Friday, December 31, 2004

Bush Quickly Boosts Aid To Tsunami Victims

CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) — The United States is pledging $350 million to help tsunami victims, a tenfold increase over its first wave of aid, President Bush announced today.

"Initial findings of American assessment teams on the ground indicate that the need for financial and other assistance will steadily increase in the days and weeks ahead," Bush said.

"Our contributions will continue to be revised as the full effects of this terrible tragedy become clearer," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this epic disaster."

***

The newly announced aid came after some critics claimed that the initial U.S. contribution of $35 million was meager considering the vast wealth of the nation.

France has promised $57 million, Britain has pledged $95 million, Sweden is sending $75.5 million and Spain is offering $68 million.

***

To his credit, Bush's newfound generosity should be appreciated by those nations devastated by the tsunami. It is a leadership role, appropriate to the size of the tragedy.

But just imagine what would have happened if Bush had made this statement earlier in the week? Whether it's true or not, the sudden increase in U.S. aid will appear to many as a response to widespread domestic and foreign criticism of the initial meager aid package.

Will anyone in the Bush administration address why the initial aid package was so small? This is an administration that never admits mistakes, and self-evaluation in the public eye is rare. The initial reports, both statistical and otherwise, suggested a level of death and destruction far greater than 9/11. It was clear from the beginning that millions of survivors would face continued peril from lack of food and clean water, and diseases such as cholera and malaria. All that has changed in the days that followed is the death toll.

This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. "We are all Americans," was the headline on a French newspaper after 9/11. The same feeling should hold true now. It's just a shame that all the good that will come from Bush's increased pledge of aid should be tarnished by an initial (possibly political, possibly intellectual) miscalculation.

18 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the people who need it, money is money and whether Bush timed his statements properly matters little, if any. To the people who would like to politicize it, compare it to money spent in iraq etc., well, they dont matter other than pathetic politics. If this is not a political issue, lets not make it one. If it is a political issue to you or others, then stand up and say that is what you think.

There was no question we were going to spend a fortune to help here; no doubt, when all said and done, america will stand proud as always both in donations from our government and private donations as well.

6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was a question as to whether we would provide enormous aid, or just some aid. If there was no question, then Bush should have said so from the start, rather than making an initial offer that seemed meager.

Like the other JABBS item said, what would have been wrong with Bush saying that the U.S. would be as generous as necessary in this time of crisis? Why put a dollar amount on it that could be seen as meager?

12:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first poster is obviously blind. The philosophy is simple: don't criticize the president.

He also uses an easy trick: he demands that his critics not make this issue political. But by deriding his critics, he is the one politicizing the issue.

The poltiics of this is not whether to aid the tsunami victims. It's not even how much ultimately the U.S. will contribute. The issue is that there is a right way and a wrong way to show presidential leadership. On this -- and so many other issues -- Bush failed to show leadership (at least initially). And that's a shame.

12:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matter of fact-I am not blind if i am reading this crap. Criticize the president if you like on iraq, how we deploy our troops, arm them, our foreign policy, domestic policy etc....but to harp on the president not being clear about something, then clearing it up pretty quickly, when we are and always were helping....could Bush have said things differently-of course but this is a problem he has all the time. He is not a great speaker. Big deal. But in all cases, especially this one, actions count and we are going to help in this crisis. It is whining to choose this issue as one to complain about lack of leadership.

But as usual, instead of sticking with coherent solid arguments about what Bush and America is doing incorrectly, and there are many, liberals and others will jump on virtually anything the administration does. And that just wreaks. And it wins over.....ummm.....noone.

I thought this site was about media. I have been told i am off topic when i spoke of things not related to media....interesting.

10:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing ... somebody had the temerity to suggest that there was ever a question as to whether or not America would supply an enormous amount of aid in this international crisis. Since the moonbats seem to think that they can find some political utility in the face of an international crisis, and wish to keep score as to the level of American stinginess - how about some of the moonbats take a look at our international giving. How does our support of the UN compare to other nations? Since the US has supplied nearly 50% of UN funding since its inception, that is not mentioned by the loony left. How about interational aid? Nobody is even in the ballpark of the US when it comes to dollars, people providing charity, individual and private giving, and goods and services.

The world looks to us, and we pony up, everytime, despite (with some obvious exceptions) the ungracious and forgetful nature of some of our alleged allies.

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen.

5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. What fury from someone who asked not to "politicize" the issue.

So Bush says one thing, and the above conservative says, "Ignore what Bush says. Assume that we are going to do far more. And don't criticize Bush, ever, you ignoramus."

That's great discourse.

5:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Answering a question from the above poster ...

He assumes the U.S. is #1 in disaster relief. In pure dollars, this is true, but as a percentage of GDP, the U.S. ranks sixth. So it's not an absolute certainty that the U.S. is the most generous nation on earth.

