I'm sending around an apology card for everyone to sign — it seems a lot of us have been selling Bush short. In an editorial opinion from the Wall Street Journal (newly purchased by Rupert Murdoch) Bush’s commitment to helping the poor and sick abroad has been largely ignored. The piece asserts that once the G-8 summit, now wrapping up, completes its country tally on who is providing the most money to combat disease and hunger, the US will emerge as the conclusive leader — thanks in large part to Bush.
According to the piece, AIDS relief is booming. Before President Bush launched his Emergency Program for AIDS Relief in 2003, only about 50,000 afflicted in sub-Saharan Africa were getting medical treatments. Since the implementation of his plan, the program has expanded to $15 billion reaching an estimated 1.5 million people. And then there's this big rock we call home. To see how Bush's environmental leadership has been overlooked,
The WSJ piece says that Bush is actually much more environmentally friendly than his opponents give him credit for — as shown by his attempt to toughen the standards set at the Kyoto Agreement, hailed as a pivotal climate change accord. President Bush’s contention was that no agreement regarding the environment would be viable without the cooperation of China and India while costing developed nations untold sums. As a result, the G-8 is bringing China and India into the summit to discuss greenhouse emissions, a feat that would not have happened without Bush’s insistence.
On another note, remember Paul Wolfowitz? He was the US Deputy Secretary of Defense and major architect of the Iraq war who then went on to head the World Bank. It seems that some remarks he made during a speech are echoed and perhaps reaffirmed in another opinion piece — this time from the less conservatively-owned LA Times — warning against aid money, which is then used to prop up corrupt African leaders.
The piece asserts that all financial assistance to corrupt African governments should be cut off so that they collapse allowing “organic African political structures [to] emerge”. Saying that corruption is so endemic to countries like Kenya and Nigeria that police extort bribes, soldiers murder and rape, and teachers merely collect salaries while rarely visiting their classrooms. This 2008 piece suggests that Wolfowitz had the right idea in 2006 when he made the then controversial statement:
We simply can’t afford to turn a blind eye when we do encounter corruption in our projects. In fact, sometimes it’s not just a waste of money; it sometimes leads to buildings that collapse or to medicines that are harmful being given to pregnant women. These are not hypothetical examples; these are real ones.
Could it be that Wolfowitz's call to action is finally being taken up by the mainstream? Is it possible that President Bush’s approach to global warming and AIDS relief will actually earn him the compassionate conservative ribbon he’s been aiming for, silencing detractors? Or as the WSJ piece concludes, "Maybe one day we will all wake up to a world willing to give [Bush] some credit for it." Will this happen?