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Old 07-07-2003, 02:35 PM   #1
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Bush leaves tonight to Africa

[Q]Bush will become the fourth president ever, and the first Republican, to visit sub-Sarahan Africa. In what some are calling the "Best of Africa" tour, he'll spend time in Senegal, perhaps the continent's most peaceful and prosperous nation; South Africa, an economic powerhouse; Botswana, the fastest-growing developing country in the world; Uganda, where AIDS rates are falling dramatically this decade; and Nigeria, a key U.S. ally in the war on terror. He'll return home Saturday. [/Q]

http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/07/07/bush.trip/

Let's give him a little credit. He is doing something not too many thought he would do with the AIDS money.
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Old 07-07-2003, 02:46 PM   #2
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Actually, I have heard quite mixed things about this.

Right now, my uncle from Namibia is visiting us for 4 days. He says that the feeling in the southern African countries, particularly in SA is very, very bitter over the Mandela thing. It is a sort of tradition for every statesman to have an audience with Nelson Mandela, a man who has managed to unite different African groups in the ANC and make it a strong, effective coalition. Maybe to us here it doesn't sound like a big deal that Mandela has chosen to leave Pretoria while Bush is there, but the fact Bush and his people didn't ask for a meeting is a BIG DEAL over there. It's huge and it's seen as a slight and something very uncultured. I have great respect for Mandela, but even I cannot imagine what an icon he is for the people there, and just how annoyed the folks there feel.

As for spending 1/3 of the funding on abstinence programs, that I have a serious problem with, and it's also seen as something iffy from what I hear.

I am looking forward to going to SA, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Lesotho next year. Maybe Angola and Swaziland, if I have the time. There is a lot of work to be done there, and I think Bush is making a start, but from talking to people who actually live in sub-saharan Africa, he is not well liked at all. Bill Clinton would have drawn huge crowds talking about AIDS in South Africa; instead they get a man who, according to Mandela is "unable to think properly".
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Old 07-07-2003, 03:00 PM   #3
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On the whole I am glad that Bush is concerned enough about Africa to make this trip. The Mandela thing does bother me. However, I'd hardly call the trip a "waste" or whatever. It's a constructive step in the right direction for Bush.
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Old 07-07-2003, 03:03 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by anitram
Actually, I have heard quite mixed things about this.

but the fact Bush and his people didn't ask for a meeting is a BIG DEAL over there. It's huge and it's seen as a slight and something very uncultured. I have great respect for Mandela, but even I cannot imagine what an icon he is for the people there, and just how annoyed the folks there feel.
You know what I think is a slight? The fact that Mandela accused Blair and Bush of racism:

Mandela said Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair are "undermining" past work of the United Nations.

"They do not care. Is it because the secretary-general of the United Nations is now a black man?" said Mandela, referring to Kofi Annan, who is from Ghana.


You know what else I think is a slight? the following quotes, all by Nelson Mandela:

"What I am condemning is that one power, with a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust."

"If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don't care."


and about Blair, Mandela also said:

"He is the foreign minister of the United States. He is no longer prime minister of Britain," he said.
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Old 07-07-2003, 03:33 PM   #5
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Sure that is a slight.

But Mandela is 50 times the man Bush will be, 50 times the man Blair will be, 50 times the man most of us will be. He is incredible and it would be an honour to be in his presence.

You and I will never understand what he represents to the millions of poor Africans. He is everything to them, they listen to him, they worship him. He has united them, he has brought them freedom, and he paid a great huge price for it.

The feeling in Africa is that Mandela sat in prison for 30 years because of his views. Now he is out and free and the expression of those views is seen as unseemly. Whether Bush agrees with Mandela or not, whether he feels slighted or not, the job of a diplomat is to build bridges. When you have the greatest man since Ghandi, beloved and respected by millions, incredibly influential politically, you swallow your pride and you go there and see him because that is what good diplomats do. Mandela is a living legend, he represents freedom and the greatest of human sacrifices. Whether you agree with what he said about Bush or not, this trip is not about that, it is about AIDS in Africa, and to bypass the one man who has more influence on the continent than all the others put together seems very shortsighted, and frankly, idiotic.

Imagine Bush speaking alongside Mandela in Pretoria about AIDS and what is going to be done in the next few years. Imagine the crowds, imagine the people Bush would then reach. Imagine that. That is more important than some petty sense of being insulted. But instead, Bush didn't request to see Mandela and now if you go to read the SA papers, they are outraged. As I said, it's a HUGE deal back there.

In Africa, you need the ANC and you need Mandela. To think that you don't is not particularly enlightened. It is the way politics are there.
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Old 07-07-2003, 03:34 PM   #6
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'80's, that's a valid point about the racism allegation. I think Bush and Blair screwed up with the UN but not like that.
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Old 07-07-2003, 03:39 PM   #7
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I think anitram summed up what I wanted to say, but much better than I could have hoped to.
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Old 07-07-2003, 03:57 PM   #8
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Great post, anitram. I agree one doesn't ignore a man like this regardless of disagreement. After all Bush has met with Putin, Schroeder and (gasp!) Chirac.
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Old 07-07-2003, 04:03 PM   #9
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Sorry, but, I agree with 80's on this.

Mandella should apologize for implying that Bush is a racist. Yes, he went rhough total hell, and he is one of the most respected men on the continent, but that does not give him the right to make comments like he has without expecting the snub.

