No. 1 Africa
"The Bush regime has been divisive — but not in Africa. I read it has been incompetent — but not in Africa. It has created bitterness — but not here in Africa. Here, his administration has saved millions of lives." So wrote singer and political activist Bob Geldof, remarking on the often overlooked legacy President Bush has built in the continent of Africa. Geldof - well known for his Live Aid and Live 8 concerts - isn't alone in his praise for the 43rd President. Among those Africa activists who, albeit reservedly, have praised the departing executive is Bono, U2 front-man and well known advocate on matters of African poverty and disease. "It is amazing what President Bush has done on AIDS ... to put AIDS third on the bill in a State of the Union speech by a conservative president was unthinkable a few years ago," said Bono in a 2003 interview. Such praise might be news to the casual observer of the Bush years, and understandably so. Eight years, two increasingly unpopular war fronts and a weak economy are bound to obscure any president's positive works. Marred by his questionable invasion - and subsequent management - of Iraq, President Bush has had his good deeds obscured in Africa. Where his other foreign policy endeavors have been riddled with missteps and miscalculations, George W. Bush's African efforts have come about as close to a pure foreign policy success story as one two-term president could ever hope to get. While the president has become a reviled and clownish caricature in other parts of the world, he has enjoyed the opposite throughout much of Africa. And with good reason. President Bush's emergency AIDS plan for Africa was possibly the largest health investment ever of its kind. In addition to AIDS spending, Bush quietly tripled the amount of overall U.S. aid to some of Africa's poorest countries. His efforts to address other deadly diseases, according to some activists and experts, have saved hundreds of thousands of African lives. The President's efforts have also cut incidence of Malaria by half in over a dozen African countries. Tackling tough political matters in the region, President Bush moved the proverbial ball on genocide in Darfur, earning him rare praise from groups like Human Rights Watch. In Liberia, he helped facillitate the removal (and eventual arrest) of Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, and his administration has played an active role in resolving instability in Kenya. His critics, rightly or wrongly, have been quick to point out upheaval in Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo as cases for indictment of Bush's African initiative. This view, while not lacking in certain merits, is perhaps too cynical when discussing Africa. Centuries of colonization, de-colonization, oppression, poverty and disease have left the continent a far too daunting policy challenge for any one president to tackle. And some, for various reasons, have done more than others in the time granted them by the American people. For Africa, it's been a good eight years.