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The America I Wish We'd Been This Week
Alex Steffen, 31 Dec 04

This is a personal essay, likely to make some people angry but perhaps to many others seem worth the read. It's about the kind of nation I wish the United States had shown itself to be this week.

The White House just announced that the US will contribute US$350 million to the relief efforts. First of all, let me say that I'm proud that my government is beginning to respond in a way more proportional to the magnitude of the crisis. Then, let me say something clear and unequivocal: it is nowhere near enough.

Rather than go into a whole thing about why I think that, let me instead draw a picture: I wish we were the America that would look at a tragedy like this and, without hesitation, live up to its highest ideals.

Imagine, if instead of offering a few million dollars and a press release, the president had flown to Indonesia, and, standing in solidarity with the victims, had announced that the United States government was going to, say, cover one third of the relief and reconstruction costs, a figure of five billion dollars. Imagine further, that the president took the opportunity to reaffirm the US commitment to compassion and global cooperation in pursuit of freedom and prosperity, as, in another context, another president once did.

Here's the speech I wish I'd heard from a U.S. president standing on Indonesia's shores:

We find ourselves today at the scene of a terrible tragedy.

I know our entire nation, and the entire world, joins me when I say to you that we grieve for your loss and we feel in our hearts your pain. Perhaps never before has a disaster so awoken us to how small our world has become, and how close our bonds have grown. Perhaps never before have we really understood what it means to live on a small planet.

We know something about national tragedies. We remember well the outpouring of support, from every nation on Earth, when we experienced a day of terrible destruction and murder. You stood with us then. I am here to show that we stand with you now. I say to you today: You are not alone. You are not forgotten. You are not without friends.

Thousands of our brothers and sisters are dead. Millions more have experienced the kind of personal tragedies we all hope never to face. Money alone cannot heal these wounds. Our best doctors, our finest relief workers cannot take away that pain. No amount of help will smooth the rough waters and leave all as it was before.

At the same time, we can make smooth the road to recovery, and we will. The United States is a powerful and wealthy nation, a nation which enjoys the blessings of liberty and prosperity. We here today affirm that the United States is also the friend of the world.

Where there is the eternal night oppression, we seek the sunlight of openness and freedom.

Where there is the heavy burden of poverty, we seek the uplifting power of progress and prosperity.

Where there is the sting of despair, we seek the balms of justice and hope.

Where there is now a world divided and at war with itself, we seek a better tomorrow of unity and peace.

Today, we make manifest our commitment to that better future with a promise to the peoples of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Somalia, Tanzania and Kenya. We will stand with you today and in the difficult days to come. Our wealth, our strength, our knowledge are yours to use.

We will help in every way we can.

First, we will help in the most direct and quick way: with money. The United States here pledges five billion dollars to the disaster relief effort, and an equal amount to the reconstruction efforts to follow. This is a way we can help. Please accept our offer.

We will also bring all our influence to bear to see that the massive debts which have been so troubling to many of your nations in recent decades are forgiven. There are times when one must insist that your neighbor repays you, and there are times when you say to your neighbor that you understand that he has other needs more important than his debt to you. This is one of those times. It's time to cancel these debts.

We will also bring our know-how to the job. We offer our help at the highest levels and we will bring to bear our expertise, our technology and our science. Everything we have learned about responding to disasters we will share with you. Every help we can give as you plan your response and recovery, we will deliver. Our military and civilian first responders are on their way. Thousands of other aid workers and volunteers will follow after. Americans will be here when you need us.

Finally, we will remain constant. Too often, we remember the victims of disasters only while their faces flicker across the television screen. We will make sure the world remembers the victims of this disaster. We will not falter or fail in our commitments. We understand that the rebuilding work to come may last years, and we pledge to work alongside you until the job is done.

What is that job? That job is to coax meaning from this tragedy by making sure that every community destroyed by this terrible catastrophe is rebuilt anew, rebuilt better, rebuilt in ways which leave its people more able to secure for themselves stability and the blessings of peace, liberty and prosperity. We cannot undo the past, but together we can build a better future.

So I leave you today, my friends, with the heartfelt sympathies of our nation, with our prayers, with our deep respect for the bravery and courage you have shown, and with a pledge that we stand with you now in this darkest hour, and we will stand with you still, when a new dawn breaks over these waters.

Thank you, and God bless you all.

That would be a president I'd look up to. That would be an America in which I'd be proud to live.

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Comments

Yes, yes as thousand times yes to this statement.
I was awakened this morning with the terrible realization that my country declared war to liberate a people. Subsequently "we" are spending billions of dollars to destroy the homes of these people, under the guise of giving them freedom. Yet, now that a people need real help, we have only a fraction of that amount of money to send.
It is a sad day for all Americans.

Bob


Posted by: Bob Gearheart on 31 Dec 04

Alex,

Great post! I was thinking the same thing today. Our government is so (trigger) happy to spend countless billions on wars against defenseless nations, and then they skimp out on helping people who are facing an unprecedented human disaster. It is just sickening. Good speech. Let me know if you ever run for president.

Susan


Posted by: Susan Alcorn on 31 Dec 04

If the president would give your comments we might be able to win the hearts of the people of the world again...but of course, I sadly believe this president is only interested in being right and making sure the rich get richer. I believe his Jesus might have given your speech...I feel better knowing there are people like you in this country.


Posted by: Carolyn on 31 Dec 04

I think the United States is doing enough at this point. However wiping out these countries debts is just silly. That will encourge more foolish spending and some of those countries are far from democratic, and not exactly friends of the US. Yes the tragedy is great, and yes the damage is huge, however these countries are far from wiped out as has been reported. This tradegy affected a small part of the area and population and, there is capability in the region to recover. I think you should be advocating countries like China (this is their backyard) provide the same level of support you request of the US.


Posted by: Bob Ancle on 31 Dec 04

Alex,
I agree. Your request for 5 billion dollars matches what I believe US spends in one month (!!) for Iraq war.
I also agree that China and Middle East sheikdoms should be sending a lot more.
I have travelled thru many of the devastated areas over the past decades. I am heartsick for the impoverished people I encountered during those journeys. They will have no access to grief counseling that is available in other parts of the world.
Right now there are only 7 hours left in 2004. I hope 2005 is lighter and brighter for the sad peoples of South Asia.


Posted by: Emmet Corrigan on 31 Dec 04

Thanks for the kind comments, everyone.

Bob, I will note that I do think other countries, including China, should do more. I, however, am an American. It's my first duty to remove the beam from my own country's eye.


Posted by: Alex Steffen on 31 Dec 04

Amazing how brave people are behind 'anonymous', but I suppose with the post it was to be expected, Alex.

Kind of surprised you did it here.


Posted by: Taran on 31 Dec 04

Hi Alex and team
IŽm Joao, biologist from Portugal and I edit an environmental blog too called BioTerra
( BioEarth). ItŽs nice meet you in 1st of Janury 2005!! IŽll come more often.
Best regards


Posted by: Joao Soares on 31 Dec 04

To date, 'we' have spent over $147,000,000 (that's one hundred and forty-seven BILLION) to kill people in Iraq who did not a damn thing to us. As we as a country pretend to grieve with the victims of the disaster, half of America is still bloodthristy and gung-ho for war. What hypocrites! Praying for Asia, destroying Iraq.

Did you notice the jerks who post comments like "go to another country" almost always want to stay anonymous? As well they should. I wouldn't want to admit my soul was dead, and my heart so hard.

For the fundamentalist Christians in this country who are faking concern for the victims, I know what you really think. To you, this a great thing, a sign that Jesus is coming soon. You think it is a fulfillment of prophecy, and you are glad. You make me sick. You are evil.

Yes, we should send five billion. And not a dime more for war.

PEACE


Posted by: Katie on 31 Dec 04

Perhaps our Secretary of State, instead of spending New Year's Eve in Times Square, could have begun the New Year by delivering a "Square Deal of America's Support" to those South Asian lands whose New Year's celebrations are awash in death and disaster.


Posted by: A.W. Mitchell on 31 Dec 04

Bush announced he's upping the dollar amount to $350million.
If he had said, if he had only said, at the very beginning, that he was sending something immediately to expedite logistics, and that America's heart is bigger than its purse, which is still the biggest in the world, or something like that in middle-American Texas-speak, I for one would have been a lot more open-minded about all this.
But to turn from triple-digit billions devoted to destruction and violent death and treat the relief monies like a poker bet raise and call is not an inspiring act.
Better now, but not good, not yet.


Posted by: Bucky on 31 Dec 04

I'm with Katie. I also question the so-called Christian values of a leader who finances destruction, but holds back on a disaster relief effort. It worries me that all citizens of the United States might be perceived to be as self-absorbed and selfish as those who support a wait-and-see attitude with emergency funds. As to the person who mentioned Florida hurricane relief I'd ask, "What the hell are you talking about?" The tsunami disaster absolutely envelops the devastation done by hurricanes in Florida. Just the number of people reported dead from these waves would total more than five percent of Florida's population (according to 2003 Census estimates).

