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From owner-imap@chumbly.math.missouri.edu Sat Jun 29 10:29:33 2002
Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2002 09:22:10 -0500 (CDT)
From: Progressive Response <irc@irc-online.org>
Subject: G8, Africa Policy, CIA
Article: 141060
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Click http://www.fpif.org/progresp/volume6/v6n19.html to view an HTML-formatted version of this issue of Progressive Response.

(Editor’s Note: The following Global Affairs Commentary is also available at http://www.fpif.org/commentary/2002/0206aids.html .)

Bush plays shell game with African lives

By Salih Booker, Foreign Policy in Focus, 24 June 2002

On the eve of a meeting of rich country leaders in Canada, President Bush has brought out a new initiative promising $500 million to prevent transmission of HIV/AIDS from mothers to children. Intended to stave off the embarrassment of coming empty-handed to a summit trumpeted as focusing on Africa, the White House initiative is in fact a cynical move to derail more effective action against AIDS.

With a bipartisan congressional coalition poised to approve an additional $500 million or more in AIDS funding for fiscal year 2002, President Bush first put the squeeze on Republican senators to cut the total back to $200 million, half of which could go to the Global AIDS Fund and half for bilateral programs to cut mother-to-child transmission. Then he offered his plan, which claims the $200 million as his own while only promising to ask Congress for another $300 million two years from now. His plan would allow no additional money for the Global Fund.

The administration justifies the smaller amounts and the go-slow timetable by the need to first show results. But, with 8,000 people around the world dying of AIDS daily (some 6,000 of them in sub-Saharan Africa), the results of Bush’s stalling action are crystal-clear: more dead people.

Demonstrably successful anti-AIDS programs run by governments, nongovernmental organizations, and mission hospitals are starved for funds. Fewer than 2% of AIDS sufferers in sub-Saharan Africa, including pregnant mothers, have access to anti-retroviral drugs that can save lives. The Global AIDS Fund, which is estimated to require some $10 billion a year, is already out of funds less than halfway through its first year, while the U.S. has supplied less than a tenth of the $3.5 billion a year that would be its fair share.

When the issue is saving African lives, the administration says Let’s wait. In contrast, there is no hesitation in shelling out more than $5 billion a year in new subsidies for rich U.S. farmers, or more than $6 billion a year to pay for suspending the state taxes on the richest Americans.

President Bush has also recently announced a trip to Africa for next year and $20 million a year for African education (beginning in 2004). But public relations gestures and budget shell games do not save lives. The American public—and Congress—need to tell the President to change course.