Bono: ‘There’s a difference between cosying up to power and being close to power’

Bono in Ghana: 'I just thought: I’ll do what I can. And I will talk to anybody.' Photograph: Jonx Pillemer/ (RED)
Bono in Ghana: ‘I just thought: I’ll do what I can. And I will talk to anybody.’ Photograph: Jonx Pillemer/ (RED)

From The Guardian:

Interviewed during a trip to west Africa, campaigner and U2 frontman Bono talks about what drives his activism and responds frankly to criticism of aid to Africa, his relationship with politicians and his group’s controversial tax arrangements

Do you spend a lot of time talking to the US military?

Yes, General Jim Jones, who used to run Nato, called me at home on Sunday before we came out. He was the man who introduced me to Bob Gates who used to run the Pentagon. One of the most surreal moments of my life was spent sitting around a table there with all these four-star generals. I said to them: why are you all so interested in what we do? And they tell you in that clipped military speech that in asymmetrical conflicts the largest military force in the world has to think differently. That might is not right when you cannot see the enemy. They understand for example that all their recent problems come from the wider geographical region called the Sahel. It runs all the way across Africa, through Sudan, through Somalia, through Nigeria, right across to Mali. They are realising that here is an unholy weave of what we call the three extremes: extreme poverty, extreme climate and extreme ideology. And they understand that preventing fires is much cheaper than putting them out.

The persistent liberal view would be that you should never get into bed with neocons under any circumstances…

Try telling that to the woman who is about to lose her third child to HIV/Aids. I know I couldn’t do that.

But isn’t the poverty that engenders these catastrophes structural – and created directly by the policies of some western governments?

That these problems are structural is true. Of course it is. And you can always say that tending to the wounded will not stop the war. But the world is an imperfect place, you know. While we are waiting for capitalism to reform itself, or another system to emerge, or for these countries, as Ghana is clearly doing, to move toward the point when they don’t need our assistance, we have a problem. What you might call the situation on the ground. And our angle is really that we will use anyone who can help with that. When I came here, and visited hospitals with thousands of people camping outside for treatment, for drugs that were not available, I wanted to do what I could to make the madness stop. Watching lives implode in front of your eyes for no reason. Children in their mother’s arms go into that awful silence. And looking to the side and seeing the health workers and seeing the rage inside of them. I just thought: I’ll do what I can. And I will talk to anybody.

That inside game sometimes looks like a cosy relationship with power…

It does confuse people. But there is a difference between cosying up to power and being close to power.

Continue reading the rest of the story on The Guardian