Get your heads out of your asses, conservative America, especially if you believe we belong to something bigger and greater than ourselves.


Posted by: Judith on 31 Dec 04

It's wishful thinking that the issue of how our government uses monetary resources can be separated. We must take the money spent on war into account in this discussion.

The Iraq war is immoral and destructive to the point of genocide, and this country is spending billions on it. The issue to disaster relief is the exact opposite, and our country is reluctant give what it should.

What does it say about us, that we tolerate this situation?

I received an email today urging me to "not spend one damn dime" on inaugeration day to show Washington and the world where I stand on the Iraq war. How about this: Take every dime you would normally spend on Jan. 20 and send it to the disaster relief agency of your choice.

Money talks. And there's more than one way to "stand up with our wallets." Or so I think.


Posted by: Lou Presley on 31 Dec 04

I'm a soldier ... I need relief ... I need money ... kindly send me some so I can afford an up-armored HMMWV ... kindly spare a million to properly armor hundreds of HMMWVs. Hmmm ... on second thought ... kindly give me your heart, your support, your citizenship. Kinldy quit bickering about Iraq, you're not there. I'll spend a billion dollars a day, if only to see the kids smile and be free ... and be sure that they have a 'free' tomorrow. Kindly, I beg of you ... give it a rest.


Posted by: Adam on 31 Dec 04

That's right, Adam. I'm not in Iraq, and you shouldn't be there, either. I question whether you actually feel like you're liberating the Iraq people. I'm sorry that you were sent into an unjust war with the improper equipment. That was not my choice. In fact, I've been sick about it. Blame those who voted for the current president.

Anyhow, and I know a lot of people are afraid to say this sort of thing, but Adam? You chose to be a soldier. You weren't drafted. You are hardly a charity case. The folks in Asia (not to mention Iraq, but that's another story) had no say in their current situation.


Posted by: Judith on 31 Dec 04

Judith, it's in Asia now. What if it were in America tomorrow? Who would be there then? Would it not be us, the men and women - America's Youth - tending to your needs?

There are thousands of us, men and women in uniform, who do not believe this war to be just. But how I wish you can see a child's smile, in the middle of all this madness.

On a last note, Judith, and I will give it a rest. I believe it was Donald (Duck) Rumsfeld who said, "Fight the battles over there, and not over here."

Thank you for your support and your tax money. Sleep well ... America's Youth is on point!!!


Posted by: adam on 31 Dec 04

It’s a real shame that many Americans use a “liberal” label to dismiss compassion. It is a fact US is killing hundreds in Iraq. It s a Fact US is a very wealthy nation. It is a Fact South Asia needs help. It is a fact US have the resources to help. It is a fact there may idiots in the US who want to miss use the resources for war, including George W Bush.

I am not an American, I like America and most Americans (only the compassionate America), but your Bush mentality is sickening. I was surprised that you elected a complete goof as your leader imagine my surprise when you re-elected him again!

The world is a small place. The whole world grieved with you after 9/11. BUT the US needs to get off its high horse and think of it self as member of our small planet. When you have so much, use it to help not kill.


Posted by: qwerty on 31 Dec 04

The measured response by the American government was to be expected. The U.S. while claiming the moral high-ground (liberating the people of Iraq and bringing decency back home)only pay lip service to the needs of the world. Yes, $350 million will go a long way, but the real test is how will average Americans and corporations respond through theRed Cross and other agencies. I am Canadian and I was eqully unimpressed by my government's contribution ($40 million CDN). However, private citizens will likely match that within the week. That is what we need to do rather than decry the inaction of our governments. You can't, in the immediate term, do anything about the money being spent in Iraq. That is a big mess that will continue to cost you. And it is a debate best left for another day. This is another problem that will test all the citizens of the First World. We can and should do something personally about this tragedy. I told my wife that we were going to have to "give 'til it hurts". Americans don't need to beat their president up over this. America is giving more than any other country, so far. Yes, it has the capacity to do more, but "the more" is what is going to have to come from each of you. Of course, the RAPTURISTS, will look to this event and go digging in REVELATIONS to show their kids how all of this fits into God's plan, but hopefully they are doing so at the same time as they are digging into their wallets. Let's not worry or denounce Bush or howl at the moon. Let's just say a prayer for all those in need and give what we can.


Posted by: Ted on 31 Dec 04

Ted ... ditto. I shall send my imminent danger pay to the Relief Fund. It may not be much, but with the help of other 'humans' like me in uniform, it will eventually add up. I wish for all a prosperous and peaceful new year!!!


Posted by: adam on 31 Dec 04

It might just be in America tomorrow, and then most of our brave young America will be unavailable, off searching for kid's smiles while ducking suicide bombers. We'd possibly have to hope that other nations who might come to our aid don't reconsider, given that we're such cheap bastards ourselves in world aid.

Peace, brother.


Posted by: Judith on 31 Dec 04

BTW, Adam, don't worry about those tax dollars. I'm a stay-at-home Mom, so they don't really amount to much, anyway. I truly believe the best job I can be doing is shaping and molding the minds of my young liberals. And I agree with the comment that we should all be doing what we can, so since we're such capable folks I would hope that most readers here would make a donation to the Red Cross or something like it.


Posted by: Judith on 31 Dec 04

EXCELLENT POST BY TED!IM GOING TO TRY TO DONATE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE TOO,AND STOP COMPLAINING ABOUT SOMETHING I HAVE NO CONTROL OF. THANKS!


Posted by: BIGBRAIN on 31 Dec 04

Judith ... don't used the word 'peace' too lightly. It's expensive ... it was paid for by blood ... by the blood of our society's rejects, dregs, high school dropouts, unemployed, uneducated, harvard graduates, engineers, citizens, patriots ...

As I post, I don't doubt that the our military is already on its way to provide relief.

Tomorrow, spare yourself a cup of Starbucks. Place that $5 bill instead in a folder and send it to the Red Cross or perhaps a widow of a 'hardly a charity case soldier.' You'll sleep better ...

The sun will shine soon here in Iraq ... a new year we shall welcome, my brothers and sisters and I ... we will think not of you folks back home who think that we are here fighting an unjust war. We will think instead that because we are here keeping the 'bad guys' busy, they won't have time to go to America and disturb your Starbucks time ...

I shall call my sister and tell her to send my monthly 'care package' to a needy casualty in Indonesia or Somalia or India, etc.

I am glad to be an American and to be an American Soldier ... where else can you feel safe ... where else can you dial 911 and somebody will come ... where else can you voice your opinion against a president and not be persecuted ... where else can you spit on a soldier and not be shot.

We've strayed from the original topic ...

Judith ... I am an American Soldier ... at your service. With the little paycheck that I receive, I shall send a portion of it to the relief fund and I shall address it as "A Greatful American". Why? Because I will never be in need ... I am a Soldier for the Greatest Country in this earth ... it will be there if ever I am in need.


Posted by: adam on 31 Dec 04

Ok we cry for the country to do more...and in the end we will, simply because these countries intrastructure is now destroyed. Food arriving at the airports is rotting as we sit waiting for the new year to arrive because there is no gas, most roads are destroyed and vehicles are few and infrequent. We will help. We help if we donate blood to the red cross, we help if we send money to pay for some of the food/supplies that they will need, there are young americans and others who are working with the relief organizations that will go and provide help in these countries. If you wish to help type "Tsunami Relief" and it will take you to a page of links to organizations that are taking donations. Help will come from American hearts, not the government alone...we can not look to the government to do this...if you want 5 billion given in support then...open your own pocketbook and send support, support your neighbors who are volunteering to go into these countries to provide support. Think of ways to help...290 M Americans give 20 dollars each that would be 5 billion dollars. So for the cost of a DVD this amount could be raised by individual Americans. The question is how do we distribute the funds so it reaches the people who need it? This is a question that needs to answered at this time as well. Just 2cts from someone sending funds to the Red Cross, and CARE to try and help alittle when so many need so much.


Posted by: Anon on 31 Dec 04

Okay, okay, so all stereotypes originate from some form of truth, I guess. For my fellow liberals who fit a similar stereotype (I drink tea, however, and would probably pick Dunkin Donuts over Starbucks anyway), you can make an easy donation to the American Red Cross at Whole Foods Market. I did that yesterday, painless and easy (and more than $5, thanks very much!)

Yes, we did stray from the topic, but just to put an end to it, I would never spit on anyone. I think it's a very noble thing to stand up and volunteer to fight for your country. At the same time, I think that we have a duty as Americans to stand up and oppose what we believe is wrong. Yes, of course, the freedom we enjoy has been hard won, but that doesn't mean we should mindlessly follow a commander-in-chief into every invasion of a country or risk being labeled liberal and unpatriotic. (Of course, I think being liberal, or a free-thinker, is a wonderful thing...)

