Think Global. Hope Global.

“How is it possible that Americans were smart enough to vote for Clinton… and then end up with 8 years of Bush right afterwards?”

Interesting rhetorical question a friend of mine was asking today. Cause of the question? I made her watch this video:

The Clinton Global Initiative is a project of the William J. Clinton foundation. The idea is very simple: Select powerful and important people, global leaders, and invite them to become members of the project. Membership fee: $ 15,000 per annum. Hold a conference once a year with inspiring speaches and a fancy party. Convince the members to make a (financial) commitment to a project related to one of the four principles of the William J. Clinton Foundation: Education, Energy&Climate Change, Global Health and Poverty Alleviation. Raise tons of money – make an impact.

The Clinton Global Initiative, along with the entire work of the Clinton Foundation, is an admirable effort to remind those who have power, money and influence of their responsibility and obligation to help those at the other end of the spectrum. Thanks, Bill. I like you a lot as a private do-gooder. And I mean it! I am impressed by the CGI and I think it came at exactly the right time. When watching the video, watch out for Condie Rice at about 3:00:

“We want governments and peoples around the world not to be dependant on foreign assistance, but rather to become self-sufficient”

While she of all people certainly wouldn’t argue for autarky, I believe Condoleeza’s making an excellent point here: Dependance. You can raise all the money in the world and spend it wrong. Aid money is wasted money if your returns to aid are minimal and create artificial dependancies among nations and peoples. I think Peter Bauer would have agreed. But how do we help without creating dependancies? How do we foster self-sufficiency? Is micro-finance the one and only solution, as Muhammad Yunus suggests? Is it “reasonable” for industrialized nations to stick with traditional patterns of development and aid? Isn’t it time for a major change in development policy? It’s amazing how miss Rice can seperate profession & private interests in her role as member of the CGI. Step on the podium of the US Foreign Press Center, Ms Rice, and tell me again that the Middle-East focussed development aid policy of the United States does not want to create dependancies, but much rather self-sufficiancy. Bill, what do you think?

“When you leave here, I hope you will feel your own faith strengthened – but I also hope you’ll leave here with a sense of humility about how much better we could do…”

As I said, I am madly impressed by the CGI – more, please! But as long as the pieces don’t fit, the pieces don’t fit… and there’s still so much more to be done. Let’s all applaud us for efforts taken and keep our eyes on the future, taking one step at a time without slowing down. The CGI meeting 2007 is coming up. There will be more inspiring speaches and fancy parties… and most importantly, more projects started and more commitments signed. Let’s take up the sparkle this initiative, among many others, puts in the world… you can find all you need at 5:47.

Hope Candles
source: Clinton Global Initiative

Hoffnung means hope…

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Filed under Development, Life, Politics

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