Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Into Africa

When Bush was first elected, one of the few hopeful signs that I saw was the fact that he seemed to realize that the United States had a national interest in ensuring that African nations were able to raise their standards of living, of health care, of eduction. While Bill Clinton talks of the failure of the US to act in Rwanda as one of his biggest failures, Bush looked like he understood that we must not allow the conditions that gave rise to the Rwanda genocide to develop anywhere else.

While eating dinner the past two days, I have watched the Nightly News with Brian Williams on NBC. He has been on tour in W. Africa with Bono. The attention that Bono can bring to the situation in Africa is huge. The questions arise as to what we should, or can, do about it. Here are some suggestions:

At the previous G8 summit, the Bush Administration, along with the other countries, under the pressure of Bono's attention, promised to deliver aid to these countries. All of the G8 countries have forgiven African Debt. Only Great Britain has kept it's promise of aid. The Green Party should call on Congress to support President Bush's promise of aid. It is the Republican Congress that stands in the way. So, if you don't like to use Bush's name in a positive sense, just say "our country's promise."

The Sub-Saharan Countries of Chad and Mali have precarious economies. One of the few export commodities that they have is organic cotton. Yet, US Government policies subsidize cotton production in the US (especially in California) and we are able to sell US Cotton on the world market at less than the cost of production. At the upcoming plenary, there will be consideration of a new agricultural plank for the GPCA platform. It calls for the elimination of such subsidies. We must approve this new plank. Everyone has a responsibility to make sure that your county's representatives to the plenary understand this issue and will vote to approve it.

The Green Party needs to ensure that all humanitarian efforts are made to stop the suffering in Darfur. Whatever the causes, after turning our back on Rwanda and again saying "never again" we will have no credibility if we yet again turn our backs on such suffering. That phrase, never again, becomes like the key to open a door and free us from our guilt.

One way to gain understanding of what is really happening is to read fiction by writers from the area. Fiction tells you truths that statistics can never make you understand. I know that I learned a great deal from reading Nuruddin Farah's Blood in the Sun triolgy. Reading "Gifts" will give you a sense of female identity in this country without a government and allow you to feel the effefts of Western Aid on the people who need it most. You will not be comfortable with any of Farrah's books. He even gives you the viewpoint of one of those who helped to bring the Blackhawk Down.

If the ongoing question over Resolution 190 is the past tearing apart the present, the present is in sub-Saharan Africa, preparing to tear apart the future. Is the Green Party preparing us for that future?

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