Sorry, just my .02
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Old 07-07-2003, 04:13 PM   #10
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In addition, Mandela I believe said he would not meet with Bush if he was asked. I suspect Bush's people checked on this and found it to be true which may be why there will not be a meeting. Of course, those that rage against Bush will always claim that its his fault. Bill Clinton may be popular in Africa, but he never offered the level of funding to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa that Bush has.
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Old 07-07-2003, 04:28 PM   #11
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Hell, even Geldof said that Bush was better than Clinton on this. And I do agree that Mandela screwed up when he implied that Bush and Blair were racists. Even living legends don't have the right to say just anything without expecting a reaction for it. I'm not a Bush supporter but let's be fair.
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Old 07-07-2003, 04:40 PM   #12
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However, Clinton did get the ball rolling on debt cancellation, something that is very important to African nations. I really have the feeling that if it were not for people like Bono needling and pushing and keeping issues like debt relief and AIDS/HIV in the spotlight, the money would not have come. Still, it's good that it is coming and one can only hope that it is only the beginning and not the end of much-needed assistance.
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Old 07-07-2003, 04:43 PM   #13
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Yes, Clinton did get the ball rolling on debt relief, and needless to say I think Bono deserves a hell of alot of credit for the AIDS $$. But Bush could have said "no" to the AIDS crisis in Africa and he did not. That's to his everlasting credit.
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Old 07-07-2003, 04:54 PM   #14
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Still, anitram is right. If I really do not let my view of Bush or Blair influence what I think - they are the statesmen that OWE, so it would be their turn to respect suffering African people HOWEVER insulted they may be in words (nothing in compare to terms of trade and robbing a whole continent of its natural resources for decades) -

anyway, even if I do not include all of that in my thoughts:

"Imagine Bush speaking alongside Mandela in Pretoria about AIDS and what is going to be done in the next few years. Imagine the crowds, imagine the people Bush would then reach. Imagine that."

Exactly.

"To bypass the one man who has more influence on the continent than all the others put together seems very shortsighted, and frankly, idiotic"

Maybe intended. I dont think the analysts in the administration are such idiots... intended like saying: "WE help you the way WE want, and you will have to be grateful, hail our gratitude being the greatest nation on earth, kiss our feet, give us great media coverage, import genetically modified food and sign a few IMF papers on the way"?

We will see. Sure, everyone should be grateful if help goes the right way...
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Old 07-07-2003, 05:04 PM   #15
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From the media, I think it's a good read, a mix of both bad and good, and that's how reality usually is.

As for Mandela not wanting to meet Bush, after Bush did not contact Mandela for a meeting, then Mandela said he would be out of the country and unavailable to meet him as a means of tempering the controversy.

CNN: Bush trip evokes mixed response:

Quote:
"The perception of Bush is of a cowboy ... That he's a unilateralist, that he's a militant, that he doesn't listen to what other people say when he talks to the American people about wanting Bin Laden dead or alive," John Stremlau, an American professor at South Africa's Witwatersrand University, told CNN.

Many believe anti-American public opinion has it wrong, and highlight the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which opened U.S. markets to selected countries.

....

But the Bush tour of Senegal, South Africa, Botswana, Uganda and Nigeria is unlikely to evoke the same support for the U.S. government after the Iraq war.

His trip coincides with the annual summit of the 52-nation African Union. He has chosen not to address the gathering reminding many of the 2002 Earth Summit in South Africa which the president declined to go to and the World Racism Conference in South Africa two years ago where the U.S. sent no official representative.

From Reuters: George W. Bush's Africa Fan Club Is Hard to Find

Quote:
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (Reuters) - Nelson Mandela doesn't like his politics, he has told Liberian President Charles Taylor to leave office, and Zimbabwe's opposition is pinning its hopes on him.

George W. Bush, tough-talking leader of the world's strongest nation, is stirring some powerful emotions in Africa, the world's poorest continent.

Fear and loathing seem to be high on the list.

....

"The unpopularity of Bush is undeniable -- all the public opinion polls show that. But the reality is more complex," said John Stremlau, an American professor at South Africa's Witwatersrand University.

Those who swim against the tide say Africans have got it wrong about Bush, fooled by his cowboy manner and still angered by his decision to wage war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq without the rest of the world's consent.

The minority camp points to the African Growth and Opportunity Act opening U.S. markets to selected countries, to the $15 billion earmarked to help fight AIDS over the next five years and to $100 million to strengthen the anti-terror defenses of vulnerable African states.

"It's true that he's come up with a lot more initiatives for Africa than Clinton did," said Ross Herbert, an American at the South African Institute of International Affairs.

Bill Clinton, Bush's predecessor in the White House, visited Africa in 1998 and 2000 and generally enjoyed an excellent press and warm relations with heads of state.

By contrast, the Bush program in Senegal, South Africa, Botswana, Uganda and Nigeria will lack Clintonesque "grip-and-grin" contact with ordinary people.

Instead, some analysts think, Bush is getting to grips with the big issues of security, poverty, trade and AIDS.

"Clinton talks the talk but he doesn't walk the walk very far. Bush is a more forthright straight shooter. On balance for Africa, it looks like Bush may be turning out to be better," Stremlau said.

....

Whatever the motivation for the largess, many humanitarian agencies working in Africa are deeply mistrustful of the Bush administration.

"The benefits of AGOA are dwarfed by the impact of U.S. agricultural dumping," the British-based charity Oxfam said in a statement before his July 7-12 trip.

African human rights groups oppose the tactics used by Washington to pressure governments into exempting American citizens from prosecution by the International Criminal Court.

The government in Senegal, Bush's first stop and a relative model of democracy, was at first too embarrassed to admit it signed such a waiver on the eve of his arrival.
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