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Having Launched PEPFAR, George W. Bush Is ‘Greatest Humanitarian’ To Serve U.S. Presidency

In a post in Foreign Policy’s “Democracy Lab” blog, Christian Caryl, a senior fellow at the Legatum Institute and the blog’s editor, asks, “Which United States president will go down in history as the greatest humanitarian to have served in the office?” He writes, “I’d suggest that there’s one president whose contribution dwarfs all the others” — George W. Bush. “[O]nly a few Americans have ever heard of PEPFAR, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which President Bush announced in his State of the Union address in 2003,” he continues, noting since PEPFAR’s creation, the U.S. government has invested more than $44 billion through its bilateral programs and the multilateral Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

“It’s impossible to tell exactly how many lives the program has saved, though Secretary of State John Kerry recently claimed that five million people are alive today because of it. That’s probably as good an estimate as any,” Caryl writes, adding, “So it’s safe to say this one program has been a titanic force for good over the past decade.” He continues, “Bush paved the way for an era in which global health assistance has become a prominent new instrument of U.S. statecraft. After all, spending so much money hasn’t just boosted America’s image among Africans; rolling back the widespread scourge of AIDS has protected social institutions in these countries from degradation and collapse, thus contributing to security and effective governance” (2/14).