Africa Archives

That’s right, the guy whom the Left said hated black people. The evangelical community, along with Bono, lobbied for it, and Dubya did it. It’s not something that’s mentioned often, but…

"This should be shouted from the rooftops. This is a heroic American story," Bono said in a remarkable radio interview with Jim Daly, the president of Focus on the Family, to be broadcast by the group Tuesday.

    Reconsidering Praises

    …of Libya’s Human Rights record, such as it is.

    The U.N. Human Rights Council has postponed consideration of a report that praises Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi’s government for its human rights record.

    The report was written several months before the uprising in Libya — which has pitted Qaddafi, as well as armed loyalists and mercenaries, in a violent battle against his own people. But it was nevertheless scheduled for consideration and a vote on March 18, even as the U.N. General Assembly voted Monday to suspend Libya from the Human Rights Council.

    Because everything was pretty good in Libya under a 40+ year dictator until just a couple weeks ago. Look, real human rights are the result of an underlying belief in the principle. If, at the drop of a hat, you’re dropping bombs on your own people, they never really had human rights to begin with; just a convincing façade.

      Hysteria Begets Cash

      Given this statement…

      “There was a tendency toward alarmism, and that fit perhaps a certain fundraising agenda.”

      …what subject is it referring to? Global cooling in the 1970s? How about global warming of the 2000s? Don Sensing has a poll going about what people think this refers to. One of the seven is the right answer, but the statement applies just as easily to the other six. Alarmism spurs research grants, “carbon credits”, and all sort of cash transfers,so it’s no wonder that there’s a tendency to make things worse than they are.

      In this case, the statement is referring to the AIDS epidemic. While there’s no doubt it is a scourge, the UN is revising it figures down; way down.

      The United Nations’ top AIDS scientists plan to acknowledge this week that they have long overestimated both the size and the course of the epidemic, which they now believe has been slowing for nearly a decade, according to U.N. documents prepared for the announcement.

      AIDS remains a devastating public health crisis in the most heavily affected areas of sub-Saharan Africa. But the far-reaching revisions amount to at least a partial acknowledgment of criticisms long leveled by outside researchers who disputed the U.N. portrayal of an ever-expanding global epidemic.

      The latest estimates, due to be released publicly Tuesday, put the number of annual new HIV infections at 2.5 million, a cut of more than 40 percent from last year’s estimate, documents show. The worldwide total of people infected with HIV — estimated a year ago at nearly 40 million and rising — now will be reported as 33 million.

      Having millions fewer people with a lethal contagious disease is good news. Some researchers, however, contend that persistent overestimates in the widely quoted U.N. reports have long skewed funding decisions and obscured potential lessons about how to slow the spread of HIV. Critics have also said that U.N. officials overstated the extent of the epidemic to help gather political and financial support for combating AIDS.

      “There was a tendency toward alarmism, and that fit perhaps a certain fundraising agenda,” said Helen Epstein, author of “The Invisible Cure: Africa, the West, and the Fight Against AIDS.” “I hope these new numbers will help refocus the response in a more pragmatic way.”

      But…but…I thought the scientific community didn’t work this way. If the science is settled, it’s settled, not bought. Right?

      Right?

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        “Stop Sending Us Aid!”

        An Kenyan expert in economics, James Shikwati, was interviewed by the German magazine Der Spiegel. The interview got off to a quick start as Shikwati surprised the journalist.

        SPIEGEL:Mr. Shikwati, the G8 summit at Gleneagles is about to beef up the development aid for Africa…

        Shikwati: … for God’s sake, please just stop.

        SPIEGEL: Stop? The industrialized nations of the West want to eliminate hunger and poverty.

        Shikwati: Such intentions have been damaging our continent for the past 40 years. If the industrial nations really want to help the Africans, they should finally terminate this awful aid. The countries that have collected the most development aid are also the ones that are in the worst shape. Despite the billions that have poured in to Africa, the continent remains poor.

        Massive injections of money, good intentions, and virtually nothing to show for it. Sounds just like the welfare state here. The journalist is confused, bewildered.

        SPIEGEL: Do you have an explanation for this paradox?

        Why is it a paradox if it simply a case of doing what doesn’t work on a much larger scale? This exposes the incredibly simplistic assumption on the part of liberal ideology that throwing money a a problem really should work…in theory. As conservatives have been arguing for decades, however, an understanding of economics helps explain this “paradox”. In answer to the question, Shikwati explains.

