Jewish World Review June 10, 2002 / 1 Tamuz, 5762

Bill O'Reilly

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What does Bono want from us? | You have to love this guy Bono. The lead singer for U2 really wants to help the world, and I admire that. His trip to Africa with Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill was a great photo opportunity for both men. But behind the glittering 8-by-10s, Africa is still a major mess.

The problem is that in most African countries there is no infrastructure. Tribalism has crippled coordinated attempts to improve the standard of living for the 800 million or so people who live there. Life expectancy on the continent is the lowest in the world -- about 50 years -- and the main reason is because ancient hatreds rule, and cooperation among people even in the same nation is rare.

Bono and many others want the United States to send more money to Africa. The New York Times screams that America sends less aid than any other developed area. On a per capita basis, Canada sends more, and so does Europe.

But in real dollars, America has been a generous player in Bono's band. In the past 25 years, American taxpayers have contributed almost 40 billion dollars to help Africans. And what do we have to show for our money?

Nothing, that's what.

Now some of that is our fault. We sent millions to brutal dictators to keep them out of the Soviet orbit. We bribed killers so they wouldn't become commies. But it didn't matter whether they embraced Leninism because thieves are thieves, no matter what ideology they spout. Much of the aid that America sent to Africa went directly into the bank accounts of the Robert Mugabes of the world. Thugs, pure and simple.

Bono and some American media people would have us believe that things are different now, that the African governments are ready to "evolve," as they say in California. Well I'm from Missouri on this one: Show me.

One of the biggest fallacies going is that America can afford to send a lot more money to Africa. American workers are taxed to the hilt, and the war on terror is costing the U.S. about $2 billion a month. That's real money -- not loans or credit.

In case Bono and everyone else with their hands out haven't noticed, America is protecting the world here. We are hunting down terrorists and rebuilding pathetic countries like Afghanistan. It is enormously expensive.

Should we rebuild other pathetic countries in Africa? The answer is no. But we can help Africans help themselves -- if they stop the nonsense.

First off, all American aid should go toward specific projects overseen by the American Embassy in the country receiving our money. If Nigeria needs a highway, then American officials should oversee the project. If South Africa needs money for AIDS education, then Americans should sign off on the nature of that education.

With all due respect to Bono and other concerned rich guys, most Americans work hard to pay their taxes, and having aid money stolen by greedy thugs is not only insulting, it is criminal. The days of wine and roses are over for corrupt, coup-installed "generals." Do it our way, or you don't get the highway.

A few years ago, another Irish rock guy, Bob Geldof, put on a big benefit to help victims of a terrible African famine. Millions poured in. Did the money get to the starving people? Not according to many associated with the project. The African bureaucracy overwhelmed Geldof's good intentions.

So I hope Bono and Secretary O'Neill had a nice time running around Africa. It is a fascinating place to visit. But you wouldn't want to live there because it is so easy to die. Millions of Americans would like to help improve that situation. But African nations must stop the chaos and corruption and begin to help themselves. That is the only way things will every get better over there, and everybody should know it. You, too, Bono.

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JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author of the new book, "The No-Spin Zone: Confrontations with the Powerful and Famous in America" Comments by clicking here.


06/03/02: On fighting evil
05/28/02: A Tale of Two Churches
05/20/02: Crimes against humanity
05/13/02: Silence of the lambs
05/06/02: Hide the children
04/29/02: 'Paul, Paul, Paul!'
04/22/02: Barbarians in the Church
04/15/02: Pray for peace, polish the weapons
03/11/02: Do no harm? Time to spank "Dr. Phil"
03/04/02: Promoting the general welfare
02/25/02: Who's responsible?
02/19/02: Lay it on them
02/11/02: Buy dope, fund terror
02/04/02: Back room deals
01/28/02: From boom to bust
01/21/02: The Fairness Doctrine
01/14/02: Hey, Paula, take it to the bank and hush up
01/07/02: And justice for none
12/31/01: All that's left
12/24/01: Santa is appalled
12/17/01: Fight the power
12/10/01: The black challenge
12/03/01: How things have changed
11/26/01: Waiting in the Bushes
11/19/01: The sign of the Cross
11/09/01: Hollyweird strikes back
11/06/01: The fear factor
10/26/01: Show me the money
10/22/01: See no evil
10/15/01: Peace, but no quiet
10/08/01: The air war
10/01/01: I don't understand
09/24/01: We are all soldiers, and we have a job to do
09/14/01: Evil on display
09/11/01: Family matters!
09/04/01: End of summer blues
08/27/01: Summertime -- and the livin' ain't easy
08/20/01: The rap on rap
08/13/01: The truth hurts
08/06/01: Amnesty for illegals: Bush's political investment
07/30/01: The big picture on Condit-Levy
07/24/01: Silence of the Shams
07/16/01: Condit, Kennedy and cable news
07/09/01: Heather needs a childhood: The unnecessary loss of innocence
07/02/01: What would have happened if Steven Spielberg had recut "Schindler's List" for German audiences so they wouldn't be confronted with "emotional issues"?
06/25/01: Freak dancing
06/18/01: Work or die
06/11/01: Soundbite nation
06/04/01: Paying through the nose
05/29/01: Graduation Day 2001
05/21/01: Accepting the unacceptable
05/14/01: The Clinton legacy
05/07/01: Kerrey's ordeal
04/27/01: Is the party over?
04/20/01: Racism in public education
04/16/01: The fleecing of America
04/10/01: People who need perspective
04/03/01: Dubya's bottom line --- and ours
03/27/01: Don't tell, don't ask
03/20/01: Greenspan with envy
03/13/01: Clinton and Jackson
03/07/01: All that's left in America
02/27/01: The Letterman experience
02/20/01: Bread and circuses
02/06/01: How the Clintons do it
01/30/01: The Bush dilemma
01/24/01: I have been investigating Jackson's finances for the past two years
01/17/01: Sifting Ashcroft's record

© 2001 Creators Syndicate