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Why has the Bush Administration mobilized on HIV/AIDS?

Why did the Bush Administration mobilize on HIV/AIDS. In a previous post, I referenced Greg Behrman’s book and a Foreign Affairs article that discussed how Christian conservatives have increasingly mobilized on foreign policy issues. They are a new force in American foreign policy that are leading to cross-ideological coalitions with liberals. Allen Hertzke documents the rise of this movement in his book Freeing God’s Children.

Kal Raustiala has a recent column in the New Republic talking about this phenomenon to which he attributes to the decline of the center and gerry-mandered political districts which Congress with few centrists. Here is an excerpt:

The PREA is an important story, one in which an appalling problem is finally addressed by Congress. But it is also part of a trend. In recent months, for example, the unusual convergence of the religious right and environmentalists has received increasing attention. “Creation care” is the new phrase du jour for environmentally minded Christians who think there is a scriptural duty to protect the Earth and all its inhabitants. Christian conservatives have also aligned with the left to campaign against the international sex trafficking trade. Conservatives are increasingly in line with liberals on the need to aggressively challenge and prevent religious and racial persecution in places like Darfur. And perhaps most significantly, national security hawks and climate change advocates are suddenly on the same page with regard to fossil fuel consumption–since, in addition to creating greenhouse gases, American consumption of oil also enriches Saudi Arabia, birthplace of fifteen of the 9/11 hijackers.
It’s easy to argue there is nothing new in these coalitions. Prohibition is frequently said to have had two chief political supporters: Baptists who hated demon drink and bootleggers who smuggled it to everyone else. Whether or not that particular story is apocryphal, alliances of convenience–that is, “Baptist-bootlegger” coalitions–are hardly unusual in American politics. But the prison sexual assault issue pushes beyond these traditional kinds of arrangements. Rather than linking advocates of conscience (Baptists) to those seeking private gain (bootleggers), it connects advocates of conscience from opposite ends of the political spectrum. And in doing so, it reaches much further across the aisle than bipartisan efforts generally have.

2006 Postscript: The role of faith groups in health has been taken up in a post on the Center for Global Development’s blog.

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One Response to “Why has the Bush Administration mobilized on HIV/AIDS?”

  1. […] So what explains the Bush Administration’s interest in Africa? I’ve written extensively on this before, but Michael Gerson, Bush’s former speechwriter, makes the point again here: I think there are two reinforcing trends here. One of them is the upside of foreign policy moralism. Another one is the growing strategic significance of Africa: the conflict with radical Islam; the problem of failed states and terrorism; and the growing importance of Africa on the resource side: oil. […]