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Playing politics with the tsunami

Earlier this week, Kevin addressed UN Official and asshat (but I repeat myself) Jan Egeland, who denounced the US and other nations as being "stingy" over relief for the tsunami-struck area of Southeast Asia, based on our initial pledges of assistance.

I was as horrified as anyone by the disaster, but I am by nature a political thinker. I couldn't help myself; I immediately started thinking of the political ramifications of the tragedy, and how to deal with them.

At first I felt guilty, but I realized that politics are an essential part of human nature, and they will not be stifled or suppressed for long for any reason. The best we can do is try to anticipate them and shape things to promote the most good -- or, at the very least, minimize the harm.

So I took Mr. Egeland's pronouncements and immediately started thinking of how best the United States could respond. And I think I came up with a win-win scenario for us.


The US should immediately pledge a very sizable amount of money to the UN for tsunami relief. (The first three thoughts I had were half a billion, a billion, and to match dollar-for-dollar the amounts three or so leading US charities raise privately for the cause, just to show what the American people can and will do on their own.) Just take the money and give it straight to the UN, then quietly sit back and watch like a hawk just what happens to that money.

If virtually every penny goes to helping the victims, that's wonderful. We will have shown the world that we can work with the international community, and taken a huge lead in helping recover from this tragedy. We will have shown that we can rise above our previous disputes with UN officials when the need is there and done what few other nations have both the ability and inclination to do.

But if the UN reverts to its kleptocratic nature and healthy portions of the money are skimmed off, disappear into corrupt individuals' pockets, is channeled into favored parties and corporations, is flagrantly wasted, or is in any other way used for anything BUT helping the tsunami victims, we will have been handed a huge moral club to beat the corrupt swine that currently hold the reins of the United Nations. Those who are pushing for reforms at the UN will be strengthened with irrefutable proof that the UN is little more than an effete gang of petty crooks.

And those bomb-throwers who want the US out of the UN (and the UN out of the US) -- whom every day I find less and less extremist, and more and more pragmatic -- will be given the political equivalent of a nuclear bomb.

One of President Bush's favorite political tactics over the years has been to spot when there is a difference between what his opponents SAY they want and what they REALLY want. What he does is devastatingly simple: he simply gives them what they want, then sits back. If they accept it, they have to shut up about their real goals for a while. And if they reject it, he beats them over the head with their deceptions, shredding their public credibility. And for some reason, it keeps working. People keep falling for it, like the marks in a street corner three-card monty game.

The UN's ultimate goal isn't to get the United States to give more money to disaster relief. It's to get the US to give more control to the UN. The US is by far the greatest single power on the face of the earth, and we refuse to kowtow to our "betters." In fact, we often tell them that we will do what we think is best for us and the world, regardless of their opinion. And then we do it.

I once heard someone say that "if a friend owes you $100.00 and you never hear from them again, it was probably worth it." If we give the UN a billion or so dollars and they use that money to utterly destroy their credibility and moral standing instead of using it as they promise, to help the devastated people of Southeast Asia, I think it's more than worth it.

And the beauty of this is, if I'm wrong, what's the worst that happens? Those people get a whole bunch more aid a lot faster.

J.


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Comments (46)

You are full of crap. Do so... (Below threshold)
John:

You are full of crap. Do some research. The US government is more corrupt then the UN by far.

John clearly doesn't know a... (Below threshold)

John clearly doesn't know about the UN's Oil-for-Food scandal. Either that or he's being willingly obtuse.

Hey! Another win-win scenario!

(Incidentally, the Amazon.com donation page is nearing $1 million)

You can mock me all you wan... (Below threshold)
John:

You can mock me all you want. I never said the UN is perfect. There are many more decietful and corrupt things the US government has done.

I can mock you all I want? ... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

I can mock you all I want? Gee, thanks, but I'll pass. You're doing a far better job of making yourself look stupid than I ever could.

Let's see. My piece was, boiled down, "the tsunami was bad. The United Nations is bad. Here's a way to do something about both." Your response, boiled down: "our government is much worse than the UN."

Huh?

John, I've written several times before about how corrupt the UN is -- I've DONE my research. You, on the other hand, start off with an ad hominem attack on me, then spout your own drivel. You replace thinking with sloganeering, and expect everyone to just naturally agree with you. Put some substance behind your platitudes, and you might be worth debating.

But then again, probably not. While some of us are thinking about the tens of thousands who are dead and the millions who are suffering and ways to help them, you're too wrapped up in proving yourself part of the "reality-based community" (Christ, just typing that term makes me want to hurl) that you can't spare any of your already-overtaxed brain cells to do anything but continue to spew your anti-Bush drivel. I suppose the next thing is for you to accuse Karl Rove of arranging the earthquake by detonating nuclear warheads under the ocean.

John, it's been a long time since I met anyone so desperately in need of a clue as you are. The last guy kept inserting "but Bush was arrested for DWI!" into every single discussion, regardless of its relevancy, until I finally had to take a (rhetorical) clue-by-four and smacked him around until he finally left. With you, I'm tempted to start a "buy John a clue" fund-raiser, but I suspect that your brain would end up rejecting it, much like a mistyped organ transplant.

So, John, keep pissing and moaning your talking points. While you and the rest of the "reality-based community" enjoy your rhetorical circle-jerks, the rest of us will actually go out and DEAL with reality -- which in this case is the tragedy in Southeast Asia and the utter folly of trusting the UN to do anything about it.

J.

Why should the US give mone... (Below threshold)
schnuerbel:

Why should the US give money to the UN instead of directly helping the affected governments?
Here in Europe all governments are sending forces to these Asian countries to help people with drinking water, medecine, shelter. And they are funding the governments *directly*. No one here in Europe talks about getting the United Nations to help. Disaster relief must be fast. I emphasize: FAST. And if a country is serious in helping, then they send help. You may opt bragging and pointing fingers at the non-involved (the UN is a political organisation - not a disaster relief organisation).

Okay, so lets get this stra... (Below threshold)
John:

Okay, so lets get this straight. You accuse me of spouting drivel, sloganeering, expecting people on this blog to agree with me (im not that stupid) and generally not having a clue because I oppose your point of view.

Im sure you have done your research and of course I haven't done mine. I'm an idiot. I think all the worlds problems will be solved if Bush is ousted, after all he is the antichrist. I don't have the brains to do research or think for myself.

You sound like a hypocrite. You accuse me of the exact things you do yourself.

Don't you think it is ironic that you use my extreme views against me when your own views are just as extreme?

Do you know your right? Can you say with 100% certainty that your opinion about US/world politics is correct? I don't think anyone can gather enough research and interperate it accurately to make correct decisions in todays geo-political environment.

You assume way too much about me and use your assumptions as points in the argument.

I'm sure you will pass me off as a moron spouting drivel. But hey thats the easiest way to win an argument isn't it.

"Why should the US give mon... (Below threshold)
John:

"Why should the US give money to the UN instead of directly helping the affected governments?
Here in Europe all governments are sending forces to these Asian countries to help people with drinking water, medecine, shelter. And they are funding the governments *directly*. No one here in Europe talks about getting the United Nations to help. Disaster relief must be fast. I emphasize: FAST. And if a country is serious in helping, then they send help. You may opt bragging and pointing fingers at the non-involved (the UN is a political organisation - not a disaster relief organisation)."

I totally agree. The US should put its money where its mouth is and send a reasonable amount of aid and money to the disaster areas instead of spending billions on impractical defense projects and "fighting terrorism".

John, you said I could mock... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

John, you said I could mock you all I want. So why are you complaining that I took you at your word? Did you not mean it?

That aside, John, what you were trying to do was to take my topic (that the tsunami did very bad things, and expecting the UN to do what it says it will is stupid) and hijack it into discussing what you view as the paramount topic -- that the US government is bad. I caught you at it, I called you on it, and I spanked you for trying. Deal with it. MoveOn, even.

Or go back and whine to your compatriots that you're focusing on bigger issues than tens of thousands dead (a figure I suspect will end up going into the hundreds of thousands) and millions suffering, like how bad Bushitler is. The rest of us will be cleaning up the messes you're too good to trouble yourself with.

J.

