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December 27, 2004



"[The White House] offered to send troops from nearby Okinawa."

Thanks Nikki, I hadn't found that offer. I hope there's more. I watched footage of people being swept away from a group and those still clinging to some structure screaming as they watched. I can't get it out of my head.

There's lots of news accounts stating the U.S. is offering help, but very little about what form that aid will take/has taken.

I have read a bunch of eyewitness accounts and saw a photo of a worker adding another body to a room full of dead. It has been very difficult to keep from openly weeping.

WaPo seems to be wondering the same thing.


U.S. officials held two conference calls yesterday to discuss aid to the southern Asian countries inundated by the Indian Ocean tsunamis as European countries began flying rescuers into the region and international organizations planned billions of dollars in relief. A White House statement said U.S. aid was flowing to Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Thanks votermom. I knew I wasn't going crazy...they are dragging their feet (from the WaPo article):

Last night, more than 24 hours after the quake struck, Bush administration officials were unable to say what else the United States had done to help. Officials held an evening conference call among themselves, but a participant said no progress was reported.

What the hell are they up to?

Apart, of course, from the urgently needed aid to rescue people in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, etc, I hope that eventually someone helps them get on the tsunami early warning system. If they had been part of this system, the coasts might have been evacuated and the death and injury count much lower. Of course, this can't be done right away given the need to dig out, help the injured, and bury the dead, but it needs to be soon. Earthquakes of 9.0 on the Richter scale don't come along every day, but they can come at any moment.

It's brought back to me how global the Internet is: I have several friends who are, or whose family and/or close friends are in areas affected by the earthquake/tsunami right now. (All of them, so far, safe.)

One of them made the very good point that in a disaster like this, it's not just the immediate aid that's needed: it's the aid six months down the line, when it's no longer front page news anywhere.

If the US is planning to send concrete help in six months, that will still be useful help.

I strongly suspect that without a very strong response, the disease deaths from the mess made by the water will dwarf the number of people killed by water impact and drowning.

Another update...seems we're getting our act together:

The United States has dispatched disaster teams to the Asian countries hit hard by a massive earthquake and devastating tsunamis and is preparing economic relief packages as well, U.S. officials said Monday.

The economic aid includes $100,000 each that was immediately sent to India, Indonesia, the Maldives and Sri Lanka, and U.S. officials were discussing an additional $4 million contribution to help Red Cross disaster efforts.

According to the BBC:

International organisations and countries have already made pledges to help the victims.

- The International Monetary Fund promised "whatever possible assistance"
- The Red Cross launched an appeal for 5m euros (£3.5m; $6.8m)
- The European Union pledged 3m euros (£2.1m; $4.1m)
- The US promised $15m (£7.8m)
- Australia pledged 10m Australian dollars (£4m; $7.7m) and sent two planes carrying drinking water and purification equipment to Indonesia
- Russia sent 25 tons of humanitarian aid to Sri Lanka
- The UK was due to send a plane to Sri Lanka with plastic sheeting and tenting
- France will send humanitarian aid and doctors to Sri Lanka and Thailand.

I know the Netherlands pledged 2m euro and the EU reserved 30m euro for future help.

My uncle is on holiday in the North of Thailand.


have you been able to reach him?

Edward: not yet, but he was really in another area so he is probely just faced with the after-disaster chaos.
We are not terribly worried, but do feel even more "connected" with the disaster.

I think it is safe to say that the U.S. through this administration and individual Americans will provide more help than any other non-affected country in the world.

Let's give credit where credit is due.

Smlook: I think it is safe to say that the U.S. through this administration and individual Americans will provide more help than any other non-affected country in the world.

Why do you think that? The US has never been the largest single provider of international aid before: why do you think the Bush administration is likely to reverse its ungenerous policy on international aid for this disaster in particular?


I'm to lazy to put in the sources, because nothing will make you stop hate-mongering against America anyway. (You may not truly hate America, but your posts just sound like you do.)

Go to the OECD.

We contribute more dollars to the U.N. than anyone. We provide more dollars in terms of foreign aid than anyone. Japan is a distant second at half the amount.

International giving by U.S. foundations totals $1.5 billion per year
Charitable giving by U.S. businesses now comes to at least $2.8 billion annually
American NGOs gave over $6.6 billion in grants, goods and volunteers.
Religious overseas ministries contribute $3.4 billion, including health care, literacy training, relief and development.
$1.3 billion by U.S. colleges are given in scholarships to foreign students
Personal remittances from the U.S. to developing countries came to $18 billion in 2000

We provide more dollars in terms of foreign aid than anyone

In total $$, maybe; as a percentage of GDP, though, the US ranks 22nd. And certainly some significant percentage of that foreign aid is not altruistic but politically/strategically motivated.

