On his mission trip to Rwanda for the One Campaign, Mike Huckabee was joined former Tennessee Senator, Bill Frist (among others). Dr. Frist happens to be the next guest blogger on Vertical Day. His post discusses the importantance of Africa in the equation to winning the War on Terror:
September 11 changed the lives of every American, in ways that none of us could have imagined. As we all tried to cope with the terrible tragedy that took place on that day, we began to realize that our world had changed forever and the war on terror has been ongoing since. This battle has taken us to countries all over the world, from Afghanistan to Iraq to the mountainous regions of Pakistan to Yemen to the remote islands of the Philippines and many other places. It’s become clear to all of us that we are in a long-term struggle and that our very survival depends on winning.
As a doctor and a Senator I have had an opportunity that few people ever have – to see how helping the poorest and most needy third world countries can actually help us win the global war on terror. Nowhere is this more evident than it is in Africa.
Africa is home to many of the world’s poorest countries — states in crisis– and it is in these countries and regions that we find Al Qaeda and other equally dangerous groups sending representatives to recruit and train. We must get ahead of this deadly growing web of evil by standing firm in Africa.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell recognized this when he said “The United States cannot win the war on terrorism unless we confront the social and political roots of poverty.” He is right. In Africa, it is into regions wracked by drought, extreme poverty and crippling diseases that we have seen the spreading influence of Al Qaeda. In places like Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea.
We can stop them and it can be done with the help of the healing hands of doctors and nurses.
Since 1998 I have made annual medical mission trips to Africa and have seen first hand how the efforts of the United States government and the American people can and do make a difference.
In the past, American foreign aid was distributed without any consideration for how it would be used. As a result the United States wasted much of the foreign aid we gave to Africa. That has changed. In 2003, when I was the Majority Leader of the United States Senate, we passed a bill creating the Millennium Challenge Corporation. The purpose of MCC is to help the United States reduce global poverty through economic growth. MCC represents a fundamentally different way of giving American development aid to the world’s most deserving nations. Providing accountability and generating real results on the ground in these countries is critical. We focus on simple but crucial efforts like providing mosquito netting to prevent the spread of malaria and empowering volunteer groups to deliver the aid and life-saving resources directly.
I have said many times people don’t go to war with someone who has just saved the life of their child. That is an important thing for all of us to remember.
That is why when I speak to my former colleagues in Washington, I urge them to look ahead and see Africa for what it can be with our help: developing prosperous nations and friends of America.
This past weekend, Mike Huckabee joined me, Senator Daschle, Cindy McCain and a number of other individuals in Africa to learn more about the good work that is being done there by American charities such as Samaritan’s Purse, our doctors and nurses and the American taxpayers who have poured billions of dollars into programs to combat the spread of HIV/Aids. I was very pleased that Mike was able to be a part of this leadership team. We need more American leaders to recognize the importance of our work in Africa on a humanitarian level and a national security level. Mike understands that.
During our trip he suggested I blog about this very issue as part of his Vertical Day forum, with the hope that the participants, candidates and individuals, would come to see why Africa matters.
I thank him for the opportunity to post here today and I encourage you to learn more about these efforts on my website’s blog at http://www.hopethroughhealinghands.com.