Letter 4: May 16, 2003
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SUBJ: U2 Fans Ask You to Help Save a Continent and Free a World

I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He brought me up out of the pit
Out of the miry clay

I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song

How long to sing this song?
How long to sing this song?
How long... how long... how long...
How long... to sing this song

He set my feet upon a rock
And made my footsteps firm
Many will see
Many will see and fear

I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song

How long to sing this song?
How long to sing this song?
How long... how long... how long...
How long... to sing this song

"40," Music: U2, Lyrics: Bono. Based on Psalm 40.

Today the richest nations give Africa $7 billion dollars less each year
than they did ten years ago. Meanwhile Sub-Saharan Africa pays $40
million PER DAY on debt repayments. Africans are still waiting
patiently. And those of us who want our tax dollars to go to Africa are
also waiting patiently. How long WILL we have to sing this song? The
Lord won't give Africans a rock to stand on by magic. The Divine
requires the work of humans with free will to WORK TOGETHER to create a
better world. This world and all its creatures are a gift from the
universe, and to date, our stewardship of this gift leave much to be

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.

. .