(09-16-03) Bono: Appeal to America's Greatness to Aid Africa -- USA Today * - U2 Feedback

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Old 09-16-2003, 11:16 AM   #1
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(09-16-03) Bono: Appeal to America's Greatness to Aid Africa -- USA Today *

[SIMG]http://images.usatoday.com/news/_photos/2003/09/15-bono.jpg[/SIMG]
Bono: Appeal to America's Greatness to Aid Africa

Rock star Bono, lead singer of the Irish group U2, knows what buttons turn up the volume. He'll be pressing them all this week as he tries to make Washington politicians meet promised funding levels for the fight against AIDS in Africa. Since 1998, Bono also has used his fame to focus attention on Third World debt and global trade. He spoke Monday to USA TODAY's editorial board about his admiration of Americans and his quest to enlist their help. His remarks were edited for length and clarity:

By Jym Wilson, USA TODAY

Q: What has your experience as a rock star taught you about dealing with Congress and the White House?

A: Politicians aren't afraid of rock stars and student activists they're afraid of churchgoers and soccer moms. They're really interested in you if you're a rock star and activist hanging out with soccer moms and church moms. Celebrity is a bit ridiculous, we all know that, but it's currency. And I'm spending mine here. You've got to use what you've got, and the most important thing we've got is an unstoppable argument: AIDS metastasizes as a problem. It's actually much cheaper to deal with it quickly. People will die in the tens of thousands for lack of $1 billion. Now, they want $87 billion for two countries, Iraq and Afghanistan. How about $1 billion extra for an entire continent? I don't think that's too much to ask this week. It all feeds into the same thing anyway, which is the way the world sees America.

Q: How does that worldview affect your strategy?

A: We're trying to appeal to the greatness of America. In fact, Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said to me, 'Don't appeal to the conscience of America. Appeal to the greatness of America and you'll get the job done.' I agree with him. This is a moment when people really want to believe in their country. They really want the moral high ground. I think it's appealing to the greatness rather than the conscience. Although, the conscience has to be pricked.

Q: Is America in fact 'great'?

A: We did this tour of the Midwest called the 'Heart of America' tour. We went to high schools and truck stops and churches. As an observer, as a fan of this country, I was amazed to see how people feel more American the more they get into these issues. America is not just a country; it's an idea. It's like it's hardwired into America: the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence. Actually, before the tour, I read all that stuff. I often feel like one of those annoying fans who reads the liner notes of the CD and knows everything about the artist.

Q: How did the heart of the United States respond to your message of debt forgiveness and access to U.S. agricultural markets? That must run counter to the perceived interests of a lot of those in your audience.

A: I love the Midwest. I used to love it playing in the band, in the blue bus. It's really an amazing country, beautiful just to look out the window at. And I find that the people are really straight-up: 'You're taking our jobs, are you? Is that what this is about?' But Teamsters, union people we met along the way, were saying, 'We know that there's a problem of a scale that needs an enormous response from us. And we're ready.' There was a giant of a man sitting in a truck stop, tattoos over his eye, and he said, 'If you need anyone to drive, I'm available.' We need people like that.

Q: What about anti-American views?

A: Americans are very patriotic, and they were very, very shocked at 9/11 not just the attack on America but the aftershock of watching some people celebrate when the twin towers turned to dust. Americans at that moment just went, 'How did this happen? How on earth did the country that liberated Europe not just liberated Europe but rebuilt it with the Marshall plan how did this happen?' There's no fair answer to that kind of question. There are evil-minded people everywhere. But we can certainly shut off their oxygen. The AIDS emergency offers a chance to America and Europe to show what we're really about. These groups fighting AIDS are great advertisements for the best of what we do, our technology, our creativity, our innovation.

Q: AIDS funding in Africa will help us in our fight against terrorism?

A: If the United States is a brand and all countries in a certain way are brands when was the brand of the USA the most sparkling? The answer is, of course, after the second World War. My father looked to America like Ireland was a part of it; he was so proud. Europeans were. That was after the Marshall Plan, which was not just about liberating Europe, of course, but about rebuilding Europe. Again, not just out of mercy, but as a bulwark against the Soviets in the Cold War. Well, this is a bulwark against Islamic extremism in the hot war. They are analogous.

