December 30, 2004

First Stingy, Now Unilateral

First we’re accused of being stingy in the wake of the tsunami. Now Clare Short is laughably accusing us of trying to help unilaterally.

United States President George Bush was tonight accused of trying to undermine the United Nations by setting up a rival coalition to coordinate relief following the Asian tsunami disaster.

The president has announced that the US, Japan, India and Australia would coordinate the world’s response.

Why single out Bush for this? Australia, India, and Japan are in on this neoconservative plot, too.
But former International Development Secretary Clare Short said that role should be left to the UN.

“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.
What a bizarre assertion. If the UN didn’t exist, what on earth would we do? Would south Asia drown in wreckage and mud while we tried to create a UN from scratch before we could send in some aid?
“It is the only body that has the moral authority.”
The US, Japan, India, and Australia don’t have the moral authority for crisis relief? Who bestows this moral authority? Clare Short? Who gave her the authority to do that?
”But it can only do it well if it is backed up by the authority of the great powers.”
Well, it isn’t backed up by the authority of the great powers. There’s a reason for that, Clare. Can you say Bosnia? Rwanda? Oil for food? What about the totalitarian and genocidal regimes like Libya and Sudan on the U.N.’s farcical “Human Rights Commission?”

The UN has no moral authority. None. Zero. Nada. Zip. Zilch. But the UN still manages to pull off some decent crisis relief once in a while. If even the UN can do that, surely the US, Japan, India, and Australia can do something, too.

“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.
Over a hundred thousand people are dead. This is not the time to seethe and whine about process. Process means absolutely nothing to people who need help and need it right now. Speed and results, Clare. Speed and results. Roll up your sleeves and stick a sock in it.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at December 30, 2004 12:06 PM

Comments

You're so cute when you're neo-connish.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at December 30, 2004 12:14 PM

To me, Amazon.com has a lot more moral authority than Clare Short or the U.N. While Jan Egeland has been sharpening his rhetorical swords, and Clare has been devining what institutions have sufficient moral authority to organize relief, and the NYT has been whining on its editorial page under the headline "Are We Stingy? Yes,"
Amazon and the blogosphere have raised over $5million in relief aid for the American Red Cross. Color me unimpressed by Clare Short's high moral purpose; she sounds more like an obnoxious and bitter, as well as fundamentally stupid, person who is deeply impressed with her own morality and superiority. I'm glad Tony Blair gave her the heave-ho.

Posted by: Daniel Calto at December 30, 2004 12:20 PM

One can almost sense the frustration on the Left and amongst the international America-haters. Try as they might, they haven't been able to find a way to blame the tsunamis on America or George Bush.

The best they can do is thrash about and find fault with the way America and Bush handle the crisis.

Posted by: Leathan Lund at December 30, 2004 12:20 PM

Michael, I don't see why you're listing Rwanda among the failures of the UN when implying that the US would be more competent dealing with crisis. Rwanda was an even bigger failure on the part of the US than the UN. At least the UN had a military mission in Rwanda that was attempting to stop the slaughter. The US steadfastly refused to provide any aid whatsover, and when they finally did so, it was focussed on helping the ones who had been committing the slaughter. I don't understand how that illustrates better competence.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 30, 2004 12:22 PM

The best they [the Left] can do is thrash about and find fault with the way America and Bush handle the crisis.

Um, no, the UN official criticized ALL western wealthy countries, and certainly didn't single out the US. The fact that most of the outrage that I'm seeing seems to think that the US was singled out speaks volumes. And internal criticsism of government response to things like this are certainly valid. If my government wasn't parcelling out aid in the way I would like, I'd certainly be critical as well.

Having said that, I'm grateful for all the generous citizens that have privately donated to the rescue and relief efforts. Truly a magnificent response, and let's hope it does good.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 30, 2004 12:28 PM

“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.

May because the UN officials would skim-off money for their own pockets?

UNICEF, and the US Assoc for the UNHCR both have rotten ratings for the "efficienct use of funds"....most goes to pay overhead and further fundraisings.

Posted by: Ted B. at December 30, 2004 12:28 PM

DPU,

Rwanda was everyone's failure.

I wasn't trying to brag about the US response. No one responded. No one at all. It's a stain on all of us.

Hotel Rwanda opens in the US next week. Maybe I'll write a TCS column about it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 30, 2004 12:29 PM

No one responded. No one at all. It's a stain on all of us.

Not true, there were quite a few nations who were concerned and were contributing troops and materials. But yes, a failure on the world's part. So I wouldn't list it as a UN failure when it was UN member nations that failed, while the UN itself was trying to do something.

Just a quick aside. General Dallaire, head of the UN military force in Rwanda, stated that one of the most helpful individuals that he encountered in his tour was a nameless US Army supply NCO in based in the States. Despite repeated refusals of US aid, he talked to the NCO, described the horror of what was going on, and the NCO told him to make a list of what he needed, and he would do his best to supply it under the table. The UN troops had their materials in a few days, and Dallaire, in his book, says that this guy did more to help than legions of officals in half a dozen countries.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 30, 2004 12:39 PM

“It is the only body that has the moral authority.”
The US, Japan, India, and Australia don’t have the moral authority for crisis relief? Who bestows this moral authority? Clare Short? Who gave her the authority to do that?

Michael - Why would you even comment on this? How is one's moral authority of any relevance to providing relief to victims of a disaster? I would imagine that the citizens of Indonesia and other affected areas will not be accepting food, water, and shelter based on the 'moral authority' of its provider. This seems to me to clarify the UN's and, more broady, the left's continued dedication to process over product .

Posted by: J.B. at December 30, 2004 12:40 PM

While I think that dear Clare was handicapped by her blinding bias, there is 'a' point to be gleaned from this.

In a time of crisis, it is 'usually' better to have one organized force, rather than multiple forces splitting resources. A single organized force can usually better minimize the overall beuraucracy and provide a more easily understood solution.

If the UN and a US Coalition both try to lead disaster recovery effort, both the UN and the Coalition will waste lots of money and time that could be better spent on the needs of the victims. Not to mention the potential confusion for the victims in trying to figure out which group to go to for which problem.

"The Americans have water, the UN has food, but you have to stand in line to register at both places first. It's only a 6 hour wait in each registration line...."

It's not an issue of moral authority, unilaterlaism or the evil Bush Plan, as far as I'm concerned... I couldn't give much, but I'd rather see what little I did give not be wasted on paperwork.

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 30, 2004 12:56 PM

In a time of crisis, it is 'usually' better to have one organized force, rather than multiple forces splitting resources.

Kind of like when you need an ambulance, but the police force, on getting your call, announce that they're setting up their own ambulance service that's just as good.

Just out of curiosity, if this is such a great idea, why wait for the world's greatest natural disaster to begin setting it up?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 30, 2004 01:01 PM

dpu,

"if this is such a great idea, why wait for the world's greatest natural disaster to begin setting it up?"

Good question. I had always thought we'd support the UN in disaster relief. They may seem to have corruption problems when it comes to politics and obviously the US and UN don't see eye to eye on war. But, I've always thought that natural disasters were where the UN made a positive impact.

Perhaps, though, since our government no longer trusts them in War, they'll not trust them in disaster.

Only time will tell.

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 30, 2004 01:06 PM

At least the UN had a military mission in Rwanda that was attempting to stop the slaughter.

Yes, yes, the French did keep the french speaking Hutu safe. Unfortunately, it was the Tutu who were being slaughtered. But, as Mitterand was reported to say:

"In such countries as this, genocide is not too important."

Course, we should be suspicious of that quote. Anyway, Clinton apologized, so there is really nothing more to be said on the matter.

Re: Clare Short

I saw this coming the moment the India, Japan, Australia, US combo was announced. I do think we are trying to replace the UN by more effective bilateral and multilateral groupings. I do think it is a good thing. I do think one worlders will notice and bitch. I know I don't give a d*mn. Let's hear it for a realistic foreign policy.

Posted by: chuck at December 30, 2004 01:42 PM

"Um, no, the UN official criticized ALL western wealthy countries, and certainly didn't single out the US."

Umm, the article being responded to specifically targets the US (thus the constant use of the term "US" and "America" vs "Western World") and Bush (thus the use of the name "Bush" quite a few times). Don't know about you but if someone says "The US sucks and it's Bush's fault" I tend to assume they mean the US and Bush. Though the "stingy" comment was a general one. Seems many people are making assumption that speak volumes.

"if this is such a great idea, why wait for the world's greatest natural disaster to begin setting it up?"

You may want to watch what you say, there are many many people who would love to see this (myself included, and I bet Bush also).

Posted by: strcpy at December 30, 2004 01:43 PM

"Kind of like when you need an ambulance, but the police force, on getting your call, announce that they're setting up their own ambulance service that's just as good."

When the people running the existing ambulance service have demonstrated the propensity to go through victims' wallets and dump them in a ditch halfway to the hospital--then pimp out their orphaned children--a separate service might be in order.

Posted by: Ken Hall at December 30, 2004 01:45 PM

The UN has no moral authority. None. Zero. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

Michael, God bless you.

If this is the beginning of the end for the U.N., I won't shed any tears. Maybe that's what Claire is REALLY worried about.

The U.N. still hasn't accounted for about 20 billion dollars lost during the oil for food days. When they do, they'll get some of that "moral authority" back, maybe.

Posted by: David at December 30, 2004 01:46 PM

In a time of crisis, it is 'usually' better to have one organized force, rather than multiple forces splitting resources.

Agree completely. So let's keep the UN out, it ain't organized.

Posted by: chuck at December 30, 2004 01:48 PM

Mr. Totten: You miss the point dear sir. What makes the world go round? Bling, bling $$$ dollar, dollar, the UN wants its cut of the loot.

Do you expect Kofi to drive a Kia? The diplomats from North Korea need to buy their porn DVDs and Playstation 2s. You stingy neocons will not rob us of what is morally ours!

Posted by: Internationalist, Inc. at December 30, 2004 01:52 PM

Those who care more about power than helping will be frantic to discredit the U.S. for taking the lead on this emergency relief effort. Since the U.N. has shown itself to be corrupt and useless in the areas of peace keeping, all they have left is disaster relief, and here the U.S. is going around them. The U.N. may not survive this neglect, on top of all the other ways it is being discredited in the age of Koffi.

Posted by: thedragonflies at December 30, 2004 02:18 PM

Better yet, United State isn't taxed enough to fund the unelected NGO's need.

Posted by: BigFire at December 30, 2004 02:23 PM

Michael

I think the US govt was accused of being stingy, and it most certainly would have been had they had stuck to their original pledge.

I think it's a cultural thing that Americans feel personally attacked when someone criticises their govt. You use the word "we". But it's not quite the same in the UK, for example.

But the reality is its perfectly possible for people to recognise the personal generosity of individual Americans and still criticise governmental decisions.

Governments need criticism and scrutiny both nationally and internationally. And yes people outside the US have perfect right to criticise the US govt, especally when US govt actions or inactions have significant international repercussions.

Posted by: Benjamin at December 30, 2004 02:58 PM

The UN has no moral authority. None. Zero. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

Yes, damn those evil doctors working for the WHO fighting malaria in India. Damn my cousin who risked his life serving as a peacekeeper in Angola.

