Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Obama "to the rescue" as protests begin

Six protestors arrested driving an armoured vehicle

Barack Obama flew into Britain yesterday amid high security and under an intense media glare. There is anticipation that the US president will provide the impetus to help kick start the world economy as he joins 19 other state leaders at the G20 Summit. But it will take more than one man to pull the world out of its current downturn. There needs to be consensus amongst the other nineteen G20 leaders.

The French President Nicholas Sarkozy has already expressed his doubts and even said he may not sign any resolutions if they did not meet up to his expectations. There is already finger pointing with France and Germany accusing America of creating the financial crisis. And even Gordon Brown has made statements to the same effect, though he has backtracked since.
Speaking at the Foreign Office today the US President said, “I don’t want to identify blame I want to fix the problem”. He went on to quote a law professor who once taught him about responsibility versus blame. “Some are to blame, but all are responsible,” Obama said, adding that it was important for everyone to sit down together to solve the economic crisis.
Gordon Brown has continuously referred to the global problems requiring global solutions. And he echoed Obama’s stand that all the G20 countries should work together. “We must stand united to do what’s necessary,” Brown told assembled journalists.

There are fears that the G20 leaders will fail to meet consensus as there are too many vested interests. China is seeking to boost its export market as its projected growth drops below 8% and the numbers of unemployed soar above 20 million. But many Western countries may adopt protectionist policies, even if indirectly. Across Europe unemployment has grown significantly in the past few months and many countries in the Eurozone have fallen into recession. It has resulted in a fall in consumerism as people take a tighter hold on their expenditure.
There is a growing feeling that it is unlikely that any resolution will come together in the less than 36 hours during which the G20 leaders will come together. Indeed a larger proportion of time will be taken up with lunches and photo calls, leaving very little time for discussion.
The lack of faith in the G20 and increasing anger towards bankers and the government has encouraged many to take to the streets. On Saturday tens of thousands marched through London airing their grievances. And today hundreds of demonstrators have begun to converge on the capital.

There has been much media speculation that the protests may turn violent. But by noon most of the demonstrations had been lively but good natured. The occupants of an armoured vehicle were arrested after they drove into the financial centre. Six people were detained by police according to reports, and the blue ‘tank’ was impounded. Sky News also reported that three protestors had been arrested for possession of knives while another had been detained after assaulting a police officer.

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