Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Well, there's Gratitude for ya

Yahoo! News - Gratitude for aid accompanied by suspicion of U.S.

Lately on the Unofficial IPSC List, there has been some discussion about the idea of America providing wellfare disaster relief to Indonesia, the largest muslim country in the world ... or so it says here.

A couple of folks questioned why we should be providing a multi-million dollar giveaway aid to a country predominently occupied by people who believe in a religion that is apparently filled with a bunch of freaking terrorists determined to kill non-muslims inimical to the values of western civilization.

I responded that America is basically a Christian country, with a large non-Christian population, and the Christian religion has a firm belief in helping our fellow man. Also, when so many people are being raped and enslaved by pirates in dire need of outside help, this is a poor time to put politics ahead of principle.

Well, it would appear that the would-be recipients of American aid are even more suspicious of our motives than we are of theirs.

In the world's most populous Muslim nation, not everyone is entirely happy to see Americans in helicopters handing out food and water to the hungry victims of last week's tsunami.

Though Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters Tuesday that he hopes the sight of U.S. soldiers passing out aid will help ease anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world, many Muslims say they cannot ignore that the same U.S. military that invaded Iraq is now engaged in its largest operation in South Asia since the Vietnam War.

WTF? Why would this be an issue?

"It's true we need help from the U.S. right now, but many Muslims feel the need to ask: `Is there any political interest here, or is it really just humanitarian help?'" said Moeslim Abdurrahman, a moderate Muslim leader in Jakarta.

Jakarta? JAKARTA? Was this yahoo (pardon) drowned in the tsunami? Why not? Hey, God ... is it too late for a "Do-Over"?

<>It's not as if the Bay of Bengal Nations didn't have problems even before the Boxer Day Deluge:

In addition, some hope the need for cooperation will help resolve bloody separatist movements in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, while perhaps undermining whatever public support there may be for a radical Islamist group blamed for a series of bombings in Indonesia over the past two years.

Oh, yeah. Bali. I had forgotten that. But I'm sure the Indonesians are willing to accept responsibility for that, and will change their ways:

Prophetic: my sorrow that Western nations (especially super power USA, middle power the UK, and mini power Australia) seem largely determined not to face the appalling injustices which ultimately lie behind the frustration and anger that fosters much terrorism.

It doesn't seem that this guy is focusing on the immediate needs of the afflicted people. Oh, well, tomorrow is another day.
So, back to the original source...

Yet on the ground, early reactions have been mixed. The gratitude that many victims feel for the aid campaign has been tempered by the perception that the Bush administration reacted sluggishly to the first reports of the calamity. Bush did not address the disaster publicly until three days after the earthquake and tsunami.

"They blew it, initially, having Bush wait so long before he said anything," said Sydney Jones, Southeast Asia project director for the International Crisis Group, a non-profit that tries to prevent and resolve deadly conflict. "I'm sure there's gratitude; it's just that the image of the U.S. was so negative that it remains to be seen whether this can overcome that."

Bush waited for so long.

Yeah, right.

That sounds very familiar. After President Bush didn't call out the airforce immediately after the first airplane hit the Twin Towers on 9/11, American Liberals lambasted him for 'waiting so long'. Actually, Bush didn't know it was a terrorist attack that would be repeated ... he was under the impression (as were we all) that it was an accident, and that a 'small plane' had hit the building. It wasn't until after another tower had been hit that he ... and we ... realized that we were under attack.

After the Tsunami hit, we had no way of knowing how extensive the damage was, or what would be required to respond effectively to the (so far under-evaluated) carnage. Should he have immediately pledged $350 million in "aid" in response to an event that nobody appreciated was so wide-spread? Should he have immediately pledged (eg: "PROMISED!") to contribute so much money from a country which was already facing severe economic disaster in response to a terrorist attack.

Wouldn't that have been irresponsible of him?

"We immediately started scrounging around for every fund that we had, every bit of rice that we knew of somewhere," said U.S. Ambassador Lynn Pascoe. "We did everything we could except triple the speed of the aircraft carrier to get it here as fast as we could possibly get here."

The Internet, at least, has commented on how quickly the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln has managed to position itself to provide help. This doesn't seem to have made any difference to these whiny assholes critics of Bush's attempts to rush to succor the victims of this natural disaster.

