Blogger Conversation with Bob Geldof Transcribed Part IIIPart I is herePart II is here
So I was led inexorably to a place I never really wanted to go, I was led to having to really sell this, to talk to people about the potential of this summit coming up between the leaders of the seven richest nations in the world, plus Russia. And we had a plan now, and it was signed off by all the G7 people, it was signed off by all their representatives, it was signed off by many African people on the commission, and Blair adopted a UK policy going forward, again which was brave because it’s quite a radical agenda. But it does say that we need twin components to this: It’s the obvious one of the trade issue, the debt issue, and the aid issue, but they will only work if in turn there is a compact for justice within Africa that will deal with the issue of governance and corruption. It must be dealt with as a piece, that none of these can be isolated and it’s one holistic view of the problem and we will deal with it. And the deal is, we will pay to bail you out, but you must come to the party and reform yourself, and if you don’t reform yourself, we’re not playing ball.
How do we know that works? Because when America, which Churchill called its single greatest asset, its human generosity, bailed another starving, ruined bankrupt continent, in 1947, I think, with the Marshall Plan, you put one percent of GDP into Europe, provided Europe took on democracy. Now Europe did not know democracy, they tried it in Germany for five years, and reverted to revolutionary politics, hence the rise of fascism, Italy didn’t really know it until very recently. I lived in Spain under Franco, Spain of course only got democracy sometime in the late ‘70s. France has a version, we all have versions of this thing, but the Americans insisted upon it and we know it works, as we know, East Germany/West Germany, North Korea/South Korea. This principle, that the individual (at?) freedom will be able to exploit their own reserves works, but it must be done under the rule of law. So that’s the deal going forward, it’s hardly earth-shaking except in the analysis it is profound.
So how do we make that have any traction in the public mind? How do we get domestic political heat, so that the leaders who participated by proxy in the Commission for Africa, actually take their (text?) forward? Bono has been (crapping?) onto me. Bono became involved in the Africa thing through Live Aid, then he dropped out because he was a boy on the make, and he had to get there, and he’s become—we’re both from Dublin and we’ve known each other 27 years, he used to stand in the basement of the hotel bars we used to play in in Dublin and watched my band, and so we’ve known each other since then. He re-engaged sometime around when the Debt Coalition happened about six years ago and he kept saying, do Live Aid again, well it would be futile because the world has moved on because of the end of the Cold War I can only deal with charity in ’85; there was no way you could influence the rigid (stasis?) of politics that was the Cold War, but when that dissolved, great opportunities arose. The world was in flux, and in that fluidity, was great opportunity, and for Africa, also. So now they’re talking about charity; one it was never enough, no matter how much we give as individuals, it is not enough to instigate institutional change, which is what we need to (give those?) states, so you have to deal with the politics, the politics of the thing, but how to do that in an exciting manner, and how to create domestic heat, for example, in America, where there isn’t any of this issue, or in Germany, which is mired in recession and they don’t want to know, or in Italy, which is almost in a real depression, so how do you do that?
And the only thing I could do again was, well, I do that which I know, and do a major function, but I do it in the G7 capitals, so, yesterday Tokyo came in and three days ago Ottowa came in, Ottowa's very important because Canada is the only G7 country in budget surplus. So we’re going to create a massive wave of domestic political heat. We started with the One Campaign, which is already now in excess of one million people signed up for it, that is the way that we need to move forward in America, to lead this domestic agenda. It’s not as if we’re pushing against a brick wall; the Bush Administration has done quite a lot. Now not a lot of people actually pick up on that, and I’ve just been doing (national press?) in the UK this morning, and they’re asking me about the President, and I’m saying now look, they’ve already doubled aid, and they claim and say that they’re going to double it again. You know, you’ve got his AIDS initiative with the Global Fund, it’s keeping two hundred thousand alive, the Millenium Challenge Fund to fight poverty and corruption, it’s funded but it isn’t yet delivering—that’s for the structural reasons. Last year’s increase in assistance was more than four billion, it was the largest since Kennedy in ’62 created the Agency for International Development, and the Peace Corps to help with the Cold War.
All of this is from a very low base, but nonetheless, there is a dynamic there, and people think that when Blair talks to Bush about this that he’s talking to a (deaf wall?), and that’s simply not the case, and it isn’t the response that the Prime Minister gets. So this administration, I think, possibly could go down a fairly radical route, with regard to Africa, and America’s great strategic reason for doing this now: America will be taking 25% of its oil out of Angola and Nigeria within ten years, and as Colin Powell said, poverty is the great weapon of mass destruction.
Two great dynamics in Africa: Obviously the rise of Islam in sub-Saharan Africa across the Northern belt, but (easily?) met by the rise of evangelical Christianity across the Center and the South. One is prompted by Wahabbism from Saudi Arabia, and the other has got connection with the American churches, and indeed with regard to Live 8, an extraordinary letter has been signed by Pat Robertson, Billy Graham, it was largely authored by that author, what’s his name, the evangelical author who sold millions of books, Rick Warren is it?
(Unidentified caller—Joe Trippi?--confirms, Rick Warren)
And he says the (press? President?) has called for precisely everything that Live 8 and the One Campaign are calling for. So that’s where we’re at. Will we get there? I don’t know. Certainly all over the European press now, I mean in the tabloid papers, for example the Daily Mirror had eight pages on Africa this morning. I was at Breakfast Television, but surely this is, at least standing outside my flat this morning, wasn’t the issue about trade reform and corruption, this is in a cozy breakfast format, with (?) and so forth, and she asked me about trade reform, on Breakfast Television. It is working, it’s working in the European capitals, I’m going to Berlin tomorrow to talk to the Foreign Minister, Joska Fischer, and we’re announcing the concert there, I’ll talk to the press in France the next day, so it’s working here. We need to get traction in America, it’s working at the grassroots, it’ll come to a head in Philadelphia, where they’re easily expecting a million people at this concert, and I don’t think that this administration (?) this initiative, but we need it to be more open and there's clearly another way to do that, the direct way to do it is through this new phenomenon, you guys, which wasn’t there when I started as I said on this long journey of understanding 20 years ago. That’s about it, that’s my take on this.
(24:05) (Break again, I'll try to do some of the question and answer session later)