Where Is All the Foreign Aid for Us?

Far too many people have been asking -- here in The Debate, on other blogs, on cable news shows and in casual conversation -- why the rest of the world doesn't shower us with aid, "after all we've done for them."

Answer?

They do.

International organizations including the United Nations, Organization of American States and NATO, as well as dozens of nations around the world, have offered assistance. Individuals from beyond our borders are also contributing. According to Montreal's La Presse (which I was reading over breakfast this morning -- greetings from Canada, by the way), Celine Dion is contributing a million dollars of her own to the American Red Cross. Some of the tsunami-ravaged nations, having expressed their condolences, are now trying to come up with ways they could help in the effort. Even Sri Lanka has donated $25,000 to the Red Cross -- and this is a country with little if anything to spare.

German aid is coming in the form of vaccinations, airlifts and other services. France has offered tents, beds, mobile water purifying plants, generators, disaster relief and aid workers, ships and planes. Qatar has made the largest monetary offer so far: $100 million. Israel has said its search and rescue teams are ready to help. Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Iceland, Spain, Colombia, the Philippines, Russia, Jordan, Armenia -- and the list goes on -- have all offered support.

And that's just a small portion of it. Offers are also on the table from Iran, Venezuela and Cuba, although it seems unlikely the administration will accept those offers, in spite of Condoleeza Rice's decision (relayed by State Department spokesman Sean McCormack) that "no offer that can help alleviate the suffering of the people in the afflicted area will be refused."

Next time you hear someone propagating this false notion that the rest of the world doesn't care about America, read them this (not exhaustive) list:

Portugal, Russia, Japan, Canada, France, Honduras, Germany, Venezuela, Jamaica, Australia, UK/Northern Ireland, Netherlands, Switzerland, Greece, Hungary, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico, China, South Korea, Israel, United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Peru, Qatar, Cuba, Bahamas, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ecuador, Iceland, India, Jordan, Luxembourg, The Philippines, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, Italy, Thailand and Turkey.

By Emily Messner |  September 4, 2005; 10:58 AM ET  | Category:  Facts
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Comments

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Exactly. And the US government _refused_ the help when initially offered. I think your friends are possibly not quite where people think they are. Thanks.

Posted by: Kim | September 4, 2005 10:19 PM

Not only did the US government initially refuse help from the rest of the world, they also refused to allow international consular staff in to locate and rescue foreign nationals -- I think they claimed it was too dangerous. Many tourists were rescued by news media (who had no problems). Likewise the Red Cross wasn't allowed in. Tragedy is not the time to play international machismo games.
The stench from Katrina reminds me of Mark Twain's comment on leadership -- fish stink from the head.

Posted by: Joanna | September 4, 2005 11:00 PM

Right on, Joanna! Hopefully this whole debacle will make life even more difficult for the governments on both sides of the Pacific. Idiots, the lot of them.

Posted by: Kim | September 4, 2005 11:54 PM

Can't believe that people are wanting aid from overseas. I know aid is being offered and given from many countries. This is in the spirit of shared concern for suffering, our common humanity and as a reaction to the horror of the situation. But really - the US is the world's largest economy. Accepting aid from the countries affected by the tsuanmi and Afghanistan and other poverty stricken places is rather like Bill Gates accepting aid from the poor when his house burns down.

Posted by: | September 5, 2005 03:21 AM

Um, you do realise that the US has the largest debt in the world, don't you?
And don't ever annoy China too much - if they pull out the money they have invested in the US, your economy will be down the toilet quicker than you can say "But we're the greatest..."

Posted by: Kim | September 5, 2005 04:16 AM

Posted by: Kim | September 5, 2005 04:28 AM

Or: http://www.toptips.com/debtclock.html

Just google "US debt"

Kim...

Posted by: Kim | September 5, 2005 04:30 AM

This is old, but at least is gives comparisons of many countries.

http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/rankorder/2079rank.html

Kim...

