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The President’s Promiscuous Passions
By John F. Rohe, August 16, 2005

The graphic details of suffering, malnutrition, and death of innocent children in Niger strike to the core of our humanity. The caring search their soul, and reach into their pocket, for a response dictated by their perception of the crisis.

Disturbing images of scarcities in food, water, and basic medical necessities in Niger now scour the planet at the speed of light. News reports confirm the effects of horrifying food shortages. Compassion mounts. At breakneck speed, our president recognizes and responds to the shortage by increasing urgent food aid.

Let's concede that President Bush is a compassionate human being. When a need is perceived, he would strive to respond to the crisis, as framed by his depth of vision.

Sadly, the frenetic response only addresses symptoms, not causes. The primary culprit is ignored or forgotten amid the hurried reaction. The President's well-intentioned, but impulsive, efforts can perversely do more harm than good. In his rush to assist, the root cause is of the problem is obscured.

The president's perspective is constrained by the depth of his vision. What might look like a friendly gesture through a close-range camera can resemble a Trojan horse in a telephoto lens. Photographers expand a camera's depth of field by squinting the aperture. That might explain the problem. If the president would squint just right, he might perceive the long term with greater clarity.

Niger is home to over 12 million people. It has a fertility rate of 8.0 children per woman. This is by far the highest fertility rate in the world according to the Population Reference Bureau. The next highest fertility rate is 7.1 children per woman in Somalia.

Notwithstanding Niger's tragic loss of life claimed by malnutrition, AIDS, malaria, and other human threats; its 12 million people are projected to reach 53 million in 2050! Meanwhile, the alarming description of "shortages" is destined to continue wearing on the president's short-sighted conscience.

In continuing to send urgent food aid while withholding funding for international family planning, President Bush perversely compounds the eventual human suffering. Will his conscience be eased when the starvation exponentially expands to 53 million?

Ask the person on the front line. They would tell you there are too many mouths to feed. But from the vantage of the White House, no one ever dies of overpopulation.

Has it become unfashionable to discuss population pressures in polite company? Is it too harsh to consider fertility as a culprit? Would our humanity suffer a fall from grace if the propensity to procreate is indicted in this tragic loss of life?

For the near sighted, scarcity is palpable in the African subcontinent. Meanwhile, others envision a burgeoning emergency in the future. Lamentably, the president's swift response only leaves time to recognize the effects of overpopulation. The root cause remains concealed from his purview.

A "food shortage" is the mirror image of a "people longage."

Will we still be characterizing Niger's desperate plea as a "food shortage," as though the food is to blame, in 2050? How much more suffering might Niger need to endure before our President awakens to the promiscuous side of his compassion? Will it still be the fault of food when Niger struggles to feed 53 million? Or will he just blithely ignore that "inevitable" crisis? Can we just ignore that calamity while awaiting the compassion of our successors?

The presidents' policy enables him to derive personal satisfaction, but it exacts a hefty human toll. The crisis in Niger is an opportune time for Bush to reevaluate the opposition to international family planning incentives.

To implement death control with no birth control is, in practice, cruel-hearted, naive, and disrespectful.

John F. Rohe is a member of the Board of Directors of the Federation for Federal Immigration reform and an attorney in Petoskey, Michigan.

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