Roger L. Simon

Kanye West may think Bush is a racist...

But some other bigtime pop music figures… well, at least one… feel differently, according to this AP report on the President’s address to the United Nations today:

Irish rocker Bob Geldof, who organized the Live Aid concerts and campaigns against poverty, said he was sitting in the General Assembly chamber with U.N. anti-poverty chief Jeffrey Sachs and they couldn’t believe what they heard.

“I think he’s really throwing down the gauntlet. It’s a very bold move,” Geldof said of Bush’s trade tariff proposal, adding that he was impressed with the president’s acknowledgment that terrorism “comes from despair and lack of hope.”

Reactionaries like West are unlikely to… [Hey, be easy on the dude. He was just tryin’ to sell some albums.-ed. Right. I forgot. I’ll start over.] Gentlemen songsters like West are unlikely to comment on Bush’s challenge to world leaders to abolish all trade tariffs, even though that could arguably help diminish world poverty more than all the charitable donations by all the charitable organizations in history combined, nor will ‘progressive’ states like France and Germany likely show much interest in his proposal… but it is one of the more interesting ideas to come down the pike in some time. New York Times… Washington Post… how’re you going to cover this one? Same old… same old… I suppose.

MORE on Bush’s proposal in this report:

Bush’s call to eliminate all trade barriers would essentially create a worldwide free trade zone, something that goes far beyond the goals of the 148 countries who are seeking to wrap up a new round of trade liberalization talks known as the Doha Round, for the city in Qatar where the talks were launched in late 2001.

Those discussions, which have a more limited agenda of simply reducing current trade barriers, are currently stalled. Officials are worried that an upcoming December meeting in Hong Kong could fail to make progress in such key areas as reducing barriers that rich countries have erected to protect their farmers. Poor nations see a reduction in farm subsidies as key to making their farm goods competitive on global markets.

Saying that the Doha negotiations would eliminate farm subsidies, Bush said, “Today I broaden the challenge by making this pledge: The United States is ready to eliminate all tariffs, subsidies and other barriers to free flow of goods and services as other nations do the same. This is key to overcoming poverty in the world’s poorest nations. It’s essential we promote prosperity and opportunity for all nations.”

Most Third World poverty has been intractable for generations, making the term “Developing Nations” no more than a euphemism. What we need now are radically new approaches and Bush has offered one.