The Washington Post is running a White House stenographic story entitled: Bush Has Quietly Tripled Aid to Africa.
It’s bullshit. And the Post knows it. This claim has been floated many times over the past couple of years. Susan Rice of the Brookings Institute debunked it last year:
Over the past four years, we have tripled our assistance to Sub-Sahara Africa.” President Bush, Press Conference with Prime Minister Tony Blair, the White House June 7, 2005
The Bush Administration Record
The Bush Administration has significantly increased aid to Africa, but that increase falls far short of what the President has claimed. U.S. aid to Africa from FY 2000 (the last full budget year of the Clinton Administration) to FY2004 (the last completed fiscal year of the Bush Administration) has not “tripled” or even doubled. Rather, in real dollars, it has increased 56% (or 67% in nominal dollar terms). The majority of that increase consists of emergency food aid, rather than assistance for sustainable development of the sort Africa needs to achieve lasting poverty reduction.
President Bush has thus far rejected Blair’s call to double aid to Africa, as well as the benchmark set by the OECD and signatories to the Monterrey Consensus, which called on developed countries to devote 0.7% of their gross national income to overseas development assistance by 2015. In declining to commit to either of these targets, President Bush frequently states that his Administration has “tripled” U.S. assistance to Africa over the past four years to $3.2 billion. On June 7, 2005, the President also announced that the U.S. will spend an additional $674 million, which consists of previously appropriated emergency humanitarian food aid. The U.S. recently agreed with G-8 partners to cancel the multilateral debt owed by 18 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries, a positive step forward.
The bulk of this money is the bogus AIDS program, in which Bush takes our tax money, not to give to African nations, but rather to pay full retail to Big Pharma for patented AIDS drugs, rather than using generics and appropriate combinations for a tenth the price. This results in LESS aid to the Africans. The article mentions these concerns, then discounts them by a statement from New Jersey (home of BigPharma) Rep Donald Payne:
PEPFAR, which often funds programs through religious organizations, has come under criticism for promoting faith-based ideology over science, emphasizing abstinence programs and giving inaccurate information about the effectiveness of condoms in preventing HIV transmission. Payne says such concerns have been allayed in recent years, and he and others credit PEPFAR with saving hundreds of thousands of lives.
No evidence, source or link given for Mr. Payne’s opinion.
The worse than useless abstinence teaching program has resulted in a significant increase in AIDS.
On April 4, 2006, the U.S. Government Accountability Office released a stinging indictment of U.S. prevention policies that prioritize sexual abstinence and being faithful to an HIV-negative partner over scientifically proven methods of reducing the tide of infections.
Millions of condoms which could be making a huge difference have actually been locked up in warehouses.
The Post article quotes a supposed spokesman for Africa Action, a Washington lobbying group, in support of Bush’s AIDS intiative, but Africa Action participated in a December 1 rally outside the White House, protesting the bogus nature of the AIDS initiative, and a press release this month from Africa Action’s website states:
The UNAIDS report also points to apparent erosions of HIV/AIDS gains in Uganda, which had previously been touted as a success story on the continent. Africa Action today expressed concern that the U.S. focus on abstinence-only prevention policies and other ideologically-driven approaches may be undermining effective and comprehensive prevention programs in Uganda and elsewhere. The organization also noted that Africa’s women continue to bear a disproportionate burden of HIV/AIDS, and urged new approaches to address the specific needs of women and girls most vulnerable and affected by this pandemic.
It is not clear why the Post reporter chose not to search the Post’s own files for a more realistic idea of what Bush’s aid for malaria is all about. Back in 2005, the Post said:
Susan E. Rice, who was assistant secretary of state for Africa under President Bill Clinton. Bush’s address “touched on all the right levers for enhancing development,” said Rice, who was a top foreign policy adviser to Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry in 2004. “The bad news is when you look at the numbers . . . it’s a whole lot of smoke and mirrors, and it’s frankly misrepresenting where we are and misleading about where we’re going.”
So in reality, Bush has increased money given to Big Pharma and church groups, not money to benefit Africa.
The idea that he has tripled aid to Africa is mendacious.
He has merely increased the flow of money from the treasury to Big Pharma and sectarian religious groups, to the DETRIMENT of African countries. In return for which, of course, Bush has gotten political contributions on a massive scale.
The reason Bush (never reluctant to take credit for anything he thinks he can…remember “Mission Accomplished?”) has been “quiet” about this stuff is because what he has done is shameful. In essence, it’s not a lot different from Iraq: take a lot of taxpayer money and transfer it big corporations, while the native peoples suffer and die as a result.
The idea that Bush has generous feelings for poor or black people should have been put to rest by his attitude towards the people of New Orleans before, during and after Hurricane Katrina. His crass photo-ops only served to underline his hypocrisy.
Bush will be remembered for his complete sellout to corporate and sectarian religious interests and for the deaths of probably a million people overall. These and the systematic destruction of the Bill of Rights, and the failure to protect us from 9/ll, and his obstruction of any response to global warming, are the other significant parts of his legacy. Bush will not only be considered the worst president in history, he will be extremely fortunate not to be indicted for war crimes. The Washington Post does a great disservice by publishing such poorly researched propaganda pieces about Bush’s motivations, his acts and their results.