June 15, 2004
RECONCILIATION AND MIDEAST REFORM DOMINATE G-8
SEA ISLAND SUMMIT
** Comity at Sea Island may
have put an end to "a tough year" in transatlantic relations.
** Implementing reforms in
the Middle East is the "real challenge" after the summit.
** Critics say the G-8
could make "a truly historic impact" by forgiving poor countries'
** The exclusion of China
from the gathering of economic powers is "absurd."
U.S. 'rediscovered dialogue' with its allies-- Commentators held that the G-8 summit had proved
to be "politically successful" for President Bush. The summit participants took advantage of
"an opportunity for reconciliation" after discord over Iraq and
"successfully restored international unity." Norway's paper-of-record Aftenposten
agreed: "The most important message
from the meeting...is that the leaders of both sides of the Atlantic are once
again on speaking terms." Several
writers attributed the "renewed spirit of accommodation" to Bush's
domestic political considerations as well as his need for a "credible and
feasible exit strategy" from Iraq.
Middle East reform 'must come from within'-- Writers credited Bush with "taking advantage"
of the unanimous UNSC vote on Iraq to garner "a certain amount of
support" for his Broader Middle East Initiative. Dailies in Canada and Australia judged
political reform in the Arab world "worth pursuing" but cautioned the
idea may be "over-optimistic," noting that Arab countries' attitudes
towards the reform initiative have been "at best lukewarm, and at worst
hostile." Morocco's French-
language Aujourd'hui le Maroc, asserted the initiative "is doomed
to failure"; others blasted it as a "domination plan," declaring
reforms in the region "must...not be imposed by foreigners."
Summit paid 'only lip service' to poor countries-- Papers in the developing world, along with some
leftist papers elsewhere, berated the G-8's "selfishness" and
"woeful record" in delivering "meaningful commitments" to
the poorest countries. "Instead of
writing off all their debts," claimed Slovenia's left-of-center Dnevnik,
G-8 leaders offered them only "a handshake and a photo-op." A left-of-center British broadsheet bemoaned
G-8 leaders' haggling over forgiving Iraq's debt when "a fraction of a
similar amount" would ease the debt burden for "the most blighted
nations of Africa." A Ugandan
editorialist fumed that Africa got a "raw deal."
China is 'the missing participant'-- Analysts in Europe and Asia lamented the
exclusion of China from the G-8's "exclusive club," stating the
world's sixth-largest economy deserves "a seat at the table." Citing the "astonishing growth"
rate of its economy that is responsible for "soaring oil and steel
prices," observers said it was "most urgent" to include China in
future summits. Singapore's
pro-government Straits Times noted that China and the U.S. are the
"two main engines" of global growth and that the PRC "needs to
be better integrated into the global system in order to enhance its
responsibilities to the international community."
EDITOR: Steven Wangsness
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media
Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a
representative picture of local editorial opinion. This report summarizes and interprets foreign
editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S.
Government. This analysis was based on
73 reports from 29 countries June 2- 15, 2004.
Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent
States Are A Danger We Cannot Afford To Ignore"
Chief economics commentator Martin Wolf commented in the
independent Financial Times (6/9):
"A vicious spiral of poverty, instability, conflict and so greater
poverty can ensue, making nonsense of pious talk of 'development.'... The U.S. has decided that it cannot, in the
modern age, tolerate the survival of malevolent governments. But, urges the commission, it should be just
as unwilling to tolerate failing ones....
Where national sovereignty is a label for anarchy or predation, it does
not deserve to be sacrosanct.... The G-8
leaders, meeting this week, should respond with all the urgency they can
"Business As Usual In The Mideast"
Nikolas Gvosdev argued in the independent Financial Times
(6/9): "The U.S. faces a widening
credibility gap between its stated goal of encouraging democratic change in the
region and perceptions in the Middle East and elsewhere that Washington's
desire for 'stability' actually means more of the same--a return to reliance on
'friendly autocrats' to keep order....
The fundamental weakness of Washington's concept lies in its assumption
that the region earnestly wants change but lacks the knowledge to bring it
about.... The region's political culture
will change only when political parties can mobilize the masses and enter the
political arena to contest power.... The
Sea Island deliberations represent a return to 'business as usual'--a fancy
initiative on paper that changes nothing on the ground. Until the West is really willing to spend its
political and economic capital on the task, the Greater Middle East Initiative
by this or any other name will go nowhere."
"This Annual Gathering Has Become Redundant"
The center-left Independent editorialized (6/8): "Among all these highly fortified
summits, the annual Group of Eight get-together is easily among the most
dispensable.... It is time to abandon
the G-8 as a forum and replace it with single-issue summits bringing together
the leaders who are truly interested and dedicated to the subject in hand. This would be a better use of their precious
time than the spectacle about to play out at Sea Island."
"Relieve The Burden"
The left-of-center Guardian commented (6/8): "The most immediate issue should be the
extension of the heavily indebted poor countries initiative (HIPC).... The quid pro quo, though, may be a trade-off
between HIPC and a deal on Iraq's debt. The U.S. would like Iraq's creditors to
forgive as much as 90% of their loans, although France and Russia want to
settle for a lower proportion. Whatever
the rights and wrongs of Iraq's treatment, the almost absurd situation is that
the G-8 is likely to be arguing over the proportion of debt to forgive for a
single country, when for a fraction of a similar amount the most blighted
nations of Africa would have a great burden of debt lifted from their
backs.... The pessimistic view is that
little will be achieved.... The G-8's
supporters need a successful summit soon.
Barely half of the 2003 Evian summit's agreed proposals have been
successfully implemented by member states, while another barren year or two
would call into question the point of the G-8 as a forum. Without concrete achievements and a revised
membership--such as swapping Canada for China--the giant turtles may not be the
only endangered species on Sea Island."
"Watching And Waiting At The G-8"
The independent Financial Times observed (6/8): "Whatever they think and say at this
uncertain juncture, the one sure thing is that there is not much they can
do.... The global economic recovery
should not stall just because oil is near $40 a barrel. But if it does, the G-8 will have to rely on
smart reactions by their central banks, not oil diplomacy to save it."
FRANCE: "The G-8 Of All
Alain Louyot noted in center-right l’Express (6/14): “Boosted by the unanimous vote at the UNSC in
favor of the resolution on the transfer of sovereignty in Iraq, George W. Bush
was able to pat himself on the back for a job well done. Posing himself as the superstar of this
smokescreen G-8, Bush kept up appearances on the Greater Middle East Initiative
with a few well-placed phrases about the necessity for real partnership and
true cooperation.… In the meantime, Jacques Chirac’s realistic proposals to
include China in the G-8 or to create an international tax to help finance the
development of poor countries went almost unnoticed in this agora.”
"Bush On The Defensive"
The unsigned editorial in the Saturday edition of center-left Le
Monde stated (6/12): “Now that the
spotlights of the 60th anniversary of D-Day and the G-8 Summit in Georgia have
been turned off, George W. Bush will have to wait until the European Summit in
Dublin and the NATO Summit in Istanbul to harvest a new crop of flattering
television time.… Meanwhile he is once again on the defensive concerning the
orders that allegedly came from the White House on the interrogation of
prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq.… But the G-8 Summit did bear some good fruit
for George W. Bush. He was able to get a
certain amount of support for a toned-down version of the Greater Middle East
project in exchange for a few sentences concerning the settlement of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the role of NATO in Iraq.”
"Clearer Skies For President Bush"
Joseph Limagne remarked in regional Ouest France
(6/9): “As the G-8 gets under way,
President Bush has two good reasons to rejoice:
the Normandy landing ceremonies, which demonstrated France’s gratitude,
and the UN resolution on Iraq are placing America at the center of a newly
found international consensus....
President Bush must now lead the G-8 to a successful conclusion. His partners will probably not make his life
too difficult over the Greater Middle East Initiative.... But everyone knows that all these lofty
declarations on the future of the Middle East and the need to fight poverty
will not change the world.... With his
re-election in the balance, President Bush has found a way to enhance his
image: the good impression left by the
D-Day ceremonies, the UN resolution on Iraq and a successful G-8 should clear
the skies over President Bush.”
