summit isn't sustainable
PRESIDENT Bush was right to skip the
U.N. "Earth Summit" now
convening in Johannesburg, and send a
delegation headed by Secretary of State
Colin Powell instead. It would have been
an improvement to nix the delegation
completely, but why give the Euros
another excuse to sniff and moan about
U.N. conferences tend to be an
exercise in diplomatic
self-gratification as it is. This summit
-- which nonsensically addresses poverty
under the rubric of "sustainable
development" -- is especially
irrelevant. So you have the usual
America-bashing and demands for more
Western money, without the summit really
taking on corrupt African policies that
threaten to starve 13 million Africans.
The Bush administration wants to
donate 500,000 tons of grain to fight
African starvation. This is supposed to
be a good thing. But Zambia and Zimbabwe
have rejected humanitarian shipments of
grain, and Mozambique has restrictions
on them, because the grain was
"We would rather starve than get
something toxic," Zambia President
Levy Mwanawasa has proclaimed. Sure,
something toxic like the same food
Americans eat. Apparently, in the face
of famine, he's afraid of obesity.
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has
been evicting and arresting white
farmers -- blind to the damage he is
inflicting on his famine-ravaged his
And where is the summit's focus?
South African President Thabo Mbeki
opened the conference with a rant
against wealthy nations not sharing
enough -- of what? The scorned grain?
Mbeki called the division of wealth
"global apartheid. "
U.N. envoy Jan Pronk bemoaned the
West's "inward-looking values"
in not giving more to poor nations.
Pronk was referring to wealthy nation's
resistance of the Earth Summit push for
wealthy nations to increase their
foreign aid to poor countries from 0.2
percent of national income to 0.7
percent -- and it will never happen.
Now you tell me which activity would
save more African lives: outraged
denunciations of the famine-friendly
policies of Zimbabwe, Zambia and
Mozambique from their African neighbors?
Or rants about why America should give
three times as much aid to developing
countries, including corrupt governments
that act as if it's a favor to accept
The whole setup stinks. By making
poverty a function of "sustainable
development," the United Nations
guaranteed that the focus would be on
getting Western nations to dole out more
aid -- as opposed to shaming
dysfunctional governments to be more
democratic and less corrupt so that
their people can live healthier lives.
Why would Americans go along with the
summit agenda? Do the U.N. types believe
that Americans don't think there are
enough ingrates in the world? Or are
Americans supposed to want more Third
World countries to reject our food?
Bush would have to have been a
masochist to show up in Johannesburg
after what happened to Health and Human
Services Secretary Tommy Thompson in
Barcelona last month. At the 14th
International AIDS conference there,
critics drowned Thompson out, shouting
"shame, shame" as he spoke.
Oh, yes, the shame. The United States
has committed $500 million to the U.N.
Global Fund to Fight AIDS and another
$500 million to prevent mother-to-
newborn transmission of AIDS in Africa
and the Caribbean.
And apparently the U.N. folks simply
haven't figured out that they can't
guilt more money from the United States
for sustainable development. Americans
understand that no matter how much we
give the rest of the world, we'll hear
scolds like "shame, shame" far
more than we'll ever hear "thank
E-mail Debra J. Saunders at firstname.lastname@example.org.