I agonized over what to call this post: super power pride, Bush's arrogance, who donates to the rich?, Bush's stubbornness, when is help bad?, take it when you can get it, or why the hell not? It's all inspired by the same question: why isn't the United States soliciting and receiving aid/donations from the international community to help along the Gulf Coast?
I read the following in the Taipei Times (which, based on my two weeks in Taiwan, is a mediocre paper at best):
Taiwan is always looking to make a good impression in the US. Fox News has noted that no country has offered to help after the hurricane we just had. Maybe offering help would be a good gesture on the part of Taiwan.
So, reading this, I had two thoughts:
1) "Well damn. The world is fully of ungrateful bastards. With all of the aid and international help the United States gives you'd think at least one country would pony up and lend us a hand. What's up with that? Is the U.S. that taken-for-granted or that hated?"
2) That's the first time I've ever read an astute comment from Fox News.
Then in the Herald International Tribune, which is decidedly not mediocre, I read:
Countries including France, Germany, Russia and even Venezuela have volunteered assistance, but Bush said: "I'm not expecting much from foreign nations because we haven't asked for it."
This prompted a stream of thoughts:
1) Fox News really is shit. They apparently ran a story claiming that no country has offered help without even checking the facts. All it would have taken was a few calls to the White House. It's really not surprising that they would broadcast the information without checking. The idea that no other country offered to help serves their political agenda. It gives the impression that the United States is an ignored, scorned nation alone in a world of ingrates that take our help when they can get it and turn their back on us when we need them. This image is especially useful when the United States is the lone objector to the Kyoto protocol or the international criminal court, for example. Because then Fox and other conservatives can say: "We'll what do you expect from those ungrateful bastards? They didn't help us in New Orleans and they certainly aren't going to support us now. They are selfish and unreasonable and we are not. So, of course we would disagree."
2) The Taipei Times is worse than I thought. I don't think I will subscribe.
3) Bush is truly arrogant and clueless. (And, this is were I was going with this diatribe the whole time.) Why the hell wouldn't you ask for help? In a disaster of this magnitude, what harm does it do if your worse enemy offers help as long as it's useful? Venezuela is even offering help. Venezuela, whose president Pat Robertson suggested the United States assassinate, is offering help! What the fuck is the logic of not soliciting/taking their help? Is Bush that arrogant that even when the country he presides over needs help, he won't ask for it or, even worse, won't take it? Who is so important, so powerful that they don't need help from even the poorest among us at times? And, if there ever was a time the United States needs help, this is it. People are dying by the thousands along the Gulf Coast. New Orleans is flooding and being rocked by explosions. 5 million people are without power. The Gulf is a toxic cesspool. Life in Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, and Alabama won't be the same for months, years, or never. Then, why wouldn't you ask for help? Really, why?
I believe it's because Bush and many Americans are too proud. They have an image of the United States as the sole superpower, incredibly rich, implacable, head and shoulders above the rest of the world. To ask and certainly to take aid from other countries would disrupt this precious image. Better to let poor Americans suffer and die in the South than hurt our precious national pride.
The truth is the United States is richer and is better in many ways. (It's also worse in others.) But, we are not that much better or that much richer. Help is help. Take it where you can get it, especially when you need it most, Bush, you dumb fuck.