Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Thursday, December 30, 2004

US Reaction to Tsunami

Hi Everyone,

Well, as the death toll spirals upward, it is perhaps a bit early to talk seriously about the political reaction to this global disaster. After an initial pledge of 15 million was regarded with disgust, the Bush administration upped the pledge to 35 million and announced a plan to form a long term alliance or "coalition" to respond to the disaster. This "coalition" (catchy name TBA) includes the United States, Japan, India and Australia. OK, so aside from the P.R. aspects of this move, what is its political impact?

I think that this is an concerted effort by the Bush administration to undermine the U.N.'s role in humanitarian relief. Just as Iraq under cut the U.N.'s role as a collective security organization, this is an effort to make the U.N. irrelevant in humanitarian relief as well. I believe this is seen by the neo-cons as an opportunity to further their "Realist" agenda (see the first posting I put up on this blog). They have a strong ideological commitment to the dominance of nation states in general (as opposed to international organizations) and the United States in particular.

I saw an interview with Bob Barr on CNN where he argued that the U.N. was too corrupt to be trusted with American humanitarian relief contributions and that the United States should (and would) focus more on "bi-lateral" government to government aid transfers.

I'm interested in what the other Citizens and our visitors think not only about the US reaction but about political implications of this disaster both with regards to the US and "the West" and in the countries actually hit by the tsunami.


Dr. Strangelove said...

The U.S. government has pledged $35 million in assistance so far. Some have noted that this is less than what Bush is spending on his own inauguration festivities. And we may compare this to Japan at $40 million, Australia--which has just increased its pledge to $60 million--and Britain, which has pledged $96 million. And these figures will surely increase as time goes on.

But let me tell you who else has pledged $35 million for the relief effort: Pfizer Pharamceuticals! In addition, CNN Money and Global Investor report that Chase has pledged $3 million, Johnson & Johnson has pledged $2 million, Coca Cola and GE (to name just a few) have all pledged over $1 million each in cash, supplies, and services--and many other corporations are providing hundreds of thousands of dollars, and/or offering matching funds for employee donations. Even FedEx is shipping 200,000 pounds of supplies to Asia. Companies around the world are donating: British Petroleum (BP) has donated $1 million, and the 10 largest corporations in Australia have all reported donations of hundreds of thousands (to name a few more).

And that's not all: individual citizens around the world are contributing gobs of money to various aid organizations, from the Red Cross to Habitat for Humanity. Asia Pacific news reports that private donations in Britain alone have totaled more than $53 million. In Italy, a media campaign netted more than $15 from mobile phone users there. Catholic Relief (yes, they are doing more than just praying!) is raising $25 million worldwide to aid the victims. The NY Times quotes an unnamed senior U.S. administration official who said that the combined pledges of governments around the world total $500 million, and this amount have already been matched by private donations worldwide.

I predict one of the big stories to come out of this disaster may well be how corporations and citizens are working together with NGOs to provide relief aid on their own. It's a good story.

Dr. Strangelove said...

The U.S. has now leapt into the lead with a tenfold increase in its pledge: $350 million. Even if it took a bit of good old-fashioned shame to make it happen, I think we've really come through It's nice to see a "race to the top" instead of a "race to the bottom" for a change!

Raised By Republicans said...

I still think this a bid by the Bushies to push the UN and other international organizations to the side. Keep in mind, the US didn't go to three digits after flat out accused of being stingy. No. What did it was the announcement that the World Bank (an international organization) would contribute $250 Million. THAT got the neo-con's attention. Frankly I'm surprised they went to $350 million instead of $250 million and one.

While many victims will eventually benefit from this global humanitarian pissing match, I still think there is a darker purpose to the Bush administration's contributions here. Besides from a political perspective, it's not how much money is distributed but who distributes it. The Bush administration is on a mission to make sure international organizations do not take the lead on this. Unfortunately, the Republican instinct for callousness and racism towards poor people with brown skin (unless they are Christians in a majority non-Christian country) has lead to a delayed, reactive US approach.

US West said...

I'd like to know how the US aid will be distributed. Will it be done through local governments or through NGOs or a combination of the two? Also, the US needs to buy some good will in predominately Muslim nations. We forget that one of the largest Muslims populations (if not the largest, correct me if I am wrong) is Indonesia.

The other problem with money donations is that you have to spread it out over time. Handing a lump of cash now is useless as there is little infrastructure in place to handle that. This is the problem with all the good will pouring into this part of the world. It is wonderful (and I applaud the corporations who are giving, see my comments in previous posts)! But will there be something there next year when the initial shock is over and the really hard work of rebuilding begins?

Raised By Republicans said...

The comments I've heard from the Bush administration and the early developments it looks like US aid will be almost exclusively distributed government to government at the national level.

I'm convinced this is an attempt to marginalize the international organizations. I predict stories in the coming months about how US government aid is being channeled through Christian organizations that provide aid as a means to try to convert people to Christianity.

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