Posted by: Kim | September 5, 2005 04:32 AM

I'd love to know who the "World" owes all that money too! ;)

Kim...

Posted by: Kim | September 5, 2005 04:32 AM

And I guess you can see the aid coming from smaller, poorer countries as several things - as goodness, coming straight from the heart of people who care, as a thank you for past aid coming from the US, or as political grovelling in order to rack up some brownie points in case the US help is needed in the future.

Take your pick, guaranteed it's a mixture of all 3.

Kim...

Posted by: Kim | September 5, 2005 05:02 AM

I think you're partly right Kim. It's pity for those who need help,a shared sense of humanity.There's no sense of payback in international disaster relief. The world doesn't work that way.People give because there is a need and we are all members of the human race. This is why people helped after the tsunami in Asia and why they help for famine relief in Africa.
But here, with this great disaster, aid for the suffering is partly motivated by what can only be described as a feeling of distaste -- that the government of the richest and most powerful country in the history of the world should be so careless of the welfare of its poorest citizens.

Posted by: Joanna | September 5, 2005 08:43 AM

"Not only did the US government initially refuse help from the rest of the world, they also refused to allow international consular staff in to locate and rescue foreign nationals -- I think they claimed it was too dangerous. Many tourists were rescued by news media (who had no problems). Likewise the Red Cross wasn't allowed in. Tragedy is not the time to play international machismo games."

If you're going to sling mud about something you have no first-hand knowledge of, then please cite sources. If it is first-hand knowledge, then say so. If it is rumor or something you saw somebody else write, then don't bother.
The stench from Katrina reminds me of Mark Twain's comment on leadership -- fish stink from the head.

Posted by: Willy | September 5, 2005 12:41 PM

FYI KIM - most of the national debt is owed internally, not to foreign powers.

Posted by: TC | September 5, 2005 03:46 PM

Now that the US is not refusing foreign aid, it surely is not approving of all of it being shipped there either. I've heard of similar news from Germany but I could now find only this bit of news about a Swedish aid shipment: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20050904/sc_afp/usweatheraidsweden_050904103725

I checked one Swedish tabloid and they claimed that the shipment has been indefinitely postponed because it would be too embarassing for the shipment to arrive at the US but not get delivered to the Gulf Coast area where it is needed - embarassing for the government, that is. (They are - hopefully - exaggerating, but it does seem strange the help is not getting through.) Hopefully it will be noted by all Americans that if the shipments do not get over there, it is not only the foreign nations that are to blame.

I hope the death toll will not rise and that the Gulf Coast area and the whole of the US recovers quickly from this horrible disaster.

From Finland,
turo

Posted by: turo | September 5, 2005 08:58 PM

Willy FYI
http://www.guardian.co.uk/katrina/story/0,16441,1563011,00.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/katrina/story/0,16441,1562524,00.html
http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2005/s1453682.htm
http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/rude-uncaring-bureaucrats-left-us-in-the-lurch-complain-families/2005/09/05/1125772465347.html
And there's more. All around the world, news services are carrying stories of their citizens refused help, and their consulates refused permission to help them. On the other hand the citizens of NO were also abandoned. A strange sort of democracy.

Posted by: | September 5, 2005 09:20 PM

Do you want to find out what the rest of the world thinks of the US? Try reading Margo Kingston's Web diary, Australia's most influential blog.
http://margokingston.typepad.com/harry_version_2/2005/09/is_new_orleans_.html
This is on the comparison with Cyclone Tracy that destroyed Darwin in Christmas 1974 (for the geographically challenged, Darwin is Australia's most isolated city, about 2000 k from the rest of the country):

As a survivor of Cyclone Tracy I couldn't help but compare the botched evacuation of New Orleans to that of Darwin. The evacuation of Darwin happened over the Christmas period it was a credit to the Australian armed forces, emergency services and the Whitlam government, their rapid response and expertise saved many lives.