"Disagreements On The Future Of The Middle East"
Luc de Barochez observed in right-of-center Le Figaro
(6/9): “How to bring democracy and
stability to the Middle East? A year
after the beginning of the Iraqi war, the leaders at the G-8 are seriously
asking themselves this and other questions.
It is already clear that they will not be able to agree on concrete measures.... For the opponents of the U.S. plan, the
remedy may be worse than the disease....
The critics also contend that the U.S. must reconcile their ambitions
for liberalizing the Middle East with the way they are handling the war against
"The Middle East According To Bush"
Jean-Christophe Ploquin wrote in Catholic La Croix
(6/9): “The G-8 is looking good for
President Bush. American diplomacy is
working at full speed. Yesterday, the
UNSC adopted the UN resolution on Iraq, and today, the leaders present at the
G-8 will probably adopt a text on democratizing the Middle East. All of this is proof of a consensus that was
missing three weeks ago. In both cases the
U.S. has made enough compromises to lift the objections made by their partners.... At the G-8 President Bush will be the
promoter of a project to modernize the Middle East. At the UN and at the G-8
the neo-cons’ vision of the world is being implemented, a vision that goes
beyond the paradoxes of past strategies vis-à-vis the region’s regimes.”
"Chirac And Bush Inseparable"
Myriam Levy opined in popular right-of-center Le Parisien
(6/8): “The G-8 will be a summit once
again dominated by Iraq.... The friction
during the preparation leading up to the summit is symptomatic of the cultural
gap that exists between Chirac’s team and President Bush’s team. But the U.S., weakened by the situation in
Iraq, has finally accepted amending its GMEI.... Initially criticized by all, even France is
at this point ‘satisfied’ with the initiative.
Better even: it is expected that
the UN resolution will be voted on, now that it has France’s green light. This vote would signal the return of an
international consensus...and represent a major trump card for President Bush
in his election campaign.”
"A Wind Of Reconciliation At Sea Island"
Luc de Barochez wrote in right-of-center Le Figaro
(6/8): “The summit will give an
opportunity to the major powers to advertise a paradoxical and precarious unity
over Iraq.... Iraq will be on top of the
agenda, as President Bush wanted.... But
the spirit of reconciliation that prevailed on Sunday on the beaches of
Normandy will probably not turn into strong winds of reunification. Even on Iraq, dissension remains...while
there are patent differences of view on the GMEI.... In spite of France’s great efforts, the Sea
Island summit may well turn out to be an all Iraqi-American show with the other
leaders playing the role of the applauding audience.”
"From The G-8 To The G-16"
Guillaume Goubert took this view in Catholic La Croix
(6/8): “At the Sea Island G-8 summit
there is an intruder, Russia, and a missing participant, China.... This oddity is proof that the G-8 has indeed
become a hybrid institution. Whereas it
was created as a purely economic summit, it has now put on its agenda political
issues.... But in order to accommodate
all large nations, maybe a G-16 is the answer.”
GERMANY: "Summit Of
Washington correspondent Wolfgang Koydl filed the following
editorial for center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (6/14): "The U.S. president took advantage of
the favorable moment and showed why the G-8 leaders do not want to give up
their expensive...annual meetings.... The
G-8 summits are great opportunities to cultivate one's own image among the
voters...and the U.S. president succeeded well in considerably improving his
image. Instead of a stubborn, adamant
unilateralist, who puts off friends, the Americans saw a president who listens
to his partners...and who seriously discusses equality. It looked as if Bush had read all accusations
by his Democratic challenger Kerry and then invalidated them.... The values which Bush, according to the
Europeans, wants to impose on the Muslims, are not specifically American, since
they are laid down in the Declaration of Human Rights, and are valid for
mankind as a whole. Bush will not give
up this plan and show the same perseverance, even stubbornness which has helped
him achieve almost anything he had planned.
This is why conflicts with the partners overseas will come up again,
especially if he is re-elected in November.
After the Sea Island summit, this has become a bit more likely thanks to
the vigorous support of his friends."
"Re-United For Three Days"
Christoph von Marschall argued in centrist Der Tagesspiegel
of Berlin (6/14): "What is striking
when we look at George W. Bush and Gerhard Schroeder is true for the West in
general. The memory of D-Day, all the
events of the most recent history has strengthened the feeling in the West of
belonging together, a feeling that was threatened by the Iraq war.... But how does the debate over a NATO mission
in Iraq fit this mood?.... We have to
listen closely. NATO forces cannot
replace U.S. forces but [NATO] wants to assist as long as its forces are not
involved and will not block future discussions.
This does not rule out anything that has been decided since the Munich
Defense Conference in February. America
must continue to shoulder the main burden in Iraq, but willing allies could,
for instance under a NATO flag, take over the Polish sector from which Spain
withdrew.... President Bush was
euphoric. The pictures from D-Day and
the G-8 are supposed to bring about a change in his election campaign. The president, surrounded by allies; if America's
voters take Europe so seriously, this is good, but it should last more than
"Let's Hope America Will Cultivate Its Relationship With
Mass-circulation, right-of-center tabloid Bild-Zeitung of
Hamburg argued (6/11): "The new
casual chumminess between George W. Bush and Gerhard Schroeder from today is
certainly better than keeping out of each other's way from the past. But let's not delude ourselves: as Schroeder tried to get votes mainly in
eastern Germany shortly before the Bundestag elections with disguised
anti-Americanism, George W. Bush is now trying to impress the majority of U.S.
voters. They have called upon him to
show greater consideration for and improved cooperation with the
Europeans. But there is a little difference. The first was carried away by stupidity
shortly before elections, while the latter has become reasonable because of
upcoming elections. Let us hope that
German governments will never again create so many risks for German-American
relations. And that America will
cultivate its relationship with Europe much more than in the past."
Center-right Leipziger Volkszeitung (4/11) said: "Of course, the G-8 approach is in
principle correct: instability and rigid
social structures are the greatest threat for the region. But is the reverse conclusion also right that
the region can recover only with a drastic cure? If there were elections in the region that
deserve their name, then al-Qaida would rule in Saudi Arabia; in Syria, it
would be the Muslim brotherhood; and in Algeria it would be self-appointed
religious warriors, but not because the people in the region would, in
principle, favor Islamism, but because the rulers, who were often supported by
the West, have lost any kind of credibility.
In this situation, the European approach at the G-8 summit seems to be
reasonable: to demand democracy without
making it a precondition for cooperation, and to offer a dialogue without
giving in human rights questions and to allow for enough time for both
"Desperate For Democrats"
Silke Mertins commented in business daily Financial Times
Deutschland of Hamburg (6/9):
"Arab rulers are only going as far as they must in order to
survive. They are the wrong partners for
the U.S. and its western allies, who want to democratize the Mideast. Therefore, it did not come as a surprise that
the Egyptian and Saudi leaders rejected the invitations to the summit, giving
lame excuses. The West was asking for
trouble here.... The civic society is underdeveloped
in most Arab states.... Before 9/11 the
West did not care about the domestic policy of Arab leaders. Rogues could remain rogues as long as oil was
running and business was thriving.
Germany, which likes to show off its human rights policy today, was no
better than the U.S., France or Russia.
But the attacks made clear even to the last skeptics that undemocratic
states are unreliable partners.... The
West has no option but to redefine its interests--and to include
democracy. Therefore, Western countries
must strengthen Arab civic societies.... They can exert pressure on existing
regimes to stop them silencing every protester.
They could support and train activists.
And they could particularly stop courting authoritarian regimes and getting
the message across that the West accepts them.
But the decisive momentum must come from the Arab world. No one can do their job of establishing
democracy, including all the necessary sacrifices."
