A Wave of Questions

by MICKEY Z.

How does one comprehend the magnitude, impact, and context of a disaster that may claim more than 100,000 lives? But enough about the U.S. occupation of Iraq…

The recent earthquake/tsunami in Asia raises more questions than answers.

Here’s a start:

What’s the political context of the disaster?

Reports on the Asian tsunami typically ignore the crucial political back stories in volatile areas like Aceh and Sri Lanka…and how "aid" efforts will be exploited for geo-political gain. Without such context, the coverage is woefully incomplete and irresponsible. Today, Democracy Now did delve deeper into the situation in Aceh…the military repression, the role of Exxon-Mobil, and now the earthquake/tsunami. Do some research and see for yourself.

Is the U.S. stingy?

Even if we were to trust the estimates of $1 billion in aid eventually coming from the U.S., that number pales in comparison to the tens of billions being spent in Iraq to keep the world safe for petroleum. At this writing, the U.S. has spent an average of $9.5 million every hour on the war and occupation of Iraq. In a global sense, the U.S. spends $1 million dollars a minute on war…a percentage of which helps create Third World poverty and the inability to deal with natural disasters.

Why was there no warning?

There was warning. Here’s how the folks at Democracy Now describe what happened: "Within minutes of the tsunami forming on Sunday, U.S. officials at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii began tracking the waves. But the scientists claimed they had no one to contact in the Indian Ocean region about the possible danger. One exception was the British-owned island of Diego Garcia that houses a major US Naval base. The Independent of London reports that U.S. officials in Hawaii did warn Diego Garcia about the possible tsunami and the island suffered no major damage."

Could any of the affected countries done anything?

It might have helped if U.S. scientists in Hawaii hadn’t initially calculated the earthquake at a magnitude of 8.0 (ten times weaker than in actuality). "Based on it being an 8.0, we assumed the damage would be confined to Sumatra and would be a local tsunami event," said Charles McCreery, director of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, "one that strikes shore within minutes of the event." But even so, we must never forget that profits outweigh people. An official in Thailand’s meteorology department told the Guardian of London, "A proper warning was not given. If we had given the warning and then it hadn’t happened, then it would have been the death of tourism in those areas."

Will it happen again? Can it happen here?

As I sit here in New York, with a fault line running across 125th St., I need only remember that 200 million years ago the earth was one gigantic continent.

Where does this disaster rank for that area?

The continent of Asia is no stranger to natural events like this. A 1942 hurricane in Bengal, India killed 40,000. A 1970 cyclone Bangladesh claimed 300,000 lives. Going back to 1556, 830,000 died in an earthquake in Shaanxi, China. August 1931 saw China’s Huang He River flood and kill 3,700,000.

As for man-made disasters, Hurricane Lyndon helped kill 1,000,000 or so in Indonesia in 1965. Hurricanes Ike, Jack, Lyndon, and Dick wrecked havoc throughout Southeast Asia for decades…with millions upon millions dead. We
can’t forget Hurricanes Gerald and Jimmy…responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths in East Timor in the late 70s. The list goes on and on.

How can I help?

If you’re trying to figure out a way to help but do not want your dollars
sucked into a huge bureaucracy, you can help the Indonesian area of Aceh via the East Timor Action Network.

Another way to help (in a more abstract manner) is to see past the corporate media coverage of the tragedy and educate yourself on the deeper issues. The more we know about the world, the harder it is to fool us. Donate at the link given above. Donate…then educate, agitate, and demonstrate.

Here in the U.S., we can’t honestly say we haven’t been warned…

MICKEY Z. is the author of four books, most recently: "The Seven Deadly Spins: Exposing the Lies Behind War Propaganda" (Common Courage Press). He can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.

 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 04, 2015
Vincent J. Roscigno
University Bureaucracy as Organized Crime
Paul Street
Bernie Sanders’ Top Five Race Problems: the Whiteness of Nominal Socialism
Ramzy Baroud
The Palestinian Bubble and the Burning of Toddler, Ali Dawabsha
Herbert Dyer, Jr.
Is White Supremacy a Mental Disorder?
Pepe Escobar
Reshuffling Eurasia’s Energy Deck — Iran, China and Pipelineistan
L. Michael Hager
The Battle Over BDS
Eric Draitser
Puerto Rico: Troubled Commonwealth or Debt Colony?
Benjamin Willis
The New Cubanologos: What’s in a Word?
Matt Peppe
60 Minutes Provides Platform for US Military
Binoy Kampmark
The Turkish Mission: Reining in the Kurds
Eoin Higgins
Teaching Lessons of White Supremacy in Prime-Time: Blackrifice in the Post-Apocalyptic World of the CW’s The 100
Robert Dodge
The Nuclear World at 70
August 03, 2015
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Atomic Era Turns 70, as Nuclear Hazards Endure
Nelson Valdes
An Internet Legend: the Pope, Fidel and the Black President
Robert Hunziker
The Perfectly Nasty Ocean Storm
Jack Dresser
The Case of Alison Weir: Two Palestinian Solidarity Organizations Borrow from Joe McCarthy’s Playbook
Ahmad Moussa
Incinerating Palestinian Children
Greg Felton
Greece Succumbs to Imperialist Banksterism
Binoy Kampmark
Stalling the Trans-Pacific Partnership: the Failure of the Hawai’i Talks
Ted Rall
My Letter to Nick Goldberg of the LA Times
Mark Weisbrot
New Greek Bailout Increases the Possibility of Grexit
Jose Martinez
Black/Hispanic/Women: a Leadership Crisis
Victor Grossman
German Know-Nothings Today
Patrick Walker
We’re Not Sandernistas: Reinventing the Wheels of Bernie’s Bandwagon
Norman Pollack
Moral Consequences of War: America’s Hegemonic Thirst
Ralph Nader
Republicans Support Massive Tax Evasion by Starving IRS Budget
Alexander Reid Ross
Colonial Pride and the Killing of Cecil the Lion
Suhayb Ahmed
What’s Happening in Britain: Jeremy Corbyn and the Future of the Labour Party
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz
Robert Fantina
Israeli Missteps Take a Toll
Pete Dolack
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism