Two little letters, US, and some repercussions. Updated x 2
For a great roundup of tsunami news, there’s Arthur. Just take a look at his Tuesday tsunami update.
Awsome, that Mr. Chrenkoff.
Included in Arthur’s reads is this article, Earthquakes shake up governments,
The perception of the United States in the world has been changed for the better, with the rapid despatch [sic] of a US aircraft carrier to ferry help by helicopter to the survivors in Aceh.
This shift of view itself represents something of a turnaround from the initial judgment that US President George Bush – by stating that four countries, the US, Japan, India and Australia, would take the lead – was undermining the position of the United Nations.
Not that the UN hasn’t undermined itself, as one can read in The Diplomad‘s posts. Things are so bad that former Clinton administration officials even had to do an intervention, and that was even before the tsunami struck. As I have pointed out, people are getting ideas about the UN and how it should be dismantled.
People are getting ideas about the ineffectiveness of government confusion vs. private sector organisation. As Philip Chaston of Samizdata says,
It takes a disaster to bring home to many that their political elites, having sold their mess of pottage to Brussels, no longer subscribe to the notion that they are servants rather than masters.
The Swedes are noticing. The Diplomad, in the above link, states, “the Dutch Get It”:
The impression it makes on the people is also highly positive; finally something happens in the city of Banda Aceh and finally it seems some people are in control and are doing something. No talking but action. European countries are until now invisible on the ground. IOM staff (note: this is a USAID-funded organization) is very busy briefing the incoming Americans and Australians about the situation.
The US, Australia, Singapore and the Indonesian military have started a ‘Coalition Co-ordination Centre’ in Medan to organize all the incoming and outgoing military flights with aid. A sub-centre is established in Banda Aceh.”
The contrast was visible in last evening’s France2 news, which showed a group of French firefighters cooling their heels at an airport in Indonesia since they “couldn’t get anywhere because the roads were blocked”, while another group of firefighters, from Australia, were actively helping at a disaster location a. with medical aid, b. with clearing roads and c. with burying the dead. In times like this, the effective action is the one done right away, as the locals can tell you.
While still pondering repercussions, a country’s policy of disarmament has repercussions beyond that of war. As Richard from EU Referendum points us,
This is an example of real power, and the value one of the richest nations on earth can bring to humanitarian relief. The ships alone cost $1371 million and the helicopters cost at least another $200 million, financial muscle which dwarfs the efforts of all the other donor countries
Rear Admiral Ames summed up the value of the group, saying “We have capabilities across the strike group that is quite unique and particularly well suited for this type of humanitarian assistance disaster relief operation.”
Richard has the last word,
Thus, as the days and weeks pass, and the alphabet soup of agencies continue blathering about how much they have contributed, it will be important to remember the role played by those two little letters – US – and the utter uselessness of those other two – EU – or any other two you can think of.
Update Vikingpundit says that Tim Blair noticed that dogs and elephants are doing more good than the United Nations. Not that that’s news by now.
Update 2 Wretchard‘s got a point-by-point comparison of UN work and the Red Cross, among others. He also points out that Kofi’s already at work on The Memory Hole.