George W. Bush Calls Foreign Aid A Moral And Security Imperative
President Trump's budget blueprint is all about "hard power" — increasing the country's military might by slashing foreign aid. The proposed cuts are in contrast to the dramatic boost to foreign aid under President George W. Bush.
Bush dedicated billions to combating HIV/AIDS in Africa with a program called PEPFAR that still exists today. So far, it has been spared from cuts. He highlighted the program's work and that of his post-presidency initiative to combat AIDS and cervical cancer during a recent trip to Africa.
"I think the most meaningful moment for me was going to a maternity ward in Namibia," he told NPR at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. "Seeing a roomful of ladies, most of whom — if not all — had the AIDS virus, and every one of their babies was born without AIDS. Mother-to-child transmission efforts of PEPFAR have been unbelievably successful."
Asked what he would say to a mom struggling in the United States and watching money flow to foreign places like Botswana and Namibia, Bush responded:
"Look, we can't solve every problem. And I would tell the person who's out of work, hopefully there's enough aid there to help you transition. But, you know, the idea of turning our back on a pandemic that would've wiped out an entire generation of people, I don't think is in the spirit of the United States."
National security is also at stake, Bush argued.
"When you have an entire generation of people being wiped out and the free world turns its back, it provides a convenient opportunity for people to spread extremism," he said. He added, "I believe in this case that it's in our national security interests as well as in our moral interest to continue funding this program."
Bush also spoke with Morning Edition about immigration and his new compilation of veterans' portraits. - More, NPR