Mona Charen

This may mark me as a bit of a crank, but I still recall Bob Geldof's heated denunciation of the United States back in the 1980s. He was the moving force behind Live Aid and the "We Are the World" recording that raised money for famine relief in Ethiopia. But in typical "Useful Idiot" fashion, he just assumed that famine in Africa must somehow be the fault of the West, and particularly of the United States.

I was so annoyed at the time that I did a little research and found 1) that the United States had donated more food and medicine than any other country in the world; and 2) that the famine was the result of the communist government's deliberate decision to collectivize agriculture and deport large numbers of farmers.

But times do change -- sometimes for the better. Reuters is now reporting that Bob Geldof, who, to his credit, never abandoned his interest in Africa's welfare, is praising President Bush's AIDS initiative.

"You'll think I'm off my trolley when I say this," Geldof told international aid workers, "but the Bush administration is the most radical -- in a positive sense -- in the approach to Africa since Kennedy." Lord Alli, described by Reuters as "an aid activist accompanying Geldof on the trip," agreed, adding "Clinton talked the talk and did diddly squat, whereas Bush doesn't talk but he does deliver."

And this raises the question: Why hasn't President Bush gotten more credit for this here at home?

This is precisely the sort of generous, humanitarian, decent act liberals claim to admire. I would venture to guess that if Bill Clinton had proposed it, he would be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

But Bush the "unilateralist," Bush the "militarist," Bush the "tool of big business" has looked at the world and seen that there is a humanitarian crisis in Africa that we have the power and the means to alleviate. Africa currently has 25.3 million people living with AIDS. But they don't live long. Without drugs and adequate training for doctors and patients, the death rate from HIV is much higher in Africa than in the developed world. As President Bush stated it: "Because of the AIDS pandemic, a child born today in sub-Saharan Africa has a life expectancy of 47 years. ... Nearly 60 percent of those infected by HIV in sub-Saharan Africa are women. Three million children under the age of 15 have the AIDS virus ... and the disease has left 11 million orphans; more children than live in the entire state of California."

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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