Regarding private donations: according to this article and its "Commitment to Development Index",

even in the United States – often considered a stingy government donor and generous source of charity – private giving is small compared to public giving. U.S. government aid in 2002 was $13.3 billion, or 13 cents a day per U.S. citizen. U.S. private giving to developing countries was another $5.7 billion, less than six cents a day, two cents of which is attributed to U.S. tax policy as opposed to individuals' own decisions. In the end, factoring in tax policy only lifts the U.S. aid rank from 20th to 19th.

I'm to lazy to put in the sources, because nothing will make you stop hate-mongering against America anyway.

Critiquing != hate-mongering. The sooner you learn that, smlook, the more productive your conversations with progressives and liberals will be.

I'm to (sic) lazy to put in the sources, because nothing will make you stop hate-mongering against America anyway

Why oh why can't we have enforcement of the posting rules on this site?

If the above is not abuse or vilification of a poster, what is? If I find myself unable to produce a coherent argument, am I to assume that accusing my opponent of "hate-mongering against America" is an acceptable substitute for such an argument?

Wake up, moderators. This is garbage.

KenB and others:

The "22nd" rank is somewhat misleading for several reasons. First, as smlook pointed out, US rates of private giving (as a percentage of GDP) are quite high relative to other countries. More importantly, though, there is a distinction to be drawn between aid to "Developing Countries" and other foriegn aid. The US gives far more in aid to countries not on the official list of "undeveloped" countries. These include countries like Israel and Egypt and also Eastern European countries like the Czech Republic.

If you really want to get into the numbers, you might try apportioning military aid as well, which is not included in these figures, and you can include in that aid to South Korea, Japan, and (throughout the Cold War, certainly), all of Europe.

And does money our troops spend in the local economy count as aid? It's a transfer of a sort, at least, so should part of Germany's aid really be considered US aid?

Of course, how much of that could legitimately be considered "aid" is debatable - certainly some of it could reasonably be considered to contribute to the US's self-interest. But then, couldn't that be said of any giving? There is, at least, some PR value to it.

It's all too complicated for me, but I think it is valid to keep in mind that the usual statistics measure giving that meets certain criteria, and that there are other kinds of giving, not easily captured, that are real nonetheless. These might reflect more kindly on Uncle Sam.

smlook: If you can't respond politely, don't bother.

Morgan: First, as smlook pointed out, US rates of private giving (as a percentage of GDP) are quite high relative to other countries.

Indeed. But this is because immigrants who send money back to their families in developing countries are counted in a percentage of "private giving" - and while that's admirable behavior, it's not international aid.

These might reflect more kindly on Uncle Sam.

I don't think so. A lot of what the US does that you are arguing should be counted as international aid is given for no other reason than American self-interest - it's not targetted to help people in other countries, though it may have that as a side-effect.

There's an interesting article about the pitfalls of politically-directed foreign aid here.

I should make one point of the "generosity" of private giving, in that the URL that kenB gave lists 'personal remittances' of 18 to 20 billion. Unfortunately, I susect much of that is from immigrants (both legal and illegal?) sending money back to their home countries. To list that as private giving is rather bizarre. Having said that, the cite is an very interesting read and thanks to kenB for it.

Sorry, Jes made the same point, I had composed the reply between the two replies, and didn't preview it to pick her second. New year's resolution to use preview more. btw, how about a new year's resolution thread?

I think that the lack of urgency in giving aid from the american side is due to its insularity. Just consider the fact that only three americans have died versus dozens of europeans; what to the former is a distant place heard of only when major disaster like this one is to the latter places where many spend at least a few weeks a year. So it's only natural that they would be speedier in giving aid, when just everybody knows someone who's around there, just been there or was planning to go soon.

To restate the original idea here, I was not suggesting the US would not end up giving generously to help those affected by the earthquake. My frustration was in what looked like foot-dragging to me. As Jes well pointed out there are two levels of assistance needed: immediate and longer-term. As even the Washington Post noted, though, the US seemed to have no clear ideas on what role to take even 24 hours after, despite other nations having already put doctors and supplies on planes. It was as if we were in no hurry to help. If there's a method behind that madness, I'd like to know what it is.

Ooops, just read Victor's comment. I hope that's not it though. The idea that because only three Americans were originally reported as killed (it's higher now) we wouldn't care as much is a much worse indictment than anything I had imagined.

