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December 19, 2006
Democrats Disappoint Bono

Acclaimed U2 rocker and aid activist Bono tried getting the Democrats to support George Bush's commitments to African aid after they take control of Congress, but left disappointed. It seems that Bono has discovered the blessing and curse of divided government:

Meetings in Washington last Thursday between rock star Bono and Democrats, including Senate leader Harry Reid of Nevada, yielded a nice photo-op but not much else, according to Bono.

Bono, the U2 frontman and anti-poverty activist, was on Capitol Hill to seek assurances that $1 billion in planned U.S. spending to fight AIDS and malaria in Africa would not be lost if Congress freezes agency budgets in the coming year.

Bono said he also was seeking to close a "commitment gap" between what President Bush has requested for anti-poverty efforts and what Congress has agreed to spend in the past.

After meetings with incoming Senate Majority Leader Reid, House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee, Bono said he came away empty-handed.

"I'm alarmed we could not get a commitment from the Democratic leadership to prevent the loss of $1 billion in the continuing resolution," Bono said Thursday in a statement.

Democrats told Bono that the Republicans would block the aid, while Republicans reminded Bono that they will not be in charge next year. Frustrated, Bono lashed out, saying that the million families that would not get mosquito netting to protect them from malaria didn't give a damn which party had control of Congress; all they would know would be that the Americans didn't make good on their promises. Later, he softened that statement, but his anger clearly shone through.

I can understand the frustration, but that doesn't change a couple of basic facts. First, the mosquito netting would be unnecessary if the use of DDT could be approved for those areas. DDT, when used for specific targets, eliminates malaria by killing the mosquitos that carry it. It eliminates the secondary and less effective screening methods intended to keep the mosquitos off of the people at risk for the disease. However, the same people who demand large blocs of grant aid for these kind of situations block the use of DDT after Rachel Carson's popular but hyperbolic "Silent Spring" unfairly demonized the pesticide.

Second, while Bono and his group maintain that they support intelligent and targeted aid, the use of the monies more often than not go to support kleptocrats and warlords in the areas where the aid is needed. Yesterday we heard about how tsunami aid freed funds to create shari'a police in Aceh. If Democrats want to get stingy with aid, that may not be a bad thing as long as the distribution channels exist as they do now.

I'd rather that Bono focused on the long-term solutions for poverty and suffering in Africa, which is the political structures and dynamics that perpetuate it. Africa for the most part should produce agriculture in such abundance as to be net exporters to the world, and while tariffs do bar some of that from the market (which Bono also fights, to his credit), mostly they don't produce because warlords ravage the land. Under those circumstances, where the West clings to political correctness and bogus environmentalism, avoids the hint of colonialism, and allows the bullies to abuse the weak, aid will make no long-term difference except to make those situations even worse than they are now. In this case, the Democrats probably have it right. (via the indispensable Memeorandum)

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 19, 2006 6:08 AM

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» Bang for your aid buck from SCSU Scholars
Captain Ed writes a couple of articles yesterday and today on the question of aid for developing countries. First, writing about tsunami aid in Aceh, Indonesia, he notes: The problem with foreign aid for disaster sites is the prevailing politica ..... [Read More]

Tracked on December 19, 2006 11:37 AM

» Bono Upset With Democrats..Rightfully So, Bush Has Made A difference In Africa from Right Voices
Bono found himself caught up in a game of “pass the buck”, and he is not happy: Meetings in Washington last Thursday between rock star Bono and Democrats, including Senate leader Harry Reid of Nevada, yielded a nice photo-op but not much el... [Read More]

Tracked on December 19, 2006 8:40 PM

» Carnival of Divided Government OCTAVUS - Winter Solstice Edition from Divided We Stand United We Fall
Ed at Captain's Quarters writes that "Democrats Disappoint Bono" laying the blame on divided government: "It seems that Bono has discovered the blessing and curse of divided government ... In this case, the Democrats probably have it right." Agreed. I... [Read More]

Tracked on December 21, 2006 9:25 PM


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