Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Do it in My Name

I am a big fan of helping other countries who need it. I live in the strongest, richest, and most generous nation the planet has ever seen, and it is really nice to help out when we can. So you won’t find me complaining too much when we send tons of aid to other countries. Personally I would love to see it done more by private citizens (who are responding more than generously) and less by government (who is also being pretty generous). But now is not the time to let ideology get in the way of the fastest relief effort we can muster. I am also pretty happy too see the US give freely of its military in aiding the disaster relief. After all, it doesn't take a Clausewitz to point out that the military is the only thing that makes most of our foreign policy meaningful. Aiding a number of foreign countries using our military is only natural. Also, the military has the capacity to do this in a way that no other organization on the planet can. (Being in a logistical support unit, I know how capable we are of moving a LOT of stuff quickly.)

But I was wondering, where are the people who have been complaining all along.

After all, investing American resources in foreign countries contributes to globalization. It does so by putting foreign goods in poorer countries. It builds political capital for the US in poor countries. It allows the US military, US aid workers, international aid workers, international investors, and many others to pour capital in to reconstructing the devastated parts of the land. And imagine the horror when some US architects and engineers start rebuilding houses and someone discovers that they bear some resemblance to American/European architecture and engineering. We will have ruined their culture.

Secondly, I do not remember seeing any reports that there are other Tsunamis. We have no reason to suspect that we should be there trying to protect anyone from future Tsunami attacks. Sure, the region is more likely to have another one, but our helping now won't do anything about it. So why are we bothering to help?

Thirdly, I am sure my liberal friends are thinking, there is no relation between tsunamis and terrorism. We do know that Sri Lanki relief efforts are being headed up by the Tamils (which we cannot control) and we know Qaeda was attempting to train to attack targets in Indonesia, but that hardly counts. We found no evidence that they were responsible for the tsunami. Why would we help them if we cannot show conclusively that there is a relation between Bin Laden and the tsunami? I suspect we are giving aid under false pretexts.

The fourth questions liberals should be asking is: what's the rush? Don't we realize that we spent about 8 months talking about how fast we are rushing to war in Iraq - and that was not nearly enough. This morning Some Democrats plan to complain to Congress about how the president took about a day or two too long to officially acknowledge the tsunami. We need a long national debate on this tsunami issue. What is a few more months compared to the millions we are investing?

Fifth, where is the UN? Do we have a coalition in place yet? Of all the Arab and Muslim countries, so far only 4 of them have pledged anything. And, their generosity has so far been a whopping $24 million dollars (sic). (So far that is about 1/4 of what American PRIVATE citizens have given mostly by clicking online.) No word on what the Arab public has offered, but if it is anything like their government, I am glad that the Sri Lankis are not dependent on them for too much else. So even though a nice chunk of the victims were Muslim, and I believe a vast majority of the survivors are, we can't really be sure that they want our help. Shouldn't we have a "global test" or something? Wait to see if the world responds and then go along with that. Let's not be impetuous and start helping beleaguered countries until we are SURE that 100% of the citizens of that country, and of all the other countries in the world are on board. Don't believe the propaganda you see on the mainstream media like Fox News showing grateful Malaysians. They are just showing what the administration wants you too see. Read the alternative sources (who are really too oppressed to express their voices right now) and hear about how US aid is really ruining their country by importing all this cheap water and inferior blankets. Worse, I bet we have even given them antibiotics which were made by outsourcing US jobs.

To recapitulate, there is no evidence of other tsunamis. If there were, I am not sure they pose a threat to US interests, and even if there are and they do, helping the Sri Lankis will not help. So in the absence of a global test and many months of debate it would seem that any clear thinking liberal would find this method of exporting our brand of food, clothing, shelter and culture to the "victims" of a bad global disaster, despicable.

So like many other recent events, aid to Sri Lanka is one that I am happy to have done in my name. But I am bracing for the protesters who want to Act Now to end Aid and Racism in their name.

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