Sven Astheimer opined in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau
(6/9): "The special listing of
Russia is questionable or even discriminating, and the seat plan looks like an
anachronism of the 1970s. While Italians
and Canadians have their seat in the exclusive club, China is still waiting
outside.... The world's fourth biggest
trade nation will surpass the U.S. economy in a decade, estimates say. Beijing is putting on brakes on its economy
to avert its overheating, while Western Europe is only slowly growing after
years of stagnation.... It does not make
sense to discuss the future of the world's economy without including developing
countries. Brazil and India are waiting
in the line behind China. The leading
industrial nations must have an addition.
Everything else would be conmanship."
"The Suspicion Of Beneficiaries"
Heiko Flottau wrote in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of
Munich (6/9): "Who could reject
such noble goals like installing democratic governments, creating societies
based on education and knowledge, which build up their economies to improve the
quality of life for all people--that's what America wants to give to the Middle
East. At the G-8 summit President Bush
wants to be the generous donor calling upon the rulers of the region to
democratize.... Beyond that, the Bush
initiative has a cardinal error: the
Washington catalogue lacks a proposal for solving the Palestinian-Israeli
conflict. Finally, the beneficiaries
suspect that the donor has only made a tactical U-turn, following his own
interests. There is circumstantial
evidence that justifies this suspicion.
For decades, the U.S. supported authoritarian regimes, because they
meant stability. Because they are
producing terrorists now, democracy is seen as the way to create
stability.... Despite the clumsiness of
Americans, who have thrown the presents at the feet of Arabs, it has had some
effects. A Saudi commentator said that
you cannot read a newspaper or watch TV today without hearing the word
An unsigned editorial in leading business daily Il Sole-24 Ore
stressed (6/12): “We rarely saw
President Bush as satisfied, forceful, ironic, or even as humorous as he was at
the final G-8 press conference: all was
for the best, he said, the alliance is united to restore peace and democracy in
Iraq.... Even though longed hoped for,
NATO’s involvement was not a priority of the U.S. administration. Bush knew quite well that he could not get
troops from either France or Germany....
The most important objective was different: it was the approval of the
UN resolution.... That unanimous vote
granted retroactive legitimacy to what happened in Iraq; it puts an end to a
tough year as far as transatlantic relations are concerned; it resumes a debate
on how freedom and democracy can be established in Baghdad, or how peace can be
advanced in the Middle East.... These
are real obstacles to be overcome. And,
in order to do so, the unity of the West is certainly more important than a
NATO military contingent in Iraq.”
"The New Liturgy Of Realism"
Adriana Cerretelli noted in leading business daily Il Sole-24
Ore (6/9): “Last year [Bush and
Chirac] left Evian on bad terms....
Twelve months later, in Sea Island, a new summit is under way that will
not celebrate a reconciliation, which is still premature, but the liturgy of a
general realism, of a patched-up dialogue among the world’s Big Eight who are
seeking a new world order that is not only American. Once again, Iraq, terrorism and the Middle
East will be at the top of the agenda.
But these issues will be discussed with a much different spirit.... Bush, who will have to face the elections
with unfavorable polls, has lost his boundless arrogance toward his allies and
found the courage to change policy....
D-Day celebrations in Normandy neither accomplished the miracle of
re-pacification with Chirac’s France nor eliminated the ideological
contrasts. After all, no one was
expecting that. But [the celebrations]
did seem to give way to a more civil climate of dissent.... If, as is expected, the UN approves the new
resolution, the G-8 summit in Sea Island will be an immediate success. It’s the beginning of a less unilateral and
imperial time for Bush’s America, which is reconciling with the rest of the
world.... In Sea Island, the U.S. wants
to forget the mistakes of the recent past and go back to dreaming and to making
others dream by earning back the world’s respect. This is an enormous undertaking given the
risk of terrorism, the Islamic world which is poised between hate and the
desire for ‘normal’ development, an expanded Europe that is in the midst of a
political identity crisis, making it often a neurotic and unreliable
partner. The secret behind the American
system’s great vitality has always been to start anew after having committed
mistakes, without complexes. Indeed, the global world complicates the outcome
of all challenges. But nobody, not even
the global world, can afford to lose the new American challenge.”
Americans Help All"
Leonid Gankin contended in business-oriented Kommersant
(6/11): "George Bush was lucky to
host this year's G-8 summit. Who knows
how much longer the UN Security Council would have debated a new resolution on
Iraq? As things went, it would have been
impolite to the hosts to try to kill the resolution.... The not-too-democratic regimes in the Middle
East, not surprisingly, opposed the broader Middle East initiative, unwilling
to reform themselves.... As a matter of
fact, Washington's call to promote democracy is no propaganda to camouflage its
selfish schemes. The Americans believe
that totalitarian and authoritarian regimes are a potential threat to
peace. In a democracy, the leaders are
accountable to their voters.
Non-democratic regimes are under no control. They may cover up for and even cooperate with
terrorists and secretly develop weapons of mass destruction.... Funny, as terrorism and weapons of mass
destruction jeopardize the whole world, it is primarily the Americans who show
concern and suggest a plan for the Middle East.
Others are just looking for ulterior motives behind that plan. They want no problem in their relations with
Middle Eastern regimes, lest it might damage prospects for profitable oil, arms
and nuclear contracts. So it appears
that the selfish Americans, as they care only for themselves, help all, while
those who are trying to protect dictators, virtually, harm themselves."
Vitaliy Gan wrote in official parliamentary Parlamentskaya
Gazeta (6/9): "It is said that
progress in bringing about a settlement in Iraq might cause the big Eight to
show more interest in the Bush initiative on democratic reform and economic
development in the Middle East and North Africa. So far, Europe has been quite skeptical,
criticizing the United States' clearly pro-Israeli policy in that region,
including its approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the Middle East, the U.S. plan is being
seen as Washington arrogantly pushing its own vision of problems and solutions
to them again. More than that, some Arab
countries, including the most influential, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, have
declined to attend the Sea Island summit for that reason.... By and large, observers are optimistic about
prospects for the summit. But, of
course, nobody is expecting it to solve problems completely--they are too
serious to be 'zapped' in just one day.
Still, the importance of such meetings is obvious and needs no further
"It's More Like PR"
Boris Volkhonskiy noted in business-oriented Kommersant
(6/9): "As they sought to expand
the framework of the forum, its organizers overdid it, according to
observers. The main topic may get lost
among other just as important but more numerous issues. So numerous that the G-8 leaders may not be able
to address them all.... More and more
people worry that the G-8 summitry, initially devised as an opportunity for the
world's leaders to discuss pressing global problems, increasingly is turning
into a major PR activity, with each member using it to serve his own ends. This is why most observers expect no
breakthroughs from the just-opened summit."
"Big G-8 Looks East"
Svetlana Babayeva wrote from the U.S. in reformist Izvestiya
(6/8): "Though many in Moscow claim
that Iraq must be central, the hosts see this it as part of a larger, global
problem. For the Americans the Greater
Middle East plan is central at the summit.
Its contents reflect the U.S. neo-conservatives' views and values. Democracy and its benefits must be available
to other regions, primarily the Middle East.
As for Iraq, it may serve as a litmus test to find out about a country's
attitude toward the Mideast initiative."
"Between Bush And Kerry"
Artur Blinov held in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta
(6/8): "Bush's Greater Middle East
plan, central at the summit, is a way to legitimize the (Iraq) war
retroactively.... The U.S. president's
interlocutors can't but take into account his situation. There is no way they can get away with
symbolic gestures as in Normandy. Bush
needs concrete accords that might boost his popularity ratings in the United
States. Can he count on them to go half
way? From what they said in France, yes,
he can.... Before Sea Island even those
of the G-8 members who are critical of Washington's actions in Iraq emphasized
their not being interested in things getting harder for the Americans in
Iraq. So, the summit, presumably, will
bring about an agreement on the proposed plan of a sovereignty
transfer.... While Russia may accept the
main provisions of the Anglo-American draft resolution, it will hardly want to
send troops to Iraq. But then, nobody
says that it should."
