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Saturday, September 13, 2003

Sachs on the $87 Billion

A surprisingly radical op-ed runs in today's Boston Globe by Jeff Sachs, the former Harvard prof now at Columbia. He trashes the Bush administartion for spending so much in Iraq while neglecting the suffering of the diseased in Africa:

"The world is out of kilter when President Bush asks for $87 billion for Iraq and only $200 million for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. The administration displays profound confusion regarding national security as well as moral purpose. It is ready to pump tens of billions of dollars into a middle-income oil-rich country of 24 million people, while utterly neglecting 500 million impoverished Africans, 10 million of whom will actually die this year of extreme poverty, too poor to buys the drugs, bed nets, fertilizers, tube wells, and other basic contrivances that could keep them alive."

Sachs goes on to claim the US occupation of Iraq is simply the result of imperial ambition and oil greed:

"Why would a US government that overlooks suffering around the world and poverty at home be ready to invest $150 billion in Iraq over the course of two years? The argument that the war was about an imminent risk from Iraq has been thoroughly trashed. The war had nothing to do with any immediate threats from Saddam Hussein, and the intelligence agencies knew that last fall. Containment was already working. The war was about oil, specifically about a long-standing and simplistic US vision about the need to militarize the Persian Gulf in order to ensure the steady flow of petroleum."

I guess that the Jeff Sachs who used to enjoy rubbing elbows with officials in Washington is gone now, having been replaced by an anti-Bush zealot. Perhaps his entreaties for paying more attention to problems of the world's poor, which were generally well received in the Clinton era, have been ignored by the Bushies (I am hypothesizing here) and Sachs, a man who takes himself quite seriously, is furious at having been marginalized. And now he's on the warpath.