A God Given Opportunity

and countercharges continue to fly concerning the world leadership, or
lack thereof, of the United
States in the disaster recovery effort following the Asian Tsunami. The
US government, annoyed and insulted by foreign reports of "stinginess"
and lack of compassion, have taken pains to repeat and reiterate that
total US foreign aid dwarfs that of any other country. Unmentioned is
the fact that these figures include the multi-billion dollar bonus bribes
we have been paying every
year to the Israelis and Egyptians to make nice. Today’s news brings
word that President Bush is sending lame duck Secretary of State Colin
Powell and Heir Apparent Florida Governor and Presidential Brother Jeb
Bush to the area of devastation to wave the flag and "raise the American
profile in the international relief effort".(NYTimes)

the other side of the equation, those ungrateful foreigners keep pointing
out uncomfortable data points, like the facts
that of the half-Billion in aid contributed so far by the "developed
world", only $35 million has come from the US. We are near the bottom
of the list in per-capita pledges and amount of offered aid as a percentage
of GNP. Just goes to show you can say anything with statistics:

Jeffrey Sachs, an economist at Columbia University and
a specialist on aid to developing countries who has worked with the United
Nations, said, ”There is a very big difference between American attitudes,
which are generous; beliefs, which is that we do a lot; and the reality.
. . . The reality is we actually do very little by comparative measures.

”I think the disaster in Asia is a stark example of this for a lot
of Americans. It challenges their perceptions of their own country," Sachs
said. ”There is going to be even more shock when the US government asks
for an additional $80 billion in Iraq and the American public juxtaposes
that with what was given in one of the worst natural disasters the world
has ever seen. This discrepancy between what we think our country
does and what it actually does is hurting America’s image in the world,
especially in the poorest corners of the world," added Sachs. (from
today’s Boston

Good point, Jeff. As numerous other commentators point
our there is something just a bit unseemly and less than compassionate
in a country which enthusiastically spends over $140
BILLION dollars
to kill people and blow things up in Iraq, and
yet has a problem coming up with $35 million to save lives and rebuild
things after the worst
natural disaster in modern history. Can anyone think of a bigger missed
opportunity to capture the hearts and minds of the quarter of the world’s
population of the Muslim faith?

With images of
the savagery and inhumanity of Abu Ghraib prison still fresh in the
memories and pamphlets of the great masses
of non-fanatical Muslims, we could be replacing them with new images
of crates and pallets and cargo holds full of food and water, US military
doctors treating and inoculating Muslim children, uniformed personnel
distributing food packets, dry clothes and tents to prostate and defenseless
peasants.  The 4th largest country in the world, with over
200 million non-violent, non-radical Muslims living in a West-friendly
secular democracy, is in dire straits.  How can we not help?

In the end, we lost the Vietnam War because we could
not convince the rank and file of Vietnamese, North and South, that we
were there to help them and liberate them from Communism rather than
to destroy them and subject them to American "imperialism". Turns out
it WAS a war for the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people, and we

Now it is happening all over again.  There are
good reasons we are having trouble convincing the Iraqis that we are
there to help them. It is hard to distribute humanitarian aid when all
of the NGO’s and international relief organizations from the Red Cross
on down have pulled out of the country due to the danger of kidnapping
and death. It is hard to get basic services up and running if every time
engineers or technicians try to repair the sewage system or the electrical
grid they get shot at and blown up by the very people they are trying
to benefit.

So here is an opportunity to do good, to save lives,
to show ourselves in the best, truest light of the American spirit, far
away from the war zone, in a safe and sunny vacationland temporarily
placed in dire straights by the humbling power of nature. These horrific
images of destruction and survival, and America’s response, is being
beamed into every TV set and computer
screen on the planet. Just as the hurricane season offered a God-given
chance to the Bush brothers to hand out unlimited government largess
and nail down a few hundred thousand decisive votes in Florida, now the Tsunami has
produced a God-given opportunity to shorten the war and save American
lives by
presenting America’s nobel and generous side, our resolve and can-do
attitude, and showing up the demonizing slander of our enemies for the
transparent propaganda
it is.

Please, Mr. Bush, don’t let this one get away.  It
may be our last chance to win the war on terrorism.

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One Response to A God Given Opportunity

  1. paul clinton says:

    a great way to help the starving poor is with mercycorps, either by paying a monthly amount,or just by clicking on their links. Positive karma comes from good helping actions

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