"Renaissance In The Offing"
Business-oriented Vedomosti noted (6/8): "The Big Eight, called decorative and
unnecessary by Western observers and analysts, may be in for a
renaissance. This summit has a good
chance of raising problems that are common to all members of the Club: a legitimacy crisis facing the United States
and its allies in Iraq and soaring oil prices that increasingly mar prospects
for the world's economic growth. On the
one hand, the U.S. political elite, if not George Bush himself, already
realizes that it is wrong not to have Europe as an ally in Iraq. On the other hand, without Russia, it is
impossible to cope with the continuing rise in oil prices."
Marc Lambrechts commented in financial L'Echo
(6/11): "One can wonder about the
usefulness of these meetings and about the presence or absence of some
countries. On the family portrait in Sea
Islands, the Eight were actually ten: to the leaders of the United States,
France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan, one had to
add the EU Commission President and the current President of the EU. At the beginning, it was a G-5, which was
then enlarged to a G-7 by including Italy and Canada, then to a G7+1 when
Russia was included. Is Italy's presence
still necessary? Doesn't the EU as such
deserve a more important place within the club?
But, beyond these questions, what should one think of the absence of India
and, first and foremost, of China? The
latter is an engine of world economy, much more than Italy. China is the cause of soaring oil and steel
prices. It therefore does not make sense
to discuss about the world economy without such a player."
"A G-9 Including Beijing Should Be
Philippe Paquet asserted in independent La
Libre Belgique (6/14): "The
diplomatic fiasco of the latest G-8 Summit in Sea Island, where the world's
eight biggest countries exposed their political disagreements--on Iraq and the
Middle East--and their selfishness, by feeding Africa with promises only--does
probably not lead one to feel like making things even more complicated by
considering an enlargement of the G-8.
Yet, soaring oil and steel prices, for which China is largely held
responsible, highlight how absurd it is to exclude an actor whose weight has
become so important. China should
logically be admitted for economic reasons, especially now that it is a member
of the WTO, but there are other reasons.
The AIDS and SARS epidemics show that China is at the center of health
problems with which the G-8 also deals.
Besides, the assassination of eleven Chinese workers in Afghanistan is a
reminder that Beijing is henceforth present on various fronts of the
international scene.... Other countries
will probably also have the ambition to join the club in the future, but it is
for China that it is the most urgent.
And for those who would say that China is not sufficiently prepared, let
us simply remind them of the condition of Russia when it joined the G-7 in
1998. It was already a political choice,
as much as--if not even more than--an economic reasoning."
HUNGARY: "The Island
Economy editor Miklos Blaho held in leading Nepszabadsag
(6/9): “The spirit of Ronald Reagan, one
of the most successful American presidents of the past decades, will be present
at the summit of the G-8. George W. Bush
is entangled in the Iraqi conflict. He
desperately needs to win the support of Europe and Russia for a UN mandated
settlement of the Iraqi situation before November, which would allow a withdrawal
within a reasonable period of time. A
fiasco in Iraq would, from the U.S. point of view, increase Russia’s influence
in the region and Europe would continue to drift away from the United States. The Cold War ended a long time ago, whereas
the new world order that replaces that period of time is just developing. A militarily prepared United States and a
diplomacy-experienced Europe would be the perfect match in fighting against
terrorism, in controlling the Iranian nuclear program and in preventing the
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
The U.S. and Europe agree on the objectives and disagree only about the
ways and means. All must realize what is
at stake at the G-8 summit. This is why
the summit can be called historic. As
would the United States’ mistake should it underestimate Europe.”
IRELAND: "Bush’s Bird
In The Hand"
Marion McKeone commented in the centrist Sunday Tribune
(6/13): “In terms of election-year
politics, the summit handed Bush a much needed boost: the Middle East and terrorism, and the
rehabilitation of relations with his European allies.... The new resolution, which was adopted on the
first day of the summit, marked the end of a biter stand-off between Bush and
some key allies over the war in Iraq....
Despite the new resolution and the turning of a new page in
transatlantic relations, not even the U.S. is claiming that it will make any
real difference to the situation on the ground.”
Distinguished By New Soberness"
Newspaper-of-record Aftenposten commented (6/13): "The most important message from the
meeting at Sea Island...is that the leaders of both sides of the Atlantic are
once again on speaking terms.... President
George W. Bush is today realistic enough not to expect military support from
NATO in Iraq.... It is also important
that the guests...have forced Bush to sign the joint announcement...regarding
extensive and long-term solutions to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.... Africa also deserves more of the world's
attention, and appears to have got it--for fear of collapsing states that might
turn into new sources for terrorism."
"Big Promises Quickly Fade"
Ales Gaube opined in left-of-center independent Dnevnik
(6/12): "Somalia...like many other
African countries was hoping for good news from the G-8 Summit. In vain....
Instead of writing off all their debts, the most influential leaders
tapped the [African] leaders on their shoulders, offered them a handshake and a
photo-op, and sent them home.... Iraq
was the forefront issue again, but the difference with last year's Summit was
evident.... After all the mistakes of
its occupation policy, and six months before the presidential elections, the
American administration has re-discovered...dialogue with the allies.... The G-8 leaders agreed to write off Iraq's
debts. Although they did not exactly
define the amount.... African statesmen
are justified in talking about a double standard.... Debts of the 42 poorest countries amount only
to one quarter of Iraq's debt. But the
wallets remain closed for these countries because they do not have energy
resources, and are therefore not within the sphere of interest of the
rich.... With the unanimously passed UN
resolution...Iraq has become the first success of the American national
security strategy.... The fact that the
White House did not succeed in getting NATO to Iraq is of secondary
importance.... For the ideology of
Bush's neo-conservatives, it is important that the G-8 leaders blessed the plan
for democratization of the Arab world.
Bush can be satisfied...despite the fact that...several changes had to
be made in it."
TURKEY: "GME, Israel
Yilmaz Oztuna editorialized in the conservative Turkiye
(6/15): “It is an unrealistic
expectation to see the transition to democracy in Muslim countries include the
Turkic republics in the short run. In fact, this will probably never happen at
all. Turkey stands as the only
exception. First of all, democracy is
not the only possible regime. Second,
advocates of democracy in the Middle East either know little about genuine
democratic regimes or tend to design a democracy tailored for the Middle East
through a couple of cosmetic reforms.
Most probably, the strong push by Western states is not about bringing
democracy to the Middle East as much as it is about oil reserves.... At this point, Turkey should be able to
discuss in detail the Greater Middle East initiative with the United States,
Turkey’s strategic ally. Turkey should
be able to be part of this process. If
Turkey refuses to take part, this will not change anything but will harm the
possibility of finding solutions to these problems.”
"Don’t Disparage The Importance Of This Partnership"
Yasemin Congar wrote in mass appeal Milliyet (6/14): “The participation of Turkey in the G-8
summit was an important achievement for Turkish diplomacy. PM Erdogan’s messages about the Middle East
and the Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative (BMENAI) included very
valuable assessments and warnings. All
of these concerns were reflected in the final G-8 documents. Turkey also was named as a co-chair for the
'Democratic Assistance Dialogue' group along with Italy and Yemen. This led some to comment that Turkey was
beginning to turn away from its EU vision.
On the contrary, taking part in such a mechanism will be an important
step to enhance Turkey’s ties with the EU.…
American officials attach great importance to the working dialogue
between Turkey’s PM and the King of Jordan, which went even beyond the Sea Island
meetings. There is also great optimism
that the Turkish business community and Turkish NGOs will cooperate
successfully in the region to promote economic, social and political reform.”
"International Legality Made In USA"
Largest circulation, highly influential French-language Le
Quotidien d’Oran commented (6/10):
“‘The Greater Middle East Initiative’ was outlined in the G-8 meeting
and dictated by the American administration without having taken into
consideration the opinions of the concerned, that is to say, the Arabs
themselves. In this sense, Arab leaders
remain unable to put forward their primary principle--that is, to reject any
reform imposed by ‘the exterior’--agreed on at the last Tunis Summit (Arab
League). Instead of uniting to
constitute a force, the Arabs decided to turn their backs on each other.”
