Leading Srticle: Mr Bush Has Betrayed Hopes of a Kinder and Gentler Globalisation

The Independent (London, England), February 2, 2002 | Go to article overview
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Leading Srticle: Mr Bush Has Betrayed Hopes of a Kinder and Gentler Globalisation


REMEMBER WHEN the world was never going to be the same again? When people across the United States struggled to understand what had happened to make their nation the target of such a shocking assault? When sales of the Koran leapt as Westerners tried to learn more about Islam? When George Bush surprised the world with his restrained and considered response to the murder of thousands of his fellow citizens?

It seemed then that President Bush might usher in the dawn of - in his father's words - a kinder, gentler America. This might be a United States more willing to listen to the causes of resentment against it around the world. Beyond the shores of the US, Tony Blair issued his rallying call for the rich, "civilised" countries to turn the tragedy of 11 September into an opportunity to right many of the wrongs of an unequal, unfair world.

It was even predicted that anti-capitalist demonstrators would not lay siege to gatherings of global bigwigs again. Not just because it seemed tasteless to express raucous or violent anti- capitalist (for which read anti-American) sentiments when thousands of Americans had just died in the most shocking act of anti- Americanism ever, but because the message seemed to have got through to the world's leaders that they had to do something about the arrogant assumption that American-style capitalism was the answer to all the problems of the developing world.

It was not to be. Despite the World Economic Forum moving its annual talking shop of business and political leaders from the Swiss skiing resort of Davos to New York as a gesture of solidarity with the city, the protesters are out in force, although they promised to eschew violence.

Of course, "globalisation" means many things, now including Teletubbies on Chinese state television. And many of those protesting on the streets of New York against the foreign and economic policies of the US and its allies take a simplistic view of "globalisation", as if this were a single, evil phenomenon directed from a White House in the pay of multinational corporations.

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