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U2's Bono Talks About America's Generosity

By Melissa Charbonneau
CBN News – The events surrounding the G-8 summit gave countless celebrities an opportunity to rally around a cause. One prominent activist, Bono, of U2, has lobbied for more African aid for years. Recently, he sat down with CBN’s Melissa Charbonneau to talk about why he thinks President Bush is the toughest nut to crack among the G-8 leaders in Scotland.

BONO: I like the President and his family. We get along very well. I am always pushing for him to make very difficult choices. Americans guard their wallet, and so does George. But there are 230,000 Africans who owe their lives to the United States, courtesy of President Bush's AIDS initiative. We worked with him on that, and that is historic and important. I told him at the time that this is the greatest advertisement for the United States you will ever get. Paint them red, white, and blue, those drugs. But on the other things, the United States is low, and most European feel they are giving more money per capita.

So the United States said we are giving more money than anyone else. But of course, you are giving more as a single nation - as a single nation. But in terms of population and in terms of per capita, an Irish person and English person, and Italian person is giving more money. The United States, if you include private citizens like Bill Gates and very, very rich people, the United States is still number 15 in the list of what the richest countries in the world are giving to the poorest.

Now, in Europe, people, say that those Americans are hypocrites, especially when there are Christians involved, they point and say we are a secular society. You talk about the least of these all of the time, but you are not giving enough.

MELISSA CHARBONNEAU: The White House says that the United States is doing more than any other country.

BONO: Yes, they are doing more than other country as a single country. But it is a giant economy. The moral comparison is Europe and the United States. If you put Europe together it is the federation of Europe. The reason I'm telling you this is that I am trying to set what President Bush is doing in context. The truth of it is that's too simplistic of a picture I just painted. The United States are doing amazing things that don't fit into that bracket.

But what I'm saying to the President is what I am encouraging the President to do, is to go further down this road and know that the people of America that I have met and speaking to in churches and schools are behind him on this, but we know it is not easy. The only reason that America is number 15 on that list and I know it is, is because Americans will not let their money be misspent and not going to use tax dollars to redecorate a despot presidential palace.

As long as we can deal with the corruption issue America will go to the top of the chart. America likes to be at the top of the chart. You are the most generous people in the world. The only reason it slipped down through Clinton era - it is not Republican or Democrat, people lost faith, and the money wasn't going where it was supposed to. We've fixed that.

CHARBONNEAU: How will it be different?

BONO: You hear about debt cancellation. We are talking about countries that are tackling the corruption. Other countries that we can't see the money is going, they don't get the break. If you are talking about the AIDS initiative, that is different. That is an emergency. But it doesn't go through the government. It goes through local American agents.

CHARBONNEAU: You are confident the safe guards are in place?

BONO: Yes. I am. And I'm confident that if the safe guards are in place, then American people are the most generous people in the world.

CHARBONNEAU: Twice you have been invited to the Oval Office, and you’ve met with the President's top advisors. What is your sense of how far he is willing to go?

BONO: This President makes big and bold moves. We know that, even if we don't like all of them, we know that. I think if he has the same success with malaria as he had with AIDS he's having, in terms of getting to the grips with. If we have the same success with education, girl's education - they're very interested in bringing education to women. It's a real problem in Africa. They are badly treated, and putting people in school does amazing things not just for the economy but stymieing disease and delaying sexual debut.

It puts women in a place, and we are talking a little bit about moving further on that. I think the President's heart is set on it. We have to talk to congress. We have to create the need, that's why you have me on the show. But they have to feel movement on this. There is a lot at stake though. Just the way America is seen in the rest of the world is very important to me. I am a fan of America, and I love America. My band has played for America for years and years and years, and I love this country.

But the rest of the world is suspicious. They don't know. And not just where I come from in Ireland. Everywhere people are thinking what are their values? They meet us with the military and trade and commodities and jeans and movies. We need to show them who we are and we need to show them our values. We have values. I believe in America and in Europe.

This is a way for us to redescribe ourselves for them, first to witness to them that we believe the words that we speak and on a Sunday that we have read, you know, Matthew 25. I was naked, and you clothed me. And I was hungry and you fed me, and I was a prisoner and you cleaned me. This is powerful. This is what is on God's mind. I know you are a religious station. For a lot of us, some of us are not sure where God is in the world. I know one thing, and I know where to find God, through the poorest of the poor and vulnerable and down-hearted. If we want to meet God, that's where we will go to.


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