"An American Summit"
Small-circulation, but increasingly influential, French-language Liberte
remarked (6/10): “Bush made the G-8 Summit an American Summit
in the sense that Bush’s favorite themes, the participation of NATO in Iraq and
the Greater Middle East Initiative, were the leading issues debated in the G-8
meeting.... Politically speaking, the
United States promoted its project, the Greater Middle East Initiative, which
is a kind of ‘road map’ dedicated to the democratization of ‘the Middle East
and North Africa.’”
MOROCCO: "From Evian
to Sea Island"
Mustapha Moulay noted in semi-official, French-language Le
Matin (6/8): "These days, state
leaders have chosen to meet in the most inaccessible corners of the world to
escape facing citizen protests and the anti-globalization movement.... As if to better illustrate to what extent the
G-8 has become outdated, a vehicle of a world vision where only the
superpowers' interests are valued. The
world has changed and the rich countries do not want to admit it. This is the reality. Leaders of the countries of the South are no
less legitimate than the ones of the G-8 to debate the future of the
planet. One thing is sure, this year’s
G-8, organized by George Bush in the middle of the election campaign, will be
worthless. Even worse, the American
president will take advantage of the media coverage for waging his war on
"Open Letter To G-8 State Leaders On Sea Island"
Najib Mikou commented in socialist Istiqlal party L'Opinion
(6/2): "The national governments of
the least developed countries and the ones known as developing countries,
representing 80% of the world’s population, can only gaze upon their own
impotence in the face of your hegemony, which reduces them to the role of
senior civil servants, only good for carrying out your dictates...and managing
the negative impact on despairing, faceless populations. Populations that you protect yourself against
with borders peppered with barbed wire and scanners.... In short, a chasm as deep as an abyss
separates your fortress-island of prosperity from a sea of humanity plunged
into degrading poverty and reduced to an archeological curiosity, abandoned to
survive as they can, condemned to a future without hope and forced into the
arms of extremists...by deprivation and humiliation.... You are thus called upon to make historic,
concrete decisions that could be divided into six steps: First, quickly return the UN...to its role as
sole and impartial guarantor of peace and security in the world.... Second, have a competent and impartial
international authority destroy all chemical and nuclear weapons in all countries.... Third, create conditions for an equitable,
humanized globalization that protects different cultures.... Fourth, cancel all multilateral and public
debt.... Fifth, give true preferential
treatment to underdeveloped and developing countries in the new generation of
trade agreements.... Sixth, create an
International Organization for Good Governance within the UN to assist
countries asking for help in establishing democracy.... These measures would allow countries stuck in
economic underdevelopment to safeguard their cultural identity, oblige
themselves to adopt a democratic form of government, and allow them access to
sufficient funds to finance their own economies.”
OMAN: "A Greater East
And A Smaller Mind"
Semi-independent Al Watan opined (6/11): “The G-8 Summit should have considered a way
to end the Arab-Israeli conflict. Middle
East reform, which was discussed during the summit, cannot be achieved before
reaching a just end to this bloody conflict.
Israel is continuing its policy of expanding its territories into
Palestinian lands. What does
Washington’s plan of a greater Middle East mean if it allows Israel to
subdivide Palestinian lands using a small-minded point of view? This is a huge, destructive pickax for the
Greater Middle East Initiative and the world.”
"The G-8 Summit And Regional Issues"
Government Arabic daily Oman editorialized (6/7): "The Summit for the eight industrial
nations, which will be held in the United States, is a vital political and
economic development. President Bush has
invited many Third World nations from Africa, Asia, and Latin America; however,
the summit should also discuss the boiling situation in Iraq and
Palestine. The unstable situation in the
Middle East does not help to develop a common language of understanding between
East and West. For the last fifty years,
the region has been suffering from wars and instability. Reform is important for Middle Eastern
nations. Yet, it is also important to
provide a peaceful atmosphere for progressive discussion."
Riad Zein editorialized in government-owned Syria Times
(6/13): “During the summit of the G-8
Bush was trying hard to get rid of some internal and external dilemmas he has
been experiencing after fleeing the UN, launching the unjustifiable war on
Iraq...and failing in the feverish campaign against what is called
terrorism. He has been keen on garnering
support for his new policy in Iraq that has proven to be totally mistaken, for
imposing own reform on the Arabs and for validating unilateral diktat.... The summit was also a chance to export his
internal crises and to improve his image, especially when the presidential
elections are under way. But Bush and
his neo-conservative aides are marketing rejected products and the new drive
will be a fiasco. If Washington’s widely
condemned policies are not bridled and things and not put in the right and
sound path, Bush is doomed and his political destiny is certainly a loss. Many Americans and people across the world
are not sorry about the defeat, which will be in the interest of nations
worldwide. The people are fed up with
tyranny, flagrancy and hegemony, and the time is right now for making changes
serving mankind at large.”
"The Summit And The Partnership Declaration"
Samir Al-Sheibani opined in government-owned Tishreen
(6/12): “The G8 summit should have
referred to [Israel], called for subjecting its nuclear arsenal to inspection,
and compelled it to sign the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, the way the
United States treats other countries.
Without doing so, the G-8 summit's declaration will not be a success,
and people will not reap the fruit of partnership and reform that are necessary
for all countries in accordance with each one's interest.”
"The G-8 In U.S. Eyes"
Ahmad Hamadeh commented in government-owned Al-Thawra
(6/9): "The G-8 has submerged
itself in talk about reforms in Arab countries.... Observers imagine that the industrial summit
was convened just for the sake of development in the Arab world and that it is
a Western summit for the sake of Arabs.
Although the conference statement said that reforms in the Arab region
should come from within and not be imposed from outside, this statement does
not cover the truth of the diktat which Washington seeks to impose on the
summit and later on Arabs to finalize fulfillment of its Greater Middle East
Initiative. Despite the apparent
disagreement among G-8 capitals over the occupation of Iraq...and the
Arab-Israeli conflict, it is noteworthy that the language of the U.S. project
has dominated G-8 discourse.... It is
U.S. influence and unilateralism.
Therefore, the G-8 has sent a new message to Arabs that has an international
facade but is pure U.S. content to interfere in Arab domestic affairs and
single out each Arab country individually under the claim of uniqueness and the
pretext of fighting terrorism."
"In Anticipation Of Superman's
Khaled al-Ashhab wrote in government-owned Al-Thawra
(6/9): "Bush said that Iraqis have
to wait until they have been liberated for Americans to withdraw from their
land. But how can Iraq be free under
U.S. occupation? Arabs must wait for the
reform projects that the White House will propose at the G-8 summit; projects
which include torpedoing ideas for the Arab region. Arabs must freely chose a selection from
these projects, a selection that should be approved by the U.S., although all
are of U.S. origin and serve U.S. goals.
Europe must also wait until it gets the green light from the U.S. before
proceeding with any partnership or cooperation with anybody, especially with
Arabs. The world community must also
wait until after the U.S. elections to know just how its destiny will be shaped
at the hands of America."
"One More Summit Ripe For Hijacking"
The expatriate-oriented, English-language Gulf
News argued (Internet version, 6/8):
"The Group of Eight, G-8, members meet today....to discuss the
world economy, political stability and global security. That the meeting will be hijacked by the U.S.
once again to discuss issues more pertinent to America, will surprise no
one. The original purpose of the
grouping was, as leading industrialized nations, to find ways of including
those regions and countries that are less well off. Or, as in common parlance, the Third
World. However, more and more at each
year, agendas are taken over and dominated by the U.S. with its latest
concerns. This year, the U.S. has invited
several Arab and Muslim nations and observers, to enable President George W.
Bush to submit his plan for reform in the Middle East. More precisely, as it is referred to by
Arabs, the 'Greater Middle East' domination plan--the domination being of the
Middle East countries by the U.S.and Israel.
It is for this reason that many Arab leaders declined to attend the
summit. However, Iraq, Algeria, Bahrain,
Jordan and Yemen have indicated they will attend, as have the leaders of Turkey
and Afghanistan. But their attendance
does not indicate approval or acceptance of the plan, likely it is to ensure
their voice is heard as dissenters. It
is recognized by the majority in the Middle East that there will eventually be
reforms in all areas of society. But
these reforms must come from within each nation, in accordance with the wishes
of the citizens and taking cognizance of the need to introduce such reforms at
a pace and time that is acceptable to the majority of that society. Certainly, despite the wishes of the American
president and any attempts he is making in Iraq, reforms must come from the
ground up, and not be imposed by foreigners. "
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
"Bush To Use G-8 Meeting To Sound Out Iraq Support"
Washington correspondent Tony Walker observed in the
business-oriented Australian Financial Review (6/8): “U.S. hopes of using the G-8 summit as a
springboard for the launch of its so-called Greater Middle East Initiative to
encourage the spread of democracy in the Arab world appear
over-optimistic. The initiative will form
a centerpiece of discussions about dealing with Middle East unrest, but
countries of the region have been at best lukewarm, and at worst
hostile.... Arab states fear the
U.S.-led initiative is an attempt to impose democracy from outside. They also objected to initial drafts on the
grounds that too little attention was paid to the Palestinian issue. “
CHINA: "Group Of Eight
Summit, A Monologue By The U.S."
Kong Fanbing commented in the official Communist
Party international news publication Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao)
(6/9): “During the summit, just like in
the lead-up to the war in Iraq, Bush just wants other countries’ support for
Iraq reconstruction and the Greater Middle East plan [but] he doesn’t want to
listen to their comments.... France,
Germany and Russia won’t fully support the U.S.
Therefore the Group of Eight summit won’t solve Bush’s
difficulties.... Bush himself doesn’t
expect to solve anything at the summit either.
As long as he gathers all the countries’ leaders together and appears to
have a good time, at least he can gain support for himself and further his
presidential election campaign.”
CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU SARS):
"U.S. And Europe Hold Different Opinions In The G-8"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked
(6/13): "The three-day G-8 summit
meeting was concluded on June 18. In the
press conference held by U.S. President Bush, he said that he was happy about
the alliance support for the reconstruction in Iraq, but he did not want to see
NATO countries deploying any more forces to Iraq. Bush believed that the biggest achievement of
the meeting was the passing of the Greater Middle East Initiative to implement
political, social, cultural and economic reforms in the Middle East.... Apart from the Greater Middle East
Initiative, the Bush administration did not win much support on other
diplomatic policies. There remain
obvious difference in the political reasoning of France and the U.S. The Bush administration failed to show
cohesion, or demonstrate its leading role in the meeting. The wounds on the U.S. and its allies caused
by the Iraqi war have yet to be healed."
"The World And China Are Ready For Group Of Nine"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post
editorialized (6/9): "At a time
when the annual Group of Eight summit is coming under fire for being outmoded
and ill-equipped to deal with the world's most pressing problems, there is one
relatively easy way to reinvigorate the talks and make them relevant
again: give China a seat at the
table. The mainland is the world's
sixth-largest economy and the already high degree of interdependence--as
measured by investment from the outside world and exports to foreign
markets--will only grow in coming years.
Adjusted in terms of purchasing power parity, China accounted for a
third of global growth in the past three years, while its appetite for raw
materials has reached the point of being able to swing prices by entering or
exiting the market. Far better to have
such an economically important country firmly entrenched inside the rules-based
international trade system than outside it....
The mainland's importance to international commerce is such that its
trade posture and monetary policies are of crucial concern. It is time to talk about turning the Group of
Eight into the Group of Nine."
"Not Allowing China To Join The G-8"
The independent Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Journal
observed (6/9): "G-8 summit
meetings are now being held.... Last
year, Chinese leader Wu Jintao was invited to be the observer. However, he was not invited this year. Whether China will try to become a member of
the G-8 is now being debated in the mainland.... As the host of this year's G-8 meetings, the
U.S. has invited more than ten Middle East and African countries to be
observers. China does not have much
influential power over the participating countries' politics. Thus, it is not strange that China was not
invited. However, China is one of the
five permanent members of the Security Council, thus it should be included in
the discussion of Middle East issues.
Since China is critical about the new U.S. resolution on Iraq, the U.S.
has excluded China from the Iraqi issue.
Apart from the G-8 meetings, China and the U.S. also have disputes over
the Taiwan situation. Whether China can join
G-8 is just a trivial matter, the Taiwan issue is indeed the bigger
Island Economic Challenges For G-8 Nations"
Liberal Mainichi editorialized (6/15): "Although G-8 leaders at their meeting
last week spent only limited time on global economic issues, it is significant
that the leading nations pledged increased efforts to reach a framework
agreement on the stalled WTO trade liberalization talks by the end of
July. The statement by the G-8 leaders
on trade liberalization demonstrates their firm resolve to respect free trade
and binds them to work harder on carrying out their pledge. G-8 members also addressed the important
issue of assistance for developing countries.
The leaders proposed action plans for nations in need of help, including
support for small and mid-sized enterprises.
Industrialized nations need to cut their agricultural subsidies and
eliminate market-access barriers to help developing nations get on a growth
"G-8 Nations Need To Implement Reform Plans For Middle
Conservative Sankei said (6/12): "G-8 nations have overcome their
differences over Iraq and successfully restored international unity. However, the real challenge is the G-8
implementation of reform plans in the Middle East. Despite criticism that the U.S. is imposing
democracy on the Middle East, reform plans endorsed by G-8 leaders are likely
to bring about long-term benefits for the region."
"We Should Not Neglect Opportunity For
The conservative Sankei editorialized (6/8): "G-8 nations should use the Sea Island
Summit as an opportunity to restore international cooperation. G-8 member nations are expected to confirm
their commitment to various international challenges, including the
democratization of the Middle East, the eradication of terrorism and the
proliferation of WMD. We should not have
excessive expectations that G-8 leaders will be able to instantly resolve such
problems. However, their initiative and
long-term commitment have already produced positive results. Cooperation among G-8 nations is
indispensable to world peace because discord among world leaders benefits only
terrorists and remnants of Saddam's followers."
"Bringing Stability To The Middle East"
Liberal Tokyo Shimbun opined (6/7): "Stabilization of the Middle East will
be a focal discussion point in the upcoming G-8 Sea Island Summit.... The U.S. must not unilaterally impose
democratic values on Middle East and African nations. The situation in Iraq following the fall of
Saddam Hussein has demonstrated that the mere removal of an autocratic regime
can backfire. It is preferable that
advanced countries use economic aid and other forms of support to encourage
undemocratic nations to voluntarily reform their political systems.... U.S. moves to spearhead a campaign of reform
are unlikely to be welcomed by the supposed beneficiaries of such reform. The U.S. must first gather support for its
democratization scheme from its G-8 allies and the international
"Greater Middle East Initiative Must Not Be Imposed"
Business-oriented Nikkei insisted (6/7): "Behind the U.S.-proposed Greater Middle
East Initiative lies U.S. national interest in encouraging economic structural
reform and political democratization in individual Middle East countries in
order to enhance regional stability....
But the U.S. must not forget that anti-American sentiment remains strong
in Arab nations due to U.S. policy on Iraq.
The U.S. initiative still contains elements deemed as 'infringing on
domestic affairs' of Middle East nations.
G-8 members must make extra effort not to leave the impression that the
U.S. is trying to impose democratic values on the region. A quick settlement of the situation in Iraq
and the restoration of Arab trust in America is a priority for the U.S. and its
Differ On NATO Role With Changes Of Time"
Leading independent Kompas judged (6/12): “The wish of the
U.S. to involve NATO in maintaining security in Iraq has been rejected, mainly
by France.... Such different viewpoints
have spoiled the harmony that is reflected in the annual summit of the G-8 in
Savannah, USA. The summit that lasted
from June 8-10 was initially expected to eradicate completely the remaining
discrepancies between the U.S. and its allies in Europe on the Iraqi
issues.... Behind France’s rejection and
Germany’s reluctance over NATO involvement in Iraq, we see the changing
configuration of their relations.… France’s position demonstrates that U.S.
authority as the only superpower and NATO’s cohesiveness have somehow shifted
with the flow of changes.”
