Letter 3: May 15, 2003
(Cut and paste the below message)

SUBJ: U2 Fans Ask You to See How Africa is "Slipping Under"

And I feel
Like I'm slowly, slowly, slowly slipping under
And I feel
Like I'm holding onto nothing....

A man builds a city
With banks and cathedrals
A man melts the sand so he can
See the world outside, You're gonna meet her there
A man makes a car, She's your destination
And builds a road to run them on, You gotta get to her
A man dreams of leaving, She's imagination
But he always stays behind
And these are the days
When our work has come asunder
And these are the days
When we look for something other

Midnight is where the day begins
Midnight is where the day begins
Midnight is where the day begins

And these are the days
When our work has come asunder
And these are the days
When we look to each other....

From "Lemon," Music: U2, Lyrics: Bono.

Did you know that Africa spends $14.5 billion each year repaying debts
and only receives $12.7 billion in aid? Forever in debt, African
nations are "slowly, slowly slipping under." They remain forever
beholden to the developed world, and forever unable to get ahead enough
to help their citizens attend to basic needs, such as the health care
and child care necessary for Africans to cope with the AIDS pandemic. 

Which is why Bono often says we sit here trying put out this holocaust
with watering cans.

As you continue to consider S.2009 in the coming days and weeks to
provide this year's funding for the African AIDS crisis, you should know
that we find the House version, H.R. 1298 to relatively decent
legislation, due to its lack of encumbrances. However, you should also
know that the figure requested in the White House budget of $200 million
that was passed by the House 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 yet
it seems to me that the AIDS crisis - especially the crisis in the less
developed nations of sub-Saharan Africa - is at least as deserving of my
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, in time peoples of the world would no longer NEED to BELIEVE
in terrorism and genocide because people would no longer be OPPRESSED. 
(And the Department of Defense certainly doesn't need the money, as it
has a budget bigger than all of the the defense budgets of the rest of
the world combined. It would still be the biggest defense budget in the
world, even if we did cut it by a quarter!) The U.S.A. would be seen by
the world in a much kinder light, as well, leading us back to the days
when we led the world in using foreign aid generously, wisely, and well,
such as when we enacted the Marshall Plan.

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 our
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 the
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." The
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 and
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.

. .