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August 04, 2003

The Blame Game

I've been doing an incredible amount of reading tonight in the effort to put together a coherent post on some of the issues that have arisen over genetically modified foods in Africa. What I saw while I was reading, though, is a much, much bigger problem, and one that seems to apply to every attempt to provide real aid to Africa.

It's the blame game.

Our President blames the European Union for preventing the United States from helping. The European Union counters that the U.S. doesn't provide as much aid as Europe does. Others say that subsidies to our own farmers are to blame.

A U.N. Envoy was reported to be angry that we spend money on wars rather fighting HIV/AIDS. Apparenly he hasn't heard about the 15 billion dollars the U.S. has dedicated to doing just that. And, of course, there are others who say it doesn't matter, because it isn't enough.

Then there are those who believe that we should hand over our technology, and those who believe that it's all about profits for U.S. companies. The FAO says we've focused on the wrong crops.

Now, I'm enough of a realist to know that politics plays into every attempt to help. I understand that every interest group wants it all and wants it now. I know that it is almost insane to expect folks to tone down the rhetoric and settle down to finding a pragmatic solution to the problems Africa faces.

Examining the source of a problem is a vital step towards the goal of finding a solution to that problem. But the blame game can't continue indefinitely. At some point, we have to stop saying that the problem shouldn't exist, that if only Country A had done this and Country B had done that, there would be no problem.

The resources we have to work with are finite. Rather than accusing Country C of not giving enough, we should be using what they do give effectively. Rather than insisting that Company D shouldn't be allowed to play if they make any money off the deal, we should take what they can offer towards the larger goal, if it does indeed contribute to reaching that goal.

At some point, we have to stop pointing fingers, and get down to business.

When we can do that, we will have taken the first big step toward finding true solutions.

Posted by at August 4, 2003 06:17 AM
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