in particular which initiated wars or terrorism against Israel.
Fortunately, not one of those resolutions was a "binding" Chapter 7 resolution, the US or UK vetoes saw to that. But nonetheless, the mythical "Man from Mars", just looking at the sheer number of Resolutions, would have to conclude that Israel must be a mighty superpower that's massacred Billions of people. In Syria, a dictator can erase a city and all it's inhabitants, and be welcomed in the halls of power with na'ry a word said.. and few care to recall the Millions killed during China's Cultural Revolution, or the UN inaction in Cambodia, in Rwanda, and its inneffectual bungling in the Congo, in Nigeria, and in Bosnia.

And while arms of the UN are doing theiroften incompetent and wasteful best to help the Iraqis and others, sometimes being killed in the process, the UN's Arab-dominated General Assembly is still playing its silly games :
The United Nations can take vigorous action to deny the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq any legitimacy and deprive the perpetrators of the fruits of their aggression.
We've ignored this crap, the posturings, the hypocritical words of oppressors with not just beams, but whole deciduous forests in their eyes criticising the motes (sometimes wholly imaginary) in our own.

Worse, we've ignored the Tyrannies in Africa. The average lifespan has actually decreased there over the last 50 years. Literacy is down, Infant mortality is up. In Africa and the Middle east, Superstition and Religious Fundamentalism are spreading, while the Rich in those benighted and ethically backward societies are often getting Richer, and remaining wholly unaccountable for their actions.

September 11 was the result. It wasn't the poor who did this, it was financed and planned by Multi-millionaires, the unnacountable and powerful elite whose megalomania we'd treated with condescending disdain.

We're all in this together, and the 21st Century War will take a long time. Several campaigns have already been fought - easy ones, short-term ones, military ones. Though there's more to come. In the longer term, we must eradicate the few glaring inequities that stifle the development of dysfunctional nations. We must be intolerant of dictatorships, of kleptocracies, and of Vested Interests in our own societies that seek to retain their not-so-ancient-priviledges by keeping the poorest nations "in their place". We must be intolerant of governments that deny Female Sufferage. We must be intolerant of those who name schools after terrorists. We must get rid of them - by peaceful means if possible, but get rid of them root and branch. They've shown that the planet is no longer big enough for both of us.

Getting our own house in order, and ejecting the new Aristocracy in our midst would be a good start.

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