"you said I could mock you ... (Below threshold)
John:

"you said I could mock you all I want. So why are you complaining that I took you at your word? Did you not mean it?"

When did I tell you to stop mocking me? I'm having fun. Now to continue the debate...

"I immediately started thinking of the political ramifications of the tragedy"

"....we will have been handed a huge moral club to beat the corrupt swine holding the reins of the United Nations"

" we refuse to kowtow to our "betters.""

"we often tell them that we will do what we think is best for us and the world, regardless of their opinion. And then we do it" (that statement in particular reeks of arrogance)

And you say I am the one trying to introduce paramount topics....
Obviously you are allowed to make as many general political statements as you like but when I make them it is debate hijacking.


"The rest of us will be cleaning up the messes you're too good to trouble yourself with"

Actually I am a registered nurse and I will be volunteering to go to Indonesia next week.

I am going to bed now, so please don't think my lack of reply is because I have suddenly realised the err of my ways, I will surely read and reply tomorrow morning.

For the record you never spanked me.

Mom! Jay Tea is playing wit... (Below threshold)

Mom! Jay Tea is playing with the trolls again!

Basil, you've always been s... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Basil, you've always been such a tattletale...

J.

Remember, Jay -- never play... (Below threshold)

Remember, Jay -- never play with people's heads.

Unless they bounce really good.

Here in Europe all gover... (Below threshold)
VA Jim:

Here in Europe all governments are sending forces to these Asian countries to help people with drinking water, medecine, shelter. -John

Are sending? Are sending? On Monday --that's the day after the disaster-- the US had already sent aid, and is sending more. A lot more. The irony's delightful: Bush already has help in place, while it's two full days before the moonbats can snivel about what they don't know.

Jay Tea - It's a great idea but the $100 principle only works if A) the money's a loan, and B) the borrower has any self-respect. (That's the voice of experience! One miserable aquaintance could be kept away for $20, but it only lasted a year. A friend tried the $100 on the wretch, thinking it would last longer, and was 'rewarded' by even more unwanted 'companionship')

Humanitarian money is a donation, and the UN knows it's a worthless parasite. They'd just be back for more. Better to give the aid to those that need it, the UN will provide enough examples of UNintegrity in other ways.

Hey VA Jim,Sorry if ... (Below threshold)
schnuerbel:

Hey VA Jim,
Sorry if my comment was confusing for you. These places are a 15hour flight away from Europe. About four hours (6am in Europe) the first rescue teams left (at least in Germany and the UK) for Asia.
And yes, currently *they are continuing sending help teams*, because the proportions (as you certainly know) went up from 10'000 death to currently over 60'000 death (and over 500'000 wounded).
You may try to tweak these facts in your favor - because it seems that you are looking at this tragedy as a sports event.
My point is that you should not point the finger at the UN when there are really other things to do: Help!

As we all know, the UN is j... (Below threshold)
Vulgorilla:

As we all know, the UN is just a criminal magnet for humanitarian money. (see Food for Oil for the latest example). The best course of action, IMHO, would be to have a handful of very credible international charity organizations distribute the aid. The UN would be the organization to distribute the aid if you really wanted to line the pockets of the dictators of the corrupt little third world countries. I think we've done enough of that to last a life time.

"And the beauty of this ... (Below threshold)

"And the beauty of this is, if I'm wrong, what's the worst that happens? Those people get a whole bunch more aid a lot faster."
J.

But, you wouldn't be wrong and the worst that happens is that those people get nothing.

Unacceptable.

I'm surprised you haven't d... (Below threshold)
Dale:

I'm surprised you haven't discussed their refusal to allow Israel's rescue assistance. For that I say, save your money for a worthy cause instead of wasting it on these scumbags. Let them all die.

John - "I'm sure you wil... (Below threshold)
Boyd:

John - "I'm sure you will pass me off as a moron spouting drivel."

Yup, you ensured that with your opening ad hominem volley of, "You are full of crap. Do some research."

John: ... (Below threshold)
Marc:

John: "(the UN is a political organisation - not a disaster relief organisation)."

Guess John missed the fact that the UN's moonbat at-large Jan Egeland is the UN's Emergency Relief Coordinator.

