Reflections by Comrade Fidel
Today the G-20 Summit began. The experts in economic matters have made an enormous effort. Some, with experience in important international positions; others, as learned researchers. The subject is a complex one, the language is new and demands that we be familiar with the terms, the economic facts, the international agencies and the political leaders who have the greatest weight on the international scene. Therefore, our desire to simplify and to explain intelligibly what is happening in London, just as I see it.
Nobody was surprised that Obama was the star of the London summit. He represents the most powerful and wealthiest country in the world. He is favored by special circumstances. Bush, lying, cynical, war-mongering and nasty, is not there. Neither is McCain, mediocre and ignorant, thanks precisely to Obama’s amazing victory, a black man in the country of racial discrimination, where a majority of white voters cast their ballots for McCain, but not in enough numbers to compensate for the votes of more than 90% of black and mixed race Americans, citizens of Latino origin, the poor and those affected by the crisis. He has just been elected when other G-20 leaders are at the point of concluding their mandates and Obama will be the probable president of the United States for the next eight years. It isn’t strange that news from London revolve around him.
What the world deems important is what comes out of it there, that is, if anything comes out at all. Each one of the participants has their own national and even personal objectives, as political leaders who shall be judged by history.
Obama’s objective is, in the first place, to change the image of his country, the principal responsible party for the tragedy from which the world is suffering and the party being rightly blamed for the current devastating economic crisis, in which he has absolutely no political responsibility. As Joseph Stiglitz, the former economic head of the International Monetary Fund and now MIT professor, points out: “He ought to come to say that he is guilty of nothing and that he is trying to solve it as quickly as he can.”
His main European ally, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, is the Summit host, wildly hoping to alter the current anti-Labor Party tendency unleashed by the nonsense of his predecessor Tony Blair. Buckingham Palace honored Obama and his wife Michelle with a reception. The president gave the elderly Queen a modern digital recorder, product of sophisticated American technology, an Ipod with songs and images of the Queen’s state visit to the U.S. in 2007 and a book with musical scores signed by Richard Rogers. No words were to be exchanged with Her Highness about the mundane G-20 meeting.
Brown, on the other hand, is pulling out all stops with the crisis. He hopes to change the regulation of the banking system, promote economic growth, increase cooperation and put an end to protectionism. He recognizes that the negotiations will be difficult.
His motto: “It is better to look ahead than to look back”. Clearly if the voters were to look back, he would win very few votes.
The desire of both allies in the heart of the G-20 is to minimize the differences between France and Germany.
Sarkozy doesn’t hide his displeasure with United States policy. He is explosive. He recently threatened to walk out of the summit. Yesterday, on Europe 1 Radio, he declared that for now there is no satisfactory agreement about the Summit, but he did soften his threats to leave the table if there is no move towards greater regulation: “I will not be associated with a Summit that doesn’t end with greater regulations.” He assures that the negotiators have not reached any agreement.
The draft of the Summit’s communiqué, already making the rounds among journalists, speaks of measures to reestablish global growth, keep markets open and encourage global trade. “We must get results, there is no choice,” Sarkozy insisted yesterday.
A few days ago Obama announced that the United States proposes to introduce changes in its system of regulation and supervision, in the hope that this declaration would fulfill a part of the European demands, snatching away one of those flags.
Sarkozy rejoined that his endeavor to put an end to tax havens is serious.
Very close to Sarkozy’s positions, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, demands that the agreement not include either the requirement of a tax stimulus plan for the advanced countries, or that debate be opened up about the announcement of a new international currency which is the emerging countries’ demand to the G-7.
“The world is at a crossroads,” Merkel said. “We must do everything possible so that the crisis is not repeated.”