At 10.20 PM on the 25 of December 1974 {only 14 hours after the devastating winds of Tracy had stopped.} Major General Stretton arrived to take command. In the first two days 10,000 people had been evacuated in the following days a further 25,000 were evacuated. It was an orderly evacuation; the sick injured and elderly first, followed by the women and children. The airport was cleared of debris and made operational. One of the first planes to arrive carried 184 police to help the overwhelmed local police. Medical teams arrived, clean up teams arrived. On the 26 December 48 hours after the cyclone seven naval ships left Sydney, loaded with supplies and sailors recalled from leave.

On the ground in Darwin stores opened their doors, food and drink was given to anyone who needed... no need to loot it was given away! People were the first priority not property.

The survivors pulled together, pooled resources and helped to protect the weak. See here

The questions that need to be asked are.

1. Why did initial evacuation of New Orleans not include the sick and elderly, why were buses, trains and aircraft not put on free of charge for the poor?

2. Why didn't women and children have priority when the evacuation finally began?

3. Why was there no leadership?

4. Why did the food and drink that was left undamaged in stores, not be distributed to the survivors free of charge?

5. Why wasn't the nearest safe airport, even a highway cleared, so military aircraft could begin an airlift?

With the resources of the US armed forces at its disposal and with proper leadership the horrendous sights the world has witnessed this week in New Orleans should never have occurred. Who knows how many lives may have been saved. The buck stops with Bush.

Maybe at last we will see the down side of economic rationalism the market cannot protect us from disasters only a strong community can do that. We as a society should always protect the weak and disadvantaged. If we fail to do this we are all at risk.

Posted by: John Pratt | 05/09/2005 10:28:49 AM

Posted by: Joanna | September 6, 2005 01:13 AM

The buck stops with the US society. Blaming a single, maybe no so intelligent, commander in chief is to ask for a soon repetition of disaster.

The least denominator for US culture includes contempt for the democratically elected government and for all kinds of collective solidarity. In fact, compared to virtually all other societies, the United States are remarkable for the low feeling of identity between its citizens. This has advantages, particularly according to US views, but it also has disadvantages as has been clearly demonstrated, "shit happens", both at the Persian and the American Gulfs.

Forgotten is the idea that government has responsibilities over for the ruled to ensure rule of law, physical security and economical security - in other words that the government has to be for the good of people. When the whole societal climate resonates that "government is bad", we can't expect the governmental officers to do good for anyone except their own welldoers.

There is nothing wrong with a frontier mentality - except when applied beyond the frontier.

Posted by: Magnus | September 6, 2005 04:14 AM

3 more years!enjoy!

Posted by: ernieb | September 6, 2005 12:56 PM

Did you know that Walmart sent a truckload of water down to the NO refugees, but the truck was TURNED BACK because no one knew what to do with it?

Here's an idea: how about taking the water out of the truck and handing it round?

Sheesh - how SLOW are too many of your citizens?

The government can only do so much - do people have NO self-reliance, clues or the ability to think on their feet over there?

Kim...

Posted by: Kim | September 6, 2005 08:40 PM

That the blogging community and media are starting to pick up that foreign offers of aid *were* immediate (and generous).

It's heart-wrenching to imagine that the official lines didn't work while so many of us around the world were desperatly wanting to help.

If some twisted sense of pride interefered with fast acceptance foreign aid, then it is something that needs to be addressed as well. It is inexcusable that within a day or two, rescue teams, prepared food, and water were sitting in a plane on a tarmac only a few hours' flight away, while people were suffering.

I'm also stunned that the media and police (to combat looters) seemed to get into the area with so much ease, yet the help couldn't.

Posted by: Good to See | September 7, 2005 04:58 PM

Precisely. I am hoping that the aid given so freely by so many countries will encourage the affected people, and maybe even other Americans, to acknowledge the rest of the world and maybe even explore it and learn about it. then they might have a better idea of their place in the world.

