Alpine Summit

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Ones - But Not the Only

So following up on what I wrote about last time, citing Yolo Cowboy's comment about the lack of foreign aid to Katrina victims, I heard this on NPR on my way to work this morning and felt a little better- if not downright amazed.

WASHINGTON, Sept 1 (Reuters) - More than 20 countries, from allies Germany and Japan to prickly Venezuela and poor Honduras, have offered to help the United States cope with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Accustomed to being a rich donor rather than on the receiving end of charity, the United States initially seemed reticent about accepting foreign aid, but later said it would take up any offers. The hurricane devastated New Orleans and other parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast, killing hundreds and possibly thousands.

"Anything that can be of help to alleviate the tragic situation of the area affected by Hurricane Katrina will be accepted," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

The liberal bias thing aside ("seemed reticent because we usually give aid and not receive it" comment), I think it's pretty cool that other countries are actually going to give money to us to help pay for the damage.

Earlier, President George W. Bush said in a television interview that the United States could take care of itself.

"I'm not expecting much from foreign nations because we hadn't asked for it. I do expect a lot of sympathy and perhaps some will send cash dollars. But this country's going to rise up and take care of it," Bush told ABC's "Good Morning America."

Again, ignoring the liberal bias thing ("Bush is too proud to take help from anyone" comment), Bush is doing the right thing by not depending on this foreign aid. He recognizes that ultimately this is our problem, and we're the ones that must deal with it. Depending on someone else really doesn't jive with our culture because it makes us dependent on other nations to get through this tragedy.

McCormack said there had not been a change of position over accepting foreign aid and White House spokesman Scott McClellan also said later the United States would take up offers of help.

The State Department said offers so far had come from Canada, Russia, Japan, France, Germany, Britain, China, Australia, Jamaica, Honduras, Greece, Venezuela, the Organization of American States, NATO, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Greece, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico, South Korea, Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Assistance ranged from medical teams, boats, aircraft, tents, blankets, generators and cash donations.

The list is fairly decent. With some exceptions, these are the countries that are truly America's friends (yes, China too) because the've shown to be willing to help us in our time of need (after all, a lot of them owe their existence to us). We certainly have strained relations with some of them, but friendships are like that sometimes and it's good to see them put politics aside for the sake of helping people. As a quick aside, why is Greece listed twice?

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a vocal critic of the United States, offered to send cheap fuel, humanitarian aid and relief workers to the disaster area.

The State Department did not comment on Venezuela's offer but several officials smiled at the gesture from Chavez, who on Wednesday called Bush a "cowboy" who failed to manage the disaster.

Cuban President Fidel Castro, a close Chavez ally, led a minute of silence in homage to victims of Katrina in parliament on Thursday. The parliament then returned to normal business with a resolution attacking Bush over the Iraq war.

I'm all for countries sending aid, and it's nice to see these countries helping out, but I also think that we shouldn't receive aid from other countries on moral grounds. Chavez is a dictator and, while it certainly isn't a crime, is good friends with Castro. That should tell people enough of what kind of person he is and how he runs his own country. I'm more inclined to believe that Venezuela is merely playing politics with this move rather than wanting to actually help.

I also liked how the reporter inserted that little bit at the end about parliament then voted to criticize Bush over Iraq. I guess that could be viewed as liberal bias, but it only makes me agree with Bush more on the matter. I'm certainly not going to agree with Castro's puppet government on international matters. I'm not surprised that most hippies in this country would agree with red Cuba, either.

All in all, though, it's good to see other nations reciprocating our generosity.

Anchoress has a post on how the blogosphere is chipping into the effort as well. The Internet is facilitating charity for this disaster. What a thing it is to see!