Have we all got George W Bush wrong? I mean, he made a mess of Iraq and Afghanistan and global warming, and a few other things, but Africa loves him. Judging from news reports emanating from US and even some UK media outlets, George has just about saved the life of every African child on the continent.
Does this mean George Bush will, after all, go down in history as a great US president?
Unfortunately for George, probably not.
Mister Bush has spent the last few days slogging his way through the ‘success stories’ of Africa, leaving the not so successful – Sudan, Somalia, D.R.C., Angola, to name just a few – to their inglorious fate.
Mister Bush was hell-bent on glorifying his (read: American people’s) vast spending on combating AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis; all, in themselves, worthy causes and the recipients of great dollops of US cash.
The media would have Americans believe the progress made in combating these diseases has resulted from purely American funding. In fact, the fund raising has been global, with regular annual contributions from forty-four other nations.
Nevertheless, the US pledged $724,000,000 in 2007, between a quarter and a third of the globally pledged amount of $2,573,061,210.
That’s a fair chunk of money and representative of the most powerful economy on the planet.
Unfortunately, the US failed to deliver nearly $193,000,000, which means its actual donation amounted to only $531,007,853, less than a quarter of the full sum globally pledged and received – $2,283,390,073.
In fact, according to today’s Washington Post:
“At a briefing in Dar es Salaam yesterday, Mark Dybul, the president’s global AIDS coordinator, asserted that the United States is the largest contributor to the fund, which is certainly true. And he said the president has proposed an increase in the U.S. contribution for next year, which is debatable at best.
“The president is requesting an increase for our contribution to the Global Fund, an increase above his last year request from $300 million to $500 million,” Dybul told reporters.
A casual listener might think the United States is increasing its contribution to the Global Fund. Not really: As is often the case with Washington budget claims, it’s important to look at exactly what is being asserted. Bush did request $300 million for the Global Fund for the current fiscal year, but Congress decided to go further and approved $841 million. So even though Bush’s request for $500 million for the next fiscal year is higher than he requested the year before, in reality it would cut the contribution back from the $841 million it is getting in cold hard cash this year.” 
It would seem George W Bush, while making a valiant attempt to rescue his legacy from the trash can, will still give as little as possible to any cause that isn’t supported by the sharp end of an M16.
Filed under: George (of the African) Bush