Kim...

Posted by: Kim | September 7, 2005 08:35 PM

"Should the richest country in the world accept help from other not-so-rich countries?" In my opinion, this is absolutely an absurd question. Whenever and wherever people are in need it is the most humane thing to extend a helping hand. Right now there are thousands of people in southern United States who need help because they have been rendered homeless by a huge natural disaster beyond all proportions, but also let down by the criminal neglect of their elected representatives who care but little for the long-term safety and security of their people, especially the poor. I contend that it is absolutely right to accept help whichever source it comes from.

One of the earlier postings in this Blog had this sarcastic statement: "Accepting aid from the countries affected by the tsunami and Afghanistan and other poverty stricken places is rather like Bill Gates accepting aid from the poor when his house burns down".

I have a question: What is so very wrong for Bill Gates to accept aid from a poor person if the survival of the former depended on it?

By the way, it is no secret at all that the poor of the world supported the rich all through history Leave alone ancient history, take a look at the colonial period. Did not the colonial powers - England, Spain, France, Portugal, to name just some of the major players - grow rich by exploiting their colonies where the "natives" slaved and toiled for survival?

In our own days, don't you see that the delicious cup of coffee you sip in the morning is brewed with the sweat of the plantation laborer in Brazil? Is it not the poor Mexican immigrant woman who cleans the room for the rich in Hilton and Hyatt?

To refuse help when it is sorely needed for people in need is unconscionable. Governments are there to offer protection, safety and support to their citizens and others whose labor keeps the economy going. There are moments when we must swallow our pride, take a deep breath and say "Thank you" to any person who extends a helping hand. And one such moment is precisely the aftermath of the Katrina disaster.

Posted by: Paul | September 7, 2005 08:47 PM

Exactly. The mouse can be helpful when the lion has a needle in his paw.

Kim...

Posted by: Kim | September 7, 2005 09:33 PM

I hope American citizens and the U.S. government uses this horrific natural disaster as a wake-up call. It is evident that the number of people at the poverty level is shameful in a country so rich economically and agriculturally. Why have we let this happen? The scenes we've seen to date, and the scenes we will witness once the dead bodies are dredged in New Orleans, is a clear signal that we have forsaken our fellow citizens long before Hurricane Katrina hit.

Posted by: Pat P. | September 8, 2005 07:47 PM

I hope American citizens and the U.S. government uses this horrific natural disaster as a wake-up call. It is evident that the number of people at the poverty level is shameful in a country so rich economically and agriculturally. Why have we let this happen? The scenes we've seen to date, and the scenes we will witness once the dead bodies are dredged in New Orleans, is a clear signal that we have forsaken our fellow citizens long before Hurricane Katrina hit.

Posted by: Pat P. | September 8, 2005 07:48 PM

It is not proper for someone to raise that question! The spirit of giving is to help and not to invest expecting some day it will be returned.

However, we must all recognize that there is hope in this world .. that goodness prevails and should be encouraged!

Posted by: Aida | September 9, 2005 05:09 PM

Aida, the "spirit of giving" is held over countries like mine ALL THE TIME.

Australia has to follow the US in every stupid war because of WWII.

For how long is this to be held over our heads? And there are other countries in the same situation.

I have recently started to wonder why the US came to our aid in WWII. As ungrateful and ungracious as it sounds, I wonder why they came - to save us or to protect a white country in a strategic (Asian) position?

Kim...

Posted by: Kim | September 11, 2005 09:06 PM

The comments on this thread reveal a staggering level of ignorance.

But that is to be expected from people whose main sources of information are leftist propaganda organs like The Washington Post, The Guardian and The Sydney Morning Herald.

Thank Zarquon for the blogosphere.

Posted by: EvilPundit | September 24, 2005 01:37 AM

sooooo bad for the (supposed) american dream / arrogance

but the important thing was to help the victims.

Posted by: blah blah blah | October 3, 2005 02:55 PM

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