CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS ON RELIGOUS RIGHT POWER.Byline: CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS Christopher Eric Hitchens (born April 13, 1949) is a British-American author, journalist and literary critic. Currently living in Washington, D.C., he has been a columnist at Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, The Nation, Slate and Free Inquiry
WHEN Mr Bush thinks about Africa, he doesn't especially ask himself what opinions Tony Blair Noun 1. Tony Blair - British statesman who became prime minister in 1997 (born in 1953)
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, Blair or Jack Straw have on the subject.
The truth is he cannot afford to ignore the extensive influence of the Christian Right in his own electoral backyard.
For this faction, Africa is hugely important. It is from the evangelicals that much of the pressure has come for action on people-smuggling and slave-trading, if only because the victims of this are very often African Christians.
Sudan and Darfur are subjects on which the Right has been extremely vocal: raising money and recruiting volunteers to send to their co-religionists.
Senator William Frist, the majority leader of the Republican-dominated Senate, is a practicing physician who has volunteered a great deal of his time in Africa.
As a result of the lobbying of these and other forces, the United States has tripled its aid to Africa in the past four years, to a total figure of $3.2billion.
And, as a sop to Mr Blair, the White
House will this week announce the release of a further $674million from funds that Congress has already voted.
This is largely for food aid, directed at the precarious situation in the Horn of Africa Horn of Africa, peninsula, NE Africa, opposite the S Arabia Peninsula. Also known as the Somali Peninsula, it encompasses Somalia and E Ethiopia and is the easternmost extension of the continent, separating the Gulf of Aden from the Indian Ocean. . This commitment to Africa, however, comes at a political price.
The religious conservatives insist that American aid cannot be used for any charitable purpose that could conceivably - if that's the right word - involve abortion.
In practice, this means that most efforts at family planning family planning
Use of measures designed to regulate the number and spacing of children within a family, largely to curb population growth and ensure each family’s access to limited resources. are frowned upon, because even education in contraception (which also annoys the Catholic Right) can lead to discussions about termination of pregnancy termination of pregnancy Induced abortion. See Abortion. , or to the availability of devices like IUDs which some regard as causing abortion. Bush's Africa policy, in fact, faces the problem not of too little domestic interest but too much.
As with the Kyoto accords on climate change and global warming, a highly-organised and politicized minority is always ready to intervene and to call the shots.
Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair