What if some very wise people could get together and offer their collective wisdom to the world? The model would be a tribal culture in which "elders" from time immemorial have been held in reverence for their long-lived counsel and experience. The difference is of course that tribal elders administered to at most a few hundred people within an extended clan. The Elders as constituted in a modern incarnation are ministering to billions.
That is the ambitious role of the Elders, a self described "independent group of eminent global leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela, who offer their collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity."
How did the Elders begin? The story of the Elders, according to the group's website, began with talks between entrepreneur Richard Branson and rock and roller Peter Gabriel. "The idea they discussed was a simple one. In an increasingly interdependent world – a global village – could a small, dedicated group of independent elders help to resolve global problems and ease human suffering?"
The answer, predictably, was yes. Branson has the clout to visit whomever he wants, and eventually this duo decided that resident global wise-man Nelson Mandela would be the right individual to provide the leverage needed. In turn, Mandela brought in Graça Machel and Desmond Tutu. The three apparently set up the Elders.
The criteria as announced were noble indeed. Prospective members would be "independent." International trust would be "earned." Integrity would be demonstrated. Each Elder would have a "reputation for inclusive, progressive leadership."
The Elders came together on July 2007; an announcement took place on Mandela's 89th birthday in Johannesburg. "The Elders can speak freely and boldly," he explained, "working both publicly and behind the scenes. They will reach out to those who most need their help. They will support courage where there is fear, foster agreement where there is conflict and inspire hope where there is despair."
Most recently as of this writing, the Elders have been active in the Ivory Coast where they have counseled Laurent Gbagbo to accept his ouster from the presidency in favor of his rival, the West's favored technocrat – an IMF man – Alassane Ouattara. Gbagbo won re-election and was duly certified as the Ivory Coast's new president for another term. But the UN decertified the election and later on with French forces routed him out of the basement of the presidential residency.
Gbagbo was illegally held incommunicado; his wife was apparently sexually assaulted; one of his closest administrators was murdered in what can only be described as a neo-colonialist coup. The French have pretended that everything happened legally in the Ivory Coast, but nothing did. Ouattara, now installed, is a former top bureaucrat with the IMF and his instructions going forward are apparently to abide by whatever the Anglo-American power elite (along with the French) deem suitable for the Ivory Coast.
Of the Elders, Mandela is a former Marxist; Tutu is a radical socialist; Jimmy Carter (another "elder") is a firm progressive. All three along with the rest of the Elders believe in the redemptive power of big government programs – proven dysfunctional in the past but admired nonetheless by the Elders. These "elders" evidently and obviously work at the behest of money power and their interference as regards the Ivory Coast is a perfect example of this.
Ignoring the French and UN depredations against the Ivorian constitution and sovereignty, they counseled Gbagbo, under house arrest, to go along with the neo-colonialist coup that had deposed him. In fact, interrogation of Gbagbo began without his French lawyers who had been turned around at the border and sent back to Paris.
It is thus doubtful that the Ivory Coast's interrogations, directed by Gbagbo's rival, Ouattara, will feature any deep examination of the mass murders performed by the Ouattara thugs. Ouattara illegally assumed power in the Ivory Coast following the additional illegalities of the UN in over-riding the Ivorian Supreme Court. The Elders in this instance have aligned themselves with European and American interests and have ignored the criminality that brought Ouattara to power.
One would expect no more from a group of this sort. They are the Elders, but wisdom escapes them. They know only how to prostrate themselves cravenly before Anglo-American Money Power and will not be in the least effective at expressing the world's grievances or effectuating solutions. The sooner they are disbanded the better.