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January 02, 2005

Tsunamai Relief

The United States acted swiftly after the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Dec. 26 off the coast of Indonesia causing tsunami waves that have affected 12 countries. In addition to pledging $350 million which is the entire U.S. foreign disaster assistance budget, U.S. Senator Richard Lugar, head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said yesterday Congress will work to pass emergency legislation to go "well beyond" that figure, possibly to billions of dollars. In addition, thousands of troops have been sent to the region. Lt. Smash notes "the irony that the USS Bonhomme Richard, the same ship which Navy deserter Pablo Paredes refused to board, has been directed to the area to provide humanitarian aid. ".

And, President Bush issued this statement:

The disaster around the Indian Ocean continues to grow both in size and scope. I have been monitoring closely the developments and our recovery and relief effort underway. I also look forward to the detailed report of the official delegation led by Secretary Powell and Governor Jeb Bush that will travel to the region very soon.

The United States has already provided an initial, substantial effort through existing emergency response resources, the formation of the core group, and military assets. To help coordinate the massive relief effort, disaster response officials are on the ground, and we have established a Support Center in Thailand that is manned and operational. More than 20 patrol and cargo aircraft have been made available to assess the disaster and deliver relief supplies. Many of those aircraft are on the scene. We have dispatched the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, the Maritime Pre-positioning Squadron from Guam, and an amphibious ship carrying a Marine Expeditionary Unit. They will soon be in position to support relief efforts to include the generation of clean water. We are leading an international coalition to help with immediate humanitarian relief, rehabilitation, and long-term reconstruction efforts. India, Japan, and Australia have pledged to help us coordinate these relief efforts, and I am confident many more nations will join this core group in short order. Reports of strong charitable donations are also very encouraging and reflect the true generosity and compassion of the American people.

Initial findings of American assessment teams on the ground indicate that the need for financial and other assistance will steadily increase in the days and weeks ahead. Because of this information and based on the recommendation of Secretary Powell and Administrator Natsios, I am today committing $350 million to fund the U.S. portion of the relief effort. Our contributions will continue to be revised as the full effects of this terrible tragedy become clearer.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this epic disaster.

Predictably, there were some who reacted with outrage, sputtering that only they had the moral authority to manage this crisis. Former British International Development Secretary Clare Short had this to say:

“I think this initiative from America to set up four countries claiming to coordinate sounds like yet another attempt to undermine the UN when it is the best system we have got and the one that needs building up,” she said.

“Only really the UN can do that job,” she told BBC Radio Four’s PM programme.

“It is the only body that has the moral authority. But it can only do it well if it is backed up by the authority of the great powers.”

Ms Short said the coalition countries did not have good records on responding to international disasters.

She said the US was “very bad at coordinating with anyone” and India had its own problems to deal with.

“I don’t know what that is about but it sounds very much, I am afraid, like the US trying to have a separate operation and not work with the rest of the world through the UN system,” she added.

Well, duh. The "UN system" is one of graft, corruption, and utter inefficiency. Although it has recently been included after a conversation between Colin Powell and Kofi Annan, this is a clear signal and challenge from the United States to the United Nations. About time.

Ed from Captain's Quarters correctly points out that "it's the Clueless Clares of the world who sacrifice the downtrodden of the world to the brutal and incompetent clutches of the UN for the greater purpose of having a single world government. The idea that Short can make this kind of assertion with a straight face shows the depth of corruption on the radical Left. I say bravo to George Bush for bypassing the grifters and rapists of the UN."

Here are a few images of how American troops are helping:

U.S.A.F. photo by Tech. Sgt. Richard Freeland
Airman Autumn McHam of the 733rd Air Mobility Squadron, Kadena Air Base, Japan, helps cover an aircraft pallet of MREs to be sent to Southeast Asia as part of the disaster relief effort.
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Justin Sturn, 733rd Air Mobility Squadron loads cases of MREs.

U.S.A.F. photo by Tech. Sgt. Richard Freeland

U.S.M.C. photo by Cpl. Jonathan K. Teslevich
U.S. Marines load a pallets of prepackaged dehydrated meals onto a C-130 Hercules aircraft on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Japan, Dec. 30, 2004. The Marines are loadmasters assigned to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152. The meals, along with support supplies, are being sent to Utapao, Thailand, the hub of U.S. Pacific Command's humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.
Aerial view of a devastated Sumatran landscape from a Navy SH-60F helicopter, Jan. 1, 2005. The sailors are assigned to the U.S. Navy’s Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 2, taking part in during humanitarian relief operations on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia.

U.S.N. photo by Seaman Patrick M. Bonafede

U.S.A.F. photo by Staff Sgt. Cohen A. Young
.S. Air Force crewmen, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, 374th Airlift Wing at Yokota Air Base, Japan, unload water from their C-130 airplane after landing at Phuket Airport in Thailand, Dec. 31, 2004.

A Marine father reports that care packages for Marines headed to the tsumai relief effort should include disposable surgical masks and oil of peppermint. Masks can be purchased at larger drug stores, and oil of peppermint can be found in the spice aisle at the grocerery store. Vick's VapoRub will help too - rub a bit under the nose. They'll be issued gloves and protective gear but the masks and aromatic oil willl help mask the smell of death.

And if you're still wondering how you can personally help, Cassandra from Villainous Company suggests:

In a way, it's like Chaos theory - a butterfly's wings beating on this side of the world can start a mighty wind half a world away: your small $10 donation may save a human life.

Or you could go buy a six-pack of beer at 7-11.

$10 isn't much but the final effect of cumulative $10 donations adds up. Amazon contributions so far have totalled over $12 million with an average contribution of approximately $80. All contributions reach the American Red Cross.

Scott Ott at Scrappleface also has a list of Christian relief organizations who will put your contributions to good use. And, Hugh Hewitt recommends World Vision. If the page is slow to load, you can make a phone donation at 1-800-777-5777 or 1-888-562-4453.

Finally, click here for a comprehensive list of international aid organizations.

$10. If each of us donates just that much, the final magnitude of the effort would save many lives.

Posted by Deb at January 2, 2005 11:08 AM

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