Geez Michael, you were eager to jump on the side of the UN in Haiti when you had a chance to bash John Kerry (incorrectly as it turned out.

Posted by: Randy Paul at December 30, 2004 02:59 PM

"...it is the best system we have got and the one that needs building up,” she said.

There, in a nutshell, is liberalism's basic weakness.

Posted by: Asher Abrams - Dreams Into Lightning at December 30, 2004 03:04 PM

Michael

You say that the UN does not have any moral authority. What you mean is that it does not have any to YOU as an American, and YOUR perspective on life. That's fair enough, but it does not make your statement true.

To millions across the world it does have moral authority. This is because it actually does do good work, often quietly, with little publicity, and these actions saves lives and help build communities.

That certainly does not make it perfect, and it is far from perfect, but does give it moral authority for some, whether you like it or not.

As a neo-con your anti-UN stance is predictable. But as with much of neo-con thinking there is too much fantasy and grandstanding, and rather too little realism.

Posted by: Benjamin at December 30, 2004 03:11 PM

Randy,

I have never once criticized WHO, and I certainly haven't criticized your cousin or what he does for a living. Nor did I say WHO or the UN in general should not be involved in the relief effort. I didn't even say the UN shouldn't organize it. If the UN were organizing it I would not have said we should do it instead.

Rather, I argued with the hysterical notion that only the UN can organize the effort because only the UN has the moral authority to do so. That's a ridiculous claim and I doubt you can defend it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 30, 2004 03:16 PM

Michael

Anyway.... Give it a year or so, and we will know for sure the extent of US govt aid effort compared to other countries in realtion to the GNP etc. Might be an interesting time to return to the debate then.

Posted by: Benjamin at December 30, 2004 03:17 PM

The UN having moral authority? LOL. Maybe when they begin living up to their own charter, stop having rampant corruption, from parking tickets to UNICEF to Oil For Food THEN they can claim some minimal level of morality. Just because some belive it has some doesn't make it so. The UN is a joke.

As for moral authority in matters of charity, only a moron like Short could analyze this in that manner. Want to know who has some morality in this matter? Whomever steps up, in whatever manner they choose to do so.

The UN morons should be applauding efforts other than their own. Other morons should be applauding the UN's efforts. The people on the ground don't give a rats ass where the clean water, food and shelter comes from.

Posted by: spc67 at December 30, 2004 03:20 PM

Michael

Rather, I argued with the hysterical notion that only the UN can organize the effort because only the UN has the moral authority to do so

Actually you said that the UN had no moral authority. "None. Zero. Nada. Zip. Zilch."
Then contradict yourself by noting, rather relunctantly, that "the UN still manages to pull off some decent crisis relief once in a while."

But that gives it, in part, its moral authority, Michael.

Feel free to change your post if you are having second thoughts.

Posted by: Benjamin at December 30, 2004 03:22 PM

Michael pretty much has it right.

No organization or individual has exclusive moral authority to help others in distress. Anyone who asserts such nonsense has a political axe to grind.

I think a point worth making is that the scope of the disaster is such that all venues for charity and humanitarian assistance will be welcome. This is not a time for monday-morning quarterbacking or quibbling about the cost-benefits of a centralized
UN based relief effort versus a decentralized set of organizations pitching in. Save it for post-mortems two years from now.

Attempts to make political points out of a disaster such as this are at best counter-productive, at worst it is unconscionable.

Posted by: bob at December 30, 2004 03:29 PM

When it comes to issues of money and power, the UN doesn't play well with others. I thought they were supposed to know something about diplomacy.

The victims don't care about the amount of money that's spent - they care about the effectiveness of the aid. They need food, medicine and clean water. Egelund's abuse and Short's lack of cooperation isn't helping anyone.

Posted by: mary at December 30, 2004 03:30 PM

Michael

I notice you mention Rwanda in your argument against the UN.

What you don't mention was that UN people on the ground in Rwanda were screaming for intervention, and many nations supported intervention. The intervention was blocked by the US and the UK.

Posted by: Benjamin at December 30, 2004 03:39 PM

The question of whether the U.S. is being stingy is a strategic one: can we and should we do more than we are doing right now?

(By the way, the correct answer is "yes")

The question of whether the U.S. should coordinate efforts with the U.N. is a tactical one: who can get the relief to the victims the fastest? I don't know enough to answer that, and neither do you, Michael.

Politics and other battles should not intrude into answering the latter question.

Posted by: Markus Rose at December 30, 2004 03:58 PM

Benjamin: But that gives it, in part, its moral authority, Michael. Feel free to change your post if you are having second thoughts.

I don't have second thoughts. I'm not contradicting myself. If North Korea helped out people in crisis it would not earn itself any moral authority.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not seriously comparing the UN the North Korea. I'm using an extreme example to illustrate how one thing has nothing to do with another.

I think we have a different understanding of moral authority. To earn something moral authority you have to rise above the morality of others. The UN does not. Instead, it wallows at the lowest common denominator. Never forget that genocidal Sudan is on the "Human Rights Commission."

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 30, 2004 04:00 PM

By the way, the correct answer is "yes"

Thank you Markus. Now, if you would just step this way and walk across the water, you might convince me that you have the knowledge and moral authority to make this statement.

Posted by: chuck at December 30, 2004 04:06 PM

chuck - Bush has pledged for this disaster funding equivilent to what we spend in Iraq every seven hours. YOU have the knowledge and moral authority to admit that is insufficient.

Michael - you simply do not take the full measure of the United Nations. It can and often does do a decent job of disaster relief, peacekeeping, and certain public health initiatives. And two of those three would seem to be exactly what is needed right now. And it does so with money from the whole world, not just a few countries. Your dismissal of the UN because of its Human Rights Commission membership and other pet peeves is as nonsensical as a foreigner prior to the Civil Rights era dismissing everything positive America did or stood for, as a result of the way blacks were treated in the American South. Youdontseetheforestforthetrees.

Posted by: Markus Rose at December 30, 2004 04:16 PM

The United Nations runs a wild child prostitution ring. It's pretty good at skimming off a lot of money from oil for food programs, and just about any relief effort or peacekeeping gig.

The UN kleptocrats want their cut of the billions for relief. Until they get their cut, everybody is just being stingy.

No wonder Clinton refused to get involved in Rwanda to stop the genocide. He was afraid his administration would be tarred with the brush of UN corruption. A million died as a result.

Posted by: Bill Funt at December 30, 2004 04:19 PM

Michael,

Benjamin has it right. You wrote using absolute terms (unless you don't believe "None Zero Nada Zip Zilch" are absolute terms) and that is the danger when you use absolute terms. bbay meet bathwater.

Never forget that genocidal Sudan is on the "Human Rights Commission."

I certainly agree that Sudan and a number of other nations do not belong on the UNHRC, but they were not put there by Kofi Annan or anyone on the UN staff. They were voted onto the Commission by the member nations of their region, so I certainly have no problem with criticizing the fact that they are on the UNHRC and agree that they have no business being there, but put the blame where it belongs: on the member nations that voted them in.

Posted by: Randy Paul at December 30, 2004 04:22 PM

Michael

I notice you mention the membership of the Human Rights Commission.... again.

Of course the UN needs reform. But that does not mean it has no moral authority. You were quite clear. You said the UN has NO moral authority at all. None whatsoever. I think that is overstating the case needlessly.

It clearly has some. Indeed, that is precisely why the US govt gives money to it.

Posted by: Benjamin at December 30, 2004 04:24 PM

Markus,

Sweden has pledged $75 million. They have delivered

SWEDEN: Sweden sent two communications specialists to help U.N. relief efforts in Sri Lanka, and said it was sending tents and communications equipment to the Maldives. The Swedish Red Cross said it would contribute $750,000 to the global IFRC appeal.

In the scheme of things, this is nada, zip, nil. Now count in our Navy, our planes, our facilities. I doubt any unaffected country is as yet doing as much, except perhaps Australia. Now add in the money in Afghanistan and the money in Iraq, affecting some 50 million souls. Sorry, I see nothing to be ashamed off.

Posted by: chuck at December 30, 2004 04:29 PM

Randy: put the blame where it belongs: on the member nations that voted them in.

Of course. But only in a lowest-common denominator organzation would something like that even be possible.

Again, for the UN to have moral authority (let alone the most moral authority) it must rise at least above average. And it doesn't.

And, as I mentioned in the original post, the UN still does some good crisis work. I'm not contradicting myself. The two things are unrelated.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 30, 2004 04:30 PM

Benjamin,

For the UN to have any moral authority it must rise above average. I didn't say it is worthless. You're hung up on semantics.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 30, 2004 04:33 PM

The U.N. stinks. Let's start a new one.

Posted by: d-rod at December 30, 2004 04:34 PM

Michael

You are still clinging to your absolutist statement.

Look, the fact is the UN is like many organisations, like many nation states, indeed. Flawed.

But Randy Paul had it right when he said that to describe the UN as you do, Michael, is akin to anti-Americans decribing the US as a totally malign influence. It simply does not accord with reality.

Your absoltist statement stems from your ideology, and you are now trying to fit reality into it. Same old story. But the reality does not fit so easily.

Posted by: Benjamin at December 30, 2004 04:40 PM

Michael,

Then what you do Michael is change the organization, seek to change the rules in order to require, for example, nations that wish to be on the UNHRC to allow the UNHRC to inspect their countries and require them to have signed and ratified all international human rights treaties.

I'm sorry, you used absolute terms with regard to the entire organization. Expect for people tyo object to that.

Posted by: Randy Paul at December 30, 2004 04:42 PM

Benjamin, you obviously don't understand what I'm saying at all. Discussing this with you is like talking to a slab of concrete.

I did not say the UN is a totally malign influence. I said it has no moral authority. Those two statements aren't even in the same galaxy.

If you want moral authority look to Amnesty International, the Pope, or someone like that. The last place you should look is to a government or a bureaucratic apparatus that represents all governments including the totalitarian ones.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 30, 2004 04:49 PM

Then what you do Michael is change the organization, seek to change the rules in order to require, for example, nations that wish to be on the UNHRC to allow the UNHRC to inspect their countries and require them to have signed and ratified all international human rights treaties.

Oh wow. Why didn't I think of that. Wonder if I can get the tooth fairy to do something about it? Meanwhile, there is a dissaster to be dealt with.

Posted by: chuck at December 30, 2004 04:52 PM

Keep cursing that darkness, Chuck.

Posted by: Randy Paul at December 30, 2004 05:19 PM

Michael

Well, you seem to have an absolutist view of moral authority. To you, because the UN has faults, it has NO moral authority.

But does the world really work like that? Clearly the UN has SOME moral authority (although not to you personally.) It gains some moral authority by its various programmes that help people out.

I guess it boils down to whether you want to view the world as it is, with it's many shades of grey, or the way you want it to be.

The North Korea example you gave is a good one. The North Korean govt can be said to be have little or no moral authority because of the malign nature of that govt.

However, the UN has more moral authority than North Korea because it is not in the same league as North Korea. It can do good work across the world and is constituted differently.