The US should put its m... (Below threshold)
Lysander:

The US should put its money where its mouth is and send a reasonable amount of aid and money

John, just what is a "reasonable amount of aid? $35 MILLION? 100 Million? or how about 135 THOUSAND. Just for kicks, the $35 Mil. figure is what the US is sending. Not counting hardware, personell, and material.

$135,000 is what France is sending. Who's stingy?

Lets put it another way. WMAL here in the DC area has raised over 1.5 MILLION dollars for the Fisher House Foundation (www.wmal.com - latest figures on that page as of 11:48AM EST is $1,505,073.) versus France's spending ONE TENTH that amount for the Tsunami relief. Who's stingy?

The UN has more anti-semites per square foot than anywhere since 1939, more or less. We should be looking up to them??

You are full of crap. D... (Below threshold)
Carrick Talmadge:

You are full of crap. Do some research. The US government is more corrupt then the UN by far.

I know that this dead horse has been beaten already, but I thought I would take a stab.

The problem with the UN as it is structured is that it simply does not have the same level of checks and balances that any functioning government would have. Worse, the decision making is often placed in the hands of third-world individuals to prevent the "corrupting" influence of the big players. This often has the paradoxical effect of putting corrupt officials into positions of power who have not been vetted to the same extent as officials from major governments.

Secondly, the UN lacks the structural checks and balances of real government. Nor does there appear to be any guarantees of transparency for administrative decisions (i.e., an equivalent to the FOIA).

Add to this the willingness to overlook its problems by liberals and idealists and you have the recipe for complete corruption and ineptitude that has been displayed by the UN for at least the last ten years.

First, the US is not giving... (Below threshold)
firstbrokenangel:

First, the US is not giving money to the UN for disaster relief. John definitely needs a clue but Jay is a much better writer than I am, so don't get me started or I'll ream you a new one - that I am good at doing. Israel is there already and they have not been denied anything. Hell, they were there pretty damn fast. Not only is the US sending 35M, the troops, the full planes, the airlifts, the navy boats, medicine, water, and every supply possible has already arrived and all those supplies from the US and all the US groups that are also sending money and supplies isn't even included in the 35M. I don't know why John is going over to help with an attitude such as he's pushing around.

As to Jan Egeland, I saw him on Larry King last night just as I saw him earlier in the day trying to take back his words only to say the same damn thing. That we are the richest country in the world so therefore we should give more. Well, we are giving more. We have places all over the world just ready for this kind of emergency and people are working round the clock here in this country getting stuff ready to be sent over by plane. We have troops on the ground, we have equipment, there's even portapotties we sent and everyone is pitching in. As it already stands, the death toll is over 100,000 and they expect that to get higher because not all the bodies have been picked up yet. And I have no idea why anyone said Israel was denied when they were clearly already there on the ground helping out and sending services. They even airlifted doctors into these areas. The UN guy can go to hell, our govt is not giving him the money, the money is going directly to each country personally and we've joined two other countries - UK and Australia, working together to help these devastated countries. Plus, we ourselves donate to all the different help communities bringing a total that would be hard to comprehend.

Cindy

Schnuerbel, it's you who's ... (Below threshold)
VA Jim:

Schnuerbel, it's you who's confused. Read the blasted article. The US had assistance on site less than 24 hours after the quake occurred. Not to belittle others, since the US teams were close anyway, but US aid was there on the ground while European 'fast response' was boarding their airplane.

It's pretty low of you to look at this tragedy as a sports event, try to fudge some numbers, then accuse others of what you just did. The OT subject was John's (and now Schnuerbel's) USA-bashing. It has no basis in reality, just another moonbat mutual-hallucination about UNhelpful UNaction.


PS to [email protected]&R - you spelled UNacceptable wrong! :-)

Marc: "John: "(the UN is a ... (Below threshold)
John:

Marc: "John: "(the UN is a political organisation - not a disaster relief organisation)."

Guess John missed the fact that the UN's moonbat at-large Jan Egeland is the UN's Emergency Relief Coordinator.""

Actually that was Jay Tea's comment. Maybe your trying to be funny...