In the meantime, relief agencies are trying to deal with the effect of the disaster on the civilian population, hoping that the situation will somehow improve the internal problems of the involved nations.

In India, some noted a close U.S. cooperation with the Indian navy that could improve rocky relations. In Sri Lanka, officials hope the mutual losses and need to work together could help the government renew peace efforts with the secessionist Tamil Tigers.

Along the northern coast of Sumatra, Indonesia's worst-damaged area, U.S. officials are pushing for resolution of another independence movement by residents of the Aceh region. But the government did not respond to a rebel cease-fire offer, and there have been reports of at least one gun battle as the aid was being delivered.

Though Indonesia became a democracy seven years ago after the fall of longtime dictator Suharto, it also is home to a secretive group known as Jemaah Islamiyah. The group has links to Al Qaeda and has claimed responsibility for several recent bombings, including one in Bali in 2002 that killed 202 people, many of them Australians.

There are a few responsible people ... with no agenda other than to help their people ... who are willing to accept much-needed help where-ever they can find it, and who appear grateful for the efforts:

"The majority of Indonesians are quite appreciative, especially the Acehnese. Everyone is just amazed at the capacity of the U.S. with the Abraham Lincoln [aircraft carrier] coming in here and all these Seahawk helicopters," said Rizal Sukma, director of studies at Indonesia's Center for International and Strategic Studies and an Acehnese whose teenage niece is missing after the flood.

"A lot of people think that the U.S. will not pay attention to anything unless it has to do with terrorism, that it doesn't care about democracy or human rights anymore," Sukma said. "This will insert a new element into people's perceptions."

But still, there are citizens of stricken countries who themselves can't seem to separate the practical from the political:

Unfortunately for the U.S., among other elements of that reputation in the region are the highly unpopular invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, anger at tougher visa procedures to enter the U.S. and ire over U.S. support for Israel.

Fault found

Some Indonesians say they are insulted by Western debate about whether Muslims can be democratic. Others blame the U.S. for fueling the radical bombers with its allegedly anti-Muslim foreign policies.


I should have known it. No matter what America does, it's still responsible for all the woes of the world. At least they didn't mention Haliburton. Yet. (Watch This Space.)

Still, I think that America and Americans are doing the right thing, by their efforts to provide as much help as possible to the victims of the Tsunami. India, Sumatra, Indonesia, Thailand, Malasia, The Malfives, etc.

And it's not as if this outpouring of charity doesn't have some negative effect on American charitable contributions, y'know.

The UN is doing its part. Kofi is already dunning nations which have pledged relief to pay up NOW! Well, that's not altogether a bad thing. Nobody really expects the U.S. not to fulfill its promises ... after all, Bush did make sure that he didn't pledge american support in excess of what the situation required. One thing about Bush that we've learned over the past 4 years; when he makes a promise, he carries through. Although a lot of people seem to think that the pledging nations could move a little faster.

So what's the bottom line here? Should Americans continue to help muslim nations in this hour of their greatest need, even though they seem disinclined to appreciate the help because of their political differences? Put it even more strongly: should we help those terrorist bastards muslim peoples who hate us don't agree with our social, political, economic, religious and/or cultural values?


We're not contributing to terrorists here.

Grown-up people realize that when they 'give' something to children, if gratitude is expected the adults can only expect disappointment. It's not about gratitude. It's not about trying to "win hearts and minds" as we so naively expected by our efforts in Vietnam ... and probably expect in Iraq. (If you don't accept the "Adults & Children anology, consider the thousand years of cultural disparity between Fundamental Islamists and Western Civilization.)

It's about hundreds of thousands of people, human beings, who are lost and hurt and have lost everything they owned and sometimes the people they loved.

We may not convince them that they can live in peace with us. Our support may not change the way they thing, the things they do to us. But if we refuse to help people who are in dire extremes, the BEST we can expect is that they will die hating us for our unfeeling response to their hour of need.

I'm not saying that we'll change their minds for the better. I'm not even saying that we'll avoid increasing the gulf between their current mind-set and ours.

All I'm saying is that if we refuse them the help they obviously need, we will have condemned them to anguish which OUR culture doesn't believe should be the fate of any people.

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