Singers Off-Key on Debt-Relief

The British journalist George Monbiot warns the dangers of the upcoming G8 summit in Scotland are not that the public protests will be dangerous, "but that they will be far too polite. Let me be more precise. The danger is that we will follow the agenda set by Bono and Bob Geldof." While Monbiot acknowledges the pair are "genuinely committed to the cause of poverty reduction" and have raised money and awareness in support of it, Monbiot points to the singers' response to the G7 finance ministers' debt-relief package for the world's poorest countries. "Anyone with a grasp of development politics who had read and understood the ministers' statement could see that the conditions it contains - enforced liberalisation and privatisation - are as onerous as the debts it relieves. But Bob Geldof praised it as 'a victory for the millions of people in the campaigns around the world' and Bono pronounced it 'a little piece of history'. Like many of those who have been trying to highlight the harm done by such conditions - especially the African campaigners I know - I feel betrayed by these statements. Bono and Geldof have made our job more difficult," Monbiot writes.