Q: You say you have an unstoppable argument for fighting the global AIDS emergency, yet you're having trouble getting it fully funded.

A: I actually do think we're going to sort this out this week. We should give applause then to the politicians who did it. We don't want to be part of any political party; I've had to become apolitical to do this job. Now, not only am I a rock star, but I'm Irish, so that's really hard. We're saying to both parties, 'Please do not play politics with these people's lives in an election year. Please, can this be the one thing you all agree on?' In an election year, I think this actually brings out the best. All the other issues are contentious the war, the economy. This is something America can really be proud of. It brings people right back to the whole idea of America: It's not just a country. It's an idea.

What does U2 think of singer's activism?

Bono was asked by USA TODAY whether his causes have become his day job and what other U2 members think. His reply:

"The band members are very supportive of these things. They just think it's really unhip, and they just wish I'd stop shaking those people's hands and just pick up a bullhorn. There are a lot of days when I agree with them. But, they're cool. I'm very excited about my day job; I really hope you won't have to listen to me doing this for very long. I hope other people will take it over, like Ashley Judd, an incredibly elegant spokesman, brilliant actress. And Chris Tucker he has been to Africa four times. African-Americans are really getting interested. Sean "P. Diddy" Combs comes up to me: 'You want me to do anything for you, say anything that you can't?' I appreciate that. Tiger Woods said, 'If there's anything I can do, I want to be part of this.' So, hopefully, they will take up where I left off. I keep expecting people to say, 'Aren't you Irish?' and 'Would you mind just going home?' "

USAToday.com is also running a video interview with Bono on the strategic value of Africa. It can be found at http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion...no-q-n-a_x.htm
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Old 09-16-2003, 11:27 PM   #2
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Re: (09-16-03) Bono: Appeal to America's Greatness to Aid Africa -- USA Today *

Quote:
Originally posted by dsmith2904
A: We did this tour of the Midwest called the 'Heart of America' tour. We went to high schools and truck stops and churches. As an observer, as a fan of this country, I was amazed to see how people feel more American the more they get into these issues. America is not just a country; it's an idea. It's like it's hardwired into America: the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence. Actually, before the tour, I read all that stuff. I often feel like one of those annoying fans who reads the liner notes of the CD and knows everything about the artist.

/2003-09-15-bono-q-n-a_x.htm[/url] [/B]

annoying fan, am I?
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Old 09-17-2003, 07:05 AM   #3
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And this was taken after a meeting with George W Bush....it makes some depressing reading but Im sure Bono, its his nature, will "keep up the noise" With apologies to Angel for quoting BBC's article.... but this took place after USA Today interview...

"Bono 'rows' with Bush over Aids

U2 frontman Bono has had a "good old row" with President George Bush about Aids funding during a White House meeting.
The rock star urged the US president to allocate $3bn (1.9bn) to fight the current Aids crisis in Africa.

But the Bush administration would not increase its previous $2bn (1.26bn) pledge, citing concerns the money would not be used effectively.

Bono described Bush as "sincere" but added: "What I just can't agree with him on is the numbers."

In January, the US pledged to increase the country's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief budget by $10 billion (6.28bn) to $15 billion (9.43bn) over the next five years.

At the time, the US agreed it would spend $2bn out of this year's budget, but Bono has now called for this to be increased to $3bn.

But Mr Bush has held back on pledging the full amount because of concerns about how the money will be allocated.

"You need to make sure the infrastructure is in place for those resources to be spent," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

Bono and Mr Bush first discussed Aids funding in January
He added that spending would increase over the coming years to meet the $15bn commitment.

Following Bono and Mr Bush's meeting in Washington, the U2 frontman said he was "depressed" at not influencing the president's stance.

The Aids initiative will provide anti-viral treatment for HIV sufferers in Africa and the Caribbean.

It would also go towards education and prevention as well as helping children affected by the disease.

"The Aids emergency is just that. It's not a cause. We're not here peddling a cause. We're not looking to get into America's wallet for another cause," Bono said after the meeting.

"Several thousand people dying a day is not a cause, it's an emergency."

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Old 09-17-2003, 11:33 AM   #4
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There were also pictures....
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