January 7, 2005
TSUNAMI: U.S. RELIEF AIMS TO 'COUNTER ANTI-U.S. SENTIMENT' AMONG MUSLIMS
** The "matchless" U.S. effort will have a "longstanding positive impact" on its global image.
** Dailies praise the Jakarta summit for organizing the "unprecedented flow" of global aid.
** Scrutiny of global pledges infers it is a "political mistake not to contribute generously."
** Chinese, leftist writers blast Washington's "hegemonic mentality."
Opportunity 'to change America's image'-- Papers agreed the U.S.' "massive humanitarian operations" seek to "regain prestige among Muslims" by presenting a "more positive image" of its military. A German daily said the "catastrophe offers the U.S. the opportunity to correct its negative image" after the "widely unpopular" Iraq invasion. Many noted the "political benefits of using military resources for direct relief of suffering" instead of war. Japan's liberal Asahi stated the U.S.' "sheer logistical superiority" is "highly welcome" regardless of motive; in this "unprecedented tragedy" the "world needs the Americans."
Dealing with the 'most severe and unprecedented catastrophe in history'-- Outlets agreed the Jakarta conference succeeded in ensuring "consistent and intensified international assistance," as well enhancing the "coordination and supervision" of relief work. Britain's center-left Independent termed it a "timely opportunity for the world to translate its good intentions into reality." Numerous writers hailed Secretary Powell's "fortunate inspiration" to "let the UN direct" relief efforts. Hong Kong's pro-PRC Wen Wei Po opined that the UN was "appropriate to coordinate" global assistance versus the U.S. plan for an "ad hoc coalition" of aid providers; such "provocative unilateralism" was a "calculated snub to the UN."
'Mean and inadequate'-- Critics slammed the West's "so stingy" donations. A German writer lamented Europe's "unexpected failure in supplying humanitarian aid" while an Indian outlet assailed the "negligible" U.S. pledge. But many others contrasted the West's "unprecedented generosity" with the "poor and inexcusable showing made by Muslim countries." Malaysia's government-influenced Harakah Daily accused Arabs of "not being proactive" in easing the "misery of their fellow Muslims." Algeria's influential Le Quotidien d'Oran judged the "Western world...superior to us...for its morality." Other media focused on dangers to "helpless" survivors, such as "human trafficking" and "pedophile exploitation."
'Nothing but a bid to pave the way for future military operations'-- Chinese dailies contended the U.S. military's "leading role in disaster relief" may just provide an "opportunity to interfere in South Asian affairs"; Beijing's official World News Journal warned there is "more involved in the deployment than simply disaster aid." An Indian writer advised that the U.S. presence needs "to be watched and monitored carefully." A few papers noted the "rivalry between the U.S. and China"; an Italian daily said the U.S. effort seeks to "regain hegemony...where it has been losing ground to China." France's right-of-center Le Figaro stressed China's "desire not to let the West and Japan have a free hand."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, email@example.com
EDITOR: Ben Goldberg
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 139 reports from 39 countries over 31 December 2004 - 7 January 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "Good Intentions Must Now Be Turned Into Reality"
An editorial in the center-left Independent read (1/6): "The summit should make a rigid distinction between emergency aid and development aid. Both are needed, but the priority for now is still emergency aid. Millions of people across the region are desperate for food, water, shelter and medicines.... The international response has so far been impressive, particularly--and perhaps unexpectedly--from the US. This summit is a timely opportunity for the world to translate its good intentions into reality.”
"America The Bountiful"
An editorial in the conservative Daily Telegraph read (1/5): "As might be expected of the world’s only superpower, America is now at the forefront in delivering emergency aid.... A coalition of the willing that can deliver aid promptly is surely preferable to the cumbersome procedures of the UN.... And if the world body feels cold-shouldered by its most powerful member, it should reflect on its inadequate response to the challenge posed by Saddam Hussein, indeed on allegations that its officials were corrupted by that tyrant through the oil-for-food program. Mr. Bush is setting out less to undermine the UN than to put America’s best foot forward in a region where the invasion of Iraq has been widely unpopular and where, in the case of Indonesia, Islamic terrorists have shown their mettle. It may seem depressing that a natural catastrophe should so soon become politicized. But the litmus test should be effectiveness, and there Washington and its allies are proving their worth.”
Patrick Sabatier wrote in left-of-center Liberation (1/7): “Public opinion is well aware of the political publicity approach that lies behind the big show in Jakarta.... But the race for pledges is better than the arms race.... The most positive element of the summit was the fact that the U.S. gave up on its idea to rob the UN of its natural role.... But the quantity of money pledged does not guarantee effectiveness.... Aid must be used intelligently, avoiding waste and corruption, two frequent ills found when dealing with disaster and in these regions. Otherwise the apocalypse of the tsunami could be followed by other apocalypses.”
"China’s Other Awakening"
Michel Schifres noted in right-of-center Le Figaro (1/7): “The race to give to the tsunami survivors has also led many nations to clarify their political choices and orientation.... One example is China.... For the first time, in the wake of a worldwide tragedy, China has reacted like any other western nation and acted like any other developed nation, thus revealing its aspiration to become part of the concert of nations.... China, like India, is proving its regional responsibility in the face of the disaster, and its desire not to let the West and Japan have a free hand. Beyond its sincere humanitarian concern, China’s political ambition is obvious.”
"A New World Order"
Bruno Frappat noted in Catholic La Croix (1/6): “For this real war in the name of good, there is no army chief of staff, no ‘master of the world'.... In Jakarta, where a conference is attempting to organize the unprecedented flow of generosity, let us try to forget, for a time, ulterior motives, rivalries and competition about the ‘communication’ strategies which are being elaborated.”
"Soldiers Of Life"
Charles Lambroschini wrote in right-of-center Le Figaro (1/6): “By helping one of the countries with the largest Muslim population the U.S. is taking advantage of an opportunity to erase its image of enemy of Islam. As opposed to the intervention in Iraq, the GIs are not coming to Asia as conquerors but as saviors.... Sixty years after the Marshall plan, this strategy of generosity responds to the same motivations. George Bush’s decision to multiply by ten America’s aid is devoid of any ambiguity.... The U.S. soldiers landing in Asia have here no reason to use their weapons.... Whereas in Vietnam the Americans were unable to conquer the ‘hearts and minds,’ there is in Asia no possibility for confusion. As Clausewitz once said, a natural disaster can also lead to doing politics differently.”
Gerard Dupuy held in left-of-center Liberation (1/6): “In Asia, the U.S. is finding an unhoped for and respectable new way to use its war machine, just when its superiority is producing the worst possible political results in Iraq. But those who criticize Washington’s ulterior motives have similar intentions.”
"Making Proper Use Of A Disaster"
Jacques Amalric maintained in left-of-center Liberation (1/6): "When President Bush became aware that the tsunami disaster could help Washington project a more positive image of the U.S. Army to the world than the one coming from Iraq, he turned the 15 million dollars into 350.... Nothing as yet proves that the disaster in South Asia will allow Washington to project the image of the ‘empire of good’ and to erase the Iraqi fiasco.... But there are many reasons why we must put on hold all our indecent rivalries and confirm the UN in its role as sole coordinator for the emergency relief effort and for the reconstruction and development needs that will continue for years.”
GERMANY: "Race Of Sympathizers"
Stefan Kornelius held in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (1/7): "The U.S. boastfully led the aid group before U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell found the fortunate inspiration in Jakarta to put his country's service under the umbrella of the UN. At least, Powell was honest enough about the purpose of the American government's relief efforts. Of course, the U.S. military is on an image campaign by handing out water bottles and bags of rice to Muslim people. President Bush, formerly snubbed because of his stinginess, corrected the error and secured further influence."
"Wave Of Help"
Center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine editorialized (1/7): "The massive presence of foreign troops and aid organizations in the region also poses dangers. Due to the lack of adequate partners in the affected countries, they will have to take many things into their own hands. But their sheer logistical superiority will push aside any self-initiatives. It would not be the first time that western support destroys existing structures and creates dependencies."
"The World Is A Region"
Centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin observed (1/7): "The Jakarta summit's decision to establish an early warning system reflects a new feeling of responsibility. This is unprecedented in this politically heterogeneous region. Hopefully, there will be more of it soon. For instance, Sri Lanka's government forbid rebuilding houses close to the sea. This would have saved many lives. Both examples show that the catastrophe is not a global one that needs a global response, as UN General-Secretary said in Jakarta. First of all, it is a regional catastrophe that needs a sustained regional response. The division of labor should be that donations are collected across the world and changes are made in the region."
Dietmar Ostermann asserted in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (1/7): "Neither Washington nor European capitals will disregard their national interests, but Colin Powell's confession that he has never seen something like the destruction in Sumatra is more than an individual shock. The Secretary of State is shaking the American mythos that nothing can be as bad as the attacks on September 11. Since then, this mythos was the foundation of U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. military presence in the Indian Ocean must not necessarily mean an end of this shortsighted period, but President Bush has assembled more U.S. troops for the humanitarian mission than there are in Afghanistan looking for bin Laden. A short time ago, the U.S. president just wanted to talk about terrorism at international summits. In future, there might be other issues on the agenda as well."
Eric Bonse contended in business-oriented Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (1/7): "The world is not as bad as it looks. Just non-governmental organizations headed there when the tsunami hit, but neither U.S. President Bush saw any reason to cancel his Christmas vacation at his Crawford ranch nor was the European Union's reaction appropriate.... Two weeks later the picture has completely changed. The U.S. clearly nails its colors in the region by launching the largest U.S. military mission since the Vietnam War and the EU vowing more and more help.... Never before has the international community replied so intensively to a natural disaster. Never before have private people and companies donated so much money.... But we should not deceive ourselves. Helpers do not just have noble motives, but also pursue economic and political interests. If the tsunamis had hit a different region, one which is touristically, economically and strategically less interesting, Americans and Europeans would have been less committed. There is little western help to be seen in Somalia, which was also hit by the tsunamis. And there is no longer any talk about Iran, which was devastated by a quake a year ago.... The catastrophe offers the U.S. the opportunity to correct it negative image, and Europeans can sharpen their profile in the region. It looked like the U.S. was ahead in the race, because it was the first force present in the region and coordinated the relief efforts. But things have now changed. The EU leads the donor list and the U.S. dissolved its core group, while the UN is scheduled to take the lead, as the EU demanded. But this could turn out as a Pyrrhic victory. The U.S. government takes every chance to weaken the UN. If the UN were to overextend its power in Asia, it could have a disastrous effect for the organization."
"Little Respect For Europe"
Jochen Buchsteiner commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (1/6): "Europe's performance at the moment is not very persuasive. There is no lack of expressing sympathy; it is reflected in the citizen's willingness to make donations and the government's generous pledges. But those have barely helped the terribly suffering victims and survivors living along Asia's coastlines. The first foreign aid they saw came from Australia, India and, above all, America. Of course, this also has to do with the distance and capacities. Hercules planes taking off in Singapore reach Sumatra faster than those coming from Europe. The governments and military headquarters in the region are also better connected than with their distant European partners. However, these arguments are loosing ground ten days after the catastrophe.... Europe shows weak spots in an area where it always felt superior to America. The unexpected failure in supplying humanitarian aid raises questions about Europe's political identity.... Europe lacks the power, presence and resources to make a logistical contribution to the world's greatest international rescue mission. Not the nice guys provide effective help, but the strongest. The go-ahead was not given in Brussels or Berlin but in Washington. President Bush announced that America, India, Japan and Australia make the core group--Europe was missing. A short time later, six thousand U.S. Marines reached Aceh.... The moaning at the UN, which felt pushed aside in its traditional role as coordinator of humanitarian missions, did not last long. Kofi Annan's right hand, the Norwegian Jan Egeland, was full of praise for Americans in recent days. Without their military logistics, no quick help would have been possible.... This will not be Europe's last experience of an insidious decline in importance."
Business-oriented Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg editorialized (1/6): "The UN donor conference scheduled to take place in Geneva next week will not have a complete report about the damages and will not be able to assess whether the currently collected money is sufficient. But it can set the decisive course. The conference must make sure that the coordination for the immediate and the reconstruction aid in the most affected countries will be under one command. This should be the organization most experienced with such matter--the UN."
Carl Graf Hohenthal asserted in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (1/6): "It is right that the German government upped its formerly modest aid, but the current numbers imply a selfish competition between donors. The enormous private fundraiser of 200 million euros is absolutely impressive. Given this private aid, one must ask the question whether the state should not be more restraint. Recent statements about megalomania and fraud are not so wrong, because the [German] government spends money it does not have, unlike private donors."
Stephan-Andreas Casdorff observed in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (1/6): "Germany is now leading the list of donors, and is even in front of the U.S. There is a message for many sides. At home, people are told that the state matches private efforts. People abroad are told that Germans are reconstruction champions and because Germans know what global solidarity means they know what they must do now. The third message goes to the great powers in international politics, the U.S. in particular: 'See what we, who you once offered a partnership in leadership, are able to achieve.' Germans, the people and the state, are behaving appropriately. Bill Clinton had the idea that countries should form groups to help regions in Asia. Schroeder now had the idea that towns should help towns and villages should help villages. Things will come together and lead to something visible. This is the way somebody, who wants to become a permanent UNSC member, can win respect."
Siegfried Buschschlueter said on national radio station Deutschlandfunk of Cologne (1/5): "What the U.S. has been pulling off with their military resources in the tsunami disaster is impressive. The pictures speak volumes. When an armada is mobilized to provide aid, dozens of U.S. helicopters are in action for humanitarian purposes, and GIs help people in need, it can bury the pictures of daily violence in Iraq. That is a true opportunity to change America's image in the Muslim world--but it will only happen if the immediate aid will turn into long-term engagement."
"Make Peace A Priority"
Wolfgang Labuhn contended on national radio station DeutschlandRadio of Berlin (1/5): "The UN and EU, Washington and Tokyo would be well-advised to take the opportunity of the tremendous catastrophe in South Asia and make peace negotiations a condition for their humanitarian aid vows. The poor country of Sri Lanka affords an army of 150,000 troops and the forces of the Indonesian oil producer are larger than the German army. Their soldiers and military logistics could make themselves very useful in the reconstruction efforts if they no longer had to fight rebels."
"Phoenix From The Waves"
Wolfgang Koydl commented in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (1/5): "The world has painted a picture of U.S. soldiers in recent years that cannot be called complimentary. Pictures taken in Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, in Khandahar and Fallujah define this image.... In recent days, the world has seen different pictures. They show American soldiers distributing water bottles, transporting aid goods and rescuing victims.... There is a link between these pictures: the Asian tsunamis are supposed to wash away the memory of the Iraqi dirt. Indeed, the tsunamis in the Indian Ocean offer the U.S. an opportunity to improve its image.... After having kept silent for an embarrassingly long time, George Bush jr. is now doing everything to make up for the time lost.... More important than the money is the symbolism.... Bush makes clear beyond all political divisions in his country that America is united to help the poorest in the world.... Generosity must not be misunderstood as sentimentality. Bush has made clear in recent days that he understands America's support as a welcome means to boost his foreign policy agenda. This includes continuing discrediting the UN.... It is significant that Bush is forging a coalition of the willing to coordinate aid measures, similarly to the military alliance in Iraq: India, Japan and Australia were previously supposed to coordinate the relief efforts. Only later and reluctantly, Washington welcomed the UN on board.... It is still unclear who will do this faster and better. The goal is more difficult for the U.S., which is not always America's fault. In the Indonesian province of Aceh, Muslim organizations rejected the idea of female helpers as long as they do not wear Muslim scarves. No quake seems to be strong enough to tear down the foundations of hatred and prejudices."
Pierre Simonitsch observed in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (1/5): "Never before have people in the world shown so much solidarity like for the victims of the quake in the Indian Ocean. The U.S. government knows how to benefit from the circumstance and does not put too much burden on the already deficit-strained budget. Together with the former presidents Clinton and Bush sr., George Bush jr. has now called upon people to make donations. Compassion is a private matter in the U.S. It is not yet clear how Washington plans to spend the money. At the beginning of the New Year, Bush said the U.S., Japan and Australia would start an operation independent from the UN. This caused some annoyance at the UN, as it recalled the scenario of the coalition of the willing, through which the U.S. waged war in Iraq. Was this latest move meant to exclude international humanitarian organizations? There is no clear answer to this question yet, but such an attitude of the current U.S. administration is conceivable. The relations between the U.S. and the UN are at an absolute low."
Right-of-center Fraenkischer Tag of Bamberg asserted (1/5): "Aid organizations and the UN already see the limits of their capacities. They fail to get urgently required aid to the places where it is needed most. This has many reasons; for instance, logistical problems occur when the crises region lacks the infrastructure. But other reasons are also a lack of coordination or even the misery of corruption in state apparatuses of the countries affected. There is also the danger that the help turns into mere activity for the cameras of this world. As we know, only the issues of which pictures exist matter."
"Coalition For Reconstruction"
Right-of-center Wetzler Neue Zeitung editorialized (1/5): "Even in the hour of greatest need, U.S. President Bush acts coolly and rationally. Given the Asian tragedy, he tries to turn the frail coalition of the willing forged for the war in Iraq into a coalition of countries willing to boost reconstruction. Neither Europe nor the United Nations are part of this plan. Europeans are now given the opportunity to be the better reconstruction helpers in the crises region. Not just the amount of the money pledged will be important, but also the quality of relief efforts."
Centrist Badische Zeitung of Freiburg noted (1/5): "Apart from the humanitarian aid, the Bush administration is certainly pursuing a strategic interest as well. It will woo Indonesia's Muslims, who see George Bush's war on terror as an excessive retaliation for September 11. This will work as long as it will not turn into a PR campaign. Washington's new interest in Indonesia might even lead to Washington discovering the effectiveness of civil aid in the fight against terrorism. This would not be the tsunamis' worst side effect."
ITALY: "Bush Sends The Right Signals"
Mario Platero remarked in leading business-oriented Il Sole 24 Ore (1/7): “Yesterday, both Colin Powell and Kofi Annan minimized the story: the independent group organized by the U.S. only had an initial catalytic role, and the natural outcome for the management of the relief funds for the Asian disaster is the UN. Some days earlier comments sounded much more ambiguous...thus raising a polemic about White House provocative unilateralism.... Thank God now we can reason about the best way to help...and, for the first time, we will see American aircraft carriers carrying out peace missions.”
"Bush’s Step Back"
Aldo Rizzo stated in centrist, influential La Stampa (1/7): “In the first days after the disaster, the behavior of the American superpower was typical: after an initial hesitation as if it did not realize how huge the tragedy was, the U.S. asked to lead humanitarian operations, ignoring the UN and suggesting an ad-hoc coalition of states. Very clearly, its desire was to show the poor world, especially the Islamic one, another image of America. A totally positive one, as opposed to the one of the war in Iraq.... But Secretary Powell in Jakarta announced the superpower’s step back.... Let’s wait and see, possibly also beyond the tragedy in the Indian Ocean, if we really have a move towards the end or the lessening of ‘unilateralism,’ provided that the UN...is able to grasp this dramatic and crucial opportunity to obtain new impetus.”
"The Chessboard Of Assistance"
Federico Rampini opined in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (1/7): “‘Competitive charity:’ this is how Jan Egeland, of the UN, defined the Jakarta summit.... Indeed, people’s immense emotion about the tragedy, and the high number of Western victims, pushed each and every government to move. But the emotions will fade away, and at the Jakarta summit everyone is thinking about the ‘day after.’ America is determined to use its humanitarian aid to regain hegemony in an area were it has been losing ground to China. Two loyal allies, Japan and Australia, support Bush with a significant financial effort. China reacts, and for the first time in its history, steps into a humanitarian operation abroad...even India has a power-like approach and even if it is a country struck by the tsunami, it is using the leverage of assistance towards less rich neighboring countries. On such a chessboard, Indonesia plays a key role.... It was just a miracle that it was able to convince the Americans to let the UN direct the operations. The UN Secretary-General invited donors to make good on pledges.... Indeed, he was talking from experience.”
"God Save America"
Massimo Teodori maintained in pro-government, leading center-right Il Giornale (1/5): “America keeps on astonishing us and making us admire it. Once again, faced with the epochal disaster of the tsunami, the U.S. showed us its genius, which is based on three main pillars: organization, idealism and interest. This is the reason why the world needs the Americans, and the Americans cannot but be anchored to the international system.”
"The Two Faces Of Europe"
Bernardo Valli opined in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (1/5): “America acts. Europe doubts. America is a sort of prisoner of a dream, the dream of its power, that is real...and thinks it will last forever. Therefore, it acts. On the contrary, Europe wonders, fancies its unity but is anchored to the old national vanities, looks at the mirror and asks itself 'am I or am I not'.... Unanimously, Europe showed its generosity...but in terms of launching a common action, the European capitals minded their own businesses.... America is already in place with its ‘Abraham Lincoln’ aircraft carrier. Well, we know that in every corner in the world there is an American base. Its ships and planes get to any place fast. But in this case...we should simply acknowledge that on this occasion of world emergency, after some initial hesitation, and after overcoming the irresistible temptation to supplant the UN as main coordinator, Americans have been able to offer a united front. Republican George W. Bush presented himself as the great provider of relief, having at his side his Democratic predecessor Bill Clinton. The two faces of America stay together. The one is hypnotized by the imperial mission, and the secular one, which is however fully aware of its responsibilities as superpower.”
"The UN False Moves"
Gianni Riotta said in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (1/5): “The tsunami...also hit the precarious balance established after the war on Iraq. While the UN Secretary General thinks about the future, President George W. Bush calls on his predecessors...to galvanize relief efforts.... Tomorrow in Jakarta, Chinese, Japanese, American and EU leaders will meet. But Bush was the quickest one to seize the occasion to contrast the rancor following the attack on Saddam Hussein. 350 million dollars. The US Army ready to build bridges and feed children, charity organizations called upon and mobilizing with generosity. This will be the backdrop for President Bush’s inaugural celebration of his second term. The icon of the Fighter will be tempered by the one of the Samaritan.... And the UN loses its front-row seat in the effort to save million of starving, sick and injured children.... Indeed, also for the Europeans, the alarm bell is ringing: the EU must learn to react to calamities with a unitary task force, not only with national contributions.”
AUSTRIA: "The World Is Indivisible--Hopefully For Longer"
Reinhard Goeweil maintained in mass-circulation Kurier (1/7): "The case of the tsunami catastrophe will show how serious the richer countries really are about enhancing prosperity in the poorer regions of the world. This has been a standard goal formulated during international conferences; however, little has happened so far. The real test will come when the flood catastrophe begins to disappear from the international media over the coming weeks.... The world is indivisible. If this lofty statement is going to have long-term validity, the rich countries will have to sit down after the tsunami catastrophe and fight in a similarly impressive way against starvation in Africa, the AIDS threat, pointless civil wars in countries that are poor anyway. Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown mentioned such a comprehensive Marshall Plan. Germany's Chancellor Schroeder said that 'our world is indivisible.' How much of that will remain lip service, only the future will show. Perhaps this statement will be valid only as long as dead European tourists and crying Asian children on the coasts of Asia remain in our memories. But perhaps so much money will be collected until then that assistance can be given even beyond that time."
"Disaster Offers A Chance"
Christoph Prantner commented in independent Der Standard (1/7): "Even if the final document in Djakarta did not officially affirm the leading role of the UN in the tsunami catastrophe, the organization has been granted more flexibility than in many other global crises. Why? Secretary General Kofi Annan has obviously bent to Washington's wishes in his latest personnel decisions. The U.S., on the other hand, has every interest in demonstrating it does not act against every Muslim country (aid for Indonesia), that it does not principally ignore the UN (Iraq) and that it does not subject its assistance in catastrophe cases to unilateralist power fantasies. Accordingly, outgoing U.S Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke without being pressured of the leading role of the UN. The Tsunami region seems to represent a kind of neutral territory for world politics, where national strategic intentions play a certain role, but do not harm the higher interest of the international community--for the time being at least. Thus, the disaster offers a chance for the UN. If it fails to make use of this chance, a political catastrophe in New York is to be expected."
"To-Do List After The Mourning"
Senior editor Christoph Kotanko opined in mass-circulation Kurier (1/7): "Internationally, there is much talk of strengthened development assistance cooperation. Canceling the debts of those countries that are most seriously affected by the tsunami catastrophe is something the industrialized nations could certainly manage. After such a Donor's Conference the spectrum of cooperation could be expanded, for instance through supporting the establishment of early warning systems, catastrophe prevention, earthquake-proof buildings and infrastructure projects. This, however, also requires a reorientation on the part of the governments in the region.... New, improved development cooperation should bind the regional potentates to a greater degree. It should be more political and take into consideration the divided societies where a minority is unbelievably wealthy and the majority of the population lives in abject poverty. More help is needed--not just in South East Asia after the tsunami. The people in Africa are suffering just the same--even if they hardly ever make the headlines. South of the Sahara, masses of people are dying every day--in Congo alone the civil war has been responsible for up to five million deaths over the past few years. Sudan, Somalia, Sierra Leone--they are all death zones. They must not be forgotten in the new global order for development aid."
"Humanitarian World Domination"
Foreign editor Christian Ultsch commented in centrist Die Presse (1/5): "No matter how much good Americans do, they will always be accused of acting in bad faith. Everything that does not fit the anti-American worldview simply can't be.... Anti-American thinking is always in vogue, even in the face of a natural disaster like in Asia. It follows a single, simple rule: The U.S. has to be criticized at all costs, no matter what Washington does. Of course, the current U.S. disaster aid measures have a political dimension. It would be naïve to deny that. There is no purely humanitarian intervention. Political considerations play a role in any nation's decision. Still, we have to keep things in perspective and remain fair. It would be absurd to imply that the US relief mission in Asia's prime objective is anything other than helping the people there. On the other hand, the skeptical reactions show how much goodwill the Americans have gambled away over time."
BELGIUM: "Tsunami Disaster"
Paul Geudens observed in conservative Christian-Democrat Gazet van Antwerpen (1/7): "Just twelve days after the horrible disaster in Southeast Asia leaders of the richest countries came together in the ravaged region to open their wallets--and already there is a lot of very negative criticism like ‘macabre competition, pure self-interest, an attempt to improve one’s image, non-binding promises, etc.’ Of course, as usual it is mainly the Americans who are criticized. First, the U.S. wants to score good points in the Muslim world. By launching major aid operations in ravaged countries that are predominantly Muslim the U.S. wants to improve its bad reputation caused by the war in Iraq. The Americans want to build goodwill in the Arab world. Actually, some say indirectly, the victims in Indonesia and Sri Lanka are abused for strategic and political goals. However, imagine that the Americans did not go to the ravaged region with money, people, helicopters and ships. One would hear a lot of criticism. To be honest, one must admit that the Americans are usually the first to be on the spot when large-scale aid operations are needed, no matter how wrong they may be in Iraq. Second, the U.S. prefers to act unilaterally. It ignores the UN and Europe. That is true. Bush is not the most collegial world leader. However, he has a very good excuse to leave both the UN and the EU on the sidelines. In the past, both institutions did not stand out with decisiveness and willingness to act. Think about the civil wars in the Balkans or Rwanda where the genocide claimed four times more lives than the December 26 tragedy in Asia. Where were the UN at that moment? Where was the EU? Where are they today in Darfur?.... There is a competition going on between the U.S., Japan, Australia and Europe which is not inspired by love for their fellow men only. However, that should not make us forget the key issue: enormous amounts of money, means and people are needed to alleviate the most urgent needs. At this moment, the victims of the disaster don’t need political, economic or financial games and analysis. From that point of view, last Thursday’s donor conference was a success. Large-scale and worldwide solidarity emerged--with or without a hidden agenda.”
"Taking The Lead"
Foreign editor Paul De Bruyn wrote in conservative Christian-Democrat Gazet van Antwerpen (1/5): "No one can deny it: the Americans are taking the lead in the aid operations. President Bush has dispatched aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln (to the area) and Marine helicopters are airlifting aid to Sumatra. Former Presidents George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton will raise funds. Washington is also thinking about (the creation of) a Marshall plan for Southeast Asia. Of course, part of all this is inspired by political opportunism. Washington knows very well how bad Bush’s image is abroad. The war in Iraq has damaged America’s image very much. Consequently, it is very important to try to improve that image of evil empire. By presenting themselves as providers of aid the Americans hope to create a lot of goodwill. But, their reasoning is not based on opportunism only. The desire to be a ‘force for good’ and a superpower that helps the world lies in their nature. Bush, too, wants that. The fact that he has increased development aid is often absent in criticism on him. What Bush is doing now is part of the American tradition.”
IRELAND: "Keeping Aid A Priority"
The center-left Irish Times declared (1/7): "A good day's work was done in Jakarta yesterday when an emergency summit pledged immediate and long-term aid to victims of the Indian Ocean disaster.... Now that overall responsibility for providing relief has been agreed between the UN, the countries directly involved and regional and world powers, a highly demanding challenge to ensure it is delivered upon is posed.... This is a vital issue. Otherwise resources will be displaced from one world region needing these funds to the Indian Ocean disaster.... African countries are much more vulnerable economically than the Asian states involved.... In fact the economic impact of the disaster is small for Indonesia and India, though more severe for Thailand's tourism and Sri Lanka's fisheries. There is good reason to hope that the outpouring of sympathy and human solidarity can be channeled constructively towards more long-term disaster relief and developmental goals if public pressure is kept up and political leadership provided. The striking images of suffering and devastation from Aceh and Sri Lanka create a demand for logistical and military facilities best met by organizing them on a standing basis, not an ad-hoc one. This would have to be organized as a partnership between the UN and its member-states. World powers are learning the political benefits of using military resources for direct relief of suffering, rather than war-making, through this crisis, as well as harnessing the assets of charitable and developmental agencies. Debt relief for those affected has also a vital, if nuanced, role to play in relating disaster relief to developmental goals. The crisis has put this issue squarely on the international agenda. It must now be kept there.”
"Jakarta Summit: Newfound Cooperation Very Positive"
The left-of-center Irish Examiner editorialized (1/7): "Yesterday’s overdue decision to establish a tsunami early-warning system in the Indian Ocean...is welcome.... A more immediate challenge facing the meeting in Jakarta...is to streamline the distribution of aid in the aftermath of one of the greatest calamities in human history. The first priority should be to freeze or erase repayments of debts owed by devastated countries to the rich nations of the western world. Significantly, the welcome spirit of co-operation at the conference follows the U.S decision to scrap a separate relief group it had proposed. In the maelstrom of a global emergency, it seems the White House has awoken to the inherent danger of trying to advance its hegemonic ambitions.... Hopefully, this newfound co-operation between the UN and America marks a first step, however tentative, towards the creation of an international rapid response group capable of bringing aid to communities caught up in future disasters."
"Aid Effort--Promises Need To Be Acted On"
The left-of-center Irish Examiner opined (1/6): "US Secretary of the State Colin Powell was particularly moving in his expression of horror at the scenes of devastation.... He said he never saw anything comparable to them even in wartime and he pledged that the US will provide even more aid.... Posturing about whether the US, UN or EU can organize the most effective aid need not concern us, so long as they provide the promised aid without further delay. Competition in proving their effectiveness could be healthy in this instance; they can argue about who did it best later. Suggestions have been made about canceling the foreign debts of those countries worst hit by the tsunami...but it will do little or nothing to help with the immediate problems of the people. What they need now is the help and assistance that money can buy. There is particular urgency in view of the danger of the outbreak of a disease that could lead to even greater loss of life. There is also the danger of orphaned children being exploited. Thailand is blighted by paedophile exploitation.... What victims need most is immediate aid to be delivered to the devastated areas. This requires that kind of logistic support that armies supply best. Foreign, development aid and health ministers from the 25 EU states will meet in Brussels tomorrow to ensure the proper co-ordination of EU efforts. The three-minute silence observed throughout the EU yesterday may have provided time for reflection on the disaster, and may even help to solidify pressure on the national governments to provide, not just money but also the necessary logistic support. The silence will have been utterly meaningless, however, if it is not followed up with practical assistance.”
"A Challenge For The World"
The center-left Irish Times editorialized (1/5): "A conference tomorrow in Indonesia will consider how best to coordinate rescue and relief activities and plan ahead. Experience shows these efforts often fail at this level. Aid all too frequently does not reach those who need it most. Public and private, national and international approaches must be combined in this work. There is a genuine opportunity to turn the crisis to long term advantage for the benefit of humanity as a whole.... The best umbrella organization to co-ordinate these tasks remains the UN, despite its imperfections. Improving its capacity to respond rapidly to natural and human disasters will ensure they are more effectively dealt with in future. Recent changes in UN policy have made it more ready to work with regional organizations such as the EU and ad hoc groups such as the one initiated by the United States, Indonesia, India and Japan in the Indian Ocean relief effort. Such coalitions are welcome, but should not become, for political reasons, the focus of competition arising from suspicions best resolved elsewhere, such as that between the Bush administration and the UN Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan. The US has announced an ambitious aid program for the region with a high profile leadership. It has much to gain from what will be its largest deployment in south Asia since the Vietnam war, notably by improving its profile in the world's most numerous Muslim nation, which has been badly affected by Iraq and Middle East policies. An unseemly row over delivering the relief would undermine such goodwill. Indonesia and India themselves have large armed forces which should be able to do much of the work required. Indonesians have nevertheless welcomed US naval vessels and helicopters, since only the best equipped forces have such facilities readily available. Indonesia and the Sri Lankan rebel provinces have been most affected by the disaster. Relieving them is a crucial test of humanitarian effectiveness in this crisis.”
"And There Is Still Hope"
The center-right populist Irish Independent declared (1/5): "But the scope of any single aid organization is necessarily limited. And there is, inevitably, a risk of duplication. The humanitarian effort must be coordinated. In that work, one organization, the UN, has always been pre-eminent. The UN has been going through a bad period, buffeted on one side by allegations of corruption, on the other by the cavalier attitude of the U.S., the world's only remaining superpower. Whether it can do the present job effectively depends in large part on U.S. co-operation or otherwise. So far the signs are propitious. The Bush administration has vastly increased the funds and personnel committed, and the American establishment more generally wants to answer what Bill Clinton calls the ‘bum rap’ of U.S. parsimony. But bigger tests will come: a reconstruction program far more expensive than the immediate disaster relief, and such guidance as may be possible for moves towards peace for several troubled countries in the region. Gordon Brown suggests a debt moratorium. That should not be at the expense of countries already suffering from man-made catastrophes. Rather it should form part of a thrust, moved by a new spirit, in favor of the vulnerable. To create the spirit, and carry on the thrust, the UN will be more necessary than ever.”
"U.S. Realizes Late That Aid To Muslims Enhances Its Image"
Conor O'Clery commented in the center-left Irish Times (1/5): "The U.S. response to the tsunami disaster is of strategic importance. The surprising thing is that the Bush administration did not see right from the start the public relations benefits of pictures of American helicopter crews distributing fresh water to Muslims in Indonesia rather than firing bullets at insurgents in Iraq. But it was unquestionably tardy in its initial response.... Bush had remained secluded in his ranch in Crawford, Texas, in contrast to the instantaneous response of many world leaders to the September 11th attacks.... By not speaking out he was missing an opportunity to show goodwill at a time of worldwide opposition to his policies in Iraq.... French anger probably reflected suspicions abroad about Mr. Bush's motive in initially announcing a coalition of the US, India, Japan and Australia to lead the aid effort in the Indian Ocean. This was seen by some as a calculated snub to the UN, whose Secretary General Kofi Annan has fallen out of favor in Washington. It also did not go down well with U.S. allies.... Facing suspicions of political opportunism, the Bush administration conceded that the group should work with the UN, and Colin Powell was instructed to attend today's Jakarta aid summit proposed by EU development commissioner Louis Michael and presided over by Kofi Annan.”
LUXEMBOURG: "Absurd Debate"
Foreign affairs editor Paul Katow commented in conservative Luxemburger Wort (1/6): "Some say that the U.S. is offering humanitarian relief in Indonesia, the country with the most Muslim inhabitants in the region, ‘only’ to enhance their public image in the Muslim world.... The fact is that a person in need does not care about the motivations of the rescuer--as long as the latter provides the necessary help. The debate over whether or not the Americans ‘only’ want to improve their damaged image in the world during and after the Iraq war, is therefore absurd.”
Editor-in-chief Jaques Hillon wrote in left-of-center Le Jeudi (1/6): "And let's not forget the U.S., which is taking the opportunity to regain prestige among Muslims. The list of diverse selfish interests is too long to complete here. But it would be a pity to allow calculated self-interest to call in to question the undeniable spirit of solidarity which has not stopped growing since that sad December 26. Better to profit from that spirit to put in place concrete policies, such as international emergency medical assistance and long-term foreign aid policies to intervene everywhere in the world where there is pain, from Darfur to the AIDS scourge, just as deadly as a tsunami."
NORWAY: "A Race In Time"
Independent VG commented (1/7): "The emergency aid after the tsunami catastrophe in Asia is developing to be a race in time.... That’s why it is so important that the large donor countries, led by the U.S., now agree to coordinate further aid work under the UN umbrella.... Many feared that the deep U.S. skepticism against the UN and the work of the organization would make it difficult--if not to say impossible--to achieve an effective coordination. But the U.S. authorities have hopefully realized that political ill-will and rivalry in the emergency aid operations would hinder the operations.... We are facing an extraordinary catastrophe, and therefore the world must react like never before."
"Helping People Help Themselves"
Independent business-oriented Dagens Naeringsliv opined (1/6): "U.S. authorities have long realized that their curve of popularity has gone down considerably over the past few years, but they have found a way to turn it around.... According to Powell himself, what the U.S. is now doing in the Muslim world will also assure that others see what the U.S. values and what U.S. generosity means.... The means the U.S. puts at use are strong. Military personnel, planes, helicopters, bulldozers and aircraft carriers are effective tools also in this type of peace operation. When the U.S. wants to, no one shall doubt that the country has enough powers.... Could it be that Powell’s successor as Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, will have it as her task to rebuild the U.S. image in the world? That Powell is now preparing the base? It doesn’t sound very likely, but when the need is so openly confessed, it is not impossible. Even though Rice is known as a tough ‘hawk,’ she might also have other sides.”
"The Worst Enemy Of Distress"
Independent Dagbladet commented (1/6): "The flooding catastrophe in South East Asia has opened hearts and wallets globally.... The test of our kindness is if it will last, also after the journalist teams have gone home and the attention is directed elsewhere.... With a certain right we can say that the worst enemy of distress is distress. Immediately after a catastrophe happens, we lose the previous one from sight. Proximity in time, the logic of the media and human nature are the reasons behind this. That doesn’t excuse national politicians and international organizations that rush from catastrophe to catastrophe. They have received their positions to channel help, keep their promises and think long-term.”
Razvan Voncu observed in conservative Cronica Romana (1/5): "After the nightmare faced by the citizens of several Asian countries, due to the earthquake in the depths of the Indian Ocean that triggered unprecedented tsunamis, there are no words to be said. The tragedy left 150,000 dead, hundreds of thousands wounded, millions homeless, and economies that will need at least a decade to recover.... Beyond the natural causes of this catastrophe, there are other causes which amplified, even maximized, the material damages and the loss of human lives.... (One of them) is greed. There is no money to protect people against the rough dangers of nature, but there are sufficient funds to create, in one of the poorest regions in the world, real artificial ‘paradises’ for tourists, for the relaxation of rich people from the richest regions of the planet.... In short: much money is spent on ‘entertainment’ exclusively destined for the extremely rich, and nothing to make the life of ordinary citizens safer and more tranquil. This is the present balance of life on the planet and the result of half a century of a colonial-style global economy, in which rich states have become richer and poor states have become poorer. So, who went crazy--nature or humanity?”
TURKEY: "Tsunami Politics"
Sami Kohen observed in mass-appeal Milliyet (1/6): “Despite the ongoing extraordinary efforts of the international community to help the tsunami victims, there are some developments that have shown a certain lack of sensitivity. Saudi Arabia, despite its annual oil revenues of 80 billion dollars, has pledged just 10 million dollars in assistance. The UAE is contributing only 2 million dollars. It is really hard to understand why these countries are so stingy, especially when the disaster area includes Indonesia, a country with the largest Muslim population in the world. On the other hand, those who are assisting are not acting very graciously either. In some cases, political or economic motives have prevailed over humanitarian factors.... The U.S. and some other Western countries have started to compete with each other to lead the relief program. Their efforts are being adjusted in order to create a positive image in the region and to increase their political influence. The U.S., for instance, has already launched a public relations campaign by sending aircraft carriers, helicopters, and relief teams to the region. Secretary Powell has added a political component to the relief effort by saying that the tsunami relief is an indication of American generosity toward the Islamic world.... The relief effort should be conducted through international organizations, particularly the UN. There is an urgent need to establish a rapid relief fund and a coordination mechanism within the UN.”
"The Tsunami Is More Photogenic Than Fallujah"
Meral Tamer wrote in mass-appeal Milliyet (1/5): “In recent days there has been a rush for TV ratings in coverage of the tsunami. Television around the world continues to show the same images--the bloated bodies.... If someone is looking for swollen bodies, we have more than we could possibly want in Fallujah.... But Fallujah isn’t as photogenic as South Asia.... And what can we say about the assistance comedy?.... After pressure from the UN and international aid organizations, the Bush Administration announced that it would raise its assistance.... Then the braintrust of the Bush administration got a bright idea.... The U.S. now thinks that, thanks to the tsunami, it may be able to repair the negative and shocking images it has created for itself in Iraq.... The U.S...by leaving the UN out, could perhaps...regain some of its lost prestige. So the Bush Administration started throwing money around.... In coming days, I won’t be surprised to see on my television screen the image of tender-hearted American soldiers lowering assistance packages to victims. Be prepared for TV images of US soldiers springing out of the American naval fleet to bandage the wounded and give milk to little babies.... Images are everything! Looking at it from the humanitarian perspective, in this kind of universal disaster that calls for a blank check for unlimited assistance, the duplicity of the ‘civilized’ human being has come out immediately."
EGYPT: "What About The Oppressed People Of Iraq And Palestine?"
Pro-government aggressive Al-Akhbar opined (1/7): "PM Tony Blair was very careful, at the start of the new year, when he spoke...outlining efforts being made to assist Asia's tsunami victims. The tsunami disaster, which hit south Asian countries, has attracted the attention it deserves.... However, there are others who are being devastated but no-one is concerned about them.... The British leader forgot or ignored that there are others who are being oppressed every hour by the occupation [in Iraq]. Did Blair forget that, according to British newspapers, the victims of Iraq war now exceed 100,000?.... Iraq, therefore, deserves to be given the same attention as the 11 tsunami-affected countries."
SAUDI ARABIA: "Time To Deliver"
The English-language pro-government Arab News advised (1/7): "When men of honor promise to do something, you can expect that they will. But when governments pledge money for international causes, unfortunately, there is no certainty that the funds will be forthcoming.... During yesterday’s tsunami aid summit in Jakarta, there was an awkward suspicion in the corridors that by no means all the vast amounts of governmental aid already promised might materialize. Nobody cared to articulate the concern publicly because there is a sense that because the devastation of the tsunami dwarfs any other modern disaster, the substantial sums of money promised will in fact arrive. If they do, it will be unusual. Many governments have a patchy record on honoring their pledges of money and aid.... It is all too easy to make newsworthy pledges of aid.... Though it seems unthinkable at the moment, the Asian tsunami will in due time slip from the headlines. There will be other big projects with which politicians will want to be associated.... It was no doubt with this in mind that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan insisted yesterday in Jakarta that donors needed to start honoring their pledges by providing an immediate $1 billion in cash for urgent use. Maybe now is the time for the UN to open a proper accounting of all donor pledges and if all the money is not forthcoming in due time, ask why the promises have not been honored."
ALGERIA: "What Have We (Arabs) Done For Survivors In Asia?"
Influential French-language Le Quotidien d’Oran commented (1/5): "The Western world is too rich, too violent, too deceitful, too greedy or too advanced.... There is for us Arabs more than one lesson to retain. It is our portrait as a people incapable of such gestures.... Arabs were not capable of such a gesture on such a scale toward the survivors of the Asian tsunamis, which touched countries of the same faith as ours. Of course, one could always say that the media conditioning that pushed Westerners to this generosity is calculated.... One could also say that in Arab societies one does not have the same kind of reliable, credible, and efficient networks of NGOs able to channel assistance.... But the difference (between Westerners and us) is also of a moral and ethical nature.... The Western world is superior to us not only for its machines, armies, and technology but also for its morality. And we are not underdeveloped because of poverty, a lack of money, a scarcity of men, and a large number of historical catastrophes but also because our values are still not a living and thoughtful culture.... Certainly, gestures have been made.... We do not always have the strength to publicize the efforts in the media as Westerners do, but there is still something dead in us that others easily discern in our manner of seeing the word and in our refusal to acknowledge and carry the weight."
LIBYA: "Disaster Should Be Used To Serve International Security And Peace”
Abdullah Rashed observed in government-owned Ash-Shams (1/3): "No one in this world expected a disaster of this magnitude that left such huge destruction.... The world woke up to an environmental and health disaster, causing both geographical and demographic changes.... International organizations have warned of the spread of epidemics and diseases.... This may cause the health disaster to be more serious than the losses resulting from the Tsunami. What I want to say in this respect is that, having learned the size of losses that may be caused by natural disasters, the world today knows more than at any other time in the past that it needs peace and social support and coordination. All the peoples of the world are now certain that their governments must start to work on discarding spite and hatred and deal with each other on the basis of mutual respect and cooperation. The billions spent by the Great Powers on the armament race should now be used to serve security, stability and peace in the world. Those countries must learn that there is a divine power capable of causing destruction and ruin far beyond the capabilities of WMD. As a natural result to this axiom, the armament race and the wars, where the Great Powers are the main cause, is a sort of madness and an unnatural state of hallucination the world must get out of.... But let bygones be bygones.... The Great Powers must seriously work to lessen the suffering of countries smaller in size and stature than them. Let the countries that started destructive wars work to stop them forever. Not one country today can survive alone without needing other smaller countries, however great that country may be and however powerful."
QATAR: "Generosity Grows As The Reality Sinks In"
The semi-official English-language Gulf Times concluded (1/7): "The world appears to be more concerned and more generous in its response than it was in the immediate aftermath.... One factor has been the reaction of the western media to initial offers of aid from their governments, which were widely criticised as being mean and inadequate. Shamed by this criticism and by the generosity of individual citizens, the governments of leading nations such as the US, UK and Germany have sharply increased their pledged support.... The U.S. has established itself in a leading role in the provision of front-line support for the worst-hit areas. In particular, it has provided essential supplies and the means to start getting them where they are needed, which often requires the use of helicopters. While cynics may see US self-interest at work, as the American military’s aid efforts offset some of the damage to its reputation from the Iraq war, it would be churlish not to acknowledge the speed and generosity of the American response.... The Asian crisis provides an opportunity to remind the world that the US and its societies and institutions have a long and honourable record of helping the needy.... Secretary Powell will join UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and representatives of donor countries for a conference today on...how the aid effort can be most effectively co-ordinated.... No previous crisis has affected such a vast area and so required such a widespread distribution of aid. It is to be hoped that the leaders will find ways to speed up the delivery of aid to where it is needed and that all the necessary resources will be available for that."
UAE: "Time For Help, Healing"
The expatriate-oriented English-language Khaleej Times declared (1/4): "Aid efforts are under way on a massive scale in the tsunami-affected regions...with the world community, especially the developed world, actively contributing their mite to enable the survivors of the disaster overcome the tragedy.... The scenario remains bleak in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India and Thailand.... The task is not easy, given the magnitude of the devastation. Apart from the harm done to the humans, the entire infrastructure in vast swathes of lands has been virtually and brutally wiped out. In much of the affected areas, there are no road or telecommunication links, making relief efforts more difficult.... The UN has raised concerns about outbreak of cholera and diarrhoea, that could claim thousands more of precious lives.... No amount of aid would be too much under the situation. This is the time for the world community--both the developed world and the third world countries--to put their best foot forward and help the tsunami survivors to get back to normal life.... That's both a duty and commitment, to be shared in equal measure by all of us, both in our individual and collective capacities. This is the time to show how the world stands as one and faces a grim situation with grit and determination."
YEMEN: "Whatever Happened To Islamic Solidarity?"
The pro-government English-language Yemen Times declared (1/7): "The devastating and tragic consequences of the South Pacific Earthquake and the tsunami that followed...is a mind boggling catastrophe of enormous proportions.... Any human being...is bound to feel alarmed by the humble strength of mankind when matched against the unlimited powers of natural forces that are beyond man’s full understanding and control.... Nature again showed that man is weak and humble and even helpless in projecting some of the volatile inklings of nature and where their span will reach.... This is an international catastrophe that truly deserves the unqualified concern of the entire international community.... This is the time for all human beings to assess their true worth in this world and see how much of it can be put to good use...led by...Japan, which has always shown that it is indeed a bona fide leader in providing aid.... To come closer to home however, one is also bound to feel disgust and even anger at the very poor and inexcusable showing made by Moslem countries, especially those that have been fortunate to be entrusted with considerable material wealth.... The observer is inclined to believe that our rich Arab and other Moslem states were expected to be the first to declare vast sums of funds and resources to their millions of fellow Moslems.... But, alas, their hypocrisy has truly been made apparent and their faith is at best lukewarm if not absent, because they...closed their eyes while their fellow Moslems are forced to rely on the petty crumbs of non-Moslem nations that have shown more humanitarian sensitivities than these selfish wealthy Moslems.... Whatever happened to all the talk of Moslem solidarity and the brotherhood of the Nation of Islam?.... How can we claim pride in being Moslems when these so called guardians of Islamic doctrine have elected to be stingy with what is not really theirs in the first place? It is no exaggeration to say that the least that these selfish hoarders of mismanaged wealth were expected to dish out was the equivalent of at least US $10 billion as a start.... It will hardly dent their façade of wealth and splendor."
AUSTRALIA: "Recognizing The Value Of All Humanity”
An editorial in the national conservative Australian read (1/7): "For Islamic fundamentalists, and their fellow travelers among the Western world's new Left, the response of the coalition of the willing to the tsunami disaster is impossible to explain. If Australia and the US are inimical to Islam, why is infidel money and material the foundation of the aid effort in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-populated nation? The Howard haters at home and Bush bashers around the world will also say Australia, the US and the other Western nations who have donated billions for Asian reconstruction are trying to assuage the righteous wrath of injured Islam. However, such faux realist explanations ignore the obvious--the democracies, especially the U.S. and Australia, know al-Qa'ida and its ilk will not end their war against the West, whatever aid is offered to Islam. The present relief effort similarly constitutes a profound intellectual challenge for anti-Western ideologues who are still bitter at the victory of capitalism and democracy in the Cold War and wish to think ill of the West. Western nations gain nothing from helping the victims of the tsunami disaster. They are offering vast amounts of aid simply because it is the right thing to do. And their assistance is a great deal more than Asia's Muslims are seeing from their supposed supporters in the Middle East.... The tsunami relief effort demonstrates the reasons why democracy is the preferred system of government by all people who have a choice.”
