|Letter 2: May 14, 2003
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SUBJ: U2 Fans Ask Us to Be "One" to Help Save a Continent and Free a
You got to do what you should
With each other
But we're not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other
When Bono wrote the lyrics to the U2 song "One," he undoubtedly couldn't
imagine how much meaning this song would take on in the aftermath of
Sept. 11, 2001.
But he and the rest of U2 did grow up with terrorism in Ireland, and
they know the kinds of conditions from which terrorism arises. Which
one reason why Bono is so passionate about the conditions in Africa
which has caused the AIDS pandemic on that continent to be particularly
According to DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade in Africa) Sub-Saharan Africa has
11% of the world's population and 70% of the HIV/AIDS cases. This is
continent that will be a continent of AIDS orphans in a matter of a
And as Bono says, here we sit trying put out this holocaust with
You will be considering legislation in the coming weeks to provide this
year's funding for the AIDS crisis. The house has already passed
relatively decent, unencumbered legislation, with the figure requested
in the White House budget of $200 million. Nevertheless, this is a
"drop in the bucket."
We've already spent more than that prosecuting a pre-emptive war for
questionable reasons, and we have billions more to go in Iraq, and
it seems to me that the AIDS crisis - especially the crisis in the
developed nations of sub-Saharan Africa - is at least as deserving
tax money. If we spent even a quarter of what we spend on the
Department of Defense on fighting poverty, famine, and disease around
the world, people would no longer NEED to BELIEVE in terrorism and
genocide because people would no longer be OPPRESSED.
This is why foreign aid is imperative. Not because we are a kind and
good nation offering charity, but because it serves the interests of
national security in the LONG term. Unfortunately all too many
politicians are uninterested in anything more long term than the next
election. Which leaves our children fighting wars such as our current
"war on terrorism." Is that the legacy you wish to leave?
So I strongly encourage you to up the ante, and then work it out in
conference. Furthermore, please do not tack on amendments that limit
the use of this money with regard to birth control or other moral
Asking for accountability is appropriate. In fact, encourage those who
would receive the funding to establish Cooperative Agreements, where
use of the money can be tracked more closely than it can with Grants.
But with regard to moral issues, our culture is different from the
cultures of the developing nations being scoured by AIDS, and it is
atrociously inappropriate for our country to try to attach "conditions"
on which the money may be granted that include moral imperatives based
on our own culture. It is simply not our place to interfere in the
moral and cultural beliefs of other nations.
The entertainment franchise *Star Trek* has a rule about
non-interference in cultural matters called "the Prime Directive."
sooner the United States develops its own Prime Directive, the better
the world will be.
And the sooner we start spending less money on guns and more money on
the fundamental needs of people (housing, food, water, health care
education), the better the world will be.
I urge you to consider these issues as you consider the AIDs legislation
before you. This letter is part of a letter-writing campaign organized
by fans of the band U2 who agree with the humanitarian words and deeds
of the band, especially with regard to Bono's quest to improve
conditions in Africa.