Does the US govt have moral authority? You would say so. But does it have ABSOLUTE moral authority? That's doubtful, and few would claim that.

Moral authority is not an absolutist concept in international relations. It is necessarily relative, disputed, and varies from context to context.

Posted by: Benjamin at December 30, 2004 05:29 PM

Michael

To some, the Pope has little or no moral authority. Which kind of explains the point I am making.

And yes, I do believe thae the United States has some moral authority, before anyone asks! :-)

Posted by: Benjamin at December 30, 2004 05:34 PM

Randy,

I think the UN is a bad idea for a world government, nor do I think it can be changed. The time may come for something along those lines, but I don't think that time is now. Meanwhile I think nation to nation dealings will be the most effective.

Europe is in a better situation. It has been occupied since WWII and this has kept its demons at bay while allowing time for unity to grow. Even so, I don't like the proposed constitution and I suspect it will be rejected by France and Britain among others. Even in Europe, I think there needs to be more emphasis on the individual states.

In light of the European situation, perhaps we should occupy the world, but I don't think this is either desireable nor feasible. I think you would agree. So at this time, I prefer to pursue our interests with other nations directly. The UN has done well in eliminating smallpox and some other things, but in situations where national interests and power are at stake it is paralysed. Nor do I think this paralysis easy to overcome, precisely because other powers desire a veto and the ability to produce deadlock.

For rapid response, the UN is unsuitable. Too many bureaucrats, no standing army or navy. Heck, even NATO is pretty useless except to give the Europeans warm fuzzies: France will not arm against Germany, and so forth. The UN is not a world government, nor do I think it ever will be.

Posted by: chuck at December 30, 2004 05:43 PM

BTW I think Clare Short is wrong to say that the UN is the only body with the moral authority to do this kind of work. But I equally disagree with Michael Totten when he says that the UN has absolutely no moral authority.

Clare is correct to say that the US's Asian earthquake quartet alliance (Japan, US, India and Australia) fits in well with the US's current policy of creating ad hoc alliances, which may be a strategy of undermining the UN, or fits in well with its long term hegemonic global strategy, so the theory goes.

However, that's a seperate topic of debate from the basic necessity of getting aid to people in need now, which hopefully the quartet alliance can achieve well.

Posted by: Benjamin at December 30, 2004 05:48 PM

Let me claify: Claire Short was correct in her basic observation. Whether the assessment or theory of US aims and strategy is accurate or correct can be debated.

Posted by: Benjamin at December 30, 2004 05:53 PM

Chuck

I don't like the proposed constitution and I suspect it will be rejected by France and Britain among others.

Yes, you are probably right it will be rejected by some state or other. But remember it needs to be rejected by just one state and then it goes back to the drawing board.

I think there is a secret hope by the governing classes in the UK that if it is going to be rejected, it should be rejected by some other state first - say Denmark - and then the UK does not look like the one that spoiled the party!

Posted by: Benjamin at December 30, 2004 06:00 PM

The UN is not a world government, nor do I think it ever will be.

Nor do I think it was designed to be.

Posted by: Randy Paul at December 30, 2004 06:20 PM

Can't we just agree that the U.N. and U.S. have about the same moral authority, and leave it at that? Both entities are too corrupt, and the U.S. is too cheap to boot, especially when it comes to helping countries that aren't white and/or without oil. To make matters worse, it would be hard to find past evidence of competence from the Bushies to justify having any confidence that the funds will get to the people in any effective way. In any event, there's something about 120 thousand dead that makes the political concerns of this administration seem rather trivial.

Posted by: Steve Smith at December 30, 2004 06:25 PM

In any event, there's something about 120 thousand dead that makes the political concerns of this administration seem rather trivial.

I think you could work harder to set aside your own political concerns. It would set a good example.

Posted by: chuck at December 30, 2004 06:42 PM

Benjamin,

Nice post. I think you have summed things up quite well.

Posted by: chuck at December 30, 2004 06:43 PM

I am not a neo-conservative, but I understand the Michael Totten is, or at least rather influenced by it.

Fair enough. I don't agree with neo-conservatism, but I can respect it. But if Michael wants to advance this thinking, or whatever take he has on it, it does not help crudely overstating arguments.

Posted by: Benjamin at December 30, 2004 07:03 PM

Steve Smith: Can't we just agree that the U.N. and U.S. have about the same moral authority, and leave it at that?

No way.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 30, 2004 07:23 PM

Nation state pledges:

UK $96m
EU $44m
US: $35m
Canada: $33m
Japan: $30m
Australia: $27m
France: $20.4m
Denmark: $15.6m
Saudi Arabia: $10m

Sources: Reuters, UN.

Posted by: Benjamin at December 30, 2004 07:45 PM

Apart from the EU, which is not a nation state, admittedly....

Posted by: Benjamin at December 30, 2004 07:54 PM

When it comes down to who should deliver and distribute aid, shouldn't the real question revolve around which entity has the power and infrastructure which is best suited and able to perform that purpose? This should be a practical question, not a political one.

And forgive me for being obtuse, but what exactly is "moral authority?" I suspect that its merely a nebulous phrase like "social justice" that is used to avoid analysis rather than to further it. I suspect its value and existence lies purely in the eye of the beholder. And there does seem to be the implication in many of the poster's comments here that "moral authority" is that which cannot legitimately be questioned or doubted. If such is the case, then I submit to you that the last thing the world needs is "moral authority."

Posted by: tcobb at December 30, 2004 08:11 PM

But Benjamin,

It isn't real money. It isn't in the bank. It isn't doing anything. Maybe someday it will, but we shall see.

What happened to all the money pledged to Afghanistan, anyway? Around $5bn, IIRC. Link. I believe that in practice the US picked up most of the tab, though it is hard to find recent figures to verify this. You would do well to have less faith in governments ;) Especially the European variety.

Posted by: chuck at December 30, 2004 08:25 PM

And here is a link from instapundit. Benjamin, I would think it a weakness in my character if I left these things up to the government.

Posted by: chuck at December 30, 2004 08:44 PM

Your problem Michael is that you simply don't accept the absurdity of the bizarro universe we live in today. A flack from the UN CRITICIZES the United States for organizing a relief effort separate from them this after condemming us for stinginess a day ago. I suppose the only thing we are permitted to do is turn over fifty percent of our GNP directly to the vipers at Turtle Bay for appropriate skimming and misappropriation while they take all the credit and defecate on our heads on a daily basis. The situation is so absurd as to defy serious commentary. It's as if they want to bring about the abolition of the UN because that's what will happen if and when the USA and its Democratic allies decide they have had enough of being told off by toadies of dictators and European weasels and form their own organization. I have never experienced anything in my life like this and in the midst of this grave crisis yet. And incredibly, the left in this country will surely blame it all on President Bush. You are not a neo-con because you oppose the jackals of the UN. Everyone I know, Democrat or Republican hates those bastards passionately. (You may be a neo-con but not because of that) Stop engaging in rational attempts to discuss moral authority with the likes of Clare Short or Koffi Anan and you will be a lot happier and saner too.

Posted by: Doug at December 30, 2004 09:23 PM

First we’re accused of being stingy in the wake of the tsunami. Now Clare Short is laughably accusing us of trying to help unilaterally.

So I suppose Bush is giving aid in violation of "international law" again.

Never mind that it's OUR FREAKIN MONEY.

Posted by: David at December 30, 2004 10:11 PM

"No way"? You can't be arguing that the U.S. has less moral authority than the U.N.?

Silly questions of "moral authority" aside, the U.N. does have a system in place for getting humanitarian aid to developing nations, as well as a pretty good track record, at least in that area (even the alleged "Oil for Food" scandal that so enraptures the neo-Birchers succeeded in getting humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people, a point supported by none other than John Negroponte). Frankly, the U.S. doesn't have a good track record (at least since the Marshall Plan), and there is no reason to believe that these red state lightweights are going to have the first clue.

Posted by: Steve Smith at December 30, 2004 10:17 PM

Steve,

Your faith is touching, but rather silly. The Diplomad reports from the scene:

Do I really need to say anything more? "Only really the UN can do the job?" We have US C-130s flying in and out here dropping off heaps of supplies; US choppers arrive today; USAID is doing a knock-out job of marshalling and coordinating US and local resources to deliver real assistance to real people. The Aussies have planes and troops delivering stuff; even the Indians have goods on the way. The UN? Nowhere to be seen. OK, I'm not being fair. Last night they played host to a big "coordination" meeting of donors to announce that the UNDP has another large "assessment and coordination team" team arriving. Our USAID guys, who've been working 18-20 hrs/day, came back furious from this meeting saying everybody would be dead if the delivery of aid waited for the UN to set up shop and begin "coordinating." The UN types are upset with the US, Ms. Short, dear, not because we're undermining them but because we're showing them up as totally inept.

The reputation the UN has of being a total cockup is well earned, I think.

Posted by: chuck at December 30, 2004 11:19 PM

“The reputation the UN has of being a total cockup is well earned, I think.”

The situation at the UN is constantly deteriorating---and there is little chance of a reversal. Bureaucratic sclerosis has taken over. Well paid positions have been rewarded to flunkies who will not rock the boat. In a time of crisis, they are next to worthless. To be brutally frank, and very fair minded, the United Nations is at best an organization of immature children which occasionally means well. It’s time for the adults to get the job done.

Posted by: David Thomson at December 31, 2004 12:52 AM

Chuck

I realise they were pledges not money in the bank yet. Hopefully everyone will pay up and the money is well directed.

I don't think the US did pick up the tab regarding Afghanistan. Things are still slow there I think.

Up until recently - I am not sure if its changed recently - the top three recipients of US foreign aid were Egypt, Russia and Israel.

Posted by: Benjamin at December 31, 2004 01:32 AM

Chuck

As regards the Diplomad, that's all very well but its anecdotal evidence at best. All rather tub thumping, and does not outline the broader picture.

There are similar stories of many people - including good UN people, and people working for charities etc - working 18-20 hour days and getting supplies to people.

Frustrations like those expressed by the Americans guys happen all the time in many organisations in these extreme situations. These are situations of high stress.

To describe the UN as screwing up this situation is unfair. We are just days into it, and there is no hard evidence so far that they have screwed up - apart from thin anecdotal evidence from those with an axe to grind anyway.

The UN has successes and failures in this area, just like the Americans and everyone else.

Posted by: Benjamin at December 31, 2004 01:53 AM

There is a lot of UN bashing from Americans right now. See a lot of it on the internet etc.

The irony, of course, is that the USA was foremost in setting it up, and furthermore I can't help thinking this is just a passing phase. It stems from a recent more unilateralist foreign policy, which is just a passing phase itself - America trying to shore up its position while it can.

In a 100 years time, perhaps less, we will look back on this UN bashing phase with a crooked smile - or grimace - because the USA will be very happy to support the UN then. It will have little alternative. The US's days as the dominant global power are numbered.

Posted by: Benjamin at December 31, 2004 02:13 AM

100% of the US, Japan, India and Australia are democratic states. The UN should be happy to get a ratio of 50%, while the other half consists of human right champions like Iran, Syria, Sudan, Cuba, China and North Korea.