"There When Asia Needs Us"
Greg Sheridan stated in the national conservative Australian (1/6): "The tsunami that shook the world has also changed the world, or certainly our part of it. Bathed in tragedy and grief, Indonesia looks to friends, and finds, as ever, Australia and the U.S..... The tsunami not only obliterates life, it changes life. And it will change the geo-strategic dynamics of all the countries involved. It is no disrespect to the dead to analyze how best to serve the living, and this means not only immediate emergency assistance but considerations of economic development, political stability, counter-terrorism, international relations, military posture. Managing the character of the response of the affected governments, in such a way as to promote the best interests of the region and Australia's national interests, is now a defining challenge to our generosity, commitment, political adroitness and policy effectiveness. The Howard Government is right to afford it the highest possible priority and to pledge our treasure, our arms and our staying power to the task. Nothing could symbolize more starkly the change wrought by this disaster than the sight of Australian and US troops operating freely in Aceh, where even Indonesian troops have often been unable to function. In all the scenario planning in Russell Hill or the Pentagon, did anyone imagine we'd begin the year with large numbers of diggers and dog faces in joint operations in Aceh? The tsunami has revealed many underlying aspects of the global system which it is unfashionable to mention. Who can forget the weeping man in Aceh crying out: 'Where is America?' He didn't ask: 'Where is the UN?' Still less did he ask, 'Where is Saudi Arabia or the principle of international Islamic solidarity?'"
"Disaster Shapes World View"
Allan Gyngell opined in the business-oriented Australian Financial Review (1/6): “Today in Jakarta, Prime Minister John Howard joins other political leaders at a summit meeting to review the response to the crisis. The way the international community is grappling with the relief effort echoes other larger debates about international organization in the post-9/11 world. One approach, taken by India, for example, has been to emphasize global multilateral approaches, to look to the United Nations as the only organization with the legitimacy to represent the international community and best placed to co-ordinate emergency relief. Another approach, evident in the sudden US announcement of a quadripartite grouping of the United States, Japan, Australia and India to co-ordinate aid, emphasized the role of the powerful and the rich in maintaining world order. As anything other than a practical back channel of communication it was an ill-conceived idea, and happily seems to have faded from the public view. The initial US response to the disaster was cloth-eared and inadequate, but, as so often, that nation's generosity reasserted itself and America's matchless capacity to deploy resources reminded the globalize world of how much it continues to rely on US power. Multilateral organizations and great powers will play their part in the response to the crisis but, as so often recently (think of East Timor and Solomon Islands), the most useful responses we have seen have been the result of a sort of ad hoc regionalism a coalition of the affected and the effective. Today's summit, for example, was initiated by the new Indonesian government. It is an important sign that Indonesia is again taking a regional leadership role.”
"Strengthening The Ties That Bind Us"
The popular Sydney-based tabloid Daily Telegraph stated (1/5): "The sometimes fraught relationship between Australia and Indonesia has a very real chance of being redefined in the wake of the tsunami cataclysm.... Recent events such as Bali, the Jakarta Marriott Hotel bombing and the ongoing trial of putative JI mastermind Abu Bakar Bashir mean that the current crisis is not occurring in a political vacuum. Longer term, it is indisputable that the international aid effort, and our role in it, may mitigate against Aceh's history of militant separatism, mistrust of the Christian West and hostility towards the secular rulers in Jakarta. But it is important to stress--that is not, and never will be, the point of the aid effort. Aid is being given because our fellow human beings are in need.... The aid effort should not be seen as a public relations exercise."
"Seeing Terror In A New Light"
The liberal Sydney Morning Herald declared (1/5): "The tsunami that wreaked so much destruction are also reshaping the world's political geography, and for the better. The terrible events of December 26 have already moved the United States to acknowledge a broader, more realistic, view of how to fight terrorism. The U.S. 'war on terrorism' has so far been just that: full-scale war in pursuit of regime change and nation building. Now, in pledging long-term assistance to the tsunami disaster zone...Powell has explicitly acknowledged the role of poverty, disease and hopelessness in fostering extremism and undermining democracy. It is a pity Mr. Powell couched his comments in terms of America's national security interest, rather than the general good. However, his words are no less important for that.... Powell rightly says that much can be achieved by supporting the tsunami zones.... Terrorist leaders are rarely from the poor and downtrodden, but they find willing recruits within communities which no longer believe in their government's ability to improve their lives. The U.S. needs to appreciate the wide difference between Islam in South-East Asia and in the Middle East; the former is more tolerant, and exists within multicultural, multi-religion societies. Asia offers the US better opportunities than Iraq to counter extremism, and nowhere is the opportunity greater than in the world's largest Muslim nation, Indonesia.... Support from the U.S., and Australia, for Indonesia's secular democracy is an important weapon in the war on terrorism. America has appeared slow to recognize this as, in more recent days, it has been slow to acknowledge the scale of the tsunami disaster.”
CHINA: "The U.S. And Japan Maneuver Heavy Troops For Disaster Relief: The U.S. Relief In South Asia Upsets India"
Na Wen and Li Yongjing maintained in China Radio International-sponsored World News Journal (Shijie Xinwenbao) (1/7): "International commentators point out that the tsunami disaster provides a ‘good chance’ for the U.S. to show its caring face to the world. But while the U.S. is using its wealth and military strength to play a leading role in disaster relief, its real goals are more than just relief.... Currently the Bush administration’s Asia policy has no clear purpose or goal, so it will use tsunami assistance policy as its Asia policy during the second term. India certainly casts a wary eye on the U.S.’s decision to send Marines to Sri Lanka, and worries that there is more involved in the deployment that simply disaster aid. Understandably, India worries that U.S. troops will be there for a long time.”
"Taking The Chance To Play Politics Breaches Humanitarian Goals"
Mu Tao said in China Radio International-sponsored World News Journal (Shijie Xinwenbao) (1/7): "The U.S., the richest country in the world, did not show much enthusiasm to render aid in the tsunami disaster.... Although the U.S. has now increased its aid package to $350 million, it has given the impression that it has to more than it wants to.... It is worth noting that the U.S. has organized a U.S.-Japan-Australia alliance for disaster relief--this decision obviously has an ulterior motive.... The UN’s role of ‘coordinator general’ should not be ignored, but U.S. action shows it wants to get rid of the UN and cement its leadership in global affairs.... Now that the U.S. has driven its warships into Southeast Asia...it will not be easy for some countries to tell it not to interfere in regional affairs.”
"Goodwill And Sympathy Behind Donations"
The official English-language China Daily maintained (1/5): "As the new-year holiday came to an end, Chinese has stepped up money and material donations to tsumani-ravaged areas out of a sincere sympathy for the victims of the tragedy. China is a responsible country. Its sense of responsibility is rooted in the empathy of the Chinese people for all others. Living in a country that has had to frequently cope with natural disasters, Chinese can relate to the paid and hardship of those suffering now. And China has not forgotten the help it has received in the past, in terms of foreign assistance during natural disasters. Globalization is not only about the economy--social considerations also play a large part. As 'world citizens,' we need to join together to brave and weather challenges, however severe. We are all in the same boat.”
"The Implication Of Japan Sending Warships For Disaster Relief”
Qiu Yongzheng commented in official Communist Youth League-affiliated Elite Reference (Qingnian Cankao) (1/5): "The implication is certainly worth contemplation.... Japan sending cruisers for disaster relief is rare in history. That said, it is understandable for countries to send cruisers to provide disaster relief. But sending warships is unheard-of. Strategically, Japan is using every opportunity to re-establish itself as a bona-fide military power.”
CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU SARS): "Washington Gives Up On Leading The Relief Work"
Center-left Chinese-language Sing Pao Daily News editorialized (1/7): "The concerns of people around the world in the relief efforts have made it impossible for the dominating U.S. to lead the relief work this time. Immediately after the catastrophe, the U.S. just offered symbolic assistance. Only after the pressure of international opinion did it start to lend a helping hand by increasing its donations and sending Secretary of State Powell to go to the disaster areas. In the process of carrying out the relief work, the U.S. originally planned to form a faction by attracting allies, such as Japan, to form a core group to lead the relief work so as to create an opportunity to interfere in South Asian affairs. This is the habitual practice of the U.S. In Afghanistan, areas in Central Asia as well as Iraq, the hegemonic mentality and attempts of the U.S. are fully revealed. This time, the U.S. also said that it could assist South Asia in setting up the tsunami alert system. But it gives people an impression that it actually wants to achieve some political objectives through the relief work. In the relief meeting this time, all countries agreed that the relief work should be coordinated by the UN. The U.S. was therefore forced to give up and disband the so-called 'core-group' commanding center. This time, the U.S. has followed what is right, for it dares not risking universal condemnation."
"No Political Factors Should Be Allowed To Interrupt The Relief Work"
Mass-circulation Chinese-language Apple Daily News remarked (1/7): "Just prior to the tsunami emergency summit, the U.S. government announced the disbandment of the core group formed by the U.S., India, Australia and Japan to handle the relief work. The supervision and coordination of the relief work will instead be taken up by the UN to avoid confusion. No matter what is the political reason behind such a decision, major nations around the world, including the U.S., Japan, etc., joining together to carry out the relief work under the coordination of the UN is a good thing. It will not only facilitate the relief work, but will also enhance the UN's role and function in handling international affairs, especially humanitarian aid. We hope that the UN will not let the international community or victims of disaster areas down, and that they start the large-scale relief and reconstruction work quickly and effectively. We should see that helping victims of the catastrophe is an urgent matter. It does not allow any political calculations or political plots. If the relief work is led by a few countries, other countries may slow down their pace due to diplomatic or political considerations. Even the afflicted countries may not be willing to open their doors to accept assistance due to the worry of becoming some countries' political chess pieces. This will only interrupt the relief work and the situation of victims will only worsen."
"China Pulls Together With The Afflicted Countries In Times Of Trouble"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Wen Wei Po editorialized (1/7): "China has offered its sincere and unselfish help to the afflicted countries according to its own capability. It shows that China has pulled together with those countries in times of trouble. Also, it shows that China is willing to take up the responsibility in cooperating with the international community and providing humanitarian aid. However, for the U.S., it clearly stated that it helped because it wanted to improve its badly hurt image in the Muslim world. For Japan, its assistance was aimed at launching a diplomatic counterattack against China. For the question of who should lead the relief work, the U.S. suggested setting up a four-country core group including the U.S., Australia, Japan, etc. It intentionally excluded the UN and Europe. Such a move has aroused wide suspicions and bad feelings. Amid the relief work, some countries have political intentions and some are playing political competition. Such a narrow view is contradictory to the spirit of international cooperation and humanitarianism."
"Coordinate International Relief Efforts"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News declared (1/6): "Leaders coming from all around the world will meet in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, today to discuss how to help countries suffering from the earthquake and tsunami. Such a meeting is timely. It is conducive in mobilizing international efforts to tackle the natural disaster. The meeting will set a direction for international relief work in the future. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao participated in the meeting and he brought relief supplies with him. It shows that China's words meet with its deeds and it attaches much importance to this relief work.... How can we help the countries in the reconstruction efforts? Follow-up assistance is very important. People should not do a good job at first and then finish it poorly, leaving a mess for the afflicted countries. Debt-relief for the afflicted countries is just one way. How do we reduce debts and provide money for necessary reconstruction in the future? Rich countries should make more contributions."
"Premier Wen Arrives In Jakarta With Relief Supplies"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Ta Kung Pao remarked (1/6): "Amid the mainstream of unselfish assistance, a doubtful look must be cast on all unusual 'sincerity.'. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has arrived in Jakarta. Yesterday, he admitted in a press conference that the humanitarian assistance provided by the U.S. 'conforms not only to the interests of the nations suffering the disaster, but it also conforms to the interests of our national security.' He hopes that the relief efforts will cause the Islamic world to 'acknowledge the generosity of the U.S. and U.S. values, and to subside discontent that may trigger terrorist activities'.... Amid the diverse and confused clamor of 'relief politics,' the Chinese government and the Chinese people are the ones with a clear and single objective--to provide disaster relief wholeheartedly."
"Amid The Devastation, A Chance For Peace"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post said (1/6): "The way in which the two governments react to this crisis could well determine the future of these traditionally troubled areas. A positive response could demonstrate the benefits of unity--and of being part of the country. It could even, in time, help create a lasting peace. But the early indications are not good. Both presidents made calls for unity. In practice, little progress has been made. Tamil rebels have accused the Sri Lankan government of not doing enough to provide them with aid--and of not consulting them on rehabilitation plans. Meanwhile, the government has blamed Tamil Tigers for setting fire to a refugee camp, forcing hundreds to flee--a claim the rebels deny. In Aceh, a ceasefire was announced by the Indonesian military. But it did not last long. Raids on rebel bases are continuing. In one clash, three people were killed. Bringing relief to tsunami victims and rebuilding stricken communities is already an enormously difficult task. But it will become almost impossible if the traditional tensions and conflicts are allowed to continue.... Both governments must work to win the hearts and minds of the people. The best way to do this is to spare no effort in helping them recover from this terrible disaster."
