World leaders are gathering this week for the
Group of Eight (G-8) summit at Gleneagles, Scotland, hosted by
British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The meeting will be
dominated by discussion of poverty in Africa and how best to
alleviate it. Foreign aid, debt forgiveness, and trade
liberalization will be high on the political agenda, in addition to
the issue of climate change. There are likely to be considerable
tensions behind the scenes, including between Washington and
London, and immense pressure placed upon the United States to sign
on to a huge increase in development assistance by Western nations,
as well as a package of measures aimed at reducing global warming.
President George W. Bush should not assent to either
There is little
doubt that this will be a highly contentious summit, set against
the backdrop of continuing transatlantic tensions over the Iraq war
and a fractious divide over the future of Europe among the EU's big
three, Great Britain, France and Germany. There is also little
doubt that French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor
Gerhard Schroder will do their best to make the summit as
uncomfortable as possible for their British host and will attempt
to play off the UK against its most trusted ally, the United
States. Indeed a highly public spat between the British and the
Americans-a visible crack in the special relationship-will cause
considerable delight in Paris and Berlin.
Bush, this appears a very difficult trip. The President will have
to strike a delicate balance between supporting the British Prime
Minister and advancing clearly defined U.S. interests. It should be
possible, however, for the President to do both. Despite clear
differences on the issues of foreign aid and climate change, the
G-8 summit should be an opportunity for Anglo-U.S. cooperation,
rather than division, on the world stage.
must resist efforts to tie the U.S. to an artificially set figure
on foreign aid spending as a percentage of GDP.The U.S. is already the world's biggest
international donor, providing $19 billion in official development
assistance in 2004, according to the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development (OECD). The
President should also oppose any declaration that commits the U.S.
to supporting the principles of the Kyoto Protocol.
should though work closely with his British counterpart on debt
forgiveness, trade liberalization, and economic and political
reform in Africa, while insisting that any deal on debt be offered
only to fully democratic governments that guarantee political and
economic rights for their citizens.
The U.S. and the
UK should form a powerful alliance at Gleneagles calling for the
abolition of artificial trade barriers by Western nations.
President Bush and Prime Minister Blair should jointly call for the
scrapping of Europe's £33 billion ($60 billion) per year
Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the biggest barrier to free trade
in the world and a vast welfare system for uncompetitive European
farmers. French farmers alone receive a staggering £7 billion
a year in CAP payments, 21 percent of the total. At the same time, the
U.S. must pledge to end its own (albeit far smaller) system of
The United States
and Great Britain should advance a vision for Africa that
emphasizes political and economic reform on the continent, as well
as open access to European and American markets, and which condemns
those African governments that tyrannize their own populations. The
Anglo-American communiqué must deliver a clear message: only
Africa's leaders themselves can deliver their own people from
The solution to Africa's myriad woes lies not
in spending more government money, all too often misused on the
ground, but in advancing good governance, economic and political
freedom, and open trade. The Millennium Challenge Account (MCA),
which ties U.S. aid to all the above, should be the role model for
future international development assistance.
President Bush Should Not Sign On
to the 'Marshall Plan' for Africa
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon
Brown, has called for "a modern Marshall Plan for the developing
world-a new deal between the richest countries and the poorest
The centerpiece of his proposal is a doubling of development aid
from Western nations, combined with a complete write-off of
multilateral and bilateral debt owed by the world's poorest
countries. Brown has proposed the creation of an International
Finance Facility, to be funded by borrowing on the capital markets.
The European Union has already signed on to the call from Brown and
the United Nations for developed countries to contribute 0.7
percent of their GDP to foreign aid.
Brown's goal of eradicating poverty in Africa
is admirable, but it is unfortunately undermined by
counter-productive and naïve policies. British and EU policy
on foreign aid is likely to perpetuate a culture of dependency in
the continent, which will impede rather than accelerate the
positive changes needed to haul Africa into the 21st century.
Significantly, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned last
week that increased levels of foreign aid will not boost economic
growth in Africa.
There is no guarantee that Western aid will be
used properly by Third World countries. All too often, foreign aid
has enriched political elites in Africa and Asia, while failing to
benefit ordinary people. A perfect example has been that of
Africa's most populous country, Nigeria, whose rulers for 40 years
squandered the wealth of an oil rich nation that possesses vast
natural resources. Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission, set up in 2002, recently revealed that the country's
previous rulers misused or stole £220 billion ($400 billion) in the period
between independence from Britain in 1960 and 1999, when the
country returned to civilian rule.
Gordon Brown's plan for Africa has hardly
received a ringing endorsement from the British public that he
expects to pay the bill for his grandiose scheme. A large majority
of Britons, according to a recent YouGov survey, believe that
foreign aid is likely to be wasted by African governments. Fully 83
percent of British voters do not have confidence that "money will
be spent wisely rather than being wasted or finding its way into
the pockets of criminals and corrupt governments." Just under 80
percent of those surveyed believe that corrupt and incompetent
African governments "have contributed most to Africa's problems."
Advancing Economic and Political
Freedom in Africa
cannot be solved simply by spending more money on development
assistance, and President Bush should not hesitate to convey the
message that the United States will not support a huge increase in
foreign aid.At the G-8 summit, President Bush should argue that the
specter of poverty in the African continent can best be challenged
through open trade, increased foreign direct investment (FDI), and
sustained political pressure on African governments to liberalize
their economies and advance economic and political reform. The
greatest gift the West can give to Africa and the developing world
is not yet another short-term handout measured in dollars, pounds,
or euros, but the seeds of liberty and freedom and a long-term
commitment to holding African leaders to account for corruption,
misrule, and human rights abuses.
Ph.D., is Fellow in Anglo-American Security Policy
in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy of the
Shelby and Kathryn Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies
at The Heritage Foundation.