So if Clare Short claims that the second group has a higher moral authority than the first one it might be interesting to see how she defines the word "moral". Her definition of "authority" we know already. It obviously seems to be derived from "authoritarian".

Posted by: Paul13 at December 31, 2004 02:41 AM

benjamin, "In a 100 years time, perhaps less, we will look back on this UN bashing phase with a crooked smile...The US's days as the dominant global power are numbered."

I don't own a crystal ball like you do. The fundamental problem with the UN is that the general assembly is represented by about 80 non-democratic governments (about 40 of these are pure dictatorships). This is why insane things happen like Sudan on the UNHRC and isolation of Israel, the only democratic nation in the Arab world.

I prefer to see the UN replaced by a world body made up of representative governments only - replaced by NATO or the EU perhaps. Only after
all member nations agree on the common denomonator of basic human freedoms and rights, can we have a functional world body.

Posted by: Paul Webb, USA at December 31, 2004 03:00 AM

I expected what I heard from Jan Egeland. It came as less than no surprise that the words were said, it was just a matter of which U.N. official, or Western European "Ally", would utter them. However, it was only in jest that I thought to myself yesterday "Now that we've been criticized over what we're not doing it won't be long before we catch it for what we are doing". I had no idea how correct I actually was.

I'd advocate the dissolution of the U.N., except for the fact that I enjoy seeing them humiliated so much. It's very unfortunate that the greatest satirest of them all, Mr. W. Shakespeare, is't aroud to see this comedy we call the United Nations.

Posted by: Mike at December 31, 2004 05:50 AM

Benjamin,

Anecdotal? Like what, I should look in the Book of Revelations to get information? Sure, it is not the whole picture, and many different folks are out there: that is why I gave my money to charities already operating in the area. The thing is, putting the UN in charge would bring things to a grinding halt.

Posted by: chuck at December 31, 2004 05:54 AM

The irony, of course, is that the USA was foremost in setting it up,

Nothing ironic here. Times change, new ways and institutions are developed. What's new? Many of the institutions of the modern world were set up by the US. Who else could, or would, do it?

the top three recipients of US foreign aid were Egypt, Russia and Israel.

Yeah, Kissinger got us suckered into paying Israel and Egypt not to fight each other. What's really ironic is that we payed good money to set Europe back on its feet and funded Jean Monnet through the CIA, although I will admit I haven't really seen all the evidence on the latter. The CIA did, however, fund many things in Europe in those days. The one thing we didn't want was the nut cases on that God forsaken continent starting another idiotic war.

Posted by: chuck at December 31, 2004 06:14 AM

Regarding the need to be quick off the mark in addressing this enormous disaster, an absolutely critical factor in saving people's live, the U.N. has announced that it is going to have a conference on January 11th to "address the situation." Colin Powell is meeting with Kofi Annan today and will be in South Asia to survey the damage in January 2nd. After 9 months of clearly genocidal behavior in Darfur by a member government, Annan recently stated (very bloodlessly) that the "Situation needed serious reassessment in the light of lack of progress.) The U.N. may be importnat for long-term reconstruction, but is too terribly bureaucratic and cumbersome to respond immediately, which is absolutely essential in this case.

Posted by: Daniel Calto at December 31, 2004 06:15 AM

America trying to shore up its position while it can.

Benjamin,

When the U.S. acts outside the U.N., I think of it as a sovereign country pursuing it's national interests rather than subsuming them to an internationalist body who pursues its own interests at the expense of ours. But you pejoratively call it a "shoring up its position". You imply, in your context, that it's a negative thing for the U.S. to seek its sovereign interests. hmmm.

So my curiosity was piqued by this negative implication you seem to put on it. You do agree that acting outside the U.N. is a "shoring up" of our interests, but I'm curious as to why you think of that as a negative.

Doesn't this just prove that our recent election was about internationalism vs patriotism, and that patriotism won out? doesn't it illustrate why regular Americans see Libs as unpatriotic? (Yes, I know you Libs think you're "regular" Americans too).

The US's days as the dominant global power are numbered.

I agree, everything comes to an end. But you're positively drooling for it. I suppose you look forward to the day when an ascendant China starts calling the shots, or perhaps you look forward to a Caliphate with a lock on global oil supplies. Would those be more to your liking?

When the American century finally ends, rest assured that your celebrations will be shortlived ones. Very shortlived.

Posted by: David at December 31, 2004 07:28 AM

“The U.N. may be importnat for long-term reconstruction, but is too terribly bureaucratic and cumbersome to respond immediately, which is absolutely essential in this case.”

The UN has become the haven for pampered and well paying bureaucrats. It is now virtually impossible for such an organization to achieve anything of significance. One does not have to be another Peter Drucker to know that the UN must minimally undergo a major overhaul---if it can be saved at all. There is a distinct possibility the UN may cause more harm than good during this crisis period.

Posted by: David Thomson at December 31, 2004 07:31 AM

The most important thing at a time like this is to remember the following: the U.S. is always wrong, stingy, cheap, hegemonistic and imperialistic. Always. This is the perfect moment in history to use our energies to spread this meme. What better use could we have for our energies, thoughts, drive after a disaster like this?

Anyway, good people of the U.S. or the E.U. or the U.N or doctors without borders or the Marine rescue teams, etc, etc. are too busy actually doing their work and helping people to care about the silliness sweeping blog comments, or NYT articles, or dumb politicians. Shame, shame, shame on those who would use this moment to score points, for or against the U.N., for or against the U.S. But then, if those people could feel shame, they would have kept their mouths shut in the first place.

(And I'm not singling you out Mr. Totten, or criticizing you. I know you were just responding to the silliness yourself.)

Posted by: MD at December 31, 2004 07:58 AM

“shame, shame, shame on those who would use this moment to score points, for or against the U.N.”

You fail to realize that the UN is more likely a hindrance than helpful. An honest appraisal of this organization could prevent us from wasting further precious resources. I am not engaging in a cheap shot below the belt in describing the UN as suffering from an advance case of bureaucratic sclerosis. On the contrary, I believe that my conclusion is very fair and objective.

Posted by: David Thomson at December 31, 2004 08:15 AM

“shame, shame, shame on those who would use this moment to score points, for or against the U.N.”

On the contrary. The first salvo was fired by the U.N. and it's groupies, using this as just another opportunity to bash American ("stingy") and Bush ("undermining"). Then, when we respond, you accuse us of politicizing the tragedy. Your hypocrisy is staggering.

I suppose if you walked up to me and slapped me in the face you'd call me a bully for punching you back.

Posted by: David at December 31, 2004 08:24 AM

“The first salvo was fired by the U.N. and it's groupies”

The UN “groupies” are similar to those throwing stones who live in glass houses. This is a fight they should have never started. The bottom line is that folks like myself who severely criticize the UN have the facts on their side. We are not slandering anyone. Any objective look at the UN’s record of the last two decades will conclude that this organization rarely contributes to the good of humanity. The negatives simply far outweigh the positives.

Posted by: David Thomson at December 31, 2004 08:41 AM

David,

Nice of you to single out the one line about the U.N., when I clearly praised all the good people responding to this disaster. I feel equal disgust with Jan Egeland for his ridiculous comments. And I thought the President's reponse was a good one, given that inane criticism. If that is hypocrisy to you, so be it. I am a hypocrite.

Posted by: MD at December 31, 2004 08:42 AM

And to the irony impaired, the first statements in my original comment about the U.S. being imperialistic, hegemonic, etc. was an attempt (a bad one I see) at making fun of the US bashers that come out from under the rocks at every turn.

I'm no fan of the U.N., but jeez. Why does everything have to turn into a nationalistic pissing contest? Of course the U.S. is doing lots of good work. Can't we just be dignified and go on about it? (And yes, honest criticism of the U.N. is good thing, Mr. Thompson).

Posted by: MD at December 31, 2004 08:46 AM

David -- "On the contrary. The first salvo was fired by the U.N. and it's groupies, using this as just another opportunity to bash American ("stingy") and Bush ("undermining"). Then, when we respond, you accuse us of politicizing the tragedy. Your hypocrisy is staggering."

David -- the problem is you, MJT and others have not responded to the accusation that America is being stingy. MJT himself wants to change the subject -- his title to this post is "first stingy, then unilateral" -- as if to suggest that the substance of the first accusation is as baseless as the substance of the second one.

More broadly, I must add that the unwillingness of hawkish liberals, or hawkish internationalists, or Jacksonian Wilsonians or whatever the hell you guys call yourselves, to break ranks with this Administration and with your current right wing allies is appaling. Four areas in particular stand out as areas in which an American Tony Blair ought to be screaming at the top of his lungs:
1. More foreign aid
2. A tougher stance toward "our" dictators, the Saadams of tomorrow, such as the President of Uzbekistan, whose enemies are thrown into boiling cauldrons.
3. More shared sacrifice in the "war on terror" (translation: repeal most of the Bush tax cuts)
4. More transperancy and accountability about what is going on in Guantanamo Bay interrogation rooms.

Posted by: Markus Rose at December 31, 2004 08:52 AM

I must add that the unwillingness of hawkish liberals to break ranks with this Administration and with your current right wing allies is appaling."

Markus,

neo-Libs and neocons agree on the big picture, even if they disagree on the details; and you're asking the former to break ranks with the latter over mere details. Ain't gonna happen.

David -- the problem is you, MJT and others have not responded to the accusation that America is being stingy."

When you ask someone for money, you don't insult them. You appeal to their sense of generosity. Perhaps you even show some appreciation for what they've done in the past. If you think we can do more, fine, then say so. But don't insult me. I can assure you, it does nothing for your "moral authority", and it makes me want to send my money elsewhere (see "unilateralism").

The insults coming from the U.N. and it's groupies strikes me more like politics as usual than genuine concern for the tsunami victims, in which case, you can all go to hell.

Posted by: David at December 31, 2004 09:24 AM

and with your current right wing allies is appaling.

I love that word, appalling. To me, it always brings to mind an image of a lisping aristocrat in knee breeches, lace at his throat, complaining about the latest outrage to manners. Well done, Markus.

Posted by: chuck at December 31, 2004 09:36 AM
Just a note about all of the UN whining about what a cheapskate the United States is. Here's the quote that started all the clucking:
"It is beyond me why are we so stingy, really," the Norwegian-born U.N. official told reporters. "Christmastime should remind many Western countries at least, [of] how rich we have become."

"There are several donors who are less generous than before in a growing world economy," he said, adding that politicians in the United States and Europe "believe that they are really burdening the taxpayers too much, and the taxpayers want to give less. It's not true. They want to give more."

Isn't it a bit ridiculous (or obsessively self-centered) to imagine that he was talking soley about the US? Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 31, 2004 09:47 AM

There is no tragedy too large that can escape being appropriated by political opportunists like Short. Why are we even arguing the merits of such blather? Oh, I forgot: all US politicians are evil; all others are pure. These people are like spoiled children gone completely mad. On days like this, I want to tell them to all go to hell and take all our aid back. Take back the $15 billion we pledge to AIDS in Africa, take back the billions we are pledging to the new gang leader in Palestine.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka is apparently going well enough to reject aid from the JOOOOOZ. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4130599.stm

Posted by: Patricia at December 31, 2004 09:55 AM

Isn't it a bit ridiculous (or obsessively self-centered) to imagine that he was talking soley about the US?

double,

that hasn't stopped all the America-haters from jumping on Mr. Egeland's misrepresented remarks. See Makus.

