A government that gives in to multinationals at home cannot curb their ravages abroad. That is the central reason why Tony Blair’s Commission for Africa is little more than a PR exercise.
The commission merely calls on shareholders, consumers and African governments to “put more pressure on companies to adhere to international codes and standards of behaviour”.
Is that going to hold back companies like the water multinationals which, with British government support and encouragement, are privatising services across the continent?
The commission also fails to promise an end to the economic stranghehold on African countries that governments and donors impose in exchange for debt relief and aid.
Incredibly Blair’s commission is actually a step back. Even the 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development demanded more from Western goverments for Africa.
The commission’s failures underline the urgency of popular pressure for action to end the suffering of hundreds of millions in Africa. The protests at the G8 in Edinburgh this July are now even more important to win unconditional debt relief and to confront the multinationals.
Why Gordon won’t mention the war
Gordon Brown was set to deliver his pre-election budget after Socialist Worker went to press. But one thing about it was entirely predictable: it will be a Basil Fawlty style “don’t mention the war” budget.
While Brown was expected to include some pre-election sweeteners, there will be no mention of how many schools or hospitals could have been built with the £6 billion the government has pumped into wars on Iraq and Afghanistan.
Brown won’t reveal how this money could be used to stop the attacks on public sector pensions. Nor will he explain how many youth workers could have been employed with the money poured into troops and weaponry.
But every penny spent on death and destruction, on the illegal war and the grim aftermath of occupation, could have been better spent on relieving poverty and improving public services. And that’s what we should remember about Brown’s budget at election time.
Israel straining at the end of Bush’s leash
When George Bush isn’t warmongering in the Middle East, his favourite attack dog is there to do it for him. Israel has drawn up secret plans for a military assault on an Iranian nuclear plant, the Sunday Times revealed last week.
Israeli forces have built a mock-up in the Negev desert of Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment plant. They are using it to train for a combined attack by F-15 fighter planes and commando ground troops. US officials are reported to have provisionally indicated that they would not stand in Israel’s way if other efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear projects failed.
Sharon does not only follow Bush’s bidding. In this instance, it is Israel’s leader who is stoking the flames, using the military exercises to push Bush towards war on Iran.