I also think that, if we are so proud of being Americans, then we should do the right thing out of that sense of pride. As a soldier would do, if someone needs help, you help them. You don't ask whether or not they would help you if roles were reversed.


Posted by: Judith on 31 Dec 04

Nukes and bombs will break my bones, but names will never hurt me....

I was following your argument, okay, fine, until the name-calling began. (and you can't do any better than "pansy-assed liberals"?) Sounds to me like you would just like you would like to just bomb the crap out of anyone who disagrees with you.


Posted by: Judith on 31 Dec 04

Just a reply to Jay! and a Challenge!

Jay! you are just Bushite. I am sending $1000.00 to red cross. As a non liberal who is just a Bushite(this means a goof!) can you beat or match it? I will post proof of my donation. BTW i am just a working indivdual and $1000 is a lot of money for me. I think I can do with a little less for next couple of months. Can U?


Posted by: qwerty on 31 Dec 04

Wow. Bush must make good brownies.

Seriously, folks, some of you posting here are making the point that you're accusing the 'liberals' (your label for people who disagree) of failing to make.

I'd say go back to Fox news reruns. :-)


Posted by: Taran on 31 Dec 04

as a chinese, I am deeply moved by this speech,which, however, I fear may never be delivered. indeed, all of us hope a more fair and free world, but you guys who seldom go to third world will never understand the feeling of those people who are suffering or doomed to suffering, because they choose a wrong place to born. God is fair, but only in Western world. hAPPY NEW YEAR!


Posted by: victor on 31 Dec 04

Anyone stupid enough to raise thier ass into the air as enemies take aim for it is a pansy ass and about to get plucked.

I just hope im far enough away from them when the bleep hits the fan. Id rather not glow in the dark this decade if I can avoid it.

As for the disaster which we SHOULD be thinking about ISNTEAD OF WORTHLESS MINDLESS USELESS POLITICS I now hear the death toll is well over 150000 and will rise horribly as many nations are in fact hiding the true toll and preventing aid from getting to many places. I have seen pictures of harbors filled to the brim with the bloated dead. Its only a matter of days before disease sweeps the lands. And nothing we do can stop it. And to be bunt with global warming and food crisises and water crisis we might be looking at far far worse rather soon. And I doubt anyone on earth has the money to handle that.





Posted by: wintermane on 31 Dec 04

Adam: "I am glad to be an American and to be an American Soldier ... where else can you feel safe ... where else can you dial 911 and somebody will come ... where else can you voice your opinion against a president and not be persecuted ... where else can you spit on a soldier and not be shot."

Um, Adam, do you think America is the only 'civilized' country in the world? You really think no other country enjoys the same freedoms, and more, that we do? If so, you need to travel to some placeothert than Iraq.

And by the way, most of those kids had smiles on their faces before we started bombing their country. If they're not smiling now, it's because of us.

I'd sure like to have the freedom to "seek redress of grievances" (demonstrate)without being caged up like and animal or facing 5,000 cops in riot gear.

I don't know what you mean by being spit upon. Are we back to Vietnam again? Good grief. If so, though, keep in mind that your commander-in-chief did not serve -- made sure he would not serve.

Yes, America gives a lot. You always hear about what America gives. But oh, lord, what America takes away!

One thing liberals have over people who use words like "pansy-ass" is that they have studied history, they have a clearer understanding of other cultures, and they continue to study geopolitics. They also know what our foreign policies are, and how they hurt so many people.

I was born in America. My ancestors came here a long time ago. All Americans' ancestors came from somewhere else, except Native Americans. (so don't ignore the opinions of "foreigners" -- your ancestors were foreigners, too!) This is my country. I want it to be the best in the world, so I work to make it so, and there is plenty of work to be done. I don't understand why it is so important to some people to believe that America is faultless -- what is the underlying fear there? Why would one worship a country? I can love anything, anyone, and still see it for what it is. If you don't understand what it is you love, then you don't love it.

PEACE


Posted by: Katie on 31 Dec 04

Hey guys, remember Alex said this was just a personal opinion, and tone it down, ok?

Alex, I think you've just not quite given the country time to think about this all. I know my church hasn't had a Sunday service since the tsunami, but a big effort to raise money for disaster victims is being planned for this Sunday. Most people have likely been busy this past week avoiding the news and enjoying their once-a-year time off from work (if they get any time at all) - but I think the reaction from the people of the US (and many other countries) will be a good one.

Now, as to the government reaction - well, it's rare for a democratic government to be ahead of the people on something, so that's not terribly surprising either. What may surprise more people is how tiny a fraction of the US budget actually goes to foreign aid of this sort - perhaps this disaster will change that for the better.

For those wondering where Germany and France are, perhaps you didn't realize the US has almost 4 times the population of Germany, and 5 times that of France. France has pledged over $50 million in government money for relief, and both countries have urged work on debt relief for the area, so they're certainly not missing here. Germany and France also were involved in relief efforts for recent hurricane damage in the Caribbean. I think it's pretty obvious why they weren't directly involved in relief in Florida...

The interesting thing to me is that there's been such a strong response to this natural disaster, and yet we've not seen much response in many other cases of similar human cost - as was mentioned here earlier this week for example, flooding in Bangladesh has killed tens of thousands, with little world response. Perhaps there's a sense of guilt here - we almost could have done something to prevent the loss of life, but didn't. Though we didn't quite react that way in Rwanda so maybe that doesn't explain it either. Anybody else understand this?


Posted by: Arthur Smith on 31 Dec 04

Great discussion on many important points. Clearly the winner to me seems to say " Complain all you want, AFTER you reach out your own hand to help" This is a small planet, but also a big world. There is much we don't know and can't control. Human resourcefulness will impress many who get to see the victims on the front lines work together to overcome this situation as all people the world over have done all thru history. Yes, they would like our help, but dont break your arm patting your back, or kicking someones pants while wasting time and watching people die. The survivors will tell you first hand money helps, but compassion lights the way to a better tomorrow. We had better get busy NOW, leave the discussion to the later days, when our brothers and sisters the world over have safe water, nourishing food, and a shoulder to weep on, while they find their countrymen among the debris..... Americans or other, time is of the essence!


Posted by: Skaote on 31 Dec 04

What is it with humanity? We are all so unevolved. It doesn't matter if we are left or right. The truth is none of us really know the hard, cold facts about how much money the U.S. has for relief aid unless you happen to work for that department. All I know is that we don't live on this planet alone and people are in need. If this disaster would have happened to the U.S. I'm sure we would all appreciate whatever help any country would give us. The original blog was very big of heart and was meant only to inspire us all to imagine a different world. Sadly, that world will never exist on this earth because humanity just isn't there yet. WE are all stuck in our ego, our lower nature and desires. It doesn't really matter who the President is real change begins in the hearts, minds, and souls of each and every one of us. The liberals think they are right the fundamentalist, gun toting cowboys think they are right. Maybe none of us are right. Do you really think that Israel and Palestine will ever find peace? Not so long as each holds to the notion that "they" are right. IT is simple logic. Until we find a way to come together its all just a silly game of tug of war. Meanwhile, alot of people are suffering all around the globe and here in the U.S. What are we going to do?
Kris


Posted by: Kris on 31 Dec 04

Shame on the United States for not having prevented the earthquake which caused the deadly Tsunamis.


Posted by: Mike on 31 Dec 04

The U.S. must step forward with billions contributions for two important reasons: humanity, and strategic global self-interst. While the humanitarian reasons are obvious, perhaps the self-interested reasons are less so. In short, the U.S. can do more to deny future recruits to terrorists by contributing several billions towards long-term relief in the earthquake/tsunami effected regions than by giving tens of billions to the Defense Department. Remember, the majority of the world's muslims live in Asia, not the middle east. Grinding poverty and disenfranchisement forge recruits, be they Hindus or Muslims or Buddhists or Christians. I fear this crisis will be the "tipping point" for the spread of terrorism to these regions. Terrorism is not a conventional war, it is a war of ideas. The U.S. may thwart the spread of terrorists' recruitment in this region through generously sharing tens of billions to reconstruct, or it will make plausible the terrorists' propaganda that it reserves its wealth to destroy and bully. The U.S. will either build roads for people to rebuild and prosper, or it will build roads for terrorists to these people to spread the anti-American campaign. Will the U.S. build the right roads? Call your Congressman and demand it.


Posted by: Willie on 31 Dec 04

Katie, I am quite sure that you do not know a damn thing about the kids of Iraq. It is just one of those "sounds good but means nothing" phrases that liberals love to throw out in the heat of it all.

Judith, I would like to thank you for using free-thinker and liberal in the same sentence. I truly enjoy a nice laugh now and again.

