It was a stunning contrast of good and evil. As the leaders of the eight richest nations in the world gathered last week in Scotland to find a solution to the widespread human suffering in Africa brought on by poverty and disease, cowardly terrorists planted bombs in the heart of London to shed the blood of innocents.
The irony of that dastardly act -- more than 50 were killed and at least 700 injured -- can be found in the agreements reached by the leaders of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Canada and Russia, including a commitment of $3 billion to help Palestinians achieve peace with Israel and $50 billion to help lift Africa out of poverty.
Britain's prime minister, Tony Blair, who left the summit Thursday after the morning subway and bus attack in London but who returned to Scotland later that evening to continue presiding over the session, was succinct in his appraisal of what had been accomplished:
"We offer today this contrast with the politics of terror." Blair spoke to reporters Friday at the conclusion of the three-day summit.
The fact that President Bush and the seven other leaders refused to be cowered by the terrorist attacks and not only continued their meetings but were able to reach agreement on substantive issues sent a clear message to the terrorists who act behind a veil of anonymity. Indeed, the death and destruction served to harden the resolve of the industrialized nations to lend a helping hand to the masses in the Third World who are used as pawns by the likes of Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of global terrorism. A wing of bin Laden's Al-Qaida terrorist organization has claimed responsibility for the London bombings.
Cycle of death
By making Africa and climate change the centerpieces of the G8 summit, Blair let it be known from the very beginning that he is firmly committed to ending the cycle of death in Africa and to the reduction of poisonous greenhouse gases that are the cause of so much suffering, especially among children, in the underdeveloped world.
Blair's success in getting his colleagues to adopt a plan of action for Africa and to at least put the climate change issue on the agenda for future meetings shows a steely determination that was also evident in his handling of the London bombings.
While critics of the G8 might quibble with the use of the word success in describing the summit, it was such in light of the terrorist attacks. The leaders could well have returned home early, but they persisted.
Such persistence deserves to be acknowledged, especially by African leaders and the Palestinian Authority, which must condemn that blood of the innocents' being spilled by Islamic extremists.
In Africa, dictatorial rule in numerous countries has brought nothing but pain and suffering to the people. The $50 billion to help feed the hungry, fight diseases such as HIV-AIDS and malaria, and assist in providing sustainable economic growth should prompt the African Union to make the spread of democracy a top priority. President Bush and Blair also paved the way in the G8 for full cancellation of the debt being carried by many African countries.
In the Middle East, the money for the Palestinian Authority should be reason enough for Arab leaders to condemn in the strongest possible terms the bombings in London and the other acts of terrorism by Islamic extremists.
The leaders of the G8 have made a substantial commitment of money and other support despite growing opposition in their home countries to foreign aid. They are deserving of praise.