US GDP = $ 10 990 000 000 0... (Below threshold)
John:

US GDP = $ 10 990 000 000 000

US government donations = $35 000 000

Australian GDP = $ 571 400 000 000

Australian government donations = $35 000 000

Both countries have also sent supplies, doctors, military etc etc and both have said they will commit more as time goes buy so I have excluded these factors.

Sorry it was actually Schnu... (Below threshold)
John:

Sorry it was actually Schnuerbel's comment -

Marc: "John: "(the UN is a political organisation - not a disaster relief organisation)."

Guess John missed the fact that the UN's moonbat at-large Jan Egeland is the UN's Emergency Relief Coordinator.""

Actually that was Jay Tea's comment. Maybe your trying to be funny...

I get a kick out of how eve... (Below threshold)
Drew - Dallas, TX:

I get a kick out of how everyone is keeping some kind of score card like we're having an imaginary moral pissing contest with other countries - I just saw the latest *(score) on CNN as if it's [insert a funny reference to your favorite sport].

While the world continues keeping such a morbid scorecard, can we just say that a knee-jerk reaction like calling countries and their citizens "stingy" simply warrants an ass-kicking during times of emergency?

One question - just one; Where was Jan Egeland, the U.N., Australia, Europe and everybody else when the Hurricanes struck Florida and the Gulf Coast or any other disaster here in the U.S. for that matter?

That's what I thought.

You guys are ridiculus. You... (Below threshold)
John:

You guys are ridiculus. You see what you want to see in peoples comments, make assumptions about people and use those assumptions as points in a debate. You claim victory after a few stupid remarks. You blindly back each other up. And then you blame your opponents of doing exactly what you do yourself.

Lets be clear about one thing. Im NOT a leftie. and Im NOT a rightie. Like so many things in this world I believe that an ideal government sits somewhere between the two main points of view.

Of course it doesnt matter what I say because my opinion is different to yours and therefore I must be wrong.

Cindy - "I don't know why John is going over to help with an attitude such as he's pushing around. "

My attitude is wrong so I just won't go. Right. Cindy what do I need a clue about? I know the UN is corrupt. But at least they don't go around waging wars on countries for political and economic benefit.

John, wars are almost alway... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

John, wars are almost always fought for political or economic reasons. I think it was Von Clausewitz who described war as "the extension of politics by other means."
And John, the reason I pegged you as a leftie was your immediate response to my saying the tsunami was bad and the UN was corrupt was to say that the US government was more corrupt. Never mind that we were among the first on the scene with help. Never mind that we have already contributed more (in goods and services, as well as cash) than any other nation. Never mind that we will continue to do so, and the only reason Mr. Egeland is whining is that we are doing all this WITHOUT going through the UN, but on our own.

What Egeland and his ilk want isn't our money, it's our freedom. They resent that we did all this so quickly, without "coordinating" with them. That's why they feel the need to criticize us on any flimsy excuse.

And John, I bring myself back to my original point: even if I were to grant your laughable allegation that "the US government is more corrupt than the UN," (and I assume you simply haven't heard of such incidents as Oil-For-Food, the child rapists wearing the baby-blue helmet of the UN, the multiple genocides in Africa under their auspices, their complete failure in the Balkans, and numerous other scandals), what the hell relevance does it have to my original posting -- that the tsunami is bad, and to expect the UN to be able to help is stupid?

J.

Jay Tea - "John, wars are a... (Below threshold)
John:

Jay Tea - "John, wars are almost always fought for political or economic reasons"

Yes, my point was that the UN doesn't wage wars for political/ ecanomic advantage (they use other currupt means but at least not war waging).
I think the problem with the US waging wars for pol/eco benefit is that they are so powerful and so advanced they can do it with few losses on their side while the opposition sustains massive military and civilian casualties, creating a sort of "pseudowar".

I already said I have heard of Oil for Food, I am familiar with the genocides in Africa and the Baulkans. However in my opinion these events are little compared to the things the US government has instigated through it's foreign policy (I will leave domestic matters out of it). I could quote any number of sources but instead why don't you look at this site (if you haven't already):
http://www.uwec.edu/grossmzc/interventions.html

Now to the original point, it was you who made this a political discussion, look at the title. If you start a political topic you should expect political discussion. Can't you see that it doesn't have to be this or that? Couldn't the US work with the UN to make it more effective? Of course in this time of need it is better to get the aid on the ground as quickly as possible, and yes I applaud the US for doing this (I never said the US is totally corrupt). However I don't think this should be used as an excuse to bag the UN. The US has a lot of power, why doesn't it use it to improve the UN.