Lou, I can't say that I agree with you about the war but I do like your idea about the inauguration.

Finally, I believe that if you don’t think that your country is doing enough for the victims of this disaster then you should try to change it. Great country, right!? If that still isn’t good enough then reach deep into your own pocket and give until it feels right. I will give what I can and I won’t ask you how much you gave. Most Americans will do what they feel is right.


Posted by: Carl W on 31 Dec 04

Giving aid to such a disaster is necessary ,of course, and the speech that you rendered was great, but only in a perfect world. How can a country that is at war itself be expected to lend so much. We (and our president, like him or not) are in the process of protecting our own nations security, that HAS to be our 1st priority, not unreasonable finacial aid to a massively over-populated section of what is considered a third world country.


Posted by: Hanson on 1 Jan 05

Please remember: The tragedy we were responding to a week ago involved 10,000 deaths. The tragedy we are responding to now involves 150,000 deaths.
We can only respond to what is reported to us. What of next week?


Posted by: Dick on 1 Jan 05


Oh its easy to explain why people care more for this then for bangladesh.

In cold hard logic terms Poeple ignore that which hurts too much or too long.

Bangladesh is an old seeping wound and many compassionate people have had to look away to avoid becoming horribly depressed over it all.

Same thing is happening to africa.

Now people like me who were never compasionate to begin with we arnt effected but that doesnt help anyone because we also wont help and we wont try to get anyone else to help...

We just watch and try to figure out who is most likely next to go or how badly an area or region will fall.

Oh I expect in 15 years there wont be a bangladesh...


Posted by: wintermane on 1 Jan 05

I was a Red Cross Disaster Relief worker at Ground Zero. I was in Florida helping victims during Hurricanes Frances and Ivan. I held the grieving in my arms in both places. Terror, fear, grief, and the need for comfort are emotions that cross all boundaries. What each individual needs to be brought back from these horrendous tramas is a matter of perspective. Every person in every disaster has varying coping mechinisms. But no one can cope without water, medicine, shelter, food, and someone who cares.
Send your money to the Red Cross or any organization you choose. Shut up about the politics. Choices have been made and we live with the consequences. No one consulted me about going to war w/ Iraq.
You remind Adam that he wasn't drafted. His advice probably wasn't solicited before the decision was made to go to war. But he's there and doing his job.
I volunteered to go to Ground Zero. I had the training, time, and desire to go and help. I would go to Asia in a heartbeat if I could. Going to Ground Zero is going to cost me my life. I have an extremely serious lung disease because of the time and location I spent there. Does that make me in more or less financial need than those in Asia? Again, it is perspective. Without sufficient money for a lung transplant (and availability) I have about 2 years to live. With money to pay for the medical costs I could live another 40 years. I have food, water, and shelter. I have the essentials and they don't. I won't have my life in a couple of years and, most likely, many will. What is the price of a life? Because I volunteered to go make my life less precious than those that had this disaster thrust upon them? They had little or no notice. Neither did the people in the WTC.
Just stop and think about one word. Perspective. If you know nothing about how the disaster relief system operates, then you will be horrified to hear of the small amount of money being sent. Bush - love him or hate him - is operating according to the procedures set up for any disaster. Yeah, get them the essentials, but assess the needs. Is the money going to go where it needs to go? How long are there going to be needs?
The September 11th fund closed long before I knew my prognosis. There is almost nothing available for me. Who knew? Same thing w/ the current disaster. Assess, plan, reassess. Do the best you can. No one has implemented a disaster relief plan of this size. They're doing the best they know how under the circumstances.
Give your money, hug your kids, and the next time you are complaining about the cost of gas think - perspective.


Posted by: Becky on 1 Jan 05

I live in Singapore,a tiny island on the Asian Achipelago.We were "lucky"if you could put that way,Singapore did not experience the wrath of the Tsunami.If we did,the whole island's population would be wiped out.

For those who posted encouraging words for the US govt to do more for the victims I thank u.

Second,thank you for empathising for the people of South Asia and proving that we are brothers and sisters in the face of adversity.

Tsunami Disaster is a devastation that is beyond words and its suffering,too heart wrenching.


Posted by: Emi on 1 Jan 05

This is a thank-you to all the American citizens that have opened their hearts and given to the people affected by the tsunami. Thank-you for your kindness, it is much appreciated. Also thanks to all the citizens of all the other countries, including my own, who have cared and shown concern (both financial and otherwise) for those suffering.

Much love, Kavita (India)


Posted by: Kavita on 1 Jan 05

In times of intense grief, people usually do one of two things to deal with the grief and fear:

Come together emotionally, reaching out to do what we can to help, realizing how delicate and precious each of our lives are
OR
attack each other out of our grief and fear.

Let the tragedies of this planet bring us closer to our humanity--to the caring and good each of us has within.
Written with such a heavy heart over the death and destruction all over the planet that it is difficult to live what I wrote above, but I am doing my best.
Samantha


Posted by: Samantha on 1 Jan 05

WHY IS EVERYONE ARGUING?? IT IS A NEW YEAR, AND I WOULD LOVE TO SEE OUR COUNTRY COME TOGETHER AND BE THE STRONG, AND LOVING PLACE I REMEMBER. I PRAY FOR THE VICTIMS OF THE TSUNAMI, 9/11, AND ALL OF OUR SOLDIERS. WHILE I DON'T AGREE WITH OUR GOVERNMENT ON A LOT OF ISSUES, THIS IS STILL OUR GOVERNMENT. IF YA'LL DON'T LIKE THE WAY THINGS ARE BEING HANDLED, VOTE. BUT, UNTIL THEN, DO SOMETHING!!! THERE ARE MILLIONS UPON BILLIONS THAT NEED OUR HELP, SO....P!$$ OR GET OF THE POT. I WOULD LOVE TO SEE SOMEONE FROM OUR "OFFICES" GO OVER AND MAKE A DAY OF WALKING THROUGH, NOT!!! THEY SHOULD BE OVER THERE WORKING BULLDOZERS, BANDAGING THE HURT, OR COUNTING THE BODIES!!! SOMETIMES, PEOPLE HAVE TO SEE WITH THEIR HEARTS, NOT THIER EYES. COMPASSION IS WHAT MADE THIS COUNTRY GREAT, I WOULD LOVE FOR IT TO BE AS GREAT AS IT ONCE WAS.I STRUGGLE DAILY TRYING TO PROVIDE THE BASICS FOR MY FAMILY, THERE ARE PEOPLE AND INDIVIDUALS THAT COULD BANNED TOGETHER WITH THE LITTLE GUY AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN ALL OF THE WORLD. I BELIEVE THAT WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE, IF WE TRY.


Posted by: ANGELA on 1 Jan 05

even though i feel bad for the victoms of the disaster....i myself am having trouble feeding my familly and keeping a roof over everyones head....so no, i do not want any of my tax dollars sent to the other side of the world....i want them sent to my mortgage company.there are many americans in need in alot of different ways right here in america and no money should ever be sent out of the country untill there is not a single american in need here.

thats like saying that we will keep pumping american money out of the country untill we achieve a balance of poverty and need here that is equal to that of the rest of the world.

its like dividing the total amount of money in the world by how many people there are in it and saying anyone with any more than that is a greedy bastard and everyone with less than that deserves more....

this is what a global economy will do.

yes i feel bad for them

no they cant have my car and house


Posted by: darrell on 1 Jan 05

it was reported that T. Ananda Krishnan has offered nothing !!!!

zilch !!!

a malaysian citizen worth an estimated $5,000,000,000 ( 5 billion ) dollars !!

WOW !!!

i guess the rich didnt get that way by accident.


Posted by: darrell on 1 Jan 05

does anyone know if Megawati Sukarnoputri has given any of her millions ( $6,000,000. ) to help her fellow countrymen?

i seriously doubt it.

there are enough local billionaires in the area to pay for all of the relief effort and rebuilding and then some.

forbes lists 587 billionaires in the world last year and several of them in the malaysian area.

i think the stinch of wealth and greed should start at the top and work its way down...and by that measure i dont smell anything down here! :)

darrell


Posted by: darrell on 1 Jan 05

hmmmm.....lets see....if each one of the billionaires on the list gave $10,000,000. ( ten million dollars ) that would be 5,800,000,000. ( 5.8 billion dollars )

a billionaire would not even miss 10 million dollars.

does anyone know if warren buffet or bill gates responded to this?

are you going to boycott the windows operating system if he dont give a billion or two?

most of the worlds wealthy will hide and keep a low profile untill this blows over..