        Shikwati: Huge bureaucracies are financed (with the aid money), corruption and complacency are promoted, Africans are taught to be beggars and not to be independent. In addition, development aid weakens the local markets everywhere and dampens the spirit of entrepreneurship that we so desperately need. As absurd as it may sound: Development aid is one of the reasons for Africa’s problems. If the West were to cancel these payments, normal Africans wouldn’t even notice. Only the functionaries would be hard hit. Which is why they maintain that the world would stop turning without this development aid.

        Being taught to be beggars, dependence on government, dampening entrepreneurship, and government corruption involved in the cash transfer. Sounds just like the welfare…well, you get the idea.

        Well, now our journalist is flummoxed. Doesn’t someone have to help them? Shikwati slaps down this dependency thinking, and explains how food shipments both prop up corrupt governments and at the same time destroy the local economy’s incentive.

        SPIEGEL: Even in a country like Kenya, people are starving to death each year. Someone has got to help them.

        Shikwati: But it has to be the Kenyans themselves who help these people. When there’s a drought in a region of Kenya, our corrupt politicians reflexively cry out for more help. This call then reaches the United Nations World Food Program — which is a massive agency of apparatchiks who are in the absurd situation of, on the one hand, being dedicated to the fight against hunger while, on the other hand, being faced with unemployment were hunger actually eliminated. It’s only natural that they willingly accept the plea for more help. And it’s not uncommon that they demand a little more money than the respective African government originally requested. They then forward that request to their headquarters, and before long, several thousands tons of corn are shipped to Africa …

        SPIEGEL: … corn that predominantly comes from highly-subsidized European and American farmers …

        Shikwati: … and at some point, this corn ends up in the harbor of Mombasa. A portion of the corn often goes directly into the hands of unsrupulous politicians who then pass it on to their own tribe to boost their next election campaign. Another portion of the shipment ends up on the black market where the corn is dumped at extremely low prices. Local farmers may as well put down their hoes right away; no one can compete with the UN’s World Food Program. And because the farmers go under in the face of this pressure, Kenya would have no reserves to draw on if there actually were a famine next year. It’s a simple but fatal cycle.

        And it just gets better after that. It included an admission from a tyrant that they indeed waste the aid, a exposure of exaggerated AIDS numbers for profit, and an African biochemist stuck being a chauffeur to aid workers. You simply must read the whole thing. It really turns on its head the idea that huge amounts of aid helps a nation, or even a continent. Giving to the poor is one thing. Destroying the individual spirit by destroying their livelihood is entirely another. The interview concludes with the journalist, playing the part of the liberal to the hilt (and, based on the full interview, not really play-acting) asking in desperation…

        SPIEGEL: What are the Germans supposed to do?

        Shikwati: If they really want to fight poverty, they should completely halt development aid and give Africa the opportunity to ensure its own survival. Currently, Africa is like a child that immediately cries for its babysitter when something goes wrong. Africa should stand on its own two feet.

        Rugged individualism, combined with personal, not massive, charitable giving. That is the responsible position.

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          Bring In the Backup

          The President of the United States couldn’t get the UN to recognize the problem in Darfur, or do anything about it. Perhaps an actor can.

          It’s been said that Hollywood’s hottest marriage is the one between actors and Africa. That’ll be true Thursday when Oscar winner George Clooney is scheduled to address the United Nations Security Council on the crisis in Darfur. That’s right, not some small media conference, but the actual Security Council. Hosted by John Bolton, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, the briefing is organized by The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity (EWF), which recently established a Darfur Commission of Nobel Laureates. Clooney visited Darfuri refugees last April to use his celebrity clout to raise awareness of the plight of refugees in the war-torn region, considered the 3rd biggest humanitarian crisis in the history of the UN. According to the Oscar-winning actor, the US, the UN and the world’s policies on Sudan is failing. “If we turn our heads and look away and hope that it will disappear then they will-all of them, an entire generation of people. And we will only have history left to judge us,” Clooney has said about the tragedy.

          Hey, don’t blame the US, George. We’ve been trying to get the UN to recognize genocide when it sees it. And you wouldn’t want us doing anything unilaterally, would you? That is “why they hate us”, isn’t it?

          All kidding aside, it’s good to see Clooney working with John Bolton and trying to get the UN–paragon of virtue that it is–to wake up and smell the Kofi coffee. It’s sad that it has to come to this (and sadder yet if this is the main reason things start happening), but it’s better than nothing.

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