My main point wasn't in my first statement. That statement was intended to invoke a reply and stimulate discussion (and it worked). There are many topics through the replies that relate to your original post.

Jay Tea - "we have already contributed more (in goods and services, as well as cash)" - yes but you also have significantly more wealth then any other nation. Australia is not far behind you in terms of contributions even though the US' GDP is 19 times higher.

If you think the GDP shouldnt be used to judge how much a country gives then consider this -
Those poor people will need all the money they can get. A poorer country may give all the money they can while the US gives a measly 35 million. Sure it might sound like a lot but it is really nothing. What about the massive defense budget the US has. I think the US would be better spending this money on foreign aid and helping poorer countries rather then fighting terrorism. The terrorists are fighting US for a reason, and it's not because the US is a free country. This is a chance for the US to really show that it cares about the welfare of people in poor countries.

Can you see that the 35 million in aid money is vastly overshadowed by the 401 billion defense budget?

For me this raises concern.

John, here's a little tip f... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

John, here's a little tip for you: so far, a good chunk of our contributions for this disaster relief (and, in fact, most of our disaster relief) comes OUT OF the Defense budget. Where do you think the money for all those Air Force and Navy transport planes (and crews), the ships, the rescue workers, the MPs, the medical personnel come from? Yeah, that's right, the US Armed Services.

You don't see the Department of Education sending vice-principals and guidance counselors to scenes of disaster. Social Security doesn't rush to replace elderly people who drowned with retirees. And the Department of the Interior doesn't dispatch Johnny PalmTreeSeed to replenish wiped-out orchards. It's the Pentagon, the Five-Sided Wind Tunnel, Fort Fumble, The Source Of All That Is Wrong And Evil And Corrupt In The World (tm), that has the experts on hand who know how to go into Hell, survive and prosper in Hell, and make it a bit less Hellish for those poor bastards who find their homes suddenly transformed into The Infernal Regions.

And one last time, John: what the HELL does the "corruption of the US government" have to do with the idea of us applying our aid directly to where it can do the most good, and bypassing the UN? I accused you of attempting to hijack this discussion, and I repeat it: you don't want to talk about the suffering people or how to help them, you just want to see if you can get a bunch of people to cheer you on as you make your rather shallow and unsubstantiated allegations. There's more to political sophistication than simply spouting "the US government is bad!" at every opportunity, kid. Like I said before -- that's not arguing, that's sloganeering.

J.

You just don't listen do yo... (Below threshold)
John:

You just don't listen do you. $35 compared to $401 billion (and thats just the DOD not the other organisations that also defend the US).

Anyway my point is that for a country with a 401 billion Defence budget and a $ 10 990 000 000 000 GDP, 35 million is nothing.

Again you make assumption after assumption and use them as points in your argument, sorry it just doesnt cut it.

You have done your fair share of sloganeering as well.

"you don't want to talk about the suffering people or how to help them" I have already explained the relevance of my replies to the original topic. I don't think you are particularly interested in saving the poor people either.

Hmm.The point is w... (Below threshold)

Hmm.

The point is well taken, as the UN would certainly screw the pooch on this one. But that would mean delivering the hundreds of thousands of human beings affected by this tragedy into the waiting clutches of the Scandanavian Über-bureaucrats.

It seems to me that the question then becomes "Is the potential damage to the UN worth the certain loss of life and property for the tsunami victims?"

Although It might even be somewhat entertaining to throw the blue-helmeted keystone kops at this mess, and watch them flail around in a series of hijinks and misadventures, no matter what calculus we might employ, the visceral lives of human beings are always worth more than hard-won reforms at the UN.

While this entire thread does have morbid bright spots, arguing over points like "who ya callin' stingy", or "my relief package is bigger than yours" loses sight of the very real human tragedy that we are witnessing.

