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From owner-imap@chumbly.math.missouri.edu Tue Mar 18 11:00:47 2003
Date: Mon, 17 Mar 2003 16:08:11 -0600 (CST)
From: Progressive Response <irc@irc-online.org>
Subject: [PR] UN, Africa, Iraq, Budget Debate, Terrorism
Article: 154167
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Click http://www.fpif.org/progresp/volume7/v7n08.html to view an HTML-formatted version of this issue of Progressive Response.

Africa policy outlook 2003

By Salih Booker, William Minter, and Ann-Louise ColganThe Progressive Response, Vol. 7, no. 8, 17 March 2002

In 2003 U.S. policy toward Africa will be driven almost exclusively by geopolitical considerations related to Washington’s war plans against Iraq, and by its geostrategic interests in African oil.

In a dangerous replay of the cold war, the U.S. is likely to ignore Africa’s priorities, placing military base rights above human rights. The war against AIDS, by far the most important global war effort and an urgent priority especially for Africa, will continue to suffer from a lack of resources. An American war on Iraq would also have a major negative impact on the global economy with dire consequences for African development. In 2003, U.S. unilateralism is likely to be directly at odds with African interests in building multilateral approaches to its greatest challenges from HIV/AIDS to international trade rules and peacekeeping.

Last year African efforts toward building greater political and economic unity were often offset by failure to provide collective leadership on its most pressing challenges. The African Union replaced the 39-year-old Organization of African Unity as a framework for stepped-up cooperation across the continent. The new Union, as it is expected to evolve out of a process of accelerated integration, is seen as more ambitious than the European Union.

The most dramatic failure for both African governments and world leaders last year was in combating HIV/AIDS. Despite the ever-louder chorus of warnings and promises, neither the rich countries nor most African governments moved beyond a snail’s pace in responding to the emergency. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria received only a fraction of the resources needed. The South African government stalled on providing antiretroviral drugs to people living with HIV/AIDS. And both grassroots and government health programs around the continent continued to be crippled by lack of resources.

At the beginning of 2003, instead of giving priority to the fight against AIDS, the U.S. stood on the brink of war in Iraq, a prospect that cast a looming shadow over every other issue. In January, Nelson Mandela called on the world to condemn both Blair and Bush and let them know in no uncertain terms that what they are doing is wrong. At the meeting of the African Union in early February, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa warned that war in the Gulf region could trigger an economic meltdown in Africa and set development back more than three decades. But Washington’s lack of regard for African opinion was illustrated earlier by the perfunctory cancellation of President George Bush’s projected January visit to five African countries.

At the end of January, President Bush surprised many by accepting, for the first time, the need to supply antiretroviral drugs and by promising additional resources for Africa to fight AIDS. But if the U.S. fails to at least triple its spending on AIDS this year, the gesture will be seen in retrospect as simply a public relations adjunct to the push for war on Iraq. Early signs were not encouraging.