That's not a knock necessarily on the Bush administration. According to a report I saw on CNN yesterday, the U.S. has been reducing its international aid since the end of Vietnam, which covers presidents from both parties.

But agreeing with the original post, and some other comments here, I think anything the president does is fair game for criticism. What JABBS wrote, pretty clearly, is that Bush is doing the right thing, but it's a shame that he gave his critics an opening by offering an initial amount that was perceived as meager.

Now, if the conservatives among us can't handle that criticism, fine. But if a Democrat were president, I have no doubt that the same criticism would be coming from the right wing.

5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Criticism is fine. Political opportunism is not in this case. Bush could have acted faster, no question. Not necessarily in how much aid to provide since any rational person would wait to see facts. But rather to speak out on the tragedy. And yes, Bill CLinton would have acted immediately--he was a far better politician than Bush and never missed an opportunity to look good in front of the camera/world (I am a Bill Clinton fan so i mean that in the nicest way). But lets be clear here. Those who are looking to make this some form of testament to Bush's or the country's leadership position in the face of tragedy.....well, that is political opportunism.

The percentage of GDP perspective is misleading and somewhat ridiculous. If someone wants to do a true calculation of how much good we do and the dollar amount which corresponds, be my guest. But be sure to include (and this is not an exclusive list by any means) private donations (corporate and individual), military costs to protect virtually everyone everywhere, cost in wars (even if you want to discount iraq) in excess of other countries contribution, our cost of keeping the UN afloat despite its anti american tendencies.... I mean, c'mon. this whole issue is somewhat absurd--we are the largest contributor to the entire world by leaps and bounds. Let's see CHina, the next superpower, do so well.

9:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Call me nieve. I think significant and related issues are being woefully ignored.
Bush and the world rightfully shed tears for more than 130,000 now believed dead in South Asia. But where is the same sympathy for the believed more than 100,000 innocent citizens, mostly women and children, slaughtered in Iraq as a result of U.S. involvement there.
Yes, an earthquake and tidal wave are natural disasters that cannot be avoided (unless there's any truth to suspicions oil drilling exploration efforts may have had something to do with it). A preemptive war is a manmade disaster that cannot be avoided? I'm confused.
Bush has never stated a single word of remorse or even acknowledgement of the substantial "collateral damage" from his controversial war.
It's no wonder the Middle East hates the United States to all of our peril.
I long for the day when the world respects all human life whether the people are Asians, Africans, Arabians, or victims of natural disaster or victims of war.
I think the Tsunami disaster should put things into perspective.
One other point. The U.S. can throw $200 billion of taxpayers' money to prolong this deadly war (which the mainstream media has all too comfortably accepted as "just another day" in a dangerous world). Just think what ACTUAL GOOD even a tiny percentage of that money could do to help the Tsunami victims.
The U.S. appears to have bottomless pocket when it comes to finding money for Iraq. I suspect the country will suddenly display a stinginess, if Bush hadn't done that already, when it comes to billions of dollars needed for South Asia.
Donald Powell on Nightline last week seemed characteristically irritated when George Stenapolous tried to draw a parallel between U.S. money expended on Iraq and the money proposed to help the Tsunami victims.
Stenapolous addressed a question on many people's minds. Of course, he let Powell off easy. Hence, no one in the mainstream media appears too concerned with pressing the Bush Administration too hard on anything concerning Iraq.

9:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do we select percentage of GDP as a measuring stick? I suspect that is only because it is a way that somebody who wishes to make a political point about the US's alleged stinginess can do so? Also, in doing so, one ignore the various monies raised by private individuals, corporations, relief organizations, charities, etc ... It is not an honest assessment.

11:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

U.S. aid generosity is in eye of beholder

By differing measures, the United States is either the most charitable nation or one of the stingiest.

By Sonni Efron

Los Angeles Times


WASHINGTON - Americans think of themselves as the most generous people on earth. So to many, it came as a shock to hear that the U.S. response to the southern Asian tsunami last week was considered stingy.

But views of American generosity depend on who is doing the measuring and how.

By total money, the United States by far donates more than any other country in the world. This is the gauge preferred by most U.S. officials. But when aid is calculated per citizen or as a percentage of the economy, it ranks among the least generous in the industrialized world.

As U.S. officials and foreign aid experts debate which measure is more apt, the issue is another example of how Americans' views of themselves differ from those around the world.

"I don't take kindly to comments from the U.N. calling these miserly responses, when we're the ones who generally foot the bill, and we will in this one," Sen. Sam Brownback (R., Kan.) said, referring to comments from U.N. officials questioning initial U.S. aid offers.

The Bush administration now is pledging $350 million, up from $15 million, and said the amount will rise further. Still, others in Washington sympathize with the view that America can do more.