"Expectations Of The International Tsunami Summit"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Wen Wei Po declared (1/6): "It is anticipated that participants of the international summit will discuss how to conduct relief efforts in a more effective manner, how to fully utilize the international community to collect donations and supplies to assist disaster nations to rebuild their countries, and how to establish a good tsunami alert system in the Indian Ocean regions. We hope that the summit can coordinate the relief efforts, establish a regional cooperative mechanism and enhance cooperation between the South and the North. This will not only be effective in driving the relief work and the reestablishment work, but it will also be conducive to enhancing the international community in joining hands to prevent destructive disaster.... The tsunami summit should encourage the establishment of an organized relief mechanism to overcome confusion and to raise the efficiency of the relief work. We believe that the UN is appropriate to coordinate the relief work. The UN should arrange staff to assist the international relief work and to set up a special relief fund. It should set up a comprehensive and transparent plan to oversee the relief and rebuilding work."
"Political Tussles Behind Relief Work"
Independent Chinese-language Sing Tao Daily News contended (1/5): "Leaders and senior officials of various countries will gather tomorrow in Jakarta to participate in the earthquake-tsunami relief meeting. Although this meeting will focus on humanitarian relief, it does also reflect the political issues among different countries.... In the relief efforts, countries exercise the mutual-aid spirit of the global village. It also shows the responsibility of the international community in carrying out their duties. But intentionally or unintentionally, their relief efforts involve some political interests. Take Taiwan as an example. Taiwan raised its donations twice to HK$39million. Its Vice Foreign Minister Kau Ying-mao said making donations could help Taiwan to increase its 'international visibility'.... The U.S. and Japan have also provided relief with very high profiles. On the one hand, they have the tradition of offering humanitarian assistance. On the other hand, they must show their political and economic power. The U.S. and Japan are rich and the U.S. military can quickly provide helicopters to send relief supplies to remote disaster areas. At this moment, China is far behind in the effort. Thus, China is very careful in carrying out the relief work. It does not want to be labeled as doing political public relations or political deals. It is a good thing that China is willing to take up the duties of the international community. It should do the relief work according to its own capability and ignore all the political implications."
"Concern About The Disaster"
Independent Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Journal observed (1/5): "It has been ten days since the giant tsunami hit the Indian Ocean. Global relief efforts have been carried out in an enthusiastic manner. The international tsunami relief summit will be conducted tomorrow in Jakarta. Since leaders from the U.S. and China will attend, the summit has become a high-level meeting. Thus, it should be conducive in enhancing the coordination and supervision of the relief work among countries.... When the media used huge coverage to report on the disaster, the public was moved. People of all nations vied with one another to make donations. The enthusiasm of the public has astonished many international humanitarian aids groups. In comparison, official reactions were relatively slow. China, the U.S. and Japan turned from 'mean' to 'generous' in a few days. No matter their reasons, rich countries competing to give their donations will only bring advantages to victims who are suffering from the disaster."
TAIWAN: "Noble Taiwan Will Not Become Apathetic Because of International Isolation"
Centrist, pro-status quo China Times asserted (1/7): "Inevitably, Taiwan people feel aggrieved after Taiwan donated money and sent people to relieve the tsunami disaster in South Asia but was excluded from participation in the tsunami relief world summit. The reaction [of Taiwan people] is rational. Since the international reality is so severe, Taiwan should not give up so easily. Taiwan should, instead, proactively devote the power of all [Taiwan] people continuously, and carry out the relief job solidly in order to speak loudly for Taiwan by making contributions that will truly benefit those who suffered [in the disaster].”
Pro-independence Taiwan Daily remarked (1/5): "The U.S.' relief efforts are also a demonstration of its political strength. Washington has not only increased its relief fund from USD35 million to 350 million--an amount that exceeds that donated by China--but has also sent battleships to the devastated areas in Indonesia, using its navy helicopters to help deliver food and other major supplies to the tsunami victims. Another U.S. fleet carrying 1,500 Marine Corps soldiers has also arrived in Sri Lanka for relief operations. U.S. influence, which was believed to have disappeared rapidly some time earlier, is now back [to the region] because of this natural disaster. In the meantime, the U.S. is acting proactively in an attempt to use this opportunity to mend its deteriorating relations with the Muslim countries.”
JAPAN: "Leaders Should Cooperate In U.N.-led Efforts"
Liberal Asahi opined (1/7): "Leading nations, including the U.S., Japan, Germany and Australia, have pledged assistance to tsunami-hit nations as if giving aid is some kind of competition. Japan and Germany, both seeking a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, are trying to assert their international presence. Japan is also eyeing China's growing presence in the global arena. Meanwhile, the U.S. is seeking to counter anti-U.S. sentiment among Asian Muslims. Australia also appears to be eyeing the possibility of improving relations with Indonesia, which have been tense due to the issue of East Timor. Despite such 'political motives,' the major commitment by leading countries is highly welcome at a time of unprecedented tragedy.... Secretary of State Powell has announced that the 'core group' to coordinate international aid would be disbanded and folded into the broader coordination efforts led by the UN, following European criticism of the move to establish another 'coalition of the willing.' The UN must take the initiative in international efforts in disasters such this one. The international community should further strengthen its unity to ensure rescue efforts are effectively carried out... Prime Minister Koizumi, as the only representative from Asia to the G-8, needs to stress the importance of global commitment to the disaster at the upcoming G-8 meeting."
"Japan Should Play A Leading Role"
Top-circulation moderate Yomiuri said (1/7): "Japan, as a leading nation in Asia, needs to play a leading role in global efforts to rescue and rebuild countries devastated by the recent natural disaster.... Tokyo has established close relations with ASEAN nations on economic and political fronts. It is important for Japan to increase its presence in Asia amid moves by the region to accelerate the creation of an 'East Asian community.' South Asia, which is located in the 'Arc of Instability,' is at risk of regional conflict and acts of terrorism. Early reconstruction of tsunami-struck areas will help ensure security and stability for Japan, as well as for the entire world."
"U.N.-led Mission Needs To Provide Effective Assistance"
Business-oriented Nihon Keizai held (1/7): "We welcome the earnest efforts made by foreign governments, international organizations, NGOs and private businesses in assisting disaster-struck nations.... The Jakarta summit is aimed at establishing an international framework to ensure the swift provision of support for affected nations. Despite European concern over an initial plan by the U.S. to form a 'core group,' the summit was successful in allowing the UN to lead international efforts following the U.S. announcement to disband its proposal. We welcome the role of the UN, a vital body in helping the swift and effective distribution of financial and personnel resources. Some say there are 'political motives' behind the active commitment by donor nations. But we hope these countries will place priority on genuine assistance rather than on political interests."
"U.S. Must Suppress Ego As Military Superpower"
Okinawa-based regional Ryukyu Shimpo insisted (1/7): "There is speculation that the U.S. dispatch of 13,000 service members to tsunami-hit South Asia, Washington's largest ever overseas rescue operation, is an attempt to strengthen military ties with nations in the region. The U.S. must suppress its 'ego' as a military superpower because such selfishness is bound to increase distrust and anti-America sentiment.... The massive deployment of U.S. forces in Indonesia and Sri Lanka is viewed with suspicion because U.S. operations there are considered by some to be part of Washington's 'war on terrorism.' Secretary of State Powell stressed during the relief summit in Jakarta that poverty could create a hotbed of terrorism and that support for disaster-struck countries would also ultimately benefit U.S. interests. Washington appears to be attempting to strengthen its military ties with South Asian nations by taking advantage of their misfortune. Prime Minister Koizumi should not help Washington in its 'hidden agenda.'"
"U.S. Strategies Effective In Emergencies"
Conservative Sankei maintained (1/6): "The U.S. is exercising its massive military power to assist in international tsunami relief efforts. Although Japan was prompt in extending assistance, U.S. efforts to establish an international framework of cooperation by forming a 'core group' have been significant. In addition to financial aid, Washington has dispatched a total of 13,000 military personnel to disaster-hit areas, sent Secretary of State Powell and Florida Governor Bush to affected areas and called on former presidents to help collect private donations. Although European nations have criticized the U.S. for playing 'tsunami politics' to restore Washington's international image, tarnished by transatlantic opposition to the Iraq war, U.S. policy to help the sufferers regardless of their religion is a natural response. The slow reaction of European countries, many of which have lost nationals in the disaster, should instead be criticized."
"Japan Should Give Utmost Support"
Liberal Tokyo Shimbun editorialized (1/6): "Japan should provide as much support as possible for nations devastated by the Asian tsunami. Along with emergency support for local search and rescue operations, Tokyo must extend long-term assistance to help rebuilding efforts by dispatching experts in civil engineering, construction and disaster prevention. Japan must also play a leading role in establishing a tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean region."
"U.S. Trying To Strengthen Military Ties With Tsunami-hit Nations?"
An editorial in Okinawa-based regional Ryukyu Shimpo read (1/6): "There is a growing sense of alarm over the possibility that Washington has a 'hidden agenda' to strengthen military ties with countries concerned in order to contain terrorism. At the same time, some in the U.S. view the deployment of troops to affected areas as underscoring the increasing importance of the U.S. military presence in Okinawa, which is close to the 'Arc of Instability'.... The U.S. military, including troops based in Okinawa, is now engaged in its largest operation in South and Southeast Asia since the Vietnam War. Washington, however, appears more focused on successfully carrying out the troop deployment than on dealing with the enormous scale of the disaster.... The region stretching from East Asia to the Middle East is referred to as the 'Arc of Instability' by the U.S. Defense Department. The Pentagon has also come up with a policy to increase the number of facilities in the area, prone to ethnic conflict and acts of terrorism, to which the U.S. military could easily access during an emergency.... The U.S. engagement in relief operations seems to be nothing but a bid to pave the way for future military operations in the region.... Washington appears to be making efforts to enhance military ties with such countries as Indonesia and Sri Lanka through joint relief activities. Some say U.S. troops will remain in the two countries for more than six months."
"Japanese Leadership To Be Tested"
Liberal Asahi insisted (1/5): "International cooperation is vital in ensuring that rescue and relief missions for victims of Asia's tsunami disaster are carried out smoothly. The upcoming Jakarta summit, to be attended by Asian leaders and representatives of the U.S., the EU and the UN, holds the key to the successful coordination of international organizations and donor nations. While emergency relief is immediate needed, long-term assistance will also be necessary to help survivors rebuild their lives. The unprecedented disaster has devastated local economies and destroyed social and industrial infrastructure. Economic difficulties resulting from the tragedy could cause domestic conflict or acts of terrorism. The UN and industrialized nations must provide long-term assistance to prevent such occurrences.... Tokyo will also need to provide technical support for international studies into earthquakes and tsunamis. Amid rising friction between the U.S. and Europe over leadership in relief efforts, Prime Minister Koizumi must urge President Bush to respect the UN global aid program. Japan's commitment to tsunami relief will likely test Tokyo's leadership."
"U.S. Eyes Asian Muslims And China"
Business-oriented Nihon Keizai observed (1/5): "The massive relief pledged by the U.S. appears to be aimed at improving America's image among Muslim nations in Asia and at creating a favorable environment for Washington's fight against terrorism. Rivalry between China and the U.S. for influence in the region may have prompted President Bush to increase U.S. commitment to international relief efforts. With strong concern in the Bush administration over China's growing economic and political presence in Southeast Asia, Washington may be worried that insufficient aid commitment by the U.S. could allow a further expansion of Beijing's influence in the region."
INDONESIA: "World Solidarity To Tsunami Disaster Striking"
Leading independent Kompas maintained (1/7): "The statement by Secretary Colin Powell after seeing the extent of the damage in Aceh confirmed the plight of the Aceh people. A man like Powell, who is used to dealing with battlefields, could not hide his concern over the conditions that he has never seen before. We should not wonder then that his statement echoed strongly during the Summit held in Jakarta yesterday. All the world and international organization leaders became even more convinced that the December 26 disaster was the most severe and unprecedented catastrophe in history. For that reason, Summit participants agreed to provide their assistance. Under the auspices of the UN, countries and international organizations are committed to taking three joint steps including relief assistances, rehabilitation and reconstruction, and prevention.”
"Expecting From The Special Summit"
Independent Suara Pembaruan contended (1/6): "During the Summit Indonesia should outline the concrete programs of the reconstruction. Indonesia must guarantee a clear mechanism for accountability that the donor countries can assess directly. Thus far accountability has been under the spotlight, especially with regard to humanitarian aid. Let us not make suspicion among the donor countries impede the distribution of the aid.”
"Stop Trafficking Of Child Victims Of Aceh Disaster"
Nationalistic Harian Merdeka commented (1/7): "The U.S. State Department called the Americans to refrain from adopting Aceh children for some considerations. First, the legal process takes time because it involves two countries. Second, the Indonesia and U.S. governments and some international organizations that deals with orphans are of the opinion that bringing Aceh orphans out of their ancestral land would only make them suffer more. The initial remedy should be rehabilitating their mentality and only the Aceh and their environment can do it. The Indonesian and U.S. governments said that U.S., European and Australian parents who want to adopt them had better wait several months, one year ideally, because during which time those children undergo psychological remedy. They have to consider the cultural, religious and social factors. Thus the spirit in banning the adoption is urging the interested parents to send aid to the organizations that provide the rehabilitation services so that when the time for adoption process comes later, the children are mentally and physically cured.”
