Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Asleep at the switch again

Juan Cole points out how Bush's callous indifference to the tsunami tragedy also represents a telling failure from the standpoint of US self-interest:

US President George W. Bush has missed an important opportunity to reach out to the Muslims of Indonesia. The Bush administration at first pledged a paltry $15 million, a mysteriously chintzy response to what was obviously an enormous calamity. Bush himself remained on vacation, and now has reluctantly agreed to a meeting of the National Security Council by video conference. If Bush were a statesman, he would have flown to Jakarta and announced his solidarity with the Muslims of Indonesia (which has suffered at least 40,000 dead and rising).

Indeed, the worst-hit area of Indonesia is Aceh, the center of a Muslim separatist movement, and a gesture to Aceh from the US at this moment might have meant a lot in US-Muslim public relations. Bin Laden and Zawahiri sniffed around Aceh in hopes of recruiting operatives there, being experts in fishing in troubled waters. Doesn't the US want to outflank al-Qaeda? As it is, the president of the United States is invisible and on vacation (unlike several European heads of state), and could think of nothing better to do than announce a paltry pledge. As Harris and Wright rightly say, the rest of the world treated the US much better than this after September 11.

But all's right with the world, because even if a vacation takes precedence over a disaster at least 30 times larger than September 11, there is alsways time for Clinton-bashing.


Blogger RIposte said...

George Bush has already been a statesman, silly boy--Halloween, 2003. No one recognized him.

6:33 PM  
Blogger Jaz said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:46 PM  
Blogger Jaz said...

Your readers should be aware that America is and has been the largest source of humanitarian aid in the world and last year American aid in raw dollars was 40 percent of all aid given by the entire world community.

6:52 PM  
Blogger Dr. Bloor said...

I suspect what our readers are more aware of is that the US's contribution to int'l development as a percentage of GNP is pathetic compared to other wealthy nations. The overall total is big, sure, and that's good. But we've become so jaded by and oblivious to our wealth as a nation that we've lost sight of how much more we could accomplish--and, frankly, how much more effectively we could spread democracy and economic freedom--by reaching for our wallets rather than our guns.

7:03 PM  

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