President Bush was the star – of course. Though he spoke only briefly, and largely to introduce Former Secretary Rice, his words were moving. “In order to heal human suffering, America must lead. That means the government must lead. It means that corporate America must lead. It means that NGOs must lead. It means that individuals must lead.” The summit, he said, was “about hearing the call.”
Dr. Rice’s speech was fantastic. I had the honor to serve under her as ambassador, and had the chance to hear her speak in many settings. She was as convincing as ever this morning. She emphasized the national security risk that unstable countries pose, saying “places where governments cannot provide for their people are ultimately dangerous places” and “where despair lingers, we are not safe.” These ideas are not new, she argued, comparing handing out bed nets in Africa today with American troops giving candy to German children after World War II.
The second day of sessions, like the first day, was an affirmation that not everything has to be about political winners and losers and partisanship. Speaker after speaker, including the Obama Administration’s USAID Administrator, Dr. Raj Shah, praised the historic leadership of President Bush in setting up the President’s Malaria Initiative and other global health tools. But speakers were also quick, and rightly so, to point out that President Obama embraced these tools and has taken them to the next level.
Dr. Shah described the moment when he got to present the results of the President’s Malaria Initiative to President Obama. He said that President Obama was riveted by the data, and said firmly that his administration had to push these programs forward and build on all that had been achieved. Dr. Shah also stressed the universality and domestic benefits of America’s international development efforts, saying “this is not a partisan issue, but a moral, economic, and security priority.”
Makes you proud to be an American!