U.N. Summit; Africa; and Iraq

The UN Summit made new ground with a commitment to end half the number of people without adequate water and sanitation by 2015. There are around 2 billion men, women and children who live without good water and sanitation. As a result, they are inflicted by diarrhea, cholera, and other water-born diseases. This commitment would alleviate such problems. I wonder, however, how committed are the member-states? More importantly, how will these new programs be funded? Did the member-states pledge their commitment with money? So far, Britain, the U.S., and France have verbally declared an increase in aid towards sanitation projects.

Are African countries ungrateful or are they fighting against dependency upon the Western world? Zambia’s president, Levy Mwanawasa, leads a nation with 2.4 million hungry people. He refuses to accept genetically modified grain as food aid from the U.S. and Europe, labelling the grain as “poison.” I have heard some returned Peace Corps volunteers expressing disdain at how the second crop of grain and seed from the original batch (from the U.S.) fails to germinate, creating a dependency on Western corporations for more seeds.

Bush consulted with some members of Congress on the issue of Iraq. He promised to get the approval of the legislature before he attacks, which is appropriate. While there is agreement that “something” must be done about the regime in Iraq, there is internal disagreement about the “how.” Rumsfield and Cheney, no surprise, are the hawks. SecState Powell, however, has a different tone of voice, stressing diplomacy and exhausting the weapons inspection option before resulting to use of force. I like Powell’s stance since he understands the heavy commitment that the men and women of the military have to burden should the U.S. decide to attack. James Baker, SecState when Bush Sr. was president, advocates diplomacy. According to some analysts in-the-know, there are many risks to unilateral action: sheer scale of the operation; commitment of the U.S. to ten years of nation-building; the huge financial cost; the dangers to the long-standing alliances in the Middle East against al Qaeda; and Hussein being provoked to use his bio and chemical weapons against Israel. Also, an OK from U.N. Security Council is currently the talk du jour. Is the preventive use of force appropriate when the world community agrees it is necessary?

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