Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Other Face of the G8

According to the official website of the G8 presidency of the Russian Federation “The G8 Group is an unofficial forum of the heads of the leading industrialized democracies (Russia, the U.S., Britain, France, Japan, Germany, Canada and Italy), where the European Commission is also represented and fully participates. This forum was designed to harmonize attitudes to acute international problems. The member states account for 49% of global exports, 51% of industrial output, and 49% of assets in the International Monetary Fund.”

The G8 hypocrisy starts right with that definition.

Let us add some more statistics to the ones given above:

Four members of G8 (USA, the UK, France and Russia) account for almost all the 2000 nuclear tests performed worldwide until June 2006. They account for 98% of the 128,000 nuclear warheads built worldwide since 1945. Today they hold 99% of the 27,000 intact nuclear warheads, half of which is operational. Note that the US has not yet ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

G8 accounts for 65% of world military expenditures of $1,118 billion in 2005. The US alone is responsible for 48% of it.

Four members of G8 (USA, Russia, France, the UK) accounted for almost 85% of all conventional arms delivered worldwide ($35 billion) in 2004. Over 60% of all those deliveries were to developing countries. See my previous article on Nuclear Weapons.

According to the OECD, aid flows to developing countries was $106 billion in 2005. The amount paid by the G7 was only 0.29% of its combined Gross National Income, even though it was set at the UN General Assembly in 1970 that rich countries should reach a minimum net amount of 0.7 per cent.

Note that the UN resolution described aid as financial and technical aid, not military aid. But an important part of US aid is in form of military financing. Israel and Egypt are the two biggest recipients. For example, the US Foreign Military Financing in 2005 totaled $4.7 billion, of which to Israel was $2.2 billion. With an average per capita GDP of over $20 000, Israel still receives almost $3 billion (or 10% of total $26.6 billion) total aid from the US each year.

On the other hand, 1.2 billion Inhabitants of this planet get by on $1 a day or less and struggle to meet daily critical requirements such as adequate nutrition, uncontaminated drinking water, safe shelter, and sanitation. They have no access to basic health care, education and modern energy. And nearly half of the world’s population lives on less than $2 per day.

According to the World Bank, rich countries pay $280 billion in subsidies to their farmers each year. Of the total the EU accounts for $133 billion, while Japan and the US spend $49 billion and $47 billion respectively. This means, the US and the EU spend up to $3 in support to their own farmers for every $1 they spend on foreign aid.

World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern estimates that a European cow receives $2.50 a day in subsidies, which made Joseph Stiglitz to say “It is better to be a cow in Europe than to be a person in the Third World.”

As a result, rich countries are not saving the poor, they are burying them.

And yet, G8 says that they dealt with acute international problems. It seems that the meaning of the word “acute” is relative.


Jonathan Medalia, Nuclear Weapons: Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Congressional Research Service Issue Brief for Congress, IB92099, 21 June 2006.

Richard F. Grimmett, “Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 1997-2004”, CRS Report for Congress, # RL33051, August 29, 2005.

Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen, “Global nuclear stockpiles, 1945-2006”, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, vol. 62, no. 4, July/August 2006, pp. 64-66.

Richard F. Grimmett, “U.S. Arms Sales: Agreements with and Deliveries to Major Clients, 1997-2004”, CRS Report for Congress, # RL33217, Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division, Congressional Research Service, December 29, 2005.

Development Co-operation Directorate (DAC), OECD, Paris.

The US Overseas Loans and Grants database of USAID, available on Internet.

see you where parallels intersect.


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