Word to Markus. We aren't stingy. The U.S. gave $2.4 billion in food, in cash, in humanitarian relief last year. That's 40 percent of all the relief aid given in the entire world last year.

Also, the American people last year gave an estimated $241 billion to charitable causes -- domestic and foreign. That level of generosity is unparalleled anywhere in the world. Euros give their money through government, we give our money privately. That doesn't show up on your U.N. statistics obviously, which only counts government giving, and which you use to disingenously disparage us.

Posted by: David at December 31, 2004 10:06 AM

David: that hasn't stopped all the America-haters from jumping on Mr. Egeland's misrepresented remarks.

Or the UN-haters either. Let's not let a few facts get in the way of a seriously paranoid persecution complex.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 31, 2004 10:14 AM

By the way Michael,

you could help publicize this page, which lists all sorts of organizations doing their part for tsunami relief:

http://www.usaid.gov/locations/asia_near_east/tsunami/ngolist.html

This is the biggest disaster relief operation in history. We can all be part of it.

Posted by: David at December 31, 2004 10:23 AM

I'll second what David said. I'd also strongly encourage Canadian readers to make a private donation, as the Canadian government said that it will provide matching donations, dollar for dollar, on all private donations. That'll push their offical government donation to over $100 million. Let's bankrupt them.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 31, 2004 10:26 AM

DpU,

Here is more on the Egeland interview.

_Despite his claim of being "misinterpreted," a review of the transcript of Mr. Egeland's initial press briefing confirms that he asked reporters at the United Nations why Western countries are "so stingy" and specifically cited the United States as an example of a country whose citizens want to pay more taxes so that foreign aid can be increased.
"An unprecedented disaster like this one should lead to unprecedented generosity," Mr. Egeland said in his Monday briefing.
Mr. Egeland complained that the United States gives only 0.14 percent of its gross domestic product to foreign development aid, compared with 0.92 percent given by his native Norway. In this category, Norway ranks first and the United States ranks last on a list of 22 industrialized nations compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
"The foreign assistance of many countries now is 0.1 or 0.2 percent of their gross national income," Mr. Egeland said on Monday. "I think that is stingy really. I don't think that is very generous."
He pointed out that only Scandinavian countries like Norway, Sweden and Denmark, as well as the Netherlands and Luxembourg, give at least 0.7 percent of their gross national income, a level suggested by the United Nations 25 years ago.
Mr. Egeland — a former journalist, deputy foreign minister of Norway and head of that nation's Amnesty International chapter — did not mention that the U.S. government gave $15.8 billion, more than any other nation, to development aid last year, compared to $2 billion by Norway.
The U.S. figure does not include massive infusions of cash to Iraq and Afghanistan. Nor does it include the category of food aid, where the United States is the largest donor in the world, or charitable contributions by private American individuals, churches and other organizations._

These folks pick the statistics that make them look good, they don't try for an honest evaluation. Another example is competitivness, where the Europeans threw in some social categories and found, voila, that some parts of Europe were more competitive than Silicon Valley. The fact that they were not in fact growing and competing was irrelevant.

Posted by: chuck at December 31, 2004 10:30 AM

Oh, and although this won't be of much note to US readers,the Alberta and Ontario provincial governments have also contributed $5 million each, and to-his-credit-even-though-I-hate-his-guts, BC Liberal Party Premier Gordon Campbell has kicked in $8 million.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 31, 2004 10:31 AM

I'd also strongly encourage Canadian readers to make a private donation, as the Canadian government said that it will provide matching donations, dollar for dollar, on all private donations.

Wow, that's a great deal. I should have sent my money there.

FYI, the U.S. has upped it's ante to 350 million, and rising.

Posted by: David at December 31, 2004 10:31 AM

Thanks chuck. That post does shed some light on the facts.

Posted by: David at December 31, 2004 10:34 AM

Chuck: Mr. Egeland — a former journalist, deputy foreign minister of Norway and head of that nation's Amnesty International chapter — did not mention that the U.S. government gave $15.8 billion, more than any other nation, to development aid last year, compared to $2 billion by Norway.

Population of Norway = 4,574,560
Donation per Norwegian = $437.20

Population of US = 293,655,404
Donation per American = $53.80

These folks pick the statistics that make them look good...

Indeed.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 31, 2004 10:37 AM

double,

Norwegians give through their government, Americans give privately. That's what is being conveniently ignored.

For instance, I just gave money through World Vision, a private NGO. You gave money through the Canadian government.

Egeland's figures don't include my giving, they only include your giving. See?

Posted by: David at December 31, 2004 10:45 AM

DpU,

LOL. I note that you just validated my case by leaving out the other numbers in the article while it was right there in front of you. Willful blindness is what it is.

Posted by: chuck at December 31, 2004 10:53 AM

David: For instance, I just gave money through World Vision, a private NGO. You gave money through the Canadian government.

This is misinformed. I gave both through my tax dollar via the government contribution, and through a private donation. Private donations in Canada this week have broken all records and crippled the on-line and phone donations systems.

For an in-depth breakdown of all giving, Daniel Drezner (who generally knows what he'd talking about in economics) had an excellent post about this yesterday. He factors in private donations, and the US comes out 19th out of top 21 industrialized economies when measuring direct aid.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 31, 2004 10:54 AM

LOL. I note that you just validated my case by leaving out the other numbers in the article while it was right there in front of you.

ROFLMAO - you didn't notice that the point I was making applies to all the figures you quoted, thereby proving your point that some people like to manipulate statistics. Throwing out raw numbers without scaling for GDP or per capita is relatively meaningless. It's like saying you sell potatoes for $1.00 without specifying the quantity of potatoes.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 31, 2004 10:59 AM

But DpU, you have to add them together if you want a total. Note that at this point the US has already spent in excess of $50 million in the area, Sometime next month the EU will meet to discuss contributions.

Posted by: chuck at December 31, 2004 11:03 AM

N.B. - Drezner correctly includes other aid factors as well, like trade and technology, and when this is done, the US ranks pretty highly on the total aid scale.

Just in case anyone thinks that I'm claiming the US government is stingy. I'm not.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 31, 2004 11:03 AM

He factors in private donations, and the US comes out 19th out of top 21 industrialized economies when measuring direct aid.

oy vei. Chuck's right. I guess you missed the part where he says we're ranked 9th out of 21, not 19th. (better than Canada)

Here's the ranking of contries by relief aid per capita per day (in cents, not dollars):

1. Norway 21.04
2. Sweden 11.81
3. Denmark 5.95
4. Switzerland 5.85
5. Netherlands 5.15
6. Belgium 2.94
7. United Kingdom 2.58
8. Finland 2.38
9. United States 2.34
10. France 2.17
11. Canada 2.10
12. Australia 1.93
13. Ireland 1.83
14. Austria 1.23
15. New Zealand 1.18
16. Spain 0.61
17. Germany 0.61
18. Italy 0.42
19. Greece 0.27
20. Japan 0.06
21. Portugal 0.03

Posted by: David at December 31, 2004 11:06 AM

Just in case anyone thinks that I'm claiming the US government is stingy. I'm not.

Sure sounded like it to me.

Posted by: chuck at December 31, 2004 11:08 AM

Moreover, he says:

"One could make the case that comparing large economies with Scandanavia or the Benelux states is unfair, because the bigger economies have other public goods functions to fulfill (see Bruce Bartlett for this argument).

If you limit the comparison to the G-7 countries, only Great Britain is more generous. Indeed, the most shocking figure in that table is how ungenerous the Japanese have been on this front."

end quote

We have nothing to be ashamed of, but should take with a grain of salt the simpering Libs who say we should.

Posted by: David at December 31, 2004 11:12 AM

David is correct, those are the figures for direct humanitarian relief. Skip down a bit, David, to the section on total aid, not just emergency relief.

And by the way, you can skip the nyah-nyah stuff about US ranking higher than Canada. If you guys contribute more, good on ya and keep it up. As I said, I'm not saying that America is less or more stingey than any other nation, I'm just agreeing with the thrust of Egeland's statement, which is that we can all afford to give more.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 31, 2004 11:12 AM

dpu: Just in case anyone thinks that I'm claiming the US government is stingy. I'm not.

Chuck: Sure sounded like it to me.

Did someone say something about a persecution complex earlier?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 31, 2004 11:15 AM

By the way, I do tend to agree with Egeland's point about the rich giving less. The same holds true in the US, where the red states contribute at a higher rate than the blue states.

I think Drezner's results also indicate that small countries are more likely to give at a higher rate. There could be many reasons for this. England may be a bit of an exception, and I can't help wondering if this is because of her continuing connection with the commonwealth.

Posted by: chuck at December 31, 2004 11:17 AM

And by the way, you can skip the nyah-nyah stuff about US ranking higher than Canada.

LOL! how does it feel?

The nya nya's started elsewhere, not with us. see here:

American Generosity is Underappreciated

http://www.heritage.org/Research/TradeandForeignAid/wm630.cfm

Posted by: David at December 31, 2004 11:18 AM

Did someone say something about a persecution complex earlier?

Dunno. This is the first mention I've seen.

Posted by: chuck at December 31, 2004 11:18 AM

We have nothing to be ashamed of, but should take with a grain of salt the simpering Libs who say we should.

Poor downtrodden ruling conservatives that you are.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 31, 2004 11:19 AM

The nya nya's started elsewhere, not with us..

Well, not sure where, but okay...

By the way David, you really need to learn how to link properly. I don't read most of your links because of the whole cutting and pasting thing.

Here's a how-to.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 31, 2004 11:23 AM
David: Here's the ranking of contries by relief aid per capita per day (in cents, not dollars):

1. Norway 21.04
...
9. United States 2.34
...
11. Canada 2.10

I'm hoping that you'll agree there's room for improvement here. And that Egelend has a point when he compares us with his own nation's level of donations.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 31, 2004 11:30 AM

double,

That's way too much trouble.

And the problem with the way you link is that the page it pulls up isn't full screen, so I end up copying and pasting your link to a separate browser anyway.

Posted by: David at December 31, 2004 11:30 AM

I'm hoping that you'll agree there's room for improvement here.

I don't disagree. My objection is to how the business as usual blame America first crowd used even the tsuami disaster to takes a shot at their nemesis--the U.S. It's their sole reason for living.

Posted by: David at December 31, 2004 11:33 AM

"Well-paid positions have been awarded to flunkies who will not rock the boat"? "In a time of crisis, they are next to worthless"? "An organization of immature children"? Sounds like the Bush Administration to me.

Posted by: Steve Smith at December 31, 2004 11:33 AM

DpU,

Norway is a small country living off oil revenues. The US is growing, providing new jobs, investing in domestic development, doing R&D, and accepting millions of emigrants. Comparing Norway and the US on a citizen to citizen basis is silly. We are very different countries. Egeland, coming from Norway, is perhaps a bit parochial.

