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2004-01-21

No Mention of Africa in Bush’s State of the Union

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We speak with TransAfrica president Bill Fletcher about why Bush did not mention Africa once in his State of the Union address as compared to last year when Africa and the issue of AIDS were a major part of his address. [includes transcript]

Behind Bush’s State of the Union: Part IV of a Five-Part Special

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, as we continue with President Bush’s State of the Union address on a number of issues. In a minute, we’re going to talk about gay marriage, which will clearly be an issue in this presidential campaign. But we’re joined for only a few minutes by Bill Fletcher, who is the head of the organization TransAfrica, long-time trade union activist, founding member of the Black Radical Congress. Bill Fletcher, President Bush mentioned Africa in his State of the Union address not at all. Your response?

BILL FLETCHER: I mean, well, first of all, good morning and thank you for having me on the program. You know, Amy, it just—there was no surprise there. There was nothing—nothing at all to surprise me that he mentioned nothing about Africa. Last year when he raised Africa in the context of the alleged promise of aid around HIV-AIDS, it was in preparation for the U.S. attack on Iraq, and showing his alleged compassionate side. I don’t think that he feels any great need to do this, and at this point—the absence of any discussion of Africa is typical for the administration that came into office saying that Africa wasn’t even on their radar screen.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think, watching the speech, looking at the State of the Union today, what are your major concerns, Bill Fletcher?

BILL FLETCHER: I think—I happened after the speech to be watching the interview with Senator Kerry, and I was surprisingly in agreement with his initial statement, which is that President Bush was talking about a different country and for that matter, a different planet than I see. The discussion about the War against Terrorism, the discussion about the preparation for—the war against Iraq, all of this was filled with continued misstatements, lies in some cases, inaccuracies. There was no recognition that—what was done was in fact a violation of international law. That’s what really jumped out at me when I was listening to the speech. No recognition that that was an out and out violation of international law. And when he listed the countries that allegedly supported this aggression, I started laughing. I mean, you know, how many troops has Denmark deployed or some of these other countries. Maybe they sent five policemen. That was no international action. This was a clear act of aggression. But people are being hoodwinked by this, and that’s what I think is very disturbing.

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