The numbers are horrifying; the pictures are chilling, and the very idea that the island of Sumatra has been moved 100 feet – 100 feet! – is both awe-inspiring and fearsome. These folks are going to need lots of help, lots of money, lots of prayers. Prayers, especially, because prayer supports the rest of it.
I know that America is already being called stingy by some pissant, posturing, feckless UN “undersecretary” fop, for starting the aid ball rolling with ONLY $15million in direct aid. Captain Ed discusses it here. It’s both tiresome and offensive to see all the usual suspects so quickly (and predictably) exploiting a terrible human tragedy in order to pose and sneer, promote an agenda and – of course – bash the USA, while they’re at it. As the Captain points out, particularly in times such as these, American private contributions to charity are staggeringly generous. Jim Geraghty over at the Kerry Spot is also fed up with the bashing and has more, including some info from the WaPo:
The Bush administration pledged an initial $15 million in relief assistance and dispatched emergency relief teams and naval patrol aircraft to the region to conduct an assessment of the damage. Powell, speaking to reporters at the State Department, did not say how much the United States is prepared to contribute to the relief effort but indicated that Monday’s pledge would not be the last. “We also have to see this not just as a one-time thing,” he said. “Some 20-plus thousand lives have been lost in a few moments, but the lingering effects will be there for years.”
The Bush administration sent a team of 21 emergency relief experts to the region to help coordinate efforts to distribute aid and to repair sanitation and health systems, said Ed Fox, assistant administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Fox said that U.S. embassies in Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia and the Maldives have already distributed $400,000 in assistance. The United States is planning to provide $4 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross. The administration anticipates providing an additional $10 million in the weeks ahead, he said.
Jim also notes that the Pentagon has dispatched nine patrol planes and 12 C-130 cargo planes packed with relief supplies to South Asia, and he reminds us that the US contributes 57% of the budget of the World Food Program, that it remains the largest contributor in the world to both the global AIDS fund and the International Red Cross.
Quite frankly, after watching how poorly the UN and most EU-friendly aid programs handle money intended for humanitarian relief efforts, I say the UN punk-with-all-the-answers-and-the-trendy-hair should (like the UN itself) just shut up and get out of the way.
UPDATE: He takes it back. As well he should. Punk.