"Indifference Of Rich Countries"
Nationalistic Harian Merdeka stated
(6/11): “As of yesterday, leaders of
[the] eight richest countries...have been holding an annual summit at the Sea
Island, USA. It is almost certain that
these leaders are not going to discuss poverty in developing countries. They have even urged developing countries to
open their markets and integrate their legal systems into the international
legal system so that investments might enter [those countries]
smoothly.... In this regard, developing
countries have no other option than to unite to resist policies of the rich
countries that are reflected, among others, in the WTO. For example, rich countries force farmers in
developing countries to open their markets to their agricultural products but
at the same time they close their own markets and subsidize their farmers
substantially. As a developing country,
Indonesia has to improve its capability, specially in formulating its [own]
agricultural, labor and financial policies.”
Exclusion Bodes Ill For Global Peace"
Government-influenced English language New Straits Times
commented (6/11): "The world has
changed; it has become more interdependent and integrated, with new players on
the scene, but these organizations continue as though time has stood
still. The G-8, even though it is not an
'institution', is nevertheless part of an important global policy-making
process. Its decisions affect the
markets and indeed, the economies of developing countries and the livelihood of
the poor. Bush, playing host to the G-8
leaders, is determined to push his Middle East initiative. It is ironic that with the Middle East, and
issues related to the region, Iraq and terrorism so high on the agenda,
Washington chose not to invite the main organization representing the Islamic
world--the OIC and its chairman.
Undoubtedly, it is the prerogative of the host to invite whomever it
chooses. But when the major issue today
is the fight against terrorism, and with the U.S. branding the terrorists as
'Islamic' and looking at the Muslim world with suspicion, it makes sense to
engage and not isolate them.
Co-operation and discussion is what is called for, not exclusion and
SINGAPORE: "China For
Pro-government Straits Times editorialized (6/14): "The G-8 grouping that ended its summit
last Thursday in the United States came up with little more than boilerplate
pablum about global peace and security.
It was really a host-driven meeting about the deteriorating situation in
Iraq, where the U.S. finds itself in a calamitous position.... Only lip service was paid to alleviating the
economic and social plight of poor countries, including those in Africa. And during their meeting, greeting and eating
in sun-splashed Sea Island, none of the leaders said anything of consequence
about a guest who should have been invited to the feast, China. In fact, if economic size matters in modern
geopolitics--and unquestionably it does--then China belongs to the G-8 grouping
ahead of members like Canada and Russia, both of which have substantially
smaller economies. So does India, whose
purchasing-power gross domestic product of U.S.$3.5 trillion makes it the
world's fourth biggest economy, behind the U.S., China and the European
Union. But neither country was asked to
attend--and no wonder.... Perhaps when
the ministers meet in October, they will find the wisdom to ask China to join
their proceedings. That would be wise
also because China and the U.S. are the two main engines of global growth
today, with China barreling ahead at an astonishing 10 per cent annually, its
exports doubling every five years, and its manufacturing and construction
sectors consuming 30 per cent of the world's steel. Such growth has spawned concern that the
Chinese economy could come in for a hard landing--plainly put, that would mean
a crash. China therefore needs to be
better integrated into the global system in order to enhance its
responsibilities to the international community after its induction into the
World Trade Organization in 2001.
Participating in G-7 finance meetings would be a good first step. Being invited to next year's G-8 meeting in
Britain would be even better."
SOUTH AFRICA: "To
Trust The Group Of Eight"
The liberal This Day remarked (6/14): “The meeting has ended, the presidential
planes have departed, and what do we have on the table? Nothing about Blair’s alleged ‘generous’
offer, apart from more ministers have been given the go-ahead to proceed with
the costing of the plan.... We find
ourselves in familiar G-8 terrain: vague
promises, no commitments and the U.S. agenda yet again dominating G-8
talks. However, if one is to believe the
Blair government’s spin, we might see some movement on the cancellation of
multilateral debt but probably only after next year’s G-8 meeting where Britain
will be the host.... Most significantly
the G-8 has decided to end the deadlock in international trade
negotiations.... G-8 communiqués are
non-binding, we know. But the end of
July is around the corner. It would
herald a breakthrough on the way to a fair international trade regime. Let’s hope the North wants to change its
ways. Not that we’re holding our
"Mbeki Keeps Africa High In The G-8 Agenda"
The liberal Sunday Independent commented (6/13): “The G-8 is not a development bank that
dishes out money. It is an informal
meeting of the leaders of the world’s strongest states to rank their
priorities. Their decisions filter down
from the summit into bodies such as their own governments, the EU, the WTO and
the International Monetary Fund. That
Mbeki and his colleagues are keeping Africa’s concerns in the forefront of
those eight important and powerful minds is an incalculable advantage for the
"Georgia On My Mind"
Nic Dawes, business editor, wrote in liberal This Day
(6/9): “The G-8’s record in delivering
meaningful commitments to the developing world at its yearly bean fest is
woeful, and there is little about either the Sea Island environment or the
present geopolitical climate that will be conducive to changing that
record.... This year [SA President]
Mbeki travels to the U.S. along with some 20 other heads of government to have
yet another go, but there is nothing to suggest he has reason to hope for
progress. After all, U.S. President
George Bush is the host and has brought the world’s seven richest countries,
plus Russia, along with a host of petitioners and observers to this sliver of
land off the Georgia coast to get their undivided attention.... At the present rate of progress sub-Saharan
Africa is six generations away from achieving some of the Millennium
development Goals signed off by the United Nations.... Next year’s meeting is in Britain and it
looks slightly more promising, with Tony Blair and...Gordon Brown staking a
fair bit of political capital on the Commission for Africa. It is a long shot, but the venue will be
romantic and there is a chance that John Kerry will be aiming to impress his
Mozambican-born wife Theresa. Hold
thumbs, but don’t hold your breath.”
UGANDA: "Africa’s Raw
Deal From The G-8!"
President Museveni’s Public Relations and Media Advisor, John
Nagenda, wrote in the state-owned New Vision (6/12): "If you expect nothing, you can’t expire
of disappointment. No doubt the six
African presidents who went to the U.S. to confer with the G-8 leaders last
week went well fortified with the maxim above.
Of course they were disappointed, for what they 'won' from the G-8 was
paltry indeed. The Heavily Indebted Poor
Countries (HIPC) initiative was extended for another two years until the end of
2006. This was originally conceived to
relieve $100bn of debt for countries with sound government. Only less than a third of this ($31bn) has in
fact been expended. Is the two-year
extension to guarantee that the remaining $69bn is paid out? Hold your breath and burst! The G-8 and the Africans were talking at
cross-purposes; each shouting across a great void which words could not penetrate. If we were smart or sophisticated enough to
export AIDs and Ebola to reinforce that argument, you would be pleasantly
surprised at how urgently a meeting of the minds could come about. Instead of which the G-8 were cock-hoop in
Georgia at how they would export 'democracy' to Iraq, solidly underwritten with
billions upon billions of green folding stuff (a.k.a. the mighty dollar). Where are Britain’s Blair promises to Africa
CANADA: "Beginning To
Bridge The G-8 Gap Over Iraq"
The left-of-center Vancouver Sun wrote (6/14): "When the United States prepared to
invade Iraq with only a small number of allies 14 months ago, there was much
fretting that the age of unilateralism was upon us and multilateralism was
dead. This week, however, there was a
sea change at Sea Island, Ga.... All was
not suddenly sweetness and light, but on both sides of the divide over Iraq
there was a recognition that past differences should be buried and the focus
turned on current realities. Bush not
only set the mood by playing the magnanimous and relaxed host to the
leaders...he also tacitly acknowledged that there are some limits to the
effectiveness of the Americans going it alone.
