"Was it unrealistic to expect some credit and praise for the extraordinary initiatives of the current administration to combating aids in the continent? ... (the) remarks demonstrate an almost innate hostility toward both modern America and its administration, an unfathomable lack of understanding or plain, unrestrained bias."
The Archbishop Desmond Tutu is not one whom I would caste as dim. The past noble prize winner, humanitarian advocate, and ceaseless devotee to African interests can lay claim to an esteemed reputation in the fight for justice in Africa. But his past remarks about President Bush and the United States raised this writer’s ire.
In order to address the "anger, resentment, and fear that has replaced the respect the United States once enjoyed”, Foreign Policy Watch, a magazine that focuses on global politics, economics, and ideas, recently posted a series that posed a question for notable figures to address. It asked, "what single policy or gesture can the next President of the United States make to improve America’s standing in the world?”
One of the respondents was none other than Tutu, who wrote:
" … Today; the negative feelings about the United States have been provoked by the arrogance of unilateralism. The administration of George W. Bush has routinely thumbed its nose at the rest of the world and told it to go jump in the lake. It did so over the Kyoto Protocol, the International Criminal Court, and the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. But nowhere did it do so more spectacularly than in the invasion of Iraq, heaping contempt upon the United Nations and upending international law. That arrogant action has turned out to be a catastrophic disaster on all scores.... If the world’s superpower has the grace and modesty to say it is sorry, people would rub their eyes in disbelief, pinch themselves, and then smile because a new day had dawned.”
“Say sorry,” was the Archbishop kidding? Was it unrealistic to expect some credit and praise for the extraordinary initiatives of the current administration to combating aids in the continent? The African HIV Project is by far, the worlds most important and ambitious effort in the fight against the disease. It was not that long ago, under ten years in fact, that Aids was on the verge of decimating its population. The United States Presidents Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) symbolizes far more that “foreign policy moralism,” it represents a public health initiative unparalleled in size and scope.
When it was first announced in January 2003 Pepfar called for a 5-year, $15 billion comprehensive approach to fight the disease. It ensured that the U.S. led the world in its support to fight HIV/Aids. Following on, in May 2007, President Bush re-authorized Pepfar with a new 5-year, $30 billion proposal therefore doubling the 2003 commitment. As the NYT reported in January, In Global Battle on Aids, Bush Creates Legacy.
“If President Bush was going to shock the world — and skeptical Republicans — with a huge expenditure of American cash to send expensive drugs overseas, he wanted it to be well spent" ... “He said, ‘I will hold you accountable, because this is a big move, this is an important thing that I’ve been thinking about for a long time,’” recalled Dr. Pape, one of several international AIDS experts Mr. Bush consulted. “We indicated to him that our arms are totally broken as physicians, knowing that there are things we could do if we had the drugs "... “Nearly five years later, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief — Pepfar, for short — may be the most lasting bipartisan accomplishment of the Bush presidency.”
Moreover, the results of Pepfar have been telling:
1. Prevention - Progress Achieved through September 30, 2007
- Supported prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission services for women during more than 10 million pregnancies (cumulative for fiscal years 2004 through 2007)
- Supported antiretroviral prophylaxis for HIV-positive women in over 827,000 pregnancies (cumulative for fiscal years 2004 through 2007)
- Supported prevention of an estimated 157,000 infant infections (cumulative for fiscal years 2004 through 2007)
- Supported community outreach activities to nearly 61.5 million people to prevent sexual transmission
- Supported training or retraining of nearly 520,000 people in provision of prevention services
- Globally, supported life-saving antiretroviral treatment for approximately 1,445,500 men, women and children
- Supported life-saving antiretroviral treatment for approximately 1,358,500 men, women and children through bilateral programs in PEPFAR's 15 focus countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Caribbean
Archbishop Tutu’s remarks demonstrate an almost innate hostility toward both modern America and its administration, an unfathomable lack of understanding or plain, unrestrained bias. Speaking of which, why have the majority media not noticed, let alone commended the current Presidents achievements? Perhaps yet again, it was being unrealistic to expect the press to put aside its prejudice about President Bush and tell us about it. Perhaps too, I underestimated how entrenched Bush Derangement Syndrome really is - a condition first coined by Washington Post columnist, Charles Krauthammer. In addition to the silly notion that it was he, who whipped up Hurricane Katrina, and that it was he, who caused 9/11, and that he is stupid despite degrees from Harvard and Yale not to mention possessing fighter pilot qualifications. Exponents of Bush Derangement Syndrome will now foster the idea that it was he, who introduced aids to Africa in the first place.
One day, in the not to distant future President Bush will receive the respect that I believe he merits for his efforts to curb the scourge of HIV/Aids.
Other links: Office of National Aids Policy, Bush Aids Intitiative gets bipartison approval