Edward, my wife works in public relations for the American Red Cross, and she's given me a bit of "insider perspective." She spent part of yesterday in a lengthy planning meeting regarding ARC response, and planning and coordination with other US and international agencies. I can't discuss the US government response -- or even knowledgeably discuss ARC planning too much -- but what might appear as foot-dragging is, generally speaking, the result of a) turf-guarding by on-the-ground responders from local and regional agencies (the Indian Red Cross Society, apparently, doesn't necessarily want the help of outside disaster assessment professionals), and b) lag due to the need to coordinate who can provide what on what timetable. (Her analogy was to a child providing a Christmas list to dozens of different relatives. Relative A offers to buy items 1-5, but Relative B says he's already got items 3 and 4, so now Relative A might provide 1, 2, 5 and 11-14, but Relative C can get item 12 more quickly . . . that sort of thing). It's sad that those sorts of politics read their heads in these situations, but they do. It's human nature.

BTW, if anyone does want to donate for this disaster to the American Red Cross rather than the agencies in the region, make sure you request your money to go to the International Response Fund, or it will go into the general fund.

Reported death toll's up to 33,000 at CNN (Beeb's over 50,000 now) with neither Myanmar nor Bangladesh reporting in that I've seen. [Added in proof: *2* people in Bangladesh? *30* in Burma? No way in hell.] This is gonna get a whole lot worse in the next few days, folks, and Sebastian's right: it'll be the ensuing typhoid and cholera epidemics that will truly devastate the region. If you haven't given yet, now is definitely the time.


It wasn't meant to be impolite. Just truthful.

Could you please cite some instances when you have not said hateful things about this administration or anything the U.S. has done lately?

Anyway... tell me where else in the world is this occurring?

From Instapundit:

AMAZON.COM is accepting donations for Tsunami relief. The total is currently $112,000.00, but it's rising very rapidly. "Stingy," eh?

UPDATE: Reader Jared Phillips writes:

I am absolutely amazed at what I am seeing - if you go
to the amazon site you'll see the click to donate. On
that next page you see the amount collected and the
number of donors.

Now click refresh on your screen.

It is increasing literally every single second. I am totally blown away. In the 5 minutes since I donated it has increased by 1,000 donors.

Yeah, I just looked and it's headed toward $400,000 already. Doesn't look stingy to me. I wonder if any of 'em were U.N. employees . . .

How does one cite instances where he didn't say something? That will be a neat trick. I can't wait to see it.

Could you please cite some instances when you have not said hateful things about this administration or anything the U.S. has done lately?

So I have to prove a negative? ;-)

Well, if you want to check out A Suggestion for the Season or the Sebastian Holsclaw Fantasy Bio Contest, both nice a-political threads, I very much doubt that I found it necessary to say anything critical of the Bush administration or the US in either of them.

Your conflation of the Bush administration with the US is a mistake: 49% of those who voted on November 2nd, didn't vote for Bush.

I don't support the Bush administration in any way at all. I consider Bush to be a disaster-area President, any way you can think of: and further, his endorsement of torture is, to me, the one thing that should have put him forever outside the pale on simple grounds of human decency. Your idea that it's somehow hateful to criticize an administration or a politician that one strongly disagrees with is, to put it plainly, flat wrong. Politicians and administrations and governments must be criticized - under no circumstances should any politician be allowed to believe that he (or she) has never made any mistakes. A politician who believes that is a bad politician - worse, a stupid one, and badly informed.

Your contention that I hate the US is a better criticism, if it were true. I don't idealize the United States. But I don't hate it either. The problem I think you have is the same problem you have with criticism of the Bush administration; You perceive criticism as being intrinsically hateful. Or you want criticism qualified by praise.

There are many people who criticize the administration in many different ways. Their tone just doesn't seem bitter, resentful and hateful like yours. I think we can all agree that you HATE this administration.

Since, a clear majority of the people voted for him one can only speculate what you think of them... and they are the majority of what it means to be American...

BTW, last time I checked Kerry only received 48% of the vote.

You must be smoking crack.

The US has done the most by far with this situation...they have already pledged at least 25 million, surely to be upped several times over as the situation clarifies. You can't just throw money at an emergency situation, either...you have to be smart in sending money and resources.

Also, the US military is helping out in major ways...yes, that's right, the same big and bad military the left hates and wants to see slashed.

And then there are the many generous acts of giving of private citizens. In fact, as of now, private citizens giving through Amazon.com has given more than the French govt.

So stick your criticism of the US in a pipe and smoke it.

Lots of good work in this thread in turning the question of aid into a patriotic game. Seriously. Harnessing the faux-patriotic rage of some of the above commenters and making the question "Which nation gave the most" a prominent question in peoples' minds could be an effective strategy in getting aid to the people that need it. Which is the goal here, the way I see it.

I would like to be a citizen of a country where it didn't take the prospect of international shame (and worse - a sub-par international ranking) to get an effective response, but hey, whatever works.

