Former President George W. Bush has been making the media rounds this week, telling both the Washington Post and NPR what military officials, Christian leaders, and members of Congress know, too: It’s in our national security interests as well as in our moral interest to continue funding foreign aid.
Over the weekend, Bush penned an opinion piece in the Washington Post titled, “PEPFAR saves millions of lives in Africa. Keep it fully funded.” In the piece, he describes his recent trips to Africa, the lifesaving work of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and the importance of foreign aid at home and abroad:
“Today, because of the commitment of many foreign governments, investments by partners, the resilience of the African people and the generosity of the American people, nearly 12 million lives have been saved. And nearly 2 million babies have been born HIV-free to infected mothers.”
“This lifesaving work also has a practical purpose for Americans. Societies mired in disease breed hopelessness and despair, leaving people ripe for recruitment by extremists. When we confront suffering — when we save lives — we breathe hope into devastated populations, strengthen and stabilize society, and make our country and the world safer.”
“Some will argue that we have enough problems at home and shouldn’t spend money overseas. I argue that we shouldn’t spend money on programs that don’t work, whether at home or abroad. But they should fully fund programs that have proven to be efficient, effective and results-oriented. Saving nearly 12 million lives is proof that PEPFAR works, and I urge our government to fully fund it.”
Read the rest here.
And today, on NPR’s Morning Edition, Bush called foreign aid “a moral and security imperative.”
Asked what he would say to a mom struggling in the United States and watching money flow to foreign places like Botswana and Namibia, Bush responded: “Look, we can’t solve every problem. And I would tell the person who’s out of work, hopefully there’s enough aid there to help you transition. But, you know, the idea of turning our back on a pandemic that would’ve wiped out an entire generation of people, I don’t think is in the spirit of the United States.”
“When you have an entire generation of people being wiped out and the free world turns its back, it provides a convenient opportunity for people to spread extremism… I believe in this case that it’s in our national security interests as well as in our moral interest to continue funding this program.”