FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Shameful Response to Disaster

by DAVE LINDORFF

 

Word that the U.S. government is offering a paltry $10 million in aid to those countries whose coasts were devastated by tidal waves from the largest earthquake in 40 years should be a national embarrassment. That a nation which can talk casually about $400-$500 billion annual deficits, and about spending upwards of $100 billion a year in sowing destruction in Iraq can’t come up with more than pocket change for disaster relief in an event that has displaced over a million people and rocked the earth in its orbit is mind-boggling.

But then, it’s important to remember that there are disasters both natural and unnatural, and the American public and its chosen political system have markedly different responses to the two. There is also a different scale of concern for the deaths of Americans and the deaths of foreigners with brown skins.

There is national grief expressed for example, for the 15 Americans killed while serving themselves spaghetti in a military mess tent, while Iraqi men, women and children are being blown away, unremarked, at their dining tables on a daily basis by U.S. bombs and cannon fire.

There is untoward concern about 100 missing Americans in resorts like Phuket, but little anguish over the 45,000 locals swept away by the same sudden flood.

For that matter, such concern as has been expressed in America over the tragic loss of life around the rim of the Indian Ocean this past weekend as a result of a natural disaster stands in marked contrast to the complete lack of concern (much less guilt) expressed about the lost of more than twice that many lives at the hands of American troops in Iraq, where an estimated 100,000 civilians have thus far paid the ultimate price for their country’s “liberation.”

Surely the world’s richest nation could spare a few thousand rescue troops and medical teams and a billion dollars or so to help prevent the inevitable epidemics and starvation that will follow this latest natural catastrophe in one of the world’s poorest regions. But then, where would those troops and medics come from? They’re busy killing Iraqis and patching up the American wounded in the latest U.S. imperial adventure, and can’t be spared for humanitarian gestures.

And where would that $1 billion come from? Wealthy Americans would have to either forgo a few dollars in tax relief next year, or the military in Iraq would have to do without a couple of F-16 fighters.

And yet, if America really wanted to show that it cared about the Third World, and indeed the Muslim world, for that matter, here would be an excellent opportunity to prove it, by providing real , instead of just token assistance to the hard-hit Muslim communities in Bangladesh and Somalia, Indonesia and southern Thailand.

On Christmas Day, President Bush offered up a maudlin, sugar-coated “message of compassion” to the nation, urging the American public to consider the less fortunate. That same day, he offered up the national equivalent of a few surplus soup cans to the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami.

His words would have seemed more sincere and heartfelt had he offered to apply even some of the tens of millions of dollars that corporations and the wealthy are offering in legal bribes to help pay for his inauguration festivities to relief efforts instead.

We should all be ashamed.

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” to be published this fall by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.

He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com

 

 

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

May 04, 2016
Kshama Sawant
It’s Not About Bernie: Why We Can’t Let Our Revolution Die in Philadelphia
Conn Hallinan
Baiting the Bear: Russia and NATO
Joshua Frank
Hanford’s Leaky Nuke Tanks and Sick Workers, A Never-Ending Saga
Paul Craig Roberts
TIPP: Advancing American Imperialism
Ted Rall
Hillary to Bernie Supporters: Don’t Vote for Me!
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton and Wall Street’s Neoliberal War on Latin America
Leslie Scott
The Story of Jill Stein: Putting People, Peace and the Planet Before Profits
Ann Garrison
Building the Greens Into a Mass Party: Interview with Bruce Dixon
Tom Clifford
Crying Rape: Trump’s Slurs Against China
Lawrence Davidson
Getting Rid of Bad Examples: Andrew Jackson & Woodrow Wilson
Ellen Brown
Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California?
Nelson Valdes
Is Fidel Castro Outside or Part of Mainstream Thinking? A Selection of Quotes
Jesse Jackson
Don’t Send Flint Down the Drain: Fix It!
Nathan Riley
Help Bernie Keep His Halo
Rivera Sun
Remembering Nonviolent History: Freedom Rides
Clancy Sigal
Rachel and the Isolationists: How Maddow Blew It
Laura Finley
Changing the Conversation About “The Woman Card”
CJ Hopkins
Coming this Summer … Revenge of the Bride of Sophie’s Choice
May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
Dean Baker
Time for an Accountable Federal Reserve
Ted Rall
Working for US Gov Means Never Saying Sorry
Dave Welsh
Hunger Strikers at Mission Police Station: “Stop the execution of our people”
John Eskow
The Death of Prince and the Death of Lonnie Mack
May 02, 2016
Michael Hudson – Gordon Long
Wall Street Has Taken Over the Economy and is Draining It
Paul Street
The Bernie Fade Begins
Ron Jacobs
On the Frontlines of Peace: the Life of Daniel Berrigan
Louis Yako
Dubai Transit
Bill Quigley
Teacher, Union Leader, Labor Lawyer: Profile of Chris Williams Social Justice Advocate
Patrick Cockburn
Into the Green Zone: Iraq’s Disintegrating Political System
Lawrence Ware
Trump is the Presidential Candidate the Republicans Deserve
Ron Forthofer
Just Say No to Corporate Rule
Ralph Nader
The Long-Distance Rebound of Bernie Sanders
Ken Butigan
Remembering Daniel Berrigan, with Gratitude
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail