To say that I was impressed would be an understatement. Geldof is an extraordinarily knowledgable guy. Equally important, he is not soft-headed about Africa's problems. He emphasizes free markets and the need for political reform, which should be, and according to Geldof will be, a condition of the assistance that he advocates. Another important point, I think, is that he talks eloquently not only about the appalling conditions in some areas of Africa, but also about the striking progress being made in areas where political tyranny or upheaval have made such progress impossible.And here's Citizen Smash:
[Geldof]’s devoted his life to fighting hunger and poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa, and it shows – Sir Bob really knows his stuff. And while he is clearly trying to reach out to a wide spectrum of people, he didn’t pull any punches when it came to criticizing those who waste, embezzle, or squander public money (at one point, he casually mentioned that both Prime Minister Berlusconi of Italy and French President Jacques Chirac would be in jail for corruption if they weren’t leaders of their respective nations). I was impressed.Captain Ed simulblogged the phone call. Lots of details there, including the fact that Geldof was surprisingly positive about President Bush and Americans in general.
Here’s the clincher: Geldof wasn’t asking for donations. He admits that food aid and even debt cancellation, while helpful, are of limited utility in the long run. Instead, he’s asking us to start a converstation about how to stimulate long-term development in Sub-Saharan Africa. “This isn’t Live Aid 2,” the website reads, “LIVE 8 is about justice not charity.”
It struck me that Geldof, like Bush, saw establishing democracy as central to solving problems. And there was none of the Bush-related cynicism one normally expects to hear. How can Bush take the lead pushing for democracy in Africa when so many people in other G8 countries are derisive about his efforts in Iraq? No such thing was said. Geldof acted as if such a thought did not exist. He thinks Bush is perfectly positioned to take the lead.
Chapomatic highlights Geldof's statement: "Read your Adam Smith." Geldof was big on free trade and critical of all sorts of protectionism.
Here's Charles Johnson's post:
Despite my skepticism (rock stars with causes, oh boy), I was impressed with Geldof’s knowledge of the situation, and by his group’s ideas to make sure that whatever aid is generated will not simply be pocketed by corrupt African dictators. Ultimately, the vision seems to be to promote freedom and reform on the African continent. Geldof said, “Robert Mugabe will not be included.”Like Johnson, I was impressed at how Geldof framed his presentation to be compelling to persons across the political spectrum.
Sorry I haven't written more about this today, but I will keep up on this story in the future.