"It's embarrassing," said Tim Rieser, an aide to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.), who works on foreign-aid issues. "Nothing illustrates this more vividly than that out of a trillion-dollar budget, we provide less than 1 percent for foreign assistance and far less than 1 percent for humanitarian aid."

Critics cite statistics from the Paris-based Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, which measures overseas development assistance as a percentage of gross national income for the 22 leading industrialized nations.

In 2003, the United States was last on OECD's list, spending 0.15 percent of its national income. Other Western nations contributed far more. Norway spent 0.9 percent, France 0.4 percent, and Britain 0.3 percent.

Officials in the Bush and the Clinton administrations have argued that the OECD does not measure many forms of assistance provided by the U.S. government other than formal foreign aid. While the OECD puts U.S. foreign aid at $16.2 billion last year, the U.S. Agency for International Development counts U.S. giving differently, saying aid to developing countries was $22.6 billion in 2000.

Further, private assistance - from individuals, universities, religious groups, foundations, corporations and others - was $33.6 billion, USAID said. And other spending for international affairs - including peacekeeping, foreign military loans, nonproliferation efforts and democracy promotion - was $12.7 billion: a total of nearly $69 billion. Still, many believe aid spending should not include some military expenditures or funds to promote democracy.

Even using the American view, the United States comes up short, said Patrick Cronin, a former assistant administrator for policy and program coordination at USAID under Bush.

"We have to do more," said Cronin, now at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. "But we have to do it smart, and we have to change the debate away from a simple redistribution of wealth to a discussion of... aid effectiveness."

A different key measure of generosity was devised by the Center for Global Development and Foreign Policy magazine, which ranked rich countries' contributions in terms of aid, trade, investment, technology, security and the environment. Countries got points for quality as well as quantity.

On that scale, the United States ranked seventh of 21 nations, behind Canada, Britain, Australia, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands.

The scale found U.S. contributions of foreign aid relatively much lower than other countries, while it scored higher on immigration and trade. Allowing in foreigners and foreign products is considered a measure of how much a rich nation is willing to help a poor one.

But the study upended the commonly held view that shortfalls in U.S. government aid for the global poor are made up by private contributions. It found that government foreign aid in 2002 worked out to 13 cents per American a day; private donations were 5 cents per person.

In 16 other countries, governments gave more. In three - Switzerland, Ireland and Norway - private citizens gave more. The Norwegian government gave $1.02 per citizen a day; private giving was 24 cents.

Cronin said U.S. per capita giving would never match that of Norway, a nation of 4.5 million. On the other hand, the United States makes many contributions hard to quantify in dollar terms, he said, including using its military prowess for peacekeeping, or airlifting tsunami relief supplies and sending ships that desalinate water.

"We're not going to hand out the Nobel Peace Prize, but we are going to go into harm's way and provide international security in a way Norway won't, even though they are a staunch U.S. ally," Cronin said.

David Roodman, an architect of the Center for Global Development study, argued that no rich country gives enough.

"Stingy, of course, is a relative term," he said. "I wouldn't say the entire world is stingy. But helping the rest of the world is clearly a low priority in making our policies, and that's true in every country to a greater or lesser extent."

Aid Pledged

A partial list of the countries and organizations pledging aid for tsunami victims, based on U.N. data and official announcements by the nations. The United Nations said yesterday that about $2 billion had been promised so far.

In millions of dollars.

Japan... $500

United States... 350

World Bank... 250

Britain... 95

Sweden... 75.5

Spain... 68

China... 60

France... 57

Australia... 46.7

Canada... 33

Germany... 27

European Comm... . 45

Switzerland... 21.9

Denmark... 18.1

Norway... 16.6

Portugal... 11

Qatar... 10

Saudi Arabia... 10

Singapore... 3.6

New Zealand... 3.5

Finland... 3.3

Kuwait... 2

United Arab Emirates... 2

Ireland... 1.4

Italy... 1.3

11:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is ridiculous. Without US charity and protection, the world would look entirely different. Twist the numbers all you want--numbers dont lie but how they are presented does. I personally do not believe the world does nearly as much for the US as the US does for the world. I do not believe many other countries can say that. That said, everyone should help when a natural disaster hits. And that help should be viewed as a gift, not an obligation.

It would also be nice if some other do-gooder countries finally chipped in wrt iraq since it is in their own interests to see peace there. Instead, they are playing a childish 'I told you so' game. Or, they are just letting america foot the bill there for what will eventually help them tremendously. Europe is pathetic and we should be calling them out for what they are. Although I do not like what is going on in iraq, and am not a huge Bush fan to say the least, it is time we get tougher, not weaker, wrt to europe.

1:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You might consider that the reason other countries do not chip in for Iraq because they see it for what it very well may be: a fiasco, or dubious at best, at restoring stability in the Middle East or defeating global terrorism. In fact, many experts and countries believe the war is having the opposite effect. The Bush Administration appears the only "global authority" believing the war a necessity. Few other countries are as convinced.
Then there's the issue of whether the U.S. invasion of Iraq was even legal in the first place.
It's different with the disaster in South Asia which every one can unanimously agree on.

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight. Since we have yet to figure out time travel, it is my understanding that we cannot go back and not have the iraq war. So, today, what do you believe the european view is as to the war today. Is it
1) Let the US struggle as long as possible
2) Let the US cut and run
3) Let the US gain peace at its expense rather than europes even though europes interests in the area supersede americas
4) other?

I am interested in your enlightened opinion here. To simply say that Europe wont get involved because they didnt believe the war was legal, correct etc....does not in any way address the FACT that a war is occuring and will have an effect in the area for generations to come. What do you think Europe would do if we decided to pull out of there? Shit in their pants? They are either playing a baby game or a devilish one. And the media, the Bush administration and others should soon call them on it. I believe EUrope's day of reckoning is coming. I hope so.

You dont want to compare Iraq to the Tsunami--neither do I. Lets compare it to the Sudan. Doesnt the need for peace supersede the questions as to who is right or wrong there. Same should apply to iraq. Whether we were wrong to invade iraq or not, that is a question for another day. The current issue is what to do now---and EUrope has not answered satisfactorily. You havent answered that question either---no liberal i know has.

5:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay. I would answer that the U.S. should start examining other options for Iraq. And Europe should participate or even lead the parade in those discussions.
Someone outside the U.S. needs to step up to the plate and call a world summitt on how to end this intolerable situation in Iraq. The first step to solving any problem is recognizing there is one.
We can not expect this ever from our "leader" Bush. He doesn't care if we roil our allies. And we all know how he feels about summitts.
He will have us in Iraq until every last insurgent is dead, along with thousands of additional Americas, and half the population, the country and infrastructure are all blown to pieces, including the desired oil fields and pipelines. (I've been reading lately that these are being destroyed at an increasingly alarming rate by the insurgents).
What difference does it make anyway? Just continue to have the Republican dominated congress authorize a few billion dollars more to repair the extra damage, extend the deficit ceiling some more, harm our future generations even more.
A big problem with the Bush Administration is that it fails to examine or even consider the reasons for the insurgents' angst. It fails to consider possible harmful consequences of its actions.
Bush has no tolerance for people of opposing views, including the Europeans, Iraqis or people of his own party.
Some foreign body must sidestep this maniac and fast.
Maybe history will prove me wrong. But the situation in Iraq has only worsened and getting worse. Most are saying this election at the end of the month will repeat the handover in power last year -- a symbolic joke.
At the present time, it appears large sections of Iraq could not possibly participate in the election.
The first thing the mainstream media must do is forcibly acknowledge there is a problem instead of continuing this business as usual, lazzaire faire attitude, que sera sera, that's life, etc. etc.

9:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, even if everything you say is true, and i am not saying it is, WHERE IS EUROPE? What are the other alternatives? How do we/they solve the problems? It amazes me that Europe has such a vested interest in the outcome yet does not partake in the situation. And the media gives this a pass. If Europe made serious overtures, Bush would be under tremendous pressure to at least listen. Yet Europe is nowhere to be seen. Pathetic. Iraq, if it fails, will be at much the fault of europeans as it is ours. Pettiness rules the day!

Good news-looks like they are not changing the ethics rules as Delay didnt want the dems to have the issue hanging over him and the republicans.

9:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would offer Europe's reluctance to become involved could have something to do with Bush arrogantly shutting out other countries in Iraq's reconstruction at the time of his "major combat operations have ended" massive blunders. He thought he was punishing other countries for a failure to support what he then thought was his successful war and WMD concerns. But this policy has backfired, of course, and only served to alienate our allies for the long term.
This is all old news, but still relevant to current events.
After the bombing in Spain and again being shut out of most of the reconstruction efforts, I think the Europeans again see dubious value in what the outcome in Iraq will mean to them. There simply hasn't been a strong enough incentive for them to care.
However, the tide may be changing as Iraq continues to fuel new breeding grounds for terrorism in the Middle East. As the problem intensifies, I think you'll start to hear more out of Europe.
It is just unfortunate that our earlier "leadership" choices from Bush has stalled this necessary support.
Yes, this has all gotten off the track of David's original discussion of Bush's initial response to the Tsunami.
However, the world outside the U.S. raises concerns how our country can expend $150 billion attacking a country, but is slow to commit even $1 billion towards a natural catastrophe resulting in similar numbers of deaths.

9:28 AM  

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