Posted by: chuck at December 31, 2004 11:36 AM

Benjamin,

You may find comfort in speaking of the UN in 100 years time, but he League of Nations, err I mean the U.N., is a feckless, corrupt and evermore irrelevant organization. The French-Belgian led faction of the E.U. and their Eastern allies will fail and there is nothing you or anyone can do to stop it.

As an American I am tired of picking up the tab for these ungrateful, self-serving States; from French Indo-China to North Africa and the Middle East, people like these have done severe damage to the world's social, economic and political structure.

While from time to time the United States has run afoul, we have never intended to govern another society towards our own benefit. This much cannot be said for many of the U.N. and the E.U.'s most vocal member-states. Should anyone believe those in the U.N. and the E.U., who decry the U.S. at every opportunity, are serving the greatest good, then they are sorely mistaken. These people turn to the masses only after, and while, their imperial designs have crumbled. Today they call themselves the great "Counter-balance"; if successful what would they be tomorrow?

You may wish to leave such things as International Human and Civil Rights in the hands of the Sudanese and Libyans, but I'll take my chances with the United States, Britain, Australia, Japan and India. We may not be perfect, but our intentions are noble. Given this perspective can anyone wonder why the U.S. does not wish to be subjected to the I.C.C.?

Posted by: Mike at December 31, 2004 11:39 AM
"Well-paid positions have been awarded to flunkies who will not rock the boat"? "In a time of crisis, they are next to worthless"? "An organization of immature children"?

Sounds like the Bush Administration to me.

Wow. Now there's a mature considered criticism. Impressive.

Posted by: chuck at December 31, 2004 11:41 AM

My objection is to how the business as usual blame America first crowd used even the tsuami disaster to takes a shot at their nemesis--the U.S.

Who specifically are you referring to? We've already established that it wasn't the UN, and I can't find any non-American sources who said that.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 31, 2004 11:42 AM

Who specifically are you referring to? We've already established that it wasn't the UN, and I can't find any non-American sources who said that.

double,

we haven't established that at all. Mr. Egeland apologized and said that he did not mean to single out the United States, but the transcript of his comments clearly identifies the U.S. as the primary target.

Also, Clare Short, the subject of Michael's post; and not to mention Markus and yourself.

Posted by: David at December 31, 2004 11:46 AM

What's furthermore those of you exacerbating the strains between the U.S. and Canada shame on you! Whatever the circumstances of political and ideological discord, the U.S. and Canada have no closer cultrual, historical and economic tie than eachother. What differences that exist today should not be inflamed by petty bickering over aid donations. Together we must stand as evidence of the great cultural experiment we represent.

I am an American and I will bleed for Canada as I would my own brother.

Posted by: Mike at December 31, 2004 11:48 AM

I am an American and I will bleed for Canada as I would my own brother.

sadly, they wouldn't bleed for you. They don't like you.

Posted by: David at December 31, 2004 11:53 AM

David: Mr. Egeland apologized and said that he did not mean to single out the United States, but the transcript of his comments clearly identifies the U.S. as the primary target.

Can you post that part of the transcript? I haven't seen any comment that identifies any "primary target". I saw a single "for instance" reference to the US, and that's it.

Also, Clare Short, the subject of Michael's post; and not to mention Markus and yourself.

I note that the UN has been invited into the overseeing group. If I were a cyncial man, I'd speculate that this was because the UN already has a well-functioning body that already does the job, and taking a few weeks to set up a new group may not be the best strategy in dealing with a crisis of this magnitude (I heard estimates today that the final death toll could be half a million).

As for comments from myself that fall into the "blame America first", can you point to a comment of mine that does that?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 31, 2004 11:56 AM

David: sadly, they wouldn't bleed for you. They don't like you.

Don't be an ass, David.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 31, 2004 11:57 AM

David,

In a sense they did in Afghanistan, and I don't easily overlook it. I as you am deeply insulted by the Canadian disposition since the days of Mr. Pierre Trudeau.

Their slants againt our President and our citizens cut deeply; however, with that being said I refuse to indict all of Canadian society. In their hearts they, as are we, are inherently good and decent people. Don't be so easily swayed by talking heads of either persuasion.

There will again come a day when the U.S. and Canada will need to stand together side by side, when that day comes our hands should already be outstretched.

Posted by: Mike at December 31, 2004 12:04 PM

Mike: Their slants againt our President and our citizens cut deeply; however, with that being said I refuse to indict all of Canadian society.

Does it cut any deeper than the slants of your own citizens who voted against Bush?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 31, 2004 12:09 PM

"UN already has a well-functioning body that already does the job" - dpu

Yeah, they did such a great job managing Oil-for-Food. They can probably move fast when it comes to greasing the hands of the proper corrupt officials to get sweatshops cranking out more OBL t-shirts.

Posted by: d-rod at December 31, 2004 12:09 PM

Donald Rumsfeld Defends American Humanitarian Record
========

In a fit of righteous indignation, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld today took aim at critics who characterized American humanitarian aid as "stingy".

He cited U.S. efforts in Iraq as an outstanding example of American generosity.

"The good people of Iraq have been the direct beneficiaries the boundless generosity of the American people."

"Over the last 12 months alone we have donated 11,364 tons of ordnance to the god-loving people of Iraq. This includes hundreds of AGM-158 Joint Air to Surface Missiles, BGM-109 Tomahawks and CBU-105 Munitions Dispensers. We've even sent several dozen GBU-28 laser guided "bunker busters!"

But best of all, Rumsfeld added, the U.S. has not held back and provided the latest in cluster bomb technology:

"How can a country that has generously donated hundreds of M26 warheads and M864 projectiles be called stingy? Each of these missiles costs thousands of dollars. It is only fair that these expenditures be added to the dollar amount Americans give to foreigners each year."

He added:

"A lot of America's goodwill was directed at the good people of Fallujah, and by God, they do seem grateful of our aid".

Mohammed L. is a recipient of such American aid. He was recovering at a U.S. army field hospital near Fallujah:

"Allah be my witness I am very grateful to the good and generous people of America and to Mister Bush! My sisters and brothers and my mother were killed by American bombs but I am free! I will be reading Montesquieu and Locke as soon as my eyes recover! I will be eternally grateful to the people of America! And I am told that despite the fact that I have lost my arms and legs I can now apply for a job with the Iraqi security forces! Allah be thanked! I can't wait to go out and find refuge in the safety of an Iraqi police building!"

Rumsfeld ended his comments with a strong endorsment of America's record:

"We are the most generous people in the world. In fact, we are the most generous people ever to have lived on this planet, from the very beginning of time! And if we discover alien life forms in other galaxies, I am prepered to say it is unlikely they would be as generous as America! God Bless America!"

Posted by: ScrappleButt at December 31, 2004 12:11 PM

Don't be an ass, David.

I'm not being an ass. I'm just a messenger:

Over 40% of Canadian teens think U.S. is evil

http://www.newstarget.com/001283.html

Posted by: David at December 31, 2004 12:16 PM

Double,

Does perturb you more when you're wife says you need to cut your lawn, or when you're neighbor does?

I'm not being a smartass, just simplifying the point. Several of your leaders have levied severe insults at our people and our elected government. While our backyard may not be clean, neither is Canada's.

I believe these attacks by some (and I only mean some) of Canada's leadership to be nothing more than clumsy snipes at the U.S.'s fundamental rejection of the Socio-Economic and International policies adopted by the Canadian majority.

In other words I don't take them personally, but you should understand how it feels.

Posted by: Mike at December 31, 2004 12:21 PM

Over 40% of Canadian teens think U.S. is evil

Good God, if you're using polls of teenagers as an indication of a national mood, you're more desperate than I thought.

A recent international poll found that 80% of Canadians liked Americans, the highest rating among industrialized nations. But feel free to ignore that if it doesn't feed your world view.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 31, 2004 12:27 PM

Scrapplebutt might have a point. We should be dedicating much more money to the U.S. military in 2005 for smarter bombs and building a bigger and stronger coalition.

Posted by: d-rod at December 31, 2004 12:27 PM

Can you post that part of the transcript? I haven't seen any comment that identifies any "primary target".

double,

It's hearsay and I can't find the transcript, so it's inadmissible. Therefore you're free to disregard it.

You're also off the hook (this time).

Posted by: David at December 31, 2004 12:29 PM

A recent international poll found that 80% of Canadians liked Americans, the highest rating among industrialized nations.

double,

contrary to what you believe, I'm not displeased by this. Do you have a link?

Posted by: David at December 31, 2004 12:30 PM

Yeah, they did such a great job managing Oil-for-Food.

Different department. Or should the US military be judged on a whole by the Abu Ghraib abuses?

Examining the record of the UN's pervious handling of natural disasters before making blanket condemnations might be a bit more on the fair side.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 31, 2004 12:31 PM

I note that the UN has been invited into the overseeing group. If I were a cyncial man, I'd speculate that this was because the UN already has a well-functioning body that already does the job

It's pretty clearly a diplomatic sop. The group is already functioning and figure they can let the UN sit in. There may even be some things the UN can do, but then, I am probably insufficiently cynical.

Posted by: chuck at December 31, 2004 12:33 PM
David - poll results
Just over six in 10 said they were "worried" and "disappointed" by Bush's re-election last month, said the poll conducted by Ipsos-Reid Nov. 19-22., a little more than a week before his first official visit to Canada.

"The negative view that Canadians have of George (W) Bush does not, however, extend to Americans in general," said Darrell Bricker, president of North American Public Affairs for Ipsos-Reid. "Eighty per cent of Canadians say they like Americans. This is not surprising. No matter how you measure it, most Canadians regard Americans as closest cousins."

The poll was part of an international poll conducted in eight countries - Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Spain and the United States - on public attitudes about Bush, his re-election and his role in world affairs.

Bush's re-election was viewed negatively by a majority of people in those countries - including in Britain, America's strongest ally in the war in Iraq, polling found.

At least seven in 10 in France, Germany and Spain said they had an unfavourable view of President Bush. Just over half of the French and Germans said they had an unfavourable view of Americans in general, and about half of Spaniards felt that way.

Especially inclined to have an unfavourable opinion of Bush in those countries were people between ages 18 and 24.

"The predominant feelings about Bush's re-election in the European countries are disappointment and surprise more than anger," said Gilles Corman, director of public affairs for Ipsos-Inra in Belgium.

Polling found that Bush was viewed favourably by a majority of people in the United States. But that was not the case in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 31, 2004 12:34 PM

It's hearsay and I can't find the transcript, so it's inadmissible.

Yes, the UN in its efficient and transparent way has neglected to post it.

Posted by: chuck at December 31, 2004 12:35 PM

pervious handling...

typo or f-slip? They're other department being child prostition rings, perhaps?

Posted by: d-rod at December 31, 2004 12:37 PM

I'm not being a smartass, just simplifying the point. Several of your leaders have levied severe insults at our people and our elected government.

Which leaders? One non-elected offical insulted Bush, and was fired, and one politician insulted Bush and was kicked out of her political party for it. Or did I miss something?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 31, 2004 12:38 PM

Touché Double; however these are both individuals whom represent, or represented, the Canadian government, one being an aid to the now former Canadian Primer Minister. It still counts.