"A New Image"
Indpendent Suara Pembaruan concluded (1/5): "With its massive humanitarian operations for the tsunami disaster victims in Asia, the U.S. has gained a new image as a helpful and humane nation. It is no longer dubbed a destructive superpower, and it will be called a constructive one. Indonesia, for example, can now see that extremely destructive U.S. war machines, such as the USS Abraham Lincoln, have become effective humanitarian aid command centers. The US Sea Hawk helicopters no longer fire missiles but drop food and transport to quake victims."
"U.S. Face In Aceh"
Irfan Djunaidi commented in Muslim-intellectual Republika (1/6): "Newspapers and television seem to have given a larger portion of its coverage to the distribution of aid from the U.S. Photos that depict American soldiers’ ‘kindness’ often appeared. There’s nothing wrong with this kind of coverage. It’s natural for a big country like the U.S. to get such attention from the media.... We’re worried that such kind of coverage would change the way we see the face of U.S. foreign policy. In Aceh, American soldiers sport the ‘sweet’ and ‘human’ face of the U.S. But does this really represent U.S. foreign policy, especially towards Islam?... This article does not intend to convince readers to be suspicious about the U.S. aid. It only wants to remind that all this time the motor/pioneer of relief for Aceh was not the U.S. or its allies...but domestic Islamic organizations.... The U.S. is not the largest donor for relief either. According to AFP on January 2, 2005, largest donor is Japan. But the U.S. received more media exposure.... An activist from PKS in Aceh revealed that he found a wooden cross inside a relief package. It should be noted that Aceh has a special place in the history of Islam in Indonesia. For that reason, we all should watch out for the possibility of proselytizing along with the arrival of U.S. soldiers in Aceh. The U.S. could also insert some interests in its assistance to Aceh, particularly with respect to the Malacca Strait.... The USS Abraham Lincoln was able to sail freely through the Malacca Strait. Will it be pulled out after the rehabilitation of Aceh is completed? Who can assure this?.... We only hope that Powell’s statement is true so that all worries concerning the U.S. humanitarian assistance can be negated.”
"We Humbly Thank You"
The independent English-language Jakarta Post observed (1/6): The U.S. is now fully involved in this global movement. President George W. Bush and his predecessors Bill Clinton and George H. Bush visited the Indonesian Embassy in Washington on Monday to reassure Indonesia of American support. The two former presidents have been tasked to lead a private fund raising drive that will further bolster U.S. assistance. President Bush has ordered flags in government offices be flown at half-mast to mourn the deaths all over the Indian Ocean rim. And there are the humanitarian operations either jointly or individually conducted by the military from Indonesia, Singapore, Australia, the United States, Japan, Malaysia, Germany, Pakistan and India to bring desperately needed relief supplies to victims and survivors. The emergency summit in Jakarta to discuss the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the stricken areas today presents an opportunity for Indonesia to express its great appreciation--not only on behalf of the people in Aceh, but also for the victims in other Asian countries--for all the help and the expression of solidarity, given in the wake of the disaster, by people and governments of the world. Not all those generous countries are represented today, but given the presence of a horde of international media, the message will get to everyone. The magnitude of the destruction caused by the earthquake and tsunami has made us humble of the powers that nature has over mankind. But we are even more humbled by the generosity shown by the people all around the world.”
"World Trust Is At Stake"
Independent Media Indonesia asserted (1/6): "The Tsunami Summit today represents the great attention of the world to the plight of the people in Aceh and North Sumatra. But such a good beginning could backfire if dirty minds and hands steal the aid so that it does not reach the targets. Or they might reduce it so that only parts of the aid reach them. Or they mark up the real prices of the aid and keep the difference for their own interests. The Summit reflects the trust of the world and at the same time a big question of whether this nation deserves the trust.”
"Tsunami Summit And Post-Disaster Reconstruction"
Christian-oriented Sinar Harapan contended (1/5): "The statements by Secretary Powell and head of UN Relief Agency Jan Egeland who indicated their worry over the slow distribution of the aid must get serious attention from the government if we expect more aid.... What we should emphasize in this regard is that Indonesia still needs more aid in any form in the years to come in restoring and rebuilding Aceh and North Sumatra. Therefore, we must improve our image in the world’s eye.”
"Tsunami Summit And Inward Mending"
Leading independent Kompas asserted (1/5): "The Summit will definitely gain good momentum to arouse the concern of the world nations to be involved in the reconstruction and restoration of the areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami. Several major countries have indicated to help and to date an estimated $2-billion aid fund has been collected. It represents a golden opportunity to expedite the salvation of the Aceh people. But we have to be prepared with programs so that the fund will not leak out but will be more beneficial instead.”
MALAYSIA: "Not Proactive"
'Lanh' wrote in Malay-language government-influenced Harakah Daily (1/6): "Unfortunately, in the latest quake and tsunami tragedy which hit Muslims in South Asia and Southeast Asia, the OIC and a number of Islamic countries continue to maintain their 'old habit', namely not being proactive in easing the misery of their fellow Muslims."
"Help Must Quickly Reach Those Most In Need"
Hardev Kaur noted in the English-language government-influenced New Straits Times (1/7): "The global response to the tsunami disaster is turning out to be political, with developed nations trying to outdo one another in wanting to help the crisis hit countries.... The international community and multinational organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and indeed the UN, need to draw up a plan for reconstruction and to deliver on the promises and pledges of the world community. This must continue long after the spotlight fades and the tsunami disaster stories are no longer on the front pages of newspapers or the main news items on television."
PHILIPPINES: "There's Hope For Humanity"
Argee Guevarra stated in the independent business-oriented Business World (1/5): "The U.S., stung by advertence to it as 'stingy'...has responded with a considerable assistance package.... Bush promptly jacked up the assistance to $350 million--still a fraction of how much it spent and still spends for his unwarranted occupation of Iraq. Washington has even signaled a potential shift in its politico-military-industrial policy, that the armed might of the world's superpower may be concentrated on relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction 3Rs) programs in affected countries.... America's eventual entry to the forefront of the 3Rs should be greeted with glee.... After all, it's been a long time since U.S. military establishment has intervened in other countries' problems without contributing to the decimation of the local population.... The outpouring of generosity and the unusual flooding of the milk of human kindness exhibited by erstwhile state bullies underscores that states could demonstrate their moral imperative in the face of overwhelming adversities.... There is still hope for humanity."
SINGAPORE: "Protect The Children"
The pro-government English-language Straits Times opined (1/7): "Common humanity stretching across continents and cultures has exceeded itself in offering money, solace and on-site attention for the tsunami victims. But it has not taken long for the depraved sub-species to cash in on the confusion. Conmen and organised rings siphoning off what they can of people's willingness to contribute money is a behavioural aberration one has to expect.... But the most perverse criminality has to be the exploitation of children who have been orphaned by the tragedy.... The risk is greatest in devastated Indonesia and the Indian sub-continent.... Unicef, the UN Children's Fund, should be commended for raising the alarm about psychologically-damaged child survivors being subjected to worse hurts. Governments and child welfare organisations must make it their business to keep the issue alive in the public consciousness.... There is now the spectre in Indonesia of child theft to supply adoption racketeers. Sri Lanka and Indonesia have with Unicef support mercifully begun registering children. Indonesian directives to ban adoptions are also a quick response, but implementation is tough.... A better prevention would be that the more prosperous Asian nations, where child survivors are likely to be destined, implement strict adoption procedures.... It is only now becoming clear that children are a tragedy unto themselves in the tsunami story, as they will account for maybe up to half of the dead eventually. The living need protecting."
SOUTH KOREA: "Light And Shadow Of Aid Competition For South Asia"
Moderate Hankook Ilbo opined (1/6): “It is a welcome development to see each country engaging competitively in aiding South Asia, which was hit by devastating tsunamis. Furthermore, there are expectations that the ongoing outpourings of humanitarian aid will lead to a coalition to address hunger and poverty in Africa. However, the current aid competition between powerful countries, such as the U.S., the EU, Japan and China, can be seen as a power struggle to gain the upper hand in the diplomatic and trade fields. We cannot simply dismiss this view as a mere faultfinding. The continuation of such self-centered aid is doubtful and it is hard to ignore the argument that such aid will lead to negligent distribution of resources to other disaster areas.”
"Hoping For Conference To Open New Windows Of Possibilities For Mankind"
Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo editorialized (1/6): “This aid conference aimed at coordinating relief efforts for South Asia, which was hit by devastating tsunamis, proves that globalization does not necessarily mean that a world order is only determined by the world powers, but that the overall good of the world can actually become a logic for globalization. Furthermore, the increasing aid given by various countries in an almost competitive fashion demonstrates a new wave of diplomacy. This has given new hope and possibilities for humankind, who has witnessed a post-Sept. 11 era in which the U.S. has pursued its unilateral policy, Islam and Christianity have clashed, and ideologies have been at odds, while real world leadership has been lost.... We sincerely hope that through this aid conference the human race agrees on the merits of globalization and democracy and agrees on shared responsibilities so that the conference can act as a catalyst to build a new world.”
THAILAND: "U.S. Wants To Restore Image"
The lead editorial in elite, business-oriented Krungthep Turakij read (1/7): "We want to express our appreciation for the relief operations for Tsunami victims conducted by the U.S. and other countries.... We do not believe in foreign news reports that stated that U.S. humanitarian assistance will increase its military role in the region and benefit the war against terrorism. We think the U.S. government will not capitalize on this opportunity and we hope that sincere assistance from the U.S. will more or less help restore its good image in the eyes of Asians.”
"A Chance For The U.S. To Show It Cares"
The independent, English-language Nation declared (1/6): "In contrast with its disappointing actions in the past, Washington has risen to the challenge presented by the destruction of December 26 by choosing to play an extraordinary role in the past few days. The visit by U.S. State Secretary Colin Powell to Bangkok and Phuket in Thailand and Aceh in Indonesia was an effective demonstration of the U.S. government’s determination to assist the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami. His presence, however short, went a long way towards to shoring up the U.S. role in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the affected areas in South and Southeast Asia.... It is heart-warming to see U.S. military personnel and their powerful equipment operating in the southern provinces to provide relief assistance. Certainly, similar operations in Aceh will have a longstanding positive impact on the way Southeast Asian and Islamic countries view U.S. foreign policy. We hope that this will become a permanent feature of the way U.S. forces are used overseas. In Asia, the U.S.’s image has been tarnished by the way it has persecuted its war against terrorism. Now that the current crisis has opened a window of opportunity for the U.S. to show its true colors, it must not waste the opportunity by ending its involvement in the effected countries after a few months. In fact, Washington should work to ensure that this window remains open, if possible forever. In the world today, the U.S. needs every opportunity it can get to demonstrate public diplomacy.”
"This Is The Role America Can’t Refuse To Play"
'Café Dam' (pseudonym) commented in elite, business-oriented Krungthep Turakij (1/6): "This is definitely a good opportunity for Bush to demonstrate the generosity and ‘kindness’ of U.S. foreign policy.... It will be a great mistake if America fails to understand the importance of showing leadership in humanitarian efforts at the time the world is watching who is doing anything to alleviate this great sorrow. Let’s say Bush has made a U-turn in time and has played the role well.”
"We Must Avoid The Sin Of Complacency"
The lead editorial in the independent, English-language Nation read (1/5): "The UN’s capabilities and expertise are never questioned when it comes to carrying out emergency relief on a grand scale, as is clearly the case in the present situation. But it is equally clear that the world body still has much room for improvement in terms of transparency, accountability and cost-effectiveness.”
INDIA: "Fighting The Elements Of Humanity"
Mumbai-based left-of-center Marathi-language Loksatta advised (1/7): "The issue here is not whether the succor provided by America to the Tsunami-hit Asian countries was adequate or too little. The vital point is also not the delay on the part of the US to announce the monetary aid. But the most crucial issue is America's attitude towards the rest of the world. America's naval base is situated on the Diego Garcia Island that falls in the Indian Ocean. This island remained unaffected by the killer tidal waves. And yet the first dispatch of humanitarian relief was released from here on December 29, three days after the disaster struck. The US administration had never betrayed such a laidback attitude in the past. Those who know how speedily the American planes rushed to the help of the earthquake-hit in Killari (Latur district of Maharashtra) in 1993 are quite astounded by the current US stance. The US reaction to the Tsunami tragedy does not even match with the relief measures coordinated by the poorer and less developed countries. The US Secretary of State...declared that America was not anti-Islam and that is why he had brought with him the relief support to Indonesia, a country with the highest Muslim population in the world. Amid a human tragedy of immense magnitude, Powell was more concerned about America's anti-Muslim image, which is the result of the American invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.... Interestingly, it was found that Germany has pledged the highest monetary aid ($ 680million) for the Tsunami-hit and America's aid ($350 million) was less than that given by Japan ($ 500 million).... The tsunamis have caused a colossal human loss, whose magnitude is much more than the destruction that could have been caused by the hypothetical WMD that were to be unearthed in Iraq. There is a lesson for everyone here--it is not always that a single country acts as the enemy of humanity."
