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Right Intention: US Does Not Do Enough

Sunday, January 16, 2005

US Does Not Do Enough

This op ed irks me more than most. It starts out talking about the tsunami disaster:

The natural catastrophe caused by last month's underwater earthquake and ensuing tsunami is a tragedy of unimaginable proportions. The scope of the disaster makes it extremely difficult to coordinate relief efforts, but world leaders have gathered in the Indonesian capital Jakarta for a one-day summit.

But quickly degenerates into a demand that the US do more:

On Wednesday, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder said Berlin was increasing its pledge to half a billion euros. Calculating the amount of financial aid the world's rich nations should contribute to such a tragedy is always tricky, however, Germany's offer is an encouraging sign. Shortly thereafter, Australia said it would donate AUS$1 billion (€578 million) in aid. Both pledges easily top Washington's pledge of $350 million, highlighting just how stingy the United States -- the world's wealthiest nation -- is being with its financial aid.

Once again you see that the hated, evil US is expected to do more than any other country when a problem arises. Furthermore, notice how there is no mention of the more than $500 million in private aid raised so far. Somehow this doesn't count.

Of course, no one is arguing rich nations should get into a race to trump each other with ever increasing aid amounts simply for PR reasons.

Oh really? Could have fooled me.

After appearing to be slow to react in the immediate wake of the catastrophe, the United States has now ramped up its relief operations across South Asia considerably.

Slow to react? We were amongst the first on the scene with our military, supplies and infrastructure to distribute aid. What is he talking about?

The US armed forces have also deployed a fleet of naval ships and military aircraft. That increased logistical aid is crucial, since the United States is one of the few nations that can organize such help.

Thanks for noticing. But in the author's view, this type of help doesn't really count. The US is expected to provide this type of assistance, but receives no credit for it. I have news for you genius, a military costs money. You might not realize this since Europe depends on the US for its security and most European countries refuse to develop a functional military of their own.

But US President George W. Bush would now do well to double his financial commitment to all the affected countries. Washington's pledge of $350 million is a vast improvement over the embarrassing $15 million initially offered, but it is dwarfed by the billions America pledged to help relief efforts for far less devastating hurricanes in Florida last year.

Spending American tax dollars to take care of American problems is in bad taste. Don't you know that? It is our responsibility to use American resources to care for the rest of the world. Spend money on rebuilding after the Florida hurricanes? What selfish bastards we Americans are.

Washington's leadership is also needed to ensure money that is pledged at the donor conference eventually shows up.

Now we are supposed to be bill collectors too? Anything else you want? And how are we supposed to do this and keep our noses out of business of other countries, a key complaint about our foreign policy now?

If the international community can coordinate humanitarian aid, debt relief and financial help for a catastrophe of such an immense scale, perhaps new standards can be set for the future.

The only standard the author is interested in setting is increased demands on the US. Demands that, if met, will ultimately be resented.


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