The great humanitarian

In an article that should have been posted a long time ago the achievements of George W Bush are lauded. He opens, “there are very few Americans around who even associate him with his achievement. Who’s this great humanitarian? The name might surprise you: it’s George W. Bush”.

He mentions “Both his detractors and supporters tend to view his time in office through the lens of the ‘war on terror’ and the policies that grew out of it. By contrast, only a few Americans have ever heard of PEPFAR, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which President Bush announced in his State of the Union address in 2003″. Caryl goes on to write that a decade later, “in his own State of the Union address on Tuesday night, President Barack Obama only briefly mentioned the goal of “realizing the promise of an AIDS-free generation” — an allusion to the long-term aim of PEPFAR. Yet President Obama’s most recent budget proposals actually propose to cut spending on the program. That’s a pity. This might have been a good moment to celebrate ten years of an unprecedented American success in fighting one of the world’s most pernicious and destructive diseases”.

Caryl goes on to mention “In his 2003 speech, President Bush called upon Congress to sponsor an ambitious program to supply antiretroviral drugs and other treatments to HIV sufferers in Africa. Since then, the U.S. government has spent some $44 billion on the project (a figure that includes $7 billion contributed to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, a multilateral organization). By way of comparison, America’s most recent aircraft carrier — which will join the 10 we currently have in service — is set to cost $26.8 billion. One medical expert calls PEPFAR the ‘largest financial commitment of any country to global health and to treatment of any specific disease worldwide.’ It’s impossible to tell exactly how many lives the program has saved, though Secretary of State John Kerry recently claimed that 5 million people are alive today because of it. That’s probably as good an estimate as any”.

He continues writing, “The number of deaths from AIDS has been steadily declining over the past few years, and PEPFAR has certainly been a big help. But ask an American — or a Western European — if they’ve ever heard of the program, and they’re almost certainly to draw a blank. That’s partly because the United States has done very little to publicize the success of PEPFAR, and partly because the Bush presidency was overshadowed by much more high-profile aspects of his foreign policy (such as the invasion of Iraq). Indeed, Bush still enjoys high popularity ratings in Africa, where he’s widely regarded as one of the continent’s great benefactors”.

The piece ends, “this is the sort of business that America should be in. Yet the Obama administration is aiming to slash our commitment to this most potent form of smart diplomacy just at the moment when the possibility of wiping out this horrific disease is finally in sight. This is not the time to retreat”.

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2 Responses to “The great humanitarian”

  1. Rove to the rescue? | Order and Tradition Says:

    […] and Afghanistan fiascos championed by President George W. Bush. There was no real embrace even of major Bush successes, such as his efforts to combat HIV/AIDS by creating PEPFAR or to make foreign aid more focused by […]

  2. Jeb, just like George? | Order and Tradition Says:

    […] This is more partisan than anything else. It selectively takes the most divisive parts of the legacy of President Bush and at the same time ignores that issues that would beset a Clinton campaign. He writes  that Jeb would “grapple with the legacy of his older brother” but that that logic George HW Bush would grapple with the legacy of his father, Senator Prescott Bush.  Secondly, Iraq works both ways, President Clinton did nothing about al-Qaeda during his time in office and while President Bush may have dealt with terrorism too much, Clinton did little or nothing on the issue until history again came knocking in 2001. On the specific issue of torture that has been roundly condemned Clinton was part of an administration that promised to close the detention centre in Cuba but for unclear reasons it remains open. This argument also ignores the positive legacy of President Bush. Why is a legacy only a bad thing? Would Jeb not reap the rewards, by this logic, of the humanitarian legacy of his brother? […]

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