June 6, 2005

About that Live 8 conference call.

Here's what Frank J. at IMAO has to say about the Live 8 conference call I wrote about earlier today. And here's John Hinderaker (who worked on setting up the conference call with Joe Trippi):
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.

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.”
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.

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.


Wm said...

Now that last quote is interesting: if Mugabe (as an example) is not invited, how will he be worked-around? This is big talk on Geldof's part. Obviously one cannot help but be hopeful for proportional results, but how will his big ideas be implemented? I don't mean to sound disparaging or negative in tone--in fact, the more I hear/read the more I like where Geldof is going. But those people like Mugabe will make themselves formiddable roadblocks when they see their power threatened, as inevitably it will be if free markets and democracy do take hold.

Wm said...

Sorry I meant "included" instead of "invited."

henny said...

I'm so impressed! Really, I had tried to close my ears to the whole Live Eight thing because I thought it was just another "we are the world" star power positioning.

But the fact that he is speaking of democracy in Africa, corruption in Europe and Africa, and is thinking beyond "saving Africa" through warm and fuzzy donations is enlightening.

Al Maviva said...

Is it just possible that as a result of sticking around and working problems – trying to do real work, instead of just cutting a weepy album about the problem and making a self righteous speech at the grammies – that Bob Geldof and Bono have learned some things of substance and are worth listening to on the topic? I know Jesse Helms was fond of Bono, so maybe there’s more to the man than funny sunglasses.

Kinda makes you wonder where Angelina Jolie will be in a few years. She’s a much more credible witness on a lot of humanitarian issues, than some who are in the business. ‘Course she is kinda nutty, but in this realm, I’ll take my friends where I can find them.

SMASH said...

To repeat something I wrote on my own blog, I went into this call with a great deal of skepticism. I find most celebrity do-gooders to be highly annoying -- they get a little bit of spoonfed knowledge, usually in the form of sound bites, and then preach to the rest of us as if we were totally ignorant.

I can't say this enough: Geldof has done his homework. He's made this his life's work, and it shows. He's spent time in Africa. He's been to the refugee camps. He's talked to world leaders. He was even a contributing member of a mult-national Committee for Africa.

Even so, he admits that he's not an expert. All that he's really asking is that we pay attention to the problem, and start to seriously address it, instead of ignoring it and hoping it goes away. We may have some differences on how to address the issues, but the fundamental issue is that in the 21st Century, we really can't afford to ignore the poorest continent on Earth.

As I wrote in an email to several of the participants, Americans should look at Africa as a national security issue. It may not affect us much right now, but it WILL be a much bigger problem in the near future.

We can either address the development and poverty issues now by encouraging democratization and fostering real economic development, or we can wait a few decades and send in the Marines.

The same argument, of course, could be applied to Latin America and Central Asia. As someone who has been deployed to a war zone, I'd much rather see a larger portion of my taxes go to foreign aid than be compelled to go on another military adventure in some God-forsaken country on the other side of the planet.

Your own mileage may vary.

Jamie said...

It stands to reason that some celebrities will recognize their special position and influence and actually be thoughtful about how to apply them, even though the "type" that becomes a celebrity may not be generally inclined to an outward-looking world view.

Always liked Bob Geldof. It's great to see people put their money where their mouths are - and it makes me feel terribly guilty when I fall short in my own limited capacity, which is also a good thing.

Judith said...

People talk about the "international shadow government" that NGOs are trying to become, but this looks like a shadow international volunteer movement trying to compensate for the bureaucracy, careerism, and anti-Western bias of NGOs!