Having said that, it is clear that the political opportunities presented by this disaster for the United States are great. Here is a chance to highlight the "soft power" and magnanimity of American might, while fashioning another "Coalition of the Willing" to affect some real change. These kinds of disaster relief operations form the absolute peak of American public diplomacy. It's the ultimate P.R. event beacuse it really is something genuinely good and noble, which reinforces the American narrative.

"Having said that, it is cl... (Below threshold)
John:

"Having said that, it is clear that the political opportunities presented by this disaster for the United States are great. Here is a chance to highlight the "soft power" and magnanimity of American might, while fashioning another "Coalition of the Willing" to affect some real change. These kinds of disaster relief operations form the absolute peak of American public diplomacy. It's the ultimate P.R. event beacuse it really is something genuinely good and noble, which reinforces the American narrative"

Which is exactly why I think the 35 million is way to little.

John, read the current top ... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

John, read the current top posting on Wizbang. And do it quickly, before you lose your connection.

J.

Looks like John is corrupt,... (Below threshold)

Looks like John is corrupt, too. What an idiot.

Another thought about the f... (Below threshold)
Lysander:

Another thought about the fallacy of comparing Governmental aid to national GDP - the GDP does not equal every dollar the government can lay its hand on (thankfully!). Government expendatures are a component, not the sum total, of GDP. And, the governmental relief sent to the earthquake victims do NOT account for private aid donations (for example, right this moment, Amazon.com has raised $3,341,633.01 in donations - that's additional to the 35 million from the government, btw). Comparing GDP to government giving along is like comparing your personal charitable donations to the total net worth of each and every person you are blood-related to, within a random number (say, 5) generations. Not exactly fair to say you're stingy because you gave some bum $10 of your hard earned (assumedly) money, when you have a rich relative somewhere.

At least compare apples to apples.

35 million was just the sta... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

35 million was just the starting point; it'll end up in the hundreds of millions. It will climb as needed when we learn more specifics on the scope of the damage.
Just like the U.S. always does, we will be one of the biggest givers of aid, even when it's unappreciated. Generous grownups to the rescue again, even while some of the children are ungrateful. (Maybe the anti-America crowd instantly knows what is needed and how much and where exactly the aid must go, but those who deal in reality will have to evaluate this evolving tragedy and act accordingly.)

Also, the 35 mil doesn't include private donations from private citizens, which will be in the tens of millions. Who was the Euroweenie who said that the U.S. should tax its citizens more, so that the our government could give more 'government aid'? Typical socialist.

Yes, $35 million is just a ... (Below threshold)
Mark Aase:

Yes, $35 million is just a starting point, and that was made clear at the outset. More importantly, that does not include the military and other aid.

I'm curious, what are the daily operating expenses for a nuclear aircraft carrier, a dozen helicopters, 2000 Marines, and assorted sailors? How about the additional fleet of five ships that are also being diverted to the area? I would imagine that dwarfs the $35m. I would also suspect I just made a huge understatement.

John can criticize the defense budget all he wants, but he can't ignore the scores of $billions that went into R&D, construction, and outfitting those ships so they would be available at times like this. What about the millions spent recruiting and training the thousands of skilled personnel who are operating the ships and aircraft, and those who will be working on the beaches. Shouldn't a portion of these sunk costs also be apportioned to the relief effort? Sheesh, what would it cost to rent an aircraft carrier for a day? --and I mean just the hardware without crew or other operational expenses?

The $35m is merely a drop in the bucket of resources we have already committed. Stingy? I think not.

I can mock John all I want?... (Below threshold)

I can mock John all I want? (00)

Wow. It's been a looonnnggg time since someone just handed me a lisence like that. Thanks, Jay! ;)

Come Pinky, we must plan carefully for this evening's activities...

I like your idea in spirit, Jay... but I agree with schnuerbel and VA Jim. Better to give the money directly to the countries that need aid and cut the UN out of the loop. Sure, you'd probably win your bet - the UN *would* take it and skim off substantial amounts into various official's offshore accounts... but it'd be a churlish way of proving a point.