Posted by: darrell on 1 Jan 05

Rest assured fellow Americans..we will prevail as a Nation of giving and caring...as we always do. Yes it may look like such a small amount to give (1500 marines, 360 million, and other relif personel) but lets look at the big picture. We have some of the largest and wealthiest corporations in the world who are giving countless millions totalling billions when its all counted..plus add in all the donations from the countless americans world wide who are digging in their pockets to give. Yes when its all said and done...as a whole..Americans will out give, and out do any other country in the world when it comes to releif for the unfortunate victims in Asia. We must never bury our heads in the sand because of what the President should have said or did.. We should learn to be proud of what we do as a whole nation..under God. as we try to understand why we as Americans are hated..there is a underlying premise...the "have nots" of the world will always despise the "haves". its a basic human instinct that for thousands of years every society internal and external to others have encountered. No matter how much we give...there will always be critisizm we should have done more.


Posted by: Joe Canz on 1 Jan 05

After 9/11 occured, the rapturous infatuation the US media and public had with the image of each victim as a hero and a sacred life was almost nauseating. That is not to say in the least that it was not justified as I believe all human lives are sacred - not just American lives. I recall one particular incident during the coverage of the war in Iraq when a reporter's comments went along the lines of "200 enemy were wiped out and up to 15 civilians were killed. Tragically, one American soldier lost his life in the struggle".

Every death is tragic, but I've not seen the star studded fund-raising marathon live concerts which occured after 9/11. It's still early days yet and it's hopefully in the pipe-line.

Here in Australia, we've already got massive concerts planned for next weekend. No doubt the same is happening in towns throughout the US, but the media is presenting little of this. The absolute dis-interest with which the US media treats the value of any human life that is not American is one of the reasons why world opinion is less inclined to believe America cares about anything outside it's own indulgent self-interest. Such self-interest is to be expected, but the hypocritical moral posturing that accompanies it is not.

I am aware and respectful of the degree of foreign aid the US gives each year. But those 'aid' dollars were once used to prop up Saddam Hussein when he was fighting Iran and the US needed a sphere of influence in the region. That same 'aid' funded the Taliban and the Mujihadeen in fighting the Russians in Afghanistan. That same 'aid' funded Pinochet and Noriega. That same aid funded the Contra rebels in Nicaragua...oops, silly me...that wasn't aid money - that money came from selling arms to Iran (of all places -see above) during an international embargo.

I have no doubt about the heartfelt sympathy and good will of the American people. I do however worry about international relations being played out by cow-boys who shoot from the hip and who choose their friends according to convenience rather than through a self-proclaimed moral purity.

The biggest danger to US relations with the rest of the world is their own media outlets who would rather keep the populace perched in fear and isolated from empathy with their fellow man.

The rebuilding and healing will be long and expensive. No doubt, US funding for this will increase as Halliburton and Carlisle subsidiaries mysteriously worm their way into the contracts.

A favourite line from Peter Fenton song sums up the contradiction and hypocrisy of US foreign policy:

"..houses burning like an oil-well in Kuwait,
dig a grave, there's no oil in Rwanda..."

George W's dismal performance over the last few days speaks volumes about his attitude to the rest of the world. No doubt he would have needed to consult an atlas and an encyclopedia, hence the slow response.


Posted by: mark on 1 Jan 05

Darrell,

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, (their charitable organization) pledged 3.5 million.

I don't know about Warren Buffet.


Posted by: sharon on 1 Jan 05

Most rich who donate do so anonomously because they dont want to be inundated with people asking for money they hide what they do.

The others got rich BECAUSE they dont give away anything.



Posted by: wintermane on 1 Jan 05

Um the reason Bush had to act slowly is we had already used up the disaster fund serveral times over this year and all that was left was a pittance.

Bush doesnt control the money and as such could only earmark what was actauly there in the coffers for emergencies. That was exactly 35 million. Normaly it would have been more but its been a bad year.

The rest comes from congress and goes at congressional speed.

Now military he does control and thus he has been able to send alot of troops and aid the military has available. In fact thats why the military has those supplies ready and those troops trained as they are its ALOT quicker for the pres to send military in to help then it is to get more money from congress.

Also while helping out of course they have to make sure they dont get entangled in such mindfields as say accidentaly helping rebuild the local child sex slave industry...


Posted by: wintermane on 1 Jan 05

Thanks Randy, I need a cold shower now!

When I first became aware of the tradegy, the death toll was around 4000.
I was shocked, sad and being an upper-middle class suburbanite stay at home mom, I decided right then I would not turn on the TV. I did not want to watch the sad faces of others or the images of dead children that I was sure would start to show on every station.
Is this being neglectful? I don't think so, I called it self-preservation.
I go to a few nice whole foods markets and ocassionally go to Starbucks. The whole foods markets will no doubt have a donation bin available when I next enter them, and I will put money in. I will put money in as an individual not as a common tax paying American. (there I/We already "put in" over $60,000/yr- yes,be- grudgingly most years)

I believe because I was born on the 'pampered' first world soil, I have less ability to cope with the needs of third world people. I am raising a large family and hoping that I do instill kindness and apathy in their hearts.

I realize that my limitations do not make me a bad person by being unable to make the kind-of decesions all of our world leaders make.

The vastness of this disaster is certainly something I have imagine how it would get "taken care of". This huge process and undertaking of decision making is part of what I hope all our tax dollars help to take care of. (not just the tax dollars here in the US but World wide) I look at my tax dollars in times like this and think, "I sure glad I don't have to make the decesions about this, and I do hope the people we pay to make them make the best decesions they are capable of." I don't bash or belittle them. They were not equipped to handle disaster of this magnitude either. This is not a routine occurence.

Our President can not be accountable to for every change in the World, he is merely human not GOD. He may pledge a certain amount of money realizing that the montary damage is not as vast as the human loss. The structures that were lost were not as costly as the ones we are used to dwelling in etc...
As the destruction escalates, I am sure as a human he will re-think his/OUR involvement in how much to give and how big of a helping hand to offer.

I had to re-think my feelings about the disaster. I was not able to wrap my thoughts around the loss of 4000 people, 3rd world or otherwise. Then, as the numbers started to rise I was numbed by the statistics and I did not want to give faces to the sadness. This is bigger than I.

I have not always been "well-off", as a child I often wondered if we would have food that day.
My point is, no matter what our standing in life maybe or who we voted for there will be so much relief aid going towards these areas that they will not be properly equipped to handle the Aid. This clean-up will be as unstructured as the immediate chaos after the event.

I think we should give our leader a break. He should be allowed to take steps and not just one big leap in situations that are not concrete in nature. This is an evolving event, his reaction to it must evolve also.

My last paragrapgh held the biggest part of my post but I could not pass up the chance to have a long mental masturbation experience!


Posted by: ~V~ on 1 Jan 05

The rhetoric in this blog is well written and very representative of the varied opinions and political points of view across the United States, but what stayed with me the most is Victor's brief statement:
" I am Chinese ... God is fair, but only in the western world."
The overwhelming majority of us, born in the USA, are very blessed indeed. Be it with income, freedom of speech, etc etc etc, we are indeed fortunate. And though it is everyone's right, from this country or not, to state any opinion pro or con about policy, leadership, or protocol, do not condemn the individuals who have been fortunate enough to be born here or migrate here. Though Victor's statement may be true , if we allow a God spin on things, it unfortunately reflects the underlying jealousy and hatred that many outside the US have for us. This is the essence behind the fundamentalist Islaamic hatred and the damned if we do damned if we don't curse this country has as a protector and savior of other's. We constantly make mistakes - saving the unjust at times, supporting an aggressor. Perspectives defines reality. Too aggressive? Not enough. Pre emptive strike? Too late. In life, the top dog will always get judged by a higher standard. We are the top dog of this past century.With that comes a higher standard, a greater responsibility. We elect our leaders, and , unfortunately at times, their choices do not live up to the standard we desire. Our diversity within our own country will render any decision unpopular to many. Our percieved power beyond our borders will make our actions not only severely scrutinized, but often condemned. We can name call and politicize all we want, but for now, during this tragic time, we can each , as individuals, take responsiblity. For those of us , as Victor describes, more " blessed by God" we can offer help on an individual basis. We have a remarkable freedom in this country to do many things. Charity is one such blessing. If you can read this, and you are, simply give and leave the speech making, the politics, the game playing, the showmanship to the politicians, who almost all people universally, at specific times, just or not, target to abhor. Just give. Thank you.


Posted by: Hal on 1 Jan 05

Bravo wintermane!

There is so much to think about for disaster relief but people often only think of how to make harsh comments and not how it would be if they had to make every little step towards actually helping.

We need to step back and realize throwing money at it doesn't help as much say, waiting to see what the money needs to be spent on. Our first concern should be clean up so the spread of disease is minimalized, that clean up means troops equipped and trained in that area so that they are not spreading more disease when "helping".

Thailand has the biggest child sex slave industry in the world. I felt a pang as soon as you posted that comment. Maybe this disaster will somehow curtail some of that destruction of human life. We can only hope.

Becky- Michael J. Foxx set up many health care centers to help people jsut like you. I hope you make every effort to get in touch with any foundation that may be able to help you and your family. My heart goes out to you, for what that is worth.

