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Bush: “America has a direct stake in the progress and hope of other nations”

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George W BushTo acknowledge World AIDS Day, former President George W. Bush looks back on the legacy of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund in an op-ed for The Washington Post. He describes PEPFAR as a new model for foreign assistance programs – citing it as having adopted a more results-oriented approach than other aid programs. Bush also makes the connection between national security and development or economic growth; he argues that the stability of sub-Saharan Africa was an initial impetus for taking action. Bush concludes by reinforcing the moral argument for fighting AIDS worldwide. Though he is writing about a specific disease, he touches on several principles of effective aid, and makes the case for continued bipartisan action for foreign assistance programs that encourage “global health, political freedom, and economic progress.” See below for key excerpts:

“Many of the world’s problems – terrorist networks, criminal gangs, drug syndicates, pandemic diseases – are no more than a half-day plane ride from the United States. These challenges tend to take root in hopeless, poorly controlled areas. This does not mean that promoting health and development is a substitute for confronting immediate threats. It does mean that no national security strategy is complete in the long run without promoting global health, political freedom and economic progress.”

“In all of these efforts, my concern was results. I was frankly skeptical of some past foreign assistance programs. In this crisis, we needed not only more resources but also to use them differently. So we put in place a unified command structure; set clear, ambitious, measurable goals; insisted on accountability; and made sure that host governments took leadership and responsibility. The results came more quickly than many of us expected. Early in 2003, there were perhaps 50,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa on AIDS treatment. Today, thanks to America, other donor nations and the tireless work of Africans themselves, nearly 4 million are. Fragile nations have been stabilized, making progress possible in other areas of development.”

“I firmly believe it has served American interests to help prevent the collapse of portions of the African continent. But this effort has done something more: It has demonstrated American character and beliefs. America is a certain kind of country, dedicated to the inherent and equal dignity of human lives. It is this ideal – rooted in faith and our founding – that gives purpose to our power. When we have a chance to do the right thing, we take it.”

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