Tuesday, July 13, 2004
The United States must lead the fight against AIDS with the same commitment it shows in the battle against terrorism, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Tuesday.
"We hear a lot about weapons of mass destruction. We hear a lot about terrorism, and we are worried about weapons of mass destruction because of their potential to kill thousands of people," Annan said in an interview with the BBC.
"Here we have an epidemic that is killing millions. What is the response?" Annan said. "We really do need leadership. America has the natural leadership capacity because of its resources, because of its size."
Fair enough, in the abstract. But why isn't he berating the EU and Japan, the former being larger than the United States, and the latter being more than half the size? Why is there this presumption that matters of global public health are uniquely an American obligation? While this sense of entitlement may have made sense when the Europeans and the Japanese supported our interests in other spheres, why should Americans bear the obligation of leadership for social welfare projects that the Europeans are perfectly able to shoulder themselves? Are they so used to free-riding in military matters that they have forgotten that they can lead the way in other spheres? Or is it that they just want to expropriate the intellectual property of our pharmaceutical companies?
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