This is an interesting an diverse forum- I say thanks to it's creator.

To those of you effected by this tradegy and are saying thank-you to those of us that do help-
Your Welcome.


Posted by: ~V~ on 1 Jan 05


We must look at helping survivors now and that doesn't require 5 billion it requires what has been done bringing in the military C-130's, NAVY ships with medical facilities and so forth.

Indonesia has lost much less that 1% of its population and they can rebuild the affected parts.
Malaysia has one of the worlds tallest buildings.
Indonesia is also modern when compared to the rest of the developing countries.

You help them help themselves, if excess money is given it will shurely end up in the wrong hands.
remember HELP THEM HELP THEMSELVES.


Posted by: Rosa Martinez on 1 Jan 05

This could have been an excellent opportunity for Bush to pitch in and redeem himself in the world's eyes, but once again, he blew it big time. He could have paid piddly $350 million out of his family's treasure chest. The US should spend much more on helping the world, not invading countries where's there's been a falling out with the leader. And soldiers, if you go to Iraq, you are doing absolutely nothing to help Americans, in fact that part of the world has become a very hostile place for Americans. It's the wrong war, and the wrong place for the US. If the US leadership were smart, those soldiers would be sent to help help up the areas affected by the tsunami, and build some goodwill.


Posted by: Kathy on 1 Jan 05

great speech.

But I would add some peace of mind for the rest of the world and take leadership in developing a very substantial global preparedness fund. And not just with American money, but globally.

Reading the comments here it was amazing to see how sometimes all we can see is the world from the bubble of the country we are stuck in, and all we can think about is the topic of the day.

I really sympathise with Americans. Lots of countries kindly support you by buying your treasury bonds, and your very expensive system could collapse if the Japanese, Koreans and Chinese decided to sell. Within the context of this insecurity you have so much military and economic bulk left over from the tradgedies of the 20th century, - that has been sometimes clumsilty and perhaps irresponsibly flopped around the planet - that the world expects the world of you. I really think we need to acknowledge our interdependence and mutual insecurity and really focus on developing inclusive global systems because the planet and all of its workings human and otherwise are complex beyond any national comprehension. The America talk whether from the right or the left is still a trapped discourse. Lets take one step out of that bubble.


Posted by: tyler on 1 Jan 05

Alex,

Yes, you are right, but what do you expect of an administration that refuses to show compassion in their homeland. I say that with respect to poverty, suffering, hunger, lack of access to proper health care, ect., ect., ect., (except for the wealthy, or course).
Larry


Posted by: Larry on 1 Jan 05

I must say it is nice to say that the US has not done enough. What's enough? Once we have given everything and nothing is left is that enough?
This is a very grave tragedy what has happened in Asia.One country alone can not cure what nature has done.All the countries in the world cannot reverse the damage done.I think that it's sad that in time of distress we now bicker about how much someone gives as if we know even how much the damage is.I think it foolish to give millions to corrupt goverments that will use the money only to line thier pockets.I think it arrogant of people who think that they have the answer to the worlds woes without living in the world.How much is enough? Enough is enough when you yourself get on a plane go over there, roll up your sleeves bury a few hundred bodies, clean some of the houses,nurse some of the sick.After you have done that. Then I would say you have done enough to come back and put some credability in your opions.


Posted by: Guy mcAlister on 1 Jan 05

What'd happen if the Tsunami of SE.Asia began during the President election?


Posted by: c.k. on 1 Jan 05

Within hours of the tsunami the US Forces in Okinawa were already mobilizing to go the Indian Ocean. Ships and aircraft with medicine and food were on the way while you were already putting your thoughts together on how to bash the US. We just never do enough for people like you. I lived for years in Asia and I don't think I ever saw one news account about the destruction and tragedy of tornados and hurricanes in the US and how much the world cared about sending help to us. These countries that were hit are not necessarily poor, and should not have their hands out to the world unless they are prepared to do more than their own part of the rebuilding. I, as an American citizin, feel that we should help, but I don't owe them more than their fair share.


Posted by: shelby on 1 Jan 05

I guess I only have one word to say about this article "AMEN". This country should learn what we all teach our children; you gain more allies (loyal friends) through love and compassion than you do through intimidation. At least most of us dont teach our children to bully and intimidate others. I wonder what George W. Bush was taught. Just imagine what kind of friends the U.S. would make if they helped these people repair and change their lives through help and teaching. I think in Southe East Asia they call it "Eternally grateful".


Posted by: Miguel Martinez on 1 Jan 05

"I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race"- James Joyce.

I see a trend in this page, and have seen it on countless pages on countless sites where "average" peoples' opinions are posted; it is a thing I was guilty of in beginning my first sentence: it is the "I" word. All else flows from that, even Joyce's immortal words. From "I" flows competition, over even such a good thing as humanitarian aid! A week or two from now, we will all be back to the same old crap; arguing about Iraq, arguing about "Liberals" vs "Conservatives", arguing about religion (be it specific like Ulster or Christianity vs Islam). Something "new" will always arise, as it always has. A new century has brought with it the emotional cargo of the past; and not, IMO, for the good. I (that word again) feel it will always be so. We are not insects, so we do not posess the "hive" mentality. We are always out for what is best for "us" (I). That is our tragic flaw, as a species, despite all the selfless acts in times like these. I may feel that there is no god, but a human construct of a supreme being; but you know there is. and that he has a plan. I fail to see the point of such an arguement, for it cannot be settled. Better to think of "we", not "I", and see where such a mindset goes! Will such a thing happen? NOT, IMO. Are we "fucked" as a result? YES!


Posted by: Colin on 1 Jan 05

Shelby,

Good points to ponder also, how many countries sent soldiers here to help in Florida? Does anyone know? I didn't hear of any.

"We" bash ourselves because we are bashable. "WE" are wealthy and secure. Let's face it the entire world is lucky we are. WHO would be the first to help if America didn't lead the way?


Posted by: ~V~ on 1 Jan 05

A great speech and obviously very well thought out. I have to agree with some of the previous posts that go against the part of wiping out the debt of these countries. To wipe out the debt of the countries would be to endorse those countries, their governments, and their spending. It would not be the goal of the U.S. to stand arm-in-arm with the effected coutries so much as the victims of the disaster. In promising disaster relief and recovery the U.S. helps the victims directly and can maintain fiscal control of that aid. To wipe out a country's debt, the newfound monies could possiblly be used to create yet another threatening nuclear power in the world and we would have no control over that potential outcome.
I am not saying that any of these goverments would actually do that, but remember that some of these regions have been involved in ongoing civil war while most of their inhabitants are destitute.

Yes, the U.S. should do more to whole-heartedly support the victims. I think it goes without saying that the majority of Americans know we need to do some serious good-will to regain world favor.


Posted by: James on 1 Jan 05

Bob, exactly how would you have had Sri Lanka, Indonesia, or any of the tsunami-affected nations help the USA?!? This disaster is simply not on the same scale, or "ballpark" even. It is not "man's inhumanity to man", but nature being ambivalent. Your post, however, falls into the former category. Have a good New Year, in your cocoon.


Posted by: Colin on 1 Jan 05

"A lot of people haven't left the island, a lot of people who were there have just continued having their holidays," said John Everingham, who publishes Phuket Magazine for visiting tourists. "Definitely less than 10 percent of hotel rooms in Phuket are closed."


By contrast, another popular but much smaller island, Phi Phi — where the 2000 Leonardo DiCaprio movie "The Beach" was filmed — was wiped out almost entirely. The worst loss of life was on the mainland north of Phuket, where more than 3,000 bodies already have been found.


The Finance Ministry estimated that the tsunamis will likely shave just 0.3 of a percentage point from gross domestic product growth in 2005.


"The Thai tourism industry hasn't been affected much by this event," Finance Minister Somkid Jatusripitak told reporters. "Foreign tourists may be scared for a short while, but I think in the next two to three months at most, their fears will fade away."


Posted by: ~V~ on 1 Jan 05

if anyone out there thinks that the US is being benevolent in its use of money-giving for disaster relief, please think again. these islands on the pacific rim have global, that is United States, security implications. I betcha 20-1 that the US is negotiating the building and proliferation of US military bases on these isles in exchange for "relief" monies.

the department of defense runs this country and its spending accounts for most if our 'budget', deficit, that is. we need a guerilla campaign here people.

the speech is correct in intention but farther from any possible hint of truth.

andale

rue


Posted by: ivy rue on 1 Jan 05

I have just finished reading a few posts and cant get over how it has been turned into a bitch session over the american military and iraq. Come on people for crying out loud...get back to the real problem.
These people need our support and our money... Governments are giving and they will give more...but for all those people bitching about what the government has given ...well I ask what are the people giving
Here are two examples.......The New Zealand people a little country of just over 3 million has so far raised over 3 million from donations
Australia a country of just over 20 million has so far given over 40million in public donations..then dont forget Britian they have raised over 86 million
I say come on america there are over 275 million of you
For all of you who have given, thankyou....for all of you just bitching about iraq and your brave military get a life.