He needs their help--and let them know it--not only to get Iraq's
reconstruction and transition on a firm footing, but also to move on and
address other pressing global issues....
A significant stimulus to the general mood of concorde at Sea Island was
that Washington has begun to show signs of seriously re-engaging with
international institutions. This was
epitomized by the passage the day before at the United Nations of a resolution
giving the international stamp of approval to plans for the transition of
government to Iraqis.... This renewed
spirit of accommodation, if not yet of pure harmony, within the G-8 has been
partly driven by domestic political considerations. President Bush needed to have a credible and
feasible exit strategy in place before his November re-election bid. He also needed to calm growing disquiet in
the U.S. about his ability to handle foreign policy. Sea Island was a positive reaffirmation of
the pursuit of common objectives. That
is welcome and necessary, because the post-Iraq tasks the allies have set for
themselves are daunting."
"Politics At The G-8"
The centrist Winnipeg Free Press editorialized (6/14): "The meeting of the Group of Eight
industrial giants that ended last week demonstrated once again that
international organizations can take on a life of their own different from what
they actually were created to do....
Once the member nations [focused] on how better to globalize the world's
economy, how best to bring the benefits of that process to the nations that
need it most. The theory was that it was
better to bring the Third World into the mainstream of the international economy
than leave it as a ticking time bomb.
This process is not complete, but it is at least under way. The G-8 ignores its continuing progress at
its peril. But increasingly, the summits
have focused less on economic issues of urgency and more on political issues of
the day.... This year, as the G-8
gathered in Georgia, the main course was almost entirely politicized, with
economics put on a sideboard. Mr. Bush
hoped to use it to gain support for a Middle Eastern initiative that would
bring pressure to bear on Arab states to move towards democracy, on his allies
to support the current American involvement in and future plan for extraction
from Iraq. A UN Security Council
resolution on Iraq gave Mr. Bush a big boost, following as it did the
appointment of an interim Iraqi government....
It was a politically successful summit for Mr. Bush.... Unfortunately, giving a political boost to
the host is not what G-8 summits are supposed to be about."
"Let G-8 Focus On Aid"
The liberal Toronto Star editorialized (Internet version,
6/8): "Call it the hodgepodge
summit. When U.S. President George Bush
plays host today to Paul Martin and the other Group of Eight leaders, they'll assemble
at Sea Island, Georgia with a clutch of different agendas. Bush will be looking for whatever support he
can get for his dubious Mideast policies, and for financial help in Iraq. He needs to reassure cranky voters that his
administration is capable of rallying allies.
Martin intends to play up Canada's contributions in Iraq and
Afghanistan, push African development, and push for fairer treatment of our
beef and lumber exports. European
leaders want to talk about oil prices, terror, AIDS, African debt relief,
nuclear weapons and global warming. Bush
and Martin can expect just enough solidarity to nudge their struggling election
campaigns forward. But few expect the
summit to produce anything substantial.
The G-8 agenda has become an overly diffuse political and social grab
bag. Still, the G-8 wield influence,
because they generate $21 trillion (U.S.) in wealth. They can make a difference, if they choose,
in a world where 3 billion live on less than $2 a day. Bush will lobby the G-8 to join the U.S. in
forgiving $130 billion in Iraqi debt.
That's nearly three times the $50 billion the affluent countries spend
on all aid to all countries combined. It
will help 23 million Iraqis, and the U.S. treasury. But the Christian relief group World Vision
points out the G-8 could help far more people--250 million--by canceling $84
billion in debt owed by the 16 poorest war-torn countries, including
Afghanistan, Congo, Rwanda, Nepal and Sudan.
It's a matter of priorities. The
G-8 could have a truly historic impact, by doing more for the very
poorest. To his credit, Martin has been
pushing for healthier priorities for debt relief and aid. That's worth talking up at Sea Island. The buck shouldn't stop in Iraq."
"Help Arab Reformers"
The centrist Winnipeg Free Press commented (6/3): "U.S. President George W. Bush has
provoked a few nibbles from Middle Eastern governments who are willing to
discuss the political and legal reforms that Mr. Bush is advocating in his
Greater Middle East Initiative. The
heavyweights of the region are still standing to one side, but the initiative
has enough credibility that Prime Minister Paul Martin should take an
interest. Egypt, the most populous
country of the region, and Saudi Arabia, the wealthiest, remain cool to the
reform idea. But the governments of
Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan, Turkey and Yemen will attend the G-8
summit at Sea Island, Ga., next week to discuss reform and modernization with
the leaders of Japan, Canada, the U.S. and the leading industrial countries of
Europe. This is a small beginning but it
shows that the idea of political reform in the Arab world is worth
pursuing.... Some Arab commentators have
in substance told Mr. Bush to mind his own business, but the willingness of six
governments from the region to attend the G-8 summit and talk about reform
shows that the idea is moving slowly forward.... There is no good reason why the 280 million
people of the 22 Arab countries should forever be less wealthy, less free, less
healthy, less educated than the rest of mankind. They remain so because their governments keep
them uneducated, because their women live narrowly constrained lives, because
ideas and information are not allowed to circulate freely, because the Arab
governments perpetuate themselves in power and treat their people with
contempt. Canada should be happy to
support and encourage those in the Arab world who seek to expand and strengthen
public schools, widen the horizons of women and make the news media more
professional, more reliable and more helpful to the cause of reform and
Center-right O Globo observed (6/13): “Today it’s impossible to understand any
attitude of President Bush without taking into consideration that with his
popularity shaken by the Iraq war, he is thoroughly pledged to convince the
U.S. voters to granting him the second mandate.
Both at the D-Day celebrations...[and] the G-8 meeting, soon after,
Bush’s concern seems to have been to show to the Americans that he has not
neglected U.S.’s traditional European allies--as alleged by his democrat rival,
John Kerry--and that the Atlantic Alliance has never been as solid and
consistent as now. After his significant
victory at the UN Security Council, early last week--when France and Germany
approved the proposed by him and UK's Tony Blair on the future of Iraq--Bush
tried to obtain another great diplomatic-electoral trump with the help of his
G-8 partners. But both French President
Chirac, and German Chancellor Schroeder, have rejected his proposal to send
NATO troops to Iraq and share occupation costs.... No deal, then. It was confirmed at the meeting that four G-8
countries--France, Germany, Canada and Russia--have not and will not send a
single soldier to Iraq. The
responsibility for the country’s security after the June 30 transition will lie
exclusively on Americans and British....
With one great, formal difference:
thanks to the accord approved by the Security Council...the
Anglo/American troops will lose their character of occupiers and remain in Iraq
with the UN support and under its authority.
Amidst the theatrical show of electoral maneuvers that is undeniably a
victory of Bush the president and the candidate.”
BOLIVIA: "Cracks In
La Paz's left-leaning La Prensa editorialized (6/14): “[The G-8 summit] left a bitter-sweet aftertaste. In this sense, the agreement on Iraq to a
certain extent legitimizes the illegal invasion of that country, but it sets
restrictions on an absolute power and puts obstacles in the way of a desired
NATO intervention by a U.S. led coalition....
There also emerged stronger agreement on the need for these countries to
be more involved in helping the development of poor countries.... In sum the meeting of these eight nations
shows once again that conditions were not created to reestablish equitable
international relations; at the same time, it was clear that the lack of
symmetry--implicit in unipolarity and the concentration of wealth--causes
insecurity and uncertainty that remain constant. And that is what the world has the obligation
Influential daily El Periodico opined (6/10): “The United States seems determined to
reconcile with its former allies, who abandoned it following the campaign to
free Iraq of Saddam Hussein.... In a
euphoric state after what happened in New York, the president of the United
States dared ask NATO for its support.
Chirac, who made it clear that friends may disagree, reminded him that
it should be the Iraqis who should request this... The divisions between countries are
deep. And they go far beyond Iraq. Bush’s ability to talk to his allies on
subjects that go beyond the Middle East remains to be seen.... The great question now that the U.S. and
Europe seem to be reconciling, is where does that leave Latin America?”