At the risk of losing my VRWC Membership, I have to say that the important thing right now is to give what help we can to the areas and people who need it - not to play political oneupmanship with the UN. Principles over politics on something like this, else neither principles *or* politics mean anything.

There'll always be opportunities to hand the UN rope.

About Florida. The cost her... (Below threshold)

About Florida. The cost here was $10E9, and the wealth of the US is put at 60E12. 1/60000! Barely a blip.
The problem is not always the rebuilding but the initial dangers to life - which werent an issue in the US and most infrastructure was in place to cope.
For Sri Lanka an economic cost of $10E9 is a huge amount. Plus the devastation is far greater. In Florida relatively little damage happened. In Sri Lanka entire villages are washed away - no foundations, wood buildings.

America did receive aid after the hurricanes, but only the little it required. Sri Lanka, Thailand etc, they require a lot more aid.

35M (Govt) plus probably a similar amount (private) is not much aid. Do not count manpower. The Sri Lankans etc do not lack manpower. They lack the supplies. Its the money that buys the supplies (water, medicine, blankets etc).

Hi VAJim,You said "T... (Below threshold)
schnuerbel:

Hi VAJim,
You said "The US had assistance on site less than 24 hours". So did the Europeans. At this very moment, the *FIRST* American relief workers arrive in Indonesia (http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/asiapcf/12/30/asia.quake/index.html)
Who should I believe. You or the media?

The whole "stingy" thing is... (Below threshold)
chupacabra:

The whole "stingy" thing is B.S. that the idiot Bill Sammon of the Moonie Times made up. Here's the actual passage from the NY Times:

U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland suggested that the United States and other Western nations were being "stingy" with relief funds, saying there would be more available if taxes were raised.

"It is beyond me why are we so stingy, really," the Norwegian-born U.N. official told reporters. "Christmastime should remind many Western countries at least, [of] how rich we have become."

Egeland wasn't talking about the US specifically, but about western countries in general.

Facts first, please.

Monjo,"Do not coun... (Below threshold)
Mark Aase:

Monjo,

"Do not count manpower?" That's absurd! Manpower is a very real cost to us, and very necessary to the relief effort. Without manpower, who will operate the aircraft carrier and 10 other ships? Who will operate the 90 million gallon per day water making equipment? The 6 C-130's? The dozen helicopters? Who will distribute the water? The shelters? All of this requires skilled manpower. This costs money--much more than the $35m. Yes, it must be counted.

<a href="http://www.working... (Below threshold)

http://www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?ItemID=18309

"It took President Bush three days to ready himself to go before the television cameras and make a public statement about Sunday's devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck southern Asia. Even though he was late, and much more money will be needed, the president pledged at least $35 million in aid to the victims of the disaster. But, as of December 30, some of the president's major family-values constituents have yet to be heard from: It's business as usual at the web sites of the American Family Association, the Family Research Council, the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America, and the Coral Ridge Ministries.

These powerful and well-funded political Christian fundamentalist organizations appear to be suffering from a compassion deficit. Organizations which are amazingly quick to organize to fight against same-sex marriage, a woman's right to choose, and embryonic stem cell research are missing in action when it comes to responding to the disaster in southern Asia. None of their web sites are actively soliciting aid for the victims of the earthquake/tsunami. "

okay, I'll sound like the g... (Below threshold)
tee bee:

okay, I'll sound like the grinch here. the US government does not owe anyone else anything. it owes the people it represents the least burden [tax and law] while supporting justice, private endeavors and commerce within and near its borders (and in this modern, globally focused and connected world, that means maintaining a global eye and sometimes presence). that would be the whole "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" thing we all cherish.

what I like least about the posturing on this string is how quickly and happily people want to spend money that doesn't belong to them, and the leverage used to win the match comes from demonstrating that one has the greatest moral club that can be wielded. sizing up my GDP and deciding what you are "entitled" to take doesn't change the fact that it is theft. you decided what should be taken from me.

what I like most is that a great deal of energy is being dedicated to a problem half a world away that would be as overwhelming as the tsunami we're discussing if it weren't for the many people who want to see help given to a devastated people. all this back-and-forth has probably urged many people to open up their pocketbooks and give. and that's how it should be.

happy new year, Jay Tea.




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