Bono Politics 101

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by Brenda Clemons, U2 Station staff writer

U2 have never been fearful of expressing their political views. Whether it is the political landscape of the Ireland they grew up in or Amnesty Internationals Conspiracy of Hope Tour; U2 have always been in the forefront of activism. Bono especially has been vocal--even going as far as using U2 concerts as a pulpit from which to preach his gospel. If you went to a concert or listen to the news, you have surely heard Bono speak of AIDS, The Millennium Challenge, and odious debt. But, what does it all mean? A person almost has to take a course in political science just to follow along with the dialogue. Here, I will try to simplify things in layman terms.

Odious debt and the Drop the Debt campaign: In 1999 Bono joined a social justice group known as Jubilee 2000. The idea was to have the debts of the worlds poorest countries forgiven by the year 2000. The worlds poorest countries are known as HIPC, or Highly Indebted Poor Countries. The name of Jubilee was taken from a Bible verse in which God commands that every 7 years would be a year of Jubilee (when monetary debts would be forgiven); thus giving everyone a new start. This gained the attention of religious leaders worldwide. Even the Pope joined the bandwagon proclaiming the year 2000 as a year of Jubilee.

During the cold war, rich nations loaned tons of money to struggling countries. These loans were usually given for political reasons and not out of a desire to help. The rich countries gave these loans not caring if the leaders were corrupt or if the loans were not used for the intended purpose. After the cold war, the rich countries pulled out (and most of the corrupt leaders); leaving the poor countries with no way to pay back the debts. Since the loaner country knew first hand that the countries they were loaning to had corrupt leaders and could not repay; those loans are considered by some to be illegitimate (or odious).

The IMF and The World Bank: The IMF and the World Bank are exactly what their name implies. Think of a big bank and it’s lending arm. The world’s richest (nations) have accounts with these financial institutions. The IMF and the World Bank set up regulations concerning HIPC countries. These regulations include high interest rates and unreasonable repayment schedules. When HIPCs fall behind on their payments, they must enter a restructuring agreement. Restructuring of HIPC economies include user fees for schools, water and sewage; as well as unfair trade agreements. The plan has backfired resulting in low school attendance, unsafe drinking water, and deforestation.

The G8. The G8 stands for “Great 8” a name that the 8 most powerful nations use to describe themselves (no big egos there). Annually they get together in a summit to discuss the world’s problems and what they think can be done to fix them.

The Millennium Challenge: A United Nations initiative to eradicate TB and malaria by the year 2015. So far, the Millennium Challenge is behind schedule (partly due to the fact that the US has not contributed it’s share).

DATA--Debt Trade AIDS Africa: Bono decided that special attention should be given to the continent of Africa. DATA lobbies for full funding for the Millennium Challenge and the forgiveness of odious debts. They also want more money for AIDS prevention, education and medication. Trade is given just as much emphasis. If Africa could trade on an equal playing field, they could earn 3 timess as much as they receive in aide.

The One Campaign: Its mission is to educate the public and gather support for DATA’s agenda. Its main arsenal is the One petition. If politicians think that enough voters care about something, they are more likely to take action for fear that they might not be reelected.

Why it matters. First, there’s the moral issue. Currently 30,000 children die every day from starvation and preventable diseases. In Africa, AIDS is creating a nation of orphans bringing up themselves without any adult supervision. Second, a safer world to live in: Poverty and devastation create breathing grounds for terrorists such as Bin Laden. Third, a better environment: The Rain Forest contains many endangered species of animals and plants (including some plants with medicinal qualities). Deforestation contributes to the green house effect.

What you can do: Stay informed by listening and reading as much as possible. You don’t have to agree with Bono’s politics, but at least have an educated opinion. Sign the One petition at Join a Jubilee working group Visit the United Nations website

1 Comment

I really like U2. I want to become more involved in politics. A site I found that helps me out is It's a great news source!

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This page contains a single entry by Brenda published on September 5, 2006 11:07 PM.

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