Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Finding out who our friends are in crunch time

The State Department released a list of countries who have showed varying levels of munificence on behalf of the US following Katrina:

Afghanistan: $100,000
Armenia: $100,000
Australia: $7.6 million
Azerbaijan: $500,000
Bahamas: $50,000
Bahrain: $5 million
Bangladesh: $1 million
Belgium: Medical/logistics teams to Red Cross
Canada: 2 helicopters, 32-person rescue team, Air Canada evacuation flights, medical supplies
China: $5.1 million cash and relief supplies
Djibouti: $50,000
Finland: 3 logisticians to Red Cross
France: Tents, tarps, Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), water treatment supplies
Gabon: $500,000
Georgia: $50,000
Germany: MREs and high speed pumps
Greece: Cruise ships, private offer of an International Committee of the Red Cross Web-based tracing system
India: $5 million
Israel: Tents, first aid kits, baby formula
Italy: Generators, water pumps/purifiers, tents, medical supplies
Japan: $1 million cash, generators, tents, blankets, bottled water
Kuwait: $400 million in oil, $100 million cash
Maldives: $25,000 cash
Mexico: Bedding, MREs, baby care items, personal hygiene kits
NATO: Coordinating European assistance offers
Norway: $1.54 million in relief supplies
Organization of American States: $25,000 cash
Qatar: $100 million cash
Republic of Korea: $30 million cash and in-kind donations
Saudi Arabia: $255 million from Aramco
Singapore: 3 helicopters
Sri Lanka: $25,000 cash
Taiwan: $2 million cash, medical supplies
Thailand: Large amounts of food
United Arab Emirates: $100 million cash
United Kingdom: MREs
U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: U.N. Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team and logistics support
U.N. World Health Organization: Public health officers and logisticians
Venezuela: Up to $1 million to Red Cross

Just days ago on Good Morning America President Bush implied that he did not expect a huge outpouring of assistance:

Bush said the United States had the resources to cover the massive rebuilding costs, and was not looking for foreign aid.
"I'm not expecting much from foreign nations, because I haven't asked for it. I'm expecting sympathy and maybe some will send cash," he said.
Well, as the aformentioned list shows, some nations opened their wallets anyway. Middle eastern nations with amiable ties to the US came delivered substantial amounts. Most notable is Kuwait, which alone has offered half of world aid to the the hurricane-devastated areas. That works out to an astounding $215 per Kuwaiti (Norway, in contrast, gave about 25 cents a person--and she was among the most generous in Europe!). Cynically it can be said that the turbans in charge are trying to mollify their big-ticket customers; nonetheless, that little country with a population smaller than that of St. Louis covered a day's worth of the first few most expensive ones, when FEMA was spending half a billion every 24 hours. The tiny country of Qatar gave just over $115 per person as well.

Most trenchant to me is how much impoverished nations offered to the big bad US and the corresponding paucity offered to America by her economically prosperous "allies". Bangladesh, a mostly Muslim country with 45% of its population below the poverty line gave as much as the world's third largest economy in terms of total GDP, Japan. Outside of Australia, which has been a phenomenally reliable ally of the US in the last five years and South Korea which came showed resilience even as that country turns away from her Pacific protector, the West gave but a pittance.

We give Israel $2.6 billion a year in aid, the most of any country on the planet (for good reason, as 6 million Jews potentially have some 400 million or so Arabs bearing down on them--and the former bring a greater absolute number of profound innovations than the latter). And they give us generators? Tents and tarps, Chirac? India gave a cold $5 million to a country whose citizens have twelve times as much as they do. Arkansas is just a state over--Walmart has plenty of camping supplies available. How about a little green? Sri Lanka, poor and convalescing from the tsunami, scraped together $25,000. The EU wants to compete with the US--it is no longer a legitimate friend outside of Great Britain, Poland, and to some extent Italy. We need to cut out losses and insure that

The billion-plus dollars pledged is pleasantly surprising, although it is dwarfed by the $10.5 billion Congress appropriated to relief efforts. It should't be blown out of proportion, as the US doles out $19 billion in foreign aid each year. An overwhelming majority of the sweat and resources it will take to recover (and rebuild?) New Orleans and the surrounding areas will be on the backs of Americans. It will be an arduous process, as most of the people remaining in the Big Easy are poor, black, addicted, and of low intelligence--an incredibly difficult amalgamation to deal with. Still, it's nice to know who your pals are in a time of trouble.

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