Posted by: cheryl on 1 Jan 05

Some good postings...some not so good. This relief fund is not just to help the people of south east asia its to give food and medical supplies to the many injured and stranded..There are americans, british, australians, new zealanders, swedish, germans and many more nationalities who have missing people. This disaster has effected many countries not just asia... But there is a thought many muslims think america is out to kill them....south east asia is full of muslims wouldnt showing them a better side of the united states help in their thought process that america is not evil...
Im sure George Bush will do more when contracts will go to haliburton and the carlisle group which he has money invested in, also the laden family. makes one think or does it...
I was in new york during 9/11 and saw how the american people all got behind dontations in the relief effort.... There were many foreigners killed in the Towers also not just americans...
It is during disasters like the one now that the people of the world have the chance to stand together and support one another...we can not be held liable for the disgretions of our governments who are mostly in politics to line their own pockets...
Agreed there are homeless within our own countries, but most of us have aid of some sorts from our own governments. Indonesia has nearly been wiped of the map...we can help them rebuild to make it a better place for those who were born or live there...
someone said if they help indonesia they are only helping terrorists..pull your head out of your cocoon....there are terrorists everywhere.
Is not going into another country and killing an act of terrorism...to go and free the people of iraq...i think not its for haliburton and carlisle groups to make money...Bin Ladens family is in these operations...Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction...all he had was oil....so I ask who in this case is the terrorist ....lots of people outside america know its for the oil and money to be made for a certain few...Soldiers who enlisted in the military forces didnt know they would be sent there...these brave men and woman are only following orders....
What would happen to america should saudia arabia pull out the 800 billion dollars they have invested in america...they do own nearly 10% of america.. didnt mr bush hold talks with the taliban, wasnt he also warned of planes being used to attack back in august but ignored the warnings...my comments are only comments to those others have made... It does not matter what we think the reasons for doing things are...
The fact is this is a disaster and people need help or should i say humans need help...
If Mr bush would deliver the speech that Alex wrote it would go along way to show these people that america does not hate muslims, it would rebuild faith...what a better place the world would be if we all thought like Alex..

Alex well done....and to all the people who have donated money thankyou...


Posted by: cheryl on 1 Jan 05

Great feedback. Where is Rush Limbaugh when we need him? or that little Frat dweeb Tucker Carlson? Anyway, what I do see is that most Americans understand the scope of this problem and many recognize that if the U.S. is to begin to rebuild the respect of other countries they must begin respond to tragedies expediently and with compassion. While liberals (like most responding here) question the depth of America's commitment, I can't. On balance George has done OK. His commitment, while feeble in some eyes, sends a clear message (excuse the football parlance) "We have picked up the ball. We are on our own 35. We can only win if we score. To do so, it will take a total team effort." That means all of America and the world need to pitch in. Estimates are that the clean-up alone will cost $7-8 billion US. That doesn't even begin to address the infrastructure issues.
All the governments in the world will only amass $2-3 billion. It means the rest has to come from us (and I do include Bill Gates in that "us"). Sure some greedy bastard in Malaysia doesn't care. Why should you? Together, people of goodwill in the developed world have the resources to have a profound impact on this problem. And yes, while the U.S. government and good American people are helping in Indonesia, good young men are going to be gunnned down in Tikrit. It will continue to happen as long as the U.S. is there.
As a Canuck, I feel for you. Canada and Canadians will end up giving 1/10 of what the U.S. and Americans give. People will laud us and speak in glowing terms about our generosity and the same people will heap scorn on Americans. America doesn't deserve half the shit it gets. I did say "half" didn't I?
Anyway, maybe America can use this tragedy to gently reshape the view of America in the world. Sorry, let me rephrase that...maybe America can use this event to reshape how they see themselves in this world.

I take it that this is an American based website? If so, God Bless America!!!
(Ok, that was expressed in a quiet, not-so-jingoistic, friendly, low-key, wading pool deep, Canadian way)


Posted by: ted on 1 Jan 05

"God is fair, but only in Western world." That's a great quote Victor. A bit unfortunate that it rings true.

I also liked Marks point about all the aid concerts going around. The truth is it sounds nice on paper that the US cancels debuts and the president gives a grand speech. But really, who cares? His words won't bring back any of the victims or turn the tides back. Canceling their debut isn't a quick fix to their economic crisis.

Do I think the US should do more. No question. But I think it's the entire US population that needs to do more. Bush is the president, and while he maybe the face of America he doesn't represent everyone. It's every individual citizen's job to do everything they can to be informed about world issues and be supportive. There will be lots more aid than what the governments pledge coming from every country. Those monies come from individual people.

While points are valid on both sides of the argument I just read, I end by asking, who cares? Why now? Thousands of people are dead and president Bush will still be a self-servicing politician tomorrow. Should have thought about that before he was elected. I mean is anyone surprised? So the US government didn't pledge enough money? A lot of other countries aren't pulling weight. And- what are you doing?

I think the saddest thing of all is that the majority of people, speaking in terms of the US, couldn't tell you a thing about these countries before nature made them bull eyes. They needed help before this happened. Now everyone's sentimentality is making him or her open his or her wallets. Why do we think we can solve the world's problems with our checkbook? Money is greatly needed, yes. But in the years to come they are going to need people, workers, thinkers and teachers to help them rebuild- not lose change. And the sad truth of the matter is in 3 months, the mass majority of US population will have forgotten. I mean it's already started. Channels like Fox have went down from basic 24-hour coverage to short news blips. It will have even less tomorrow and the day after- a reflection of social values. I think that's the real tragedy.


Posted by: Yoli on 1 Jan 05

I had written earlier to thank all the private citizens for their aid to the tsunami victims. It has been overwhelming just how kind and caring so many people have been to those in need. India is not taking outside aid, but the aid given is helping our neighbours, and the aid is a life-saver. Thank you so much!!

Many hugs, Kavita (India)


Posted by: Kavita on 2 Jan 05

PARTIAL LISTING OF GLOBAL COMPANIES WHO HAVE CONTRIBUTED TOWARDS THE INTERNATIONAL TSUNAMI RELIEF EFFORT

COMPANY AMOUNT IN US $

Citi Bank Group $2,000,000
Coca Cola Cash (Also Water and Vehicles gifted) $10,000,000
Exon-Mobil (Providing transport to Medical professionals) $5,000,000
General Motors Corporation (Plus several vehicles) $1,000,000
Hitachi Corporation $200,000
ION - Japan Ltd $200,000
Microsoft Corporation (Plus providing Data Base to track missing persons) $3,500,000
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries $100,000
Pfizer - Their own products $25,000,000
Pfizer Cash $10,000,000
Starbucks Coffee $100,000
Suzuki Motors $400,000
Toshiba $220,000
Toyota Motors $300,000
Wallmart $2,000,000


Several other major companies are collecting money and the amount is yet unknown. Retail Chains have also begun collections at the check out counters and this is expected to bring in a huge collection in the next few weeks.
Source: Asahi News 01-Jan-05.



Posted by: cheryl on 2 Jan 05

Yoli,
You made a great point. In 2 months this will be off the radar screen. Sadly, we in the west have very short memories. That is why we need to go over the top on this and milk it for every ounce of sympathy and out-pouring it can generate today. If corporations have not given anything by next week enployee pressure could be brought to bear. It is hard for companies to cry poverty in the light of the gravity of this catastrophe. However, with each passing day the ability of employees to play this card weakens. Anyway, great point. We must keep this issue on the front burner.
I met with my buddy, the doctor, last night and he made a really interesting point. He said that we could ensure pottable drinking water for everyone in the world for less money than the U.S. spends in one month on its military. You want to talk about "Homeland Security". Imagine what would happen if the U.S. said, "We are pulling out of Iraq next month. We know that the good people of Iraq will move confidently toward the establishment of a constitutional democracy. Instead, we are dedicating our military to meeting the water needs of every citizen of the world starting with Indonesia and Sri Lanka." Pipedream, I know. However, if you want to cut the knees out from under the terrorists...Ted


Posted by: Ted on 2 Jan 05

Ted, thanks for the little pick me up towards Americans. I try to do that for myself fromt ime to time, listening about how BAD we are so often can be very hard on many here. I don't feel bad or evil I feel generous and kind. I look around me and do not see evilness either, I see many people ready to throw their arms up asking what more can we possibly do, move out and ???
When I hear other Americans bashing our nation I often wonder how their view can be so different than my own.

Anyhow, the fund drives are rampant- RED CROSS is our in force, every store counter and store front is ladened with canisters for donations. I donated again.

