Former President Bill Clinton today called for a free Ukraine and called the former government there "clearly corrupt and ineffective." He also called on technologists in the audience to help resolve global economic inequality.
Speaking to an audience of thousands of software specialists gathered in Las Vegas for Microsoft's SharePoint Conference 2014, he told the audience the two leading obstacles to stability in the world today are political violence and financial inequality, and he called on technologists to help ease them through investment by government, innovation in the private sector and programs by nonprofit foundations like the Gates Foundation and his own foundation.
Addressing the recent events in the Ukraine, Clinton recalled that he signed a pact with former Russian President Boris Yeltsin two decades ago in which Russia agreed to respect the sovereignty of the Ukraine in exchange for the former Soviet state giving up its nuclear arsenal. He drew applause from the audience by saying "it's really important for us to say we're for inclusive politics."
We don't agree with Russia. We're not trying to take Ukraine away from them," he said. "We want these people to be free to stand at a crossroads of the Earth and a crossroads of history, to be a bridge that brings us together."
Speaking on the issue of poverty and disease, Clinton said he has personally seen the impact of technologies like WiFi and mobile phones on helping the poor learn about health issues, in helping to educate people and in creating new ways for the wealthier people of the world to contribute to the welfare of others.
After the tsunami in Southeast Asia, US citizens donated about $1 billion to help the victims, he said, for a median donation of $56. By the time of the Haitian crisis, Americans also gave $1 billion, but with a median of only $25, reflecting how technology made it easier for people to participate in the recovery.
He said raising taxes alone won't eliminate poverty, and that government, the private sector and foundations "really can't be on the cutting edge off doing things faster, better and at lower cost. You have to be part of that," he said. "You know the burden of knowledge is responsibility."
Title image by stocklight (Shutterstock).