As a side note, has anyone else noticed how when someone accuses someone else of being "bitter, resentful and hateful", it usually reflects more on the accuser than the accusee?

Cause I've noticed that. Might just be me.



There are clearly two issues there - one regarding how aid should be quantified, and the other regarding peoples' reactions to their own perceptions of others' perceptions of the US (whew!). The first seems like an interesting issue, and I'd have continued to discuss it with Jesurgislac if my posts weren't so prone to technical glitches. The latter is just lowbrow entertainment.

Smlook: I think we can all agree that you HATE this administration.

I think that you need to be careful about saying "I think we can all agree" on any topic under the sun.

But yes, you're right on this one: I do hate torturers, and I hate those who endorse torture even worse. That may be wrong: hate is a blinder. But there's something about torture - the evil of setting one person to do deliberate, devastating hurt to another - that makes me hate it, and those who endorse it. I have no good humor in me about the fact that an administration that endorses torture is in power over the US army, and over Iraq and over Afghanistan and over the prison camps in Guanatanamo Bay for the next four years.

I do understand, however, that for the 51% who voted for Bush, most of them didn't think of themselves as endorsing torturers. They didn't know, or half-knowing they didn't want to think about what they knew, which is only human. I have no hate for them. (Exasperation, yes, especially for those who knew but who didn't want to think about it too hard in case they had to change their minds, but not hate.)

If you want criticism tempered by praise, I have nothing but admiration for those soldiers in the US army who were ordered to commit acts of torture and who refused, as I have nothing but admiration for people like Joseph Darby who spoke out against torture: as I try to have pity for those soldiers who were ordered to commit acts of torture and who obeyed. They shouldn't have obeyed, and it's necessary to punish them for their obedience to an illegal order - but the fact that the Bush administration endorsed those orders, and is still in power, is worse yet.

Moving on, there's an excellent post at Making Light on How to help/pass it on.

An especially important link on Making Light is the instant blog The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami - pass it on.

Further on US aid to the tsusami-stricken regions: Slactivist.

Further on US aid to the tsusami-stricken regions: Slactivist:

The United States has pledged $35 million to aid countries affected by this disaster. That works out to the cost of about 5 hours of the daily cost of the war in Iraq. So in addition to making a donation yourself, you may want to try to leverage additional assistance by shaming our government into committing further aid -- perhaps even as much as $177 million, the approximate cost of a single day of the Iraq war.

Jes, after reading your comments, I'm just wondering about "your" own interpretation of the "Posting Rules" with respect to your own comments. Just asking.

from the 'Bush's Moral Values' thread
Ah posting rules, the last retort when you have no other.
Sorry, no points for guessing who wrote that. Except that it's the first retort in this case.

But to try and get back on topic (if one goes back and actually reads the comments, one can see that things got derailed right after Jes's first comment), the WaPo has this article.
I think that both sides should consider the following grafs:
Some foreign policy specialists said Bush's actions and words both communicated a lack of urgency about an event that will loom as large in the collective memories of several countries as the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks do in the United States. "When that many human beings die -- at the hands of terrorists or nature -- you've got to show that this matters to you, that you care," said Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Gelb said what appears to be a grudging increase in effort sends the wrong message, at a time when dollar totals matter less than a clear statement about U.S. intentions. Noting that the disaster occurred at a time when large numbers of people in many nations -- especially Muslim ones such as Indonesia -- object to U.S. policies in Iraq, he said Bush was missing an opportunity to demonstrate American benevolence.

"I think that you need to be careful about saying "I think we can all agree" on any topic under the sun.

But yes, you're right on this one"

Well, it doesn't take a genius to see that you hate the administration. But, to quote you... "hate is a blinder"

It must be strange to look into the mirror and not see the mirror.

The Amazon tsunami relief total is now well over $1 million... France is at $177,000.

This whole thread is a farce. Hasta la vista!

Timmy, FWIW, my rule is that if a moderator of this blog ticks me off for a breach of the posting rules, I presume that the mod is right and I am wrong - just possibly too angry to see it clearly. When that happens, I take a 24-hour break from posting to reconsider what I said, and - usually - conclude that the mod has a point, and I should apologize. If a long-term regular poster tells me they think I've broken the posting rules, I often follow the same process, though not invariably: depends on my opinion of the poster.

I value your opinion on whether or not I have broken the posting rules here exactly as much as I value your opinion on anything else.

But looking back up this thread (thanks, liberaljaponicus) yes, I should have ignored SMlook's original comment: my response to it helped derail this thread. Fortunately, Edward started a new one.

Jes, just commenting on a previous comment made by you, the only constructive observation I could make on the overall trendline.

BTW, I do value your opinion Jes, although I rarely agree with it.

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