Thursday, June 09, 2005

Blair Asked For Help, But Bush Gave Him Spin

Tony Blair has a plan to double aid to Africa to $50 billion over 10 years, an "International Finance Facility" plan that he's been touting for months. The plan would double aid for poor countries by issuing bonds against the future aid budgets of rich nations.

He made his pitch to President Bush on Tuesday, but the President met him with spin.

Instead of becoming a $25 billion partner in Blair's African aid plan, Bush instead "unveiled" his own plan to spend $674 million in emergency aid in Africa -- money that Congress had already approved.

This is the equivalent of when Boston Rob pulls a double-cross on Survivor, with Blair playing the part of the poor sap. You scratch my back, and I'll put a "kick me" sign on yours in return.

Blair has been one of the U.S.' best friends, going the distance in providing initial support for Bush in Iraq, and then defending the U.S.-led effort after revelations that it used bad intelligence on weapons of mass destruction and Iraqi ties to Al Qaeda to justify the war, and/or neglected to listen to other opposing intelligence.

Bush can't afford to lose Blair as his partner, but you never would have guessed it from the way he treated Blair on Tuesday. He must have confused Blair with a Democrat, going into "spending my political capital" mode.

***

The New York Times, in a June 8 editorial, put things in perspective: "President Bush kept a remarkably straight face yesterday when he strode to the microphones with Britain's prime minister, Tony Blair, and told the world that the United States would now get around to spending $674 million in emergency aid that Congress had already approved for needy countries."

***

A surprising number of mainstream press failed to catch on to Bush's bait-and-switch:

CNN.com headline: "Bush, Blair Push African Debt Relief." CNN refers to Bush opposing Blair's plan in paragraph seven. The $674 million is mentioned in paragraph eight, incorrectly written as if its a new aid package.

MSNBC.com headline: "Bush, Blair Near Debt Elimination Plan For Africa." MSNBC ran an Associated Press story, which didn't mention that Blair was seeking $25 billion. The reference to Bush's $674 million "pledge" -- again, incorrectly suggesting this is a new package -- comes in pagragraph eleven.

CBSNews.com headline: "Bush, Blair Talk African Aid."

In paragraph two, it reports: "As CBS News Correspondent Bill Plante reports, Blair -- who paid a heavy political price for supporting the war in Iraq -- came looking for some help on his own priorities: aid to Africa and global warming. It wasn't exactly payback, but Mr. Bush did offer support for Blair's plan to forgive the debt of African nations willing to embrace reform."

The story doesn't mention that Blair was seeking $25 billion, and refers to the $674 miliion package -- again suggesting this is a new package -- in paragraph seventeen.

Washington Post headline: "Bush, Blair Agree On Aid For African Relief." In an understatement, the sub-headline says: "But Leaders Disagree on Amount and on Global Warming."

Amazingly, the Post writes in paragraph two: "In their first visit together at the White House since winning reelection in campaigns dominated by Iraq and U.S. foreign policy, Bush and Blair trumpeted a new U.S. plan to spend $674 million more on famine relief and said a deal to erase millions of dollars owed by poor African nations is imminent."

Trumpeted? Try to imagine the hoops the Post's Jim VandeHei jumps through, as he reveals in paragraph eleven: "The new $674 million commitment, which comes from money already approved by Congress for humanitarian relief ..."

The mainstream media shouldn't have been confused by Bush's intention. According to Reuters: Bush made clear his position last week, saying the proposal "doesn't fit our budgetary process." White House officials said that position remained the same ahead of the Blair meeting.

15 Comments:

Blogger John said...

Blair has been proven to be the perfect stooge fro Bush. He has agreed to all the desires on the Bush administration, and gotten nothing in return.

On the Issues that he has pressed, working with the UN, working with the EU, Kyoto, Africa Debt, etc, he is O-for.

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many will fight with me on this one. But Bush likely knows the country could not afford to support Blair's African plan if it wanted to. Bush policies have already driven the U.S. so deeply in debt so much that we're at the mercy of our aggressive lenders like China.
The Bush Administration caused the country to gamble $200 billion on the Iraq lottery. We have no money left for humanitarian aid, even if it means throwing fair-and-square support to our best ally Great Britain.
So we're losing, if not lost, our status as a global economic power and now we're losing our status as a charitable nation. Thank you George Bush!
If I am wrong, I will say that none of the mainstream press appears to want to address these probable effects of our mounting national deficit.

11:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The U.S. is not "a charitable nation." It is the largest charity donator in the world. If it wasn't for America's generosity a majority of the world's poorest nations would cease to exist. What do the Brits get in return for backing the U.S.? Plan and simple: they get the protection of the most dominant military in the world. It's no secret that Europe is being overrun by radical muslims. One day, perhaps in the not so far off future, the U.S. may be forced to go in there exterminate a few. God knows, the Brits haven't had a military with Balls since Churchill.

2:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's fascinating how many news sites screwed this story up. If the Reuters information is true -- if it was known Bush wasn't going to go for Blair's plan -- then that means that a lot of reporters aren't capable of doing basic research.

3:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anonomous above:
I never said the U.S. is not a charitable nation. I said it was losing its status as one, for Bush Administration support of
torture and terrorism regimes such as Saudi Arabia, Syria and Ubkanistan (excuse the spelling I will look it up later).

3:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

uzbekistan?

4:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why would be losing our status as a charitable nation?

Was the debt forgiveness not "new" money?

11:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just in the last ten years, how many US dollars, via the US government, charitable organizations, UN, private donations, etc ... have flowed into Africa?

Why is it that the left's knee jerk assumption is that if the existing money has not solved the problem, that simply increasing the amount of money will fix the problem?

10:25 PM  
Anonymous rob of wilmington, del. said...

To the above commenter, people are dying in droves from starvation, war and AIDS in Africa.

From the NY Times June 8 editorial:

According to a poll, most Americans believe that the United States spends 24 percent of its budget on aid to poor countries; it actually spends well under a quarter of 1 percent. As Jeffrey Sachs, the Columbia University economist in charge of the United Nations' Millennium Project, put it so well, the notion that there is a flood of American aid going to Africa "is one of our great national myths."

The United States currently gives just 0.16 percent of its national income to help poor countries, despite signing a United Nations declaration three years ago in which rich countries agreed to increase their aid to 0.7 percent by 2015. Since then, Britain, France and Germany have all announced plans for how to get to 0.7 percent; America has not. The piddling amount Mr. Bush announced yesterday is not even 0.007 percent.

What is 0.7 percent of the American economy? About $80 billion. That is about the amount the Senate just approved for additional military spending, mostly in Iraq. It's not remotely close to the $140 billion corporate tax cut last year.

10:37 PM  
Anonymous rob of wilmington, del. said...

That editorial was called "Crumbs for Africa," which sums up the U.S. efforts there.

The most that Bush has spoken about Africa was when he wrongly claimed that Saddam was seeking enriched uranium there.

10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

$80,000,000,000 is crumbs ?!?! How exactly would $90,000,000,000 be more beneficial. Rob falls into the trap of assuming that one might not understand that there are atrocities happening there, and as such, we should simply just give more money. How is that going to help? How does that address warlords, brutal dictators, and corrupt governments?

Additionally, you did not even begin to address indirect spending, through humanitarian organizations, Red Cross, UN, private donations, etc ... My gut tells me that this category has equal, if not more, in aid, and probably actually reaches the people involved ? What have prior administrations done there ? How much was being spent on AIDS in Africa before President Bush took office ?

8:07 PM  
Anonymous Phillip said...

To the far right anon,

You do not like europe, you have not been to europe, europe is no more overrun with radical muslims than it was over run by radical jews when a german diplomat was killed in france back in the 30's.

Take this from someone who lives in the place okay.

Also, for a country that has no military "balls", why is the british controlled bits of Iraq not as bad as the american controlled bits? could it be because britain has been fighting american backed Irish "insurgents" in a remarkably simlilar situation for over a century now, nah, britain has no smart bombs and big guns to level cities with, how could it possibly be an effective fighting force? You're right on that score, britain obviously needs american defnse from the evil russians or whoever it is this week, your ability to move on into the 21st century is astounding, especially considering you skipped the 90's in the process.

What I don't get about the Bush/Blair thing is that bush screws him over all the time, but Blair isn't anywhere near the imcompetant idiot and bad politician that bush is, so I don't understand what exactly he's getting out of it, it's hurting him politically, he's not getting kickbacks and bribes from big business for war contracts like bush, His party doesn't like him for do any of this, his political aims would be greatly aided if he actually tried to get some leverage to move bush into doing even a token act of reciprocation, so why is he bothering?

The only reason I can think of is that he doesn't want to be seen cozying up to the EU just yet, which he'd have to do if he was to start reciprocating Bush's obvious dislike and contempt for britain and the rest of the world, and while Europhobia is quite strong in britain, the sort of snuggling he'd have to do wouldn't taint him too much with the title of "europhile". So I can only reason that he's waiting for the EU to come courting or something before switching sides, because I swear Blair isn't as stupid as blindly following Bush like he has been would imply.

Not that I'm saying he's a particuarly intelligent politician either, just not that stupid.

12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's see ... I do not dislike Europe. I just got back from vacation in Europe, and I was stationed in Europe when I was in the Air Force, so your post starts out with a flawed premise.

Please show us the information where President Bush is getting kickbacks and bribes for the war.

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Currently it looks like the collective G8 is going to be forgiving $40,000,000,000 in principle for the African debts. I assume that we are not doing enough. I have yet to hear a coherent response to how much we have spent there previously, and how simply throwing more money at the problems will actually solve the problems that we allege to be concerned about.

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Give a man a fish and he will eat one day; teach a man how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime--if only it were even as easy as that.

8:59 PM  

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