Buying time with other people’s money
The leaders of the G7, an informal bloc of industrialized democracies consisting of the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom, met last week in Ise-Shima, Japan.
In their joint declaration, the seven heads of government, among other things, confirmed their commitment to Iraq’s unity and territorial integrity, pledging $3.6 billion to this task.
For those who have been paying attention, it is already clear that the decision to create Iraq – taken by Britain and France after the Ottoman Empire collapsed – was a disaster. An artificial nation state was imposed on diverse ethnic and religious groups.
It is equally obvious that democracy cannot function in a multiethnic state – no matter how much the U.S. tried after the fall of Saddam Hussein – if the strongest ethnic group dominates the central government.
The solution should have been either a far-reaching federalization or the dissolution of the country into new nation states. The G7’s decision shows that it is still committed to a failed structure and determined to prolong Iraq’s agony with money.
Also meeting last week were the European Union finance ministers in Brussels. This time the recipient was Greece, which got 10.3 billion euros in bailout money.
The G7 is still committed to a failed structure and determined to prolong Iraq’s agony with money
Whether these fresh loans will cure the Greek malaise is doubtful. They certainly postpone the inevitable debt restructuring while adding to the total that must eventually be written off. But for now, at least, it puts off the final reckoning for lenders.
The billions the EU will pay Turkey to take back refugees is also not a solution to the problem. Europe needs a clear strategy on how to deal with the migrant crisis, including whom to accept and how to integrate them into the economy.
The money sent to Ankara may not even buy time. In terms of cynicism, the contrast between this payoff and Germany’s “welcome culture” may be even worse than Donald Trump’s Mexican wall.
The leaders of the rich and jaded industrialized countries, lacking bold strategies and statesmanlike vision, are clinging to an unsustainable status quo. Instead of coming up with solutions, they have decided to throw money at problems.
It won’t make them feel better for long.