But you still never answered my question, your wife or your neighbor?

Posted by: Mike at December 31, 2004 12:50 PM

"Eighty per cent of Canadians say they like Americans.

The other 20% are Leftists and Liberals. That's ok, we hate them too.

Posted by: David at December 31, 2004 01:19 PM

But you still never answered my question, your wife or your neighbor?

Sorry, my silence on the question was meant to convey that I conceeded your point in that regard.

...however these are both individuals whom represent, or represented, the Canadian government, one being an aid to the now former Canadian Primer Minister. It still counts.

Not sure how it counts, both were disciplined and the government made it clear at the time that neither represented government opinion. We could, of course, execute them, but we have policies against capital punishment.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 31, 2004 01:22 PM

KOFI'S '72-HOUR DELAY' IN SKI PARADISE

"I returned to New York yesterday, to join in this effort, to lead the UN effort on the tsunami disaster. First of all let me say that my thoughts and prayers are with the people of the region, and with those in many other countries who have lost loved ones." -- Kofi, 30 December 2004

http://www.un.org/apps/sg/offthecuff.asp?nid=660

Posted by: David at December 31, 2004 01:24 PM

Why haven't the Euros matched our $350 mil yet?

Stingy bastards!

Posted by: d-rod at December 31, 2004 01:31 PM

The other 20% are Leftists and Liberals. That's ok, we hate them too.

So much ignorance, so little time

Canadian Federal Election results, 2004

Liberal Party - 36.71%
Conservative - 29.61%
Bloc Quebecois (a Social Democratic party in Quebec) - 12.40%
New Democrats (another Social Democratic party) - 15.69%
Green Party - 4.31%
Other - 1.29%

Assuming Other doesn't include significant numbers of leftists, that would add up to around 70% of Canada being either liberal or socialist.

David, you gotta read up a bit on your neighbors.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 31, 2004 01:31 PM
d-rod: Why haven't the Euros matched our $350 mil yet?

Stingy bastards!

Be careful what you wish for: Donor Wars

All in all, a good thing for the tsunami victims, I think.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 31, 2004 01:36 PM

double,

You're being illogical. I didn't say all Liberals/Leftists in Canada hate America (your "70 percent"). I said that of the 20% that admit they do hate America, all of them are Leftists.

Posted by: David at December 31, 2004 01:40 PM

Double,

I'd be more inclined to believe that the sentiments of those individuals are as isolated as you imply, however that is not what is reflected in the Canadian press.

Anyways, I've enjoyed the informed debate, but I have to move on for now to finish my work and go home to my family.

Sincerely, everyone have a safe and happy New Year. I look forward to engaging you once again in 2005. : )

Posted by: Mike at December 31, 2004 01:45 PM

I said that of the 20% that admit they do hate America, all of them are Leftists.

I find it difficult to believe that you know all 20% of the Canadian population that dislike Americans. However, I do know a fair number of conservative Canadians who have a knee-jerk negative reaction to America and Americans, and as a fair number of conservatives are fervent Canadian nationalists, I can only conclude that you're just making shit up to support an odd viewpoint.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 31, 2004 01:52 PM

double,

You need to relax a little bit. I'm just getting your goat. It's fun.

Posted by: David at December 31, 2004 01:56 PM

The real point is that the US should probably try to participate within the UN infrastructure that already exists rather than reinvent the wheel which would be counterproductive. Not participating in that infrastructure is more wasteful. The UN is actually very good at disaster relief when UN signatories are fully cooperating and engaged. It would not surprise me in the least if there was a political decision by the US administration to deliberately go outside of the UN because of the constituency that Bush has. IE, many of his constituents don't like the UN, such as M. Totten.

Over a hundred thousand people are dead. This is not the time to seethe and whine about process. Process means absolutely nothing to people who need help and need it right now. Speed and results, Clare. Speed and results. Roll up your sleeves and stick a sock in it.

I'm not sure Clare Short reads michaltotten.com but would probably find (as I do) that sort of commentary infantile and counterproductive as well.

Posted by: Llew Roberts at December 31, 2004 02:19 PM

Clare Short is herself quite infantile and counterproductive. She should drink a half dozen gin and tonics, try to get laid, and relax while the US shows how it is done. The UN has not the slightest clue, except to siphon off as much graft as possible.

Posted by: Bill Funt at December 31, 2004 02:27 PM

Why on earth should the US participate in an organization that is decidedly bigoted against the US? No, anything that the US can do to weaken the UN is a positive development, as it doesn't make sense to aid an enemy.

That is the price the rest of the world has to pay for its bigotry.

Posted by: RSN at December 31, 2004 02:29 PM

Michael:

The foreign aid totals always ignore the amounts U.S. citizens and business contribute. In this as in other charity situations when the money is counted and divided the US will be on top, even per capita. One of the reasons is because our government allows us as individuals to decide who to give to, and charity is always better when given individually rather then from government taxing us and taking away our choices.
The best charity is when it is voluntary, not forced.
As far as the UN is concerned it is a beaurocratic, bloggy institution. Although it has some good qualities I bet the 4 country coalition will be more efficient and effective. This does not stop the UN from helping, it just gives us more controll. After Oil for Food I find this to be a comforting idea.

Posted by: kevinpeters at December 31, 2004 03:33 PM

Michael:

This may have already been noted but lets not forget the political angle. Clare is still trying to make amends to the left wing of her party for supporting Blair and the Iraq war. Nothing like a little Bush bashing to warm the hearts of the Red Ken faction of her party.

Posted by: kevin P. at December 31, 2004 03:58 PM

Folks, I've just skimmed most of this commentary. Frankly I don't have the stomach to read in detail all the posturing and preening (from all sides).

I hope that all of you, while blogging, are also giving. This is one of the the largest disasters the world has seen. My wife and I have already decided to give several hundred dollars, and are just deciding on which charity.

Posted by: A.Canuck at December 31, 2004 04:45 PM

While I think that dear Clare was handicapped by her blinding bias, there is 'a' point to be gleaned from this.

In a time of crisis, it is 'usually' better to have one organized force, rather than multiple forces splitting resources. A single organized force can usually better minimize the overall beuraucracy and provide a more easily understood solution
**************************************************
that's certainly true, as true as it is the case that it would be better if it were NOT the UN doing it.

Why don't we listen to someone who is on the ground in that region, working 18 hours to aid in the disaster relief?

Flash! Clare Short is an Idiot!Do I really need to say anything more? "Only really the UN can do the job?" We have US C-130s flying in and out of here dropping off heaps of supplies; US choppers arrive today; USAID is doing a knock-out job of marshalling and coordinating US and local resources to deliver real assistance to real people. The Aussies have planes and troops delivering stuff; even the Indians have goods on the way. The UN? Nowhere to be seen. OK, I'm not being fair. Last night they played host to a big "coordination" meeting of donors to announce that the UNDP has another large "assessment and coordination team" team arriving. Our USAID guys, who've been working 18-20 hrs/day, came back furious from this meeting saying everybody would be dead if the delivery of aid waited for the UN to set up shop and begin "coordinating." The UN types are upset with the US, Ms. Short, dear, not because we're undermining them but because we're showing them up as totally inept.

So much stupidity . . . . Ms. Short and her ilk would rather have people die than have the US go it "alone" with its partners.
**************************************************
Emphasis added

Posted by: Dan Kauffman at December 31, 2004 08:33 PM

I do hope there is tracking of aid RECEIVED, not just money in aid pledged.
And Aid received today is FAR better than waiting till tomorrow.

The "Moral Authority War" is the real war of ideas going on in the US and the Christian based West. The Left is mostly those whose moral authority was founded on opposition to the US in Vietnam (implicitly supporting Killing Fields, though they deny it).

Establishing the criteria to judge moral authority is very important, and underdiscussed. The roles of the UN and the US, in comparison, are useful guides.

Aid per-person is the right metric, not as a % of GDP -- because other rich countries could have much higher GDP if they accepted lower taxes (like America), and lower gov't regulations (like America). They choose to have more gov't and less GDP, that's their choice. But their moral responsibility, per person, can't be less merely because they've chosen to be less rich. Can it?

Thank you, Michael, for remembering that the UN failed in Rwanda. It's also failing in the Congo, and the Sudan, today.

It's good if the UN helps in Asia. It's good if the US, India, Australia, Japan, or anybody else helps -- there's plenty of needy for absorbing aid.

The "Democracy Caucus" inside the UN needs to start exerting itself for change. The US should be reducing its UN support, and increasing alternatives. The "economies of scale" advantages of a single organization have long since been overtaken by the dis-economies of massive bureaucracy.

Happy New Year.

Posted by: Tom Grey at January 1, 2005 12:13 AM

The USA and its citizens are being vilified because it is fashionable in certain social circles. We need to forgive them the way Jesus did when he said “Father forgive them, for they no not what they do.”

Not a "Politically Correct" statement, tough, get over it! We shall move on and continue to do what is right. We are a great nation and the hope of the world.

Posted by: gene at January 1, 2005 10:14 AM

Llew Roberts,

We wouldn't be so quick to go around the UN had the UN not demonstrated for the 12 years leading up to the liberation of Iraq that they were all talk and no action. The UN has EARNED most of the contempt that it is currently being shown in this country. They did not get there overnight.

Posted by: David R. Block at January 1, 2005 07:12 PM

If I were a disaster victim I would be concerned with getting relief supplies, not which country or organization was supplying same. While the UN dawdles, gives press conferences and schedules donors' meetings, CNN is showing Americans delivering aid to the stricken. Who gives a flying squirrel what some "high" commissioners think about "unilateral action"?

The oil-for-food scandal has made me so cynical about the crooks in the UN that I wouldn't channel so much as a penny of relief money through them. I know I can trust individually funded charities and corporate America to get the goods where they're needed without bribing Tojo Annan or hiring Cotecna to "coordinate" the process. Nor am I interested in funding Engelund's air travel, Kofi's skiing vacation, or the plume of noxious gas perpetually issuing from UN Plaza.

Posted by: tomsyl at January 1, 2005 07:36 PM

Randy Paul,

I live in Taiwan. When we had a huge earthquake where thousands died a few years ago, the UN, Red Cross had to make sure all aid was "approved" by China before allowing it in. A lot of rescue teams were delayed by this.

Later, we had SARS. The WHO did not send anyone to help us. EU, France, Germany, Canada, Sweden: no one sent anyone. All too afraid of China.

The USA of course sent CDC teams to assist. One guy even got SARS while helping fix up our hospitals.

The UN has NO Moral authority when it can rationalize that 23 million people can be denied earthquake aid or WHO help in stopping an epidemic all because of China.

The UN is a joke. 23 million people in a democracy aren't allowed any say there.

France let in Yasser Arafat, but denied Taiwan's president a visa to allow him to PICK UP A HUMAN RIGHTS PRIZE AWARDED BY A EUROPEAN ASSOCIATION OF LIBERAL PARTIES.

They have no moral authority.