The cynical side of me now says, we should all stop for a while until the organization is such that the needs are understood and the funds can be sectioned off and accounted for. With the rate of fundraising in even my little town I can imagine there is already a surplus, and too much help may be no help at this point. As I said before though, I am glad I don't have to make these huge decesions.

Thanks to whoever put up what is already being donated, I realize that is a mere fraction of what is being put together. I will say AGAIN, the rest of the world truly is LUCKY that AMERICA is what AMERICA IS.


Posted by: ~V~ on 2 Jan 05

Alex,
I did not comment directly on your essay. I gave great cause for debate and, as you can see, the vast majority came down on your side. However, the vast majority connecting to this blog are "small L" liberals. Sadly, I think (though I do not live in the U.S. and do not know first-hand) the vast majority of Americans can not connect effectively with tragedies abroad. There is little understanding of the outside world which permiates all levels of American society. I told my wife that 9-11 did little to help Americans understand the world. It made them more insular. And thewar in Iraq has only served to harden the reslove of those who vilify Americans. Yes, there are many Americans, like you, who have a clear understanding of the importance of an outward looking U.S.
It was so strnage that Americans spent weeks obsessing about Janet Jackson's "obscenity", while the U.s. was, in the same time, killing hundreds of innocent Iraqis. Yet, to the majority of Americans the greater evil was Janet's.
Thanks for your thoughtful essay.


Posted by: Ted on 2 Jan 05

to ~v~

You say who else would help if america didntlead the way...
Australia was one of the first countries to lend a hand to the tsunami victims. America was not and is not always the first...
I have seen some americans on here saying the american tax dollar should not leave the country until people are looked after within your own shores... I partially agree..but wouldnt the american people be better off stopping the government spending so much eg: 147 billion on a war in iraq...that money would have feed and housed your homeless many times over... I sympathise with the needy in any country but we are all part of a global nation...we would not survive without trade etc without other countries so isnt it to the benefit of all to help in times of disaster..
yes there have been questions about who else helped out in florida...well who would help when there are millions within your own country who could help the people in florida...why would other countries donate money to help when so many billion is being spent by your government on war........does charity not begin at home.

i think we all need to look outside our own four walls and open our eyes to whats going on...maybe we get a better media cover in australia, not just whats going on in our own country...


Posted by: cherylc on 2 Jan 05

Sorry Alex for my lack of attention to your essay. I wanted to say that it is very nice, in theory. But it is powerful.

In re-reading my previous post, I feel the need to say again that we should and need to help these people. I was just taken aback about the "attacks" to the US that we aren't doing enough or didn't react fast enough. I personally feel for the people affected by this horrible event. I just have the feeling that we can never do enough for the world.


Posted by: Kodi on 3 Jan 05

I understand and respect that people have vastly different opinions. I find myself sometimes agreeing with certain points expressed in opposing views. Is anybody 100% right? I have degrees in geopolitics and I know and love people who have died in the Iraq war. I am equally proud of our brave soldiers (who have no choice where they're sent) and of our dissenters who care enough to make needed changes. I am tired of the anger and rhetoric of this purely political way we have created of looking at everything. Where is the humanity in our dealings with one another? The world is changing only to the extent that we are changing within. Otherwise, it's the same brutal act in a different era with new players, costumes and props.


Posted by: nina on 3 Jan 05

Alex,
I got an unsolicted e-mail from "Jay". How the hell did he get my address? Anyway, Jay was not rude or confrontational. He just gave Bush a warm hug for me and invited me to investigate some all-American conservative websites. As a pinko liberal Canadian I have no interest in being goaded into a debate on the justification he may render to justify the Iraqi war. Maybe I'm naive, but somehow I do not really fear for my security. Actually, that isn't precisely true. I'm straight across the Lake Ontario from a major airbase in upstate New York. In fact, when it comes to security, I fear the potential actions of the U.S. more than any terrorists'. What is the more likely scenario...a thirsty and energy drained U.S. marching into Canada and annexing Canada or some terrorists levelling Toronto? Sorry, America,I fear you more. Imagine that! Your next door neighbour. Your Ned Flanders!! Did I just give Jay an idea to feed to George? How could I have betrayed my beloved Canada? O ! Mon Dieu! Mes pauvres enfants! (Required for Canadian content purposes) Then America would not only be the wealthiest country in the world, it would also be the biggest!
I don't appreciate the fact that he used my personal e-mail address. Has anyone else received warm fuzzies from Jay?
Anyway, that is the security leak I would like to see you close. Thanks.


Posted by: Ted on 3 Jan 05

I don't believe this was brought up, though I could have missed it:

The US has also sent two carrier battle groups to the region to help with relief efforts. That's the sort of thing that only the US is capable of, and it's worth a lot more than the 350 million that our government has officially offered. The distribution of the relief is just as important as the actual amount given. Like it or not, we are the only nation that can provide such enormous logistical relief to any point on the globe--a fact that is often overlooked by critics. Of course, those critics are often right when it comes to most other things about US foreign policy... we appear to have our heads collectively up our butts :P.

And I think that Bush could have done a lot more than staying on vacation and going bike riding.


Posted by: Bolo on 4 Jan 05


George Monbiot, in an article dtd 1/4/05 in The Guardian,UK, mentioned that $350 million is just one and half day's cost of the war in Iraq !


Posted by: musafir on 4 Jan 05

But hey, George W. Bush gave $10k!!!

Sandra Bullock gave a $million.

Dick Cheney probably doesn't even know it happened, and considers contributions to the relief funds a sign of personal weakness, er, virtue, and a waste of perfectly good CAPITAL.

Bush doesn't care about the survivors or the victims. Caring is weakness, vulnerability. Bush is a he man cowboy, none of that for him.

bush is only concerned with his "visions," and money/power.

In a world even remotely perfect, he would never crawl above the radar, let alone to the top of the slag heap.

I figure the best thing I can do for the people of SE Asia, the world, the U.S., my most thoughtful contribution, if you will, is to work to get bush and his crony corporatists out of power. So that's what i do. And give what I can to help others, like the good Doctors without Borders, I gave to their general fund so they can go where they have to.


Posted by: Duckman GR on 5 Jan 05

dear american ,

good to hear that you around USA are concerned of what is happening around the world in the name of establishing democracy, peace and fighting terrorism. I appreciate the way many in this forum expressed their frustation over Bush's budget in Iraq war and in Sounth Asian tsunami releif. thanks for coming up to truth.

But I still wonder if Americans dodn't like theie science fiction like adventure in Iraq and spending billion dollors in killing people in Iraq how the mastermind can manage to come to power again. His taking over to power proves that still many americans beleivs the way the bush govt belives.

Americans are always teaching people around the world fredoom, democracy, human rights and so on.people around the world have got to learn what kind of democracy and human rights they preace. people are worried of it really. dear American, pls forgive us, we don't need your so called democracy. you can learn from us and time has come to reeducate you . the heritage, the human civilization, the achievments of human kind over the centuries are under serious threat. the concepts like humanism, human rights and democarcy are under threat. Pls look at the miror and see how ferocious, how autocratic, how cruel, rude, brutal you are to the eys of people around the world.


Posted by: nazrul nazrul on 6 Jan 05

Looks like the America you wished to be in was actually Australia the week after...
http://www.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,11865421%255E28477,00.html


Posted by: Lindon on 6 Jan 05

It's good to know that there are still people around remembering Kennedy's speeches. It's also good to know that there are still people around believing in the obvious fact that we can change the world when we want to.
However, November 4th still bothers me. It was a ``world election ŽŽ, in fact, and I'm very disappointed by the fact that America seems simply not to get it. Europeans would have voted 85% for Kerry. So where does this huge (almost cultural) gap between two very similar societies come from?
Probably, it has something to do with religion. The US are the only modern nation where you can become president declaring that you are ``pro- life ŽŽ and anti- gay while fighting ``preventive ŽŽ wars for geostrategical reasons, only afterwards declaring fighting for freedom. I a way, the important role of religion in US policies seems to be a kind of late revenge on Europe for its religiously motivated suppression (which led to an accumulation of fanatics and outcasts in the New World).
I appreciate much that the Americans freed us from the Nazis, but that is absolutely uncomparable to Iraq. And I appreaciate (to an extent an American probably won't even understand) what Kennedy said in Berlin with the wall already standing: ``Ich bin ein Berliner. ŽŽ

Sadly, it's hard to keep being optimistic about the future. But I try.

Björn, Germany


Posted by: Björn on 7 Jan 05

I am just going to say, I agree we did not give enough money. And the reason we did not give enough money was because our president does not care. He wishes more natural disasters would happen. The more he can scare us americans, the more control he can take from us. Most americans are frightened so much, that they voted to put a monster in office again. But I can say one thing. Kerry was not a good choice either. He was definetely better for Bush, but when will a real HUMAN run for president?


Posted by: John on 11 Jan 05



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