I wrote here about my participation in a conference call with Bob Geldof and a bunch of bloggers, both right and left, on the subject of Geldof’s effort to persuade the G8 nations to do more to help Africa. As I said, I was very impressed not just by Geldof’s commitment, but more important, by his encyclopedic knowledge and his hard-headed recognition of the need for reform. Plus, he won me over by describing Robert Mugabe as a “thug like Fidel Castro.” You can listen to the audio of the conference call, and see for yourself why I found Geldof so impressive, here. You can learn more about the project here and here.
And don’t worry, I haven’t gone soft in the head. I generally prefer private to government assistance for humanitarian purposes, and some areas in Africa suffer from political dysfunction that makes effective aid impossible. But, humanitarian considerations aside, I think the geopolitical case for doing what we can to help Africa move forward–as some countries there are already doing quite effectively–is a slam dunk. It’s a small world, as the saying goes, and the cost of helping to bring hope and progress to the world’s most historically benighted continent is approximately zero, compared to the cost, down the road, of dealing with the consequences of inaction.
That’s what President Bush thinks, too, as today he met with five African leaders and discussed the need for political reform and freer markets:
The June 13 meeting with the five African leaders came just days after finance ministers from the Group of Eight nations (G8) announced in London an historic multilateral debt relief package that will relieve the debt burden of 18 of the world’s poorest nations — 14 of which are in Africa