Posted by: Aaron at January 2, 2005 01:36 AM

Oh no. Not back to this "moral authority" nonsense.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 2, 2005 04:00 AM

Speaking of money, one of the more interesting side stories to this story is the one involving the Clintons: First, Bubba criticizes the U.S. from afar for not giving enough. Then he is asked if he gave any and how much. Hillary pops up and says, yes, they gave money but talking about amounts is 'inappopriate'.

Inappropriate? This from the couple who live for bragging about money.

Something ain't right in Doggertown, folks. Of course, given Bubba's buddy, Kofi, is up to his neck in the oil-for-food scandal, you don't suppose--

Nah. Yeah. Sure. Why not?

Posted by: James C. Hess at January 2, 2005 06:02 AM

Not back to this "moral authority" nonsense.

It is nonsense. That's Michael's point (and ours).

Posted by: David at January 2, 2005 07:53 AM

Oh no. Not back to this "moral authority" nonsense

If the UN is willing to withhold aid for fear of offending China, their authority should be questioned.

If you have a problem with the moral authority nonsense, talk to Ms. Short. She's the one who brought it up in the first place.

Posted by: mary at January 2, 2005 08:21 AM

Speaking "from moral authority" is the only way folk should be speaking -- and should always be part of the way listeners should listen.

Who has what moral authority, and why? This is also the critique against Liberal Bias in the press/ TV -- like Dan Rather's lie, versus ignoring the Swift Boats.

All the anti-American attacks are partially aimed at reducing the moral authority of the United States. Including overemphasizing any US mistakes (like Abu G.), and highlighting any action or inaction that can be criticized.

Just like many anti-Catholics do to the Pope; and many anti-Christians do to any Christian proponents.

When the Pope speaks against the Iraq war (which I favor), he DOES have moral authority -- he also speaks against abortion (which I'm also against), and mildly against the death penalty (which I'm fine with in theory, but often against particular unfair practices, and especially the execution of any innocents; which has happened).

Posted by: Tom Grey at January 2, 2005 09:30 AM

MT,

Since you wrote this the response of the world govt's, American Corporations, American citizens etc has been astounding!

Posted by: spc67 at January 2, 2005 10:01 AM

The UN has NO Moral authority when it can rationalize that 23 million people can be denied earthquake aid or WHO help in stopping an epidemic all because of China.

Er, the problem here is China, not the UN. It's China that is playing power politics with the lives of victims; the fact that the UN does not have the capacity to take China on has to do with the UN's structure and weakness, not with any moral authority issues. The UN is not a Great Power and never will be, so long as it is composed of Great Powers, which tend to be jealous of their prerogatives.

That said -- from my understanding, USAID is doing a better job of immediate relief than the UN is, which isn't entirely surprising. In the long term, however, the UN is better at sustaining projects than individual governments; we can harness bureaucratic inertia to our advantage when we want to keep projects functioning for longer than our attention spans. Putting the UN in Aceh also has the benefit of bringing to light Indonesia's dirty war; one of the reasons the infrastructure in Aceh is so bad (most of the reason, actually) is the civil conflict.

Posted by: Kimmitt at January 2, 2005 11:02 AM

Putting the UN in Aceh also has the benefit of bringing to light Indonesia's dirty war;

It's an anti-insurgency war against muslim separatists.

Is there anywhere on the globe where muslims aren't involved in one way or another with violence?

The indonesian insurgents AREN'T the good guys here.

Posted by: David at January 2, 2005 12:01 PM

In the long term, however, the UN is better at sustaining projects than individual governments;

The UN bleeds the money away due to corruption and bureaucratic attitudes. I think there are more efficient and meaningful ways to manage the aid.

It is interesting to note that African countries are starting to break with WHO on malaria management. WHO, in their greenie weenie way, had taken away DDT, with the result that malarial outbreaks increased, dramatically in some cases. That's the problem with a feel good organisation like the UN -- it only represents the interests of those who want to pat themselves on the back.

Posted by: chuck at January 2, 2005 02:17 PM

Go to Diplomadic for the latest UN office politics. Any decent leftist would throw these suckers up against the wall. Decent Americans will just revolt, as is our tradition.

Posted by: chuck at January 2, 2005 02:27 PM

He'd better be undermining, I'm not paying my taxes for nothing

Posted by: Chase at January 2, 2005 04:08 PM

The problem with Diplomad is that its simply not fair in its criticism, and does not show the whole picture.

Take this:

it's Yanks and Aussies doing the hard, sweaty work of saving lives.

It glorifies the Americans and Australians, but in its heavy critcism of the UN, it does not mention once that UN workers as well are working bloody hard in the disaster zone, with success too.

Were the Unicef boxes of supplies that I saw in the coverage a figment of my imagination?

Was the Sri Lankan UN aid worker I saw being interviewed, outlining his work - sweat on his brow - some sort of hallucination on my part?

Was Colin Powell in unity with Kofi Annan, acknowledging the UN's key role in organising the relief operation, a trick of the light?

Is the co-operation across nations, and between the UN and the USA (despite Diplomads silly sniping) a figment of my imagination?

Posted by: Benjamin at January 2, 2005 05:36 PM

It's called PR, Benjamin. Ever see a brochure, then compare it to the real thing? Sure, the UN has some dedicated workers. But the scale of this thing is enormous. I expect that most of the work is being done by the Indian government and NGO's, the Thai and Indonesian army and so forth. The US and Australia can offer unique capabilities of airlift, portable hospital facilities, and large numbers of trained personnel. Mostly what the UN tries to do is rebrand things, like the UNICEF packages. I for one am no longer inclined to let the UN take credit for our actions and our contributions.

Posted by: chuck at January 2, 2005 06:16 PM

THE U.N. BEING FORCED TO HEEL?

Insiders Take Kofi to the Shed

"He said that there were too many people in Annan's inner circle "who love to take potshots at the U.S. without focusing on the essentiality of the U.S. in getting things done" and that Annan was encouraged to make changes."

He described the group as people "who care deeply about the UN and believe that the UN cannot succeed if it is in open dispute and constant friction with its founding nation, its host nation and its largest contributor nation. The UN, without the U.S. behind it, is a failed institution."

http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/01/02/news/nations-4692309.html

Posted by: David at January 2, 2005 07:55 PM

David,

I was thinking about this. The US provides 22% of the UN operating budget, 27% of the peace keeping budget, and about 51% of the food aid, link. I've had it with this US bashing. The UN can go f*ck itself. Oh yes, Ms Short just helped the UN tons and tons. Yep. With friends like her it ain't going to last much longer.

Posted by: chuck at January 2, 2005 08:24 PM

Even though Indonesians generally hate us, pictures like this make me proud to be American:

U.S. Conducts its largest rescue operation ever

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/050102/481/xeh10701022202

Posted by: David at January 2, 2005 09:26 PM

Er, the problem here is China, not the UN. It's China that is playing power politics with the lives of victims; the fact that the UN does not have the capacity to take China on has to do with the UN's structure and weakness, not with any moral authority issues. The UN is not a Great Power and never will be, so long as it is composed of Great Powers, which tend to be jealous of their prerogatives.
Posted by Kimmitt at January 2, 2005 11:02 AM
**************************************************
You want to explain what China was going to do to
"Take on" the UN if they had rendered Aid to Taiwan?

I do believe it they had tried to cross the Formosa straights to intervene and prevent aid being delivered it would NOT have been the UN they would be facing.

Posted by: Daniel Kauffman at January 2, 2005 09:48 PM

chuck

I expect that most of the work is being done by the Indian government and NGO's, the Thai and Indonesian army and so forth.

You expect?

Its clear that you are reading only one side of the argument and not doing broader research on the UN role. This is a complex and long term operation and many institutions and groups are involved. The fact that some here have used this trajedy to attack the UN in such a ridiculous manner (even Roger L Simon refuses to use this tragedy for that) speaks volumes about them, not the UN, frankly. What we need is unity not political point scoring.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 2, 2005 10:16 PM

Benjamin,

The UN is dead. Oh, it still looks good. We will kiss it on the lips, and whisper loving nothings in its ear, but we don't love it anymore. Our heart belongs elsewhere.

You will be surprised how little it will be missed. The world will be a better place without all those UN coordinators taking up space in the four star hotels.

Posted by: chuck at January 2, 2005 11:00 PM

You want to explain what China was going to do to "Take on" the UN if they had rendered Aid to Taiwan?

China is a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council. The UN would literally cease to exist as an effective institution if China got serious about pressing the point.

And you still haven't addressed the real issue, which is Chinese indifference to the suffering of the Taiwanese. Blaming the victim much?

Posted by: Kimmitt at January 3, 2005 12:39 AM

Chuck

Yes, you are right there is wastage and what not. Too many plush hotels I am sure, very beguiling. But I am sure Americans stay in plush hotels too.

The UN is not dead. Financially it is not doing too badly, and the United States is not going to stop funding it - that is the only way it will die anytime soon. And remember we are at a peak of anti-UN feeling in the US govt - and STILL they fund it.

So the UN is not dead, far from it.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 3, 2005 01:11 AM

Michael has a UNICEF ad on his blog.

Ah, the irony. No moral authority, hey? ;-)

Posted by: Benjamin at January 3, 2005 01:49 AM

Today's Belmont Club has an interesting take on the UN's need to "remain in charge" and its consequent disconnect from reality. In a way, the U.N.'s lead role is a shadow play, not quite real given the need of indivdual governments to step up to the plate and take the lead.

In reality, the U.S. Army, the Australians, Indian government, and the Japanese (the nefarious and horrible "coalition" that Short is up in arms about) is doing an excellent job delivering critical supplies, from clean water to clothing, across the region.

If I was a survivor, I don't think I would care whether it was the U.S. Government, the local gendarme, or the Burmese junta who was ultimately responsible for delivering the bottle of water--I would accept it gratefully and drink it.

Posted by: Daniel Calto at January 3, 2005 06:50 AM

Posted by Kimmitt at January 3, 2005 12:39 AM

China is a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council. The UN would literally cease to exist as an effective institution if China got serious about pressing the point.
*************************************************
Less effective than it was in Rwanda and is in the Congo?
*************************************************

And you still haven't addressed the real issue, which is Chinese indifference to the suffering of the Taiwanese. Blaming the victim much?
*************************************************
The PRC WANTS to take over Taiwan. Not so much indifference as Diplomacy as "War by other Means"

Besides I have never stopped blaming the UN and our Government for taking a permanent member of the UN and declariing it to be 1) No longer a Nation and 2) Giving its seat to the PRC

Nor have I ever stopped blaming the West and the UN for refusing to meet with represenatives of Tibet when China invaded that tiny Nation.

As regards mainland China the UN has never had any moral courage whatsovever.

PS the VICTIM was Taiwan those at fault were the UN the PRC.

Posted by: Daniel Kauffman at January 3, 2005 10:41 AM

Besides I have never stopped blaming the UN and our Government for taking a permanent member of the UN and declariing it to be 1) No longer a Nation and 2) Giving its seat to the PRC

Oh, you're a crank. Sorry to have gotten involved, then. Thanks for the heads up.

Posted by: Kimmitt at January 3, 2005 11:09 AM
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