"Help Not Wanted"
The right-of-center pro-BJP Pioneer declared (1/7): "Asia's tsunami has had an unlikely fallout: The bruised ego of the world's rich nations. The West's comfort level with less developed parts of the globe hits high water mark whenever the latter can be kept on dole. Small wonder it has taken a double hit with India not only saying 'thanks, but no thanks' to foreign aid, but also indicating that it can do in-house as well as regional disaster management. Even in the 21st century, the US and Europe seem to have difficulty accepting India as an upcoming superpower, not a civilisationally-or technologically-challenged pushover rattling a tincup in its hands. They appear equally in denial about India's sphere of influence in South Asia, clout that is acknowledged-whether willingly or grudgingly-by its own neighbors. More that it has long turned from aid-taker to aid-giver appears not to suit humanitarian Empire-builders. It is true the US Administration has taken care not to step on India's toes in its backyard.
It has praised its 'strong leadership' in delivering relief. But it is not clear whether this was a spontaneous compliment or one forced by New Delhi's subtle reminders. Either way, the Government has done well to prefer UN-led crisis management in the region to that by the now disbanded four-nation 'core group' comprising India, the U.S., Australia and Japan."
"Thanks, But No Thanks"
The nationalist Hindustan Times contended (1/6): "The world is scratching its head after India decided to say. 'Thanks, but no thanks' to international aid for tsunami relief. The irony is that because of the dominance of western media--and, therefore, opinion--many Indians too are perplexed by New Delhi foregoing the aid. While many may see the gesture as being solely about national pride, it is much more than that. As the prime minister put it, we declined the offer because we didn't need it, at least at this stage. Unlike in other tsunami-affected countries such as Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand and the Maldives, India's relief infrastructure kicked into life from Day one. There is another important aspect of why it is better to not depend on foreign aid. Disasters such as this leave highly localized effects and require localized responses."
"Tsunami And The Net"
The centrist Hindu opined (1/6): "The power of the Internet to knit people in far-flung countries into a truly global community is on display in the wake of the catastrophic tsunami. The spontaneity of sentiment evoked by the tsunami havoc in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, and other countries is reflected in the record-breaking instant online donations made to many organizations across the world. In a heartening gesture non-resident Indians and others have used the Internet to contribute generously to the various funds set up for relief."
The centrist Kolkata-based Telegraph noted (1/6): "It is prudent of the government of India not to have reacted strongly to the U.S.' naval presence in Sri Lanka.... While the US presence does need to be watched and monitored carefully by New Delhi, this latest American engagement in south Asia may also serve as a way to test the depth of the bilateral Indo-US relationship.... However, the latest American presence need not generate much anxiety for a variety of reasons. First, and most important, the Cold War is over. The U.S. and India are building a new relationship based on a commonality of long-term strategic interests.... Furthermore, moments of adversity provide an opportunity to test a relationship, and the U.S. presence in Sri Lanka may help India to firmly gauge U.S. interests in south Asia. If indeed the U.S. is seeking a stable relationship with South Asia, with India as its natural leader, then New Delhi needs to welcome all the cooperation it gets from the world's only superpower. But if the U.S. has other designs, these will become obvious without causing much damage to India's interests. In sum, American humanitarian assistance may not signal a new twist in American policy, but it is wise to keep a close watch on the developments in Sri Lanka."
"Channel Relief Through UN"
Pro-BJP Tamil-language Dinamani editorialized (1/5): "The world community's eagerness to rush relief to the victims of the Tsunami victims must have offered tremendous satisfaction to mankind.... The U.S., the world's superpower which first announced a relief of one million dollars later raised the amount to 3.5 million when several nations grumbled.... America also felt that the besides itself, Australia, Japan and India should form a special committee to handle the relief disbursement.... A poor nation like India has, by its conduct, earned the plaudits of all as it is also one of the worst-affected.... It would have been most appropriate for the Prime Minister to have attended the Jakarta meet. He could have attended the Mumbai meet after participating in the Jakarta conference. This issue apart, the EU's efforts in this calamity is laudable. It has organized another international meet at Geneva at its initiative and stressed that relief assistance should be channeled through the UN. The Jakarta conference should not hesitate to reiterate this point with regard to the UN's role. The UN has already collected over 200 million dollars from its member-countries so far. Hence, the UN should take the lead in taking up the responsibility of disbursing the relief to the affected nations."
"Sri Lanka And The Tsunami"
An editorial in the centrist Hindu read (1/5): "Sri Lanka is no stranger to large-scale death and destruction. This was the country's biggest natural disaster; after Indonesia, it was the worst hit.... For a people trying to rebuild their lives and their country utilizing the window of opportunity provided by the ceasefire between the Sri Lankan Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam--the calamity is a brutally unexpected setback. The tsunami has devalued the few other tangible dividends of the three-year-old truce. It is disturbing that the LTTE should use a disaster of such epic proportions to underscore Tamil separateness by unreasonably demanding that foreign donors should channel all aid to the North-East only through it and not the Sri Lankan Government. The LTTE's desire to be the sole administrator of relief operations in areas under its control is evidently also driven by its fanatical determination to maintain secrecy about the fate of its military installations. However, for the people living in LTTE-controlled areas...a far more urgent requirement at this juncture is the LTTE's full co-operation with the Sri Lankan Government. A unity forged now will surely recharge the stalled peace process with positive implications.... It is to India's credit that despite its own share of tragedy from the tsunami, it was the first to respond to its neighbor's distress, a demonstration of the warm relations between the two nations."
"Looking Back In Wonder"
Deep Datta-Ray opined in the centrist Kolkata-based Telegraph (1/5): "The price of international coverage is the loss of individual empathy. Victims lose their individuality as they are converted into mass victims of a massive disaster. Suffering Asians hope that this global media coverage will urge aid from the West. The assistance required from the international community is massive.... Many Asians living in the shantytowns hover around or live below the poverty line. It will be a relatively inexpensive affair for the developed nations to rebuild these subsistence life-styles on a per capita basis. The money would be a modest investment for the peace, stability and harmony among the world's warring communities.... Investing in science is today the means of protecting ourselves. Technology has already provided the Pacific Rim with a ring of sensors providing early warning of tsunamis. This carnage provides ample reason to have such a system in Asia. The Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal merits equal treatment.... The template for predicting and managing disasters exists and must be tailored by Asians to Asian requirements--if only because Asia's 'teeming masses' lack a mouthpiece to voice their personal suffering."
"Drills For Natural Disaster Management"
S. Narayan wrote in the centrist Financial Express said (1/5): "Interestingly, the first pictures of the Car Nicobar damage were from US satellite pictures. We have a sophisticated remote sensing agency.... Damage analysis should have been available the same day. Second, air and sea-borne rescue operations could have succeeded in bringing quick relief. At the end of one week, it is interesting that there is no clear plan emerging on rehabilitation of islanders. It is the lack of a clear strategy that is leading to media comments on how to reach relief to villagers and problems of implementation. Announcement of big sums of money are not required immediately. They are required in the reconstruction phase, and that takes a period of time--a tsunami watch system is an example of this. When relief is carried out in the glare of the media, expectations of large announcements, ad hoc packages, overtake routine necessary activities. Second, there is little attention paid in state headquarters to disaster preparedness. Finally, the tendency of the central government to jump in with unsolicited advice, exacerbates the confusion."
"Tsunami, Relief And America"
Centrist Siliguri-based Bengali-language Uttar Banga Sambad remarked (1/3): "It seems that it is not to stand selflessly by the hapless tsunami victims, but rather to start an undeclared and unwarranted competition over pledging relief. In fact a fight of expansionism lies behind the relief operations. America is trying to surpass the UN by pledging an enhanced quantum of aid. However, that too is negligible in the face of such a grave calamity.... Bush and Blair have been spending much more for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and also for developing lethal weapons.... Why are they so stingy in providing humanitarian aid though they indulge themselves in squandering billions of dollars in taking away innocent lives?"
PAKISTAN: "Tsunami Relief Effort"
The center-right national English-language Nation asserted (1/7): "There is a daily dose of which country is doing the most and which is doing the least. All the biases are coming into play and so are all the skills of media management.... Australia's enormous contribution of $810 million (mostly for Indonesia) makes it the biggest donor but it has not received as much coverage as media savvy India. However it has grabbed an opportunity to rebuild its ties with Indonesia, badly severed after the Bali bombing where Australians suffered the biggest casualties. By raising its original bid, it has unseated the foremost donor Japan who has promised $500 million. That puts the U.S. with its $350 million donation as fourth, with some loss of face. Criticized for its slow response, Washington has called a world Leaders Open Tsunami Aid Conference but has now transferred the lead role to the UN.... Pakistan unfortunately ranks nowhere. There is no visible move to mobilize aid effort at the public level and there is even less effort to project Pakistan's participation in the relief campaign in the major media networks, other than a passing reference to two Pakistani navy ships, a C-130 and a task force dispatched to disaster areas. It seems the projection of the Tsunami relief effort is a statement not on who are the most compassionate in the world. It is actually a picture of who are the smartest."
SRI LANKA: "The Need For A National Commitment"
Government-owned Sinhala-language Dinamina concluded (1/7): "If the Tsunami disaster has taught an abject lesson to us as a nation, it is the dire and urgent need to rally all forces and rake in all resources through a united and dedicated effort to reconstruct the country. Having been used to divisive, confrontational and opportunistic politics we will need some hard thinking and sincere commitment to brace ourselves to the daunting task of rebuilding our country and the nation from this devastating natural disaster. We have to rise above all differences and barriers and unite with a singular purpose and determination to set aside the ill affects of this merciless blow and work unitedly with a true spirit of nationalism. Such determination alone can pull us out of the depths we have been pushed into by the vagaries of nature."
"Use Aid With Care"
Independent Sinhala-language Divaina declared (1/7): "Following the tsunami disaster, India rushed to help Sri Lanka despite some of its own areas being affected.... As extremely lavish relief continues to come from various countries it is essential to ensure that these donations in cash and kind are utilized in a proper manner leaving no room for waste or fraud. We say this since as a nation we have gained notoriety for swindles, frauds and cheating. If these funds and materials are put into best effect the country can be developed tremendously."
"Future Waves Should Also Be Tackled"
Independent Tamil-language Thinakkural noted (1/7): "At the summit held in Jakarta, Indonesia, yesterday, leaders of 26 countries met and discussed the possibilities of controlling natural disaster in the future. Kofi Annan...while addressing the summit said that the recent tsunami attack in South Asia is the worst disaster the UN has ever faced during the past 60 years. He further said that although they were unable to prevent tsunami attacks, at least future waves can be tackled if we act unitedly. What he meant by future waves was communicable diseases that will spread in the areas affected by the tsunami. The WHO has also issued a similar warning. This can be done only if relief assistance reaches all areas that have been affected. But in Sri Lanka, even after 11 days of the tsunami attack, relief has not reached in many areas of the North-East, as yet. If the Government fails to act swiftly in this regard, there will be a grave danger of future waves submerging us."
SOUTH AFRICA: "Tsunami Shock"
Balanced Business Day commented (1/5): "The overwhelming focus on the devastation wrought by the tsunami can easily distract attention from other needy areas, but that does not mean poor regions in Africa and other parts of the world no longer need assistance. It simply means the television cameras have moved elsewhere.... A tsunami as a result of a sub-sea earthquake is the most devastating of natural disasters. The question that leaders will be asking at the tsunami summit...is whether the resultant loss of life could have in any way been prevented or lessened.... An early warning system...could have helped save lives.... Some natural disaster are unpredictable, others less so. When they happen, we must be prepared.”
The liberal Witness held (1/5): "The support is there. The challenge now is to get it to those most in need in countries where much of the infrastructure...has been destroyed. The danger of waterborne disease must also be pre-empted. Physical damage can to some extent be quantified. What the psychological damage to survivors will be, can scarcely be imagined, let alone measured. It is certain, however, that with so apocalyptic a disaster, those directly affected will carry the scars for life.”
NIGERIA: "Need For Warning Devices"
The Ibadan-based independent Nigerian Tribune stated (1/6): "The point has to be noted that the tsunami disaster is a grave reminder that human beings would never and should not think that they would ever master and, permanently, tame nature. This reminder is particularly important, such that life would not be lived without adequate regard for the uncanny ways of nature, which could spring surprises at anytime. The best that humanity should hope and work for is to be able to master nature in such a way that its surprises would not result in untold tragedy and catastrophe. And one way of doing this is to be alert to its warnings and, sometimes, to put in place infrastructure that could yield this warning from nature.... This is one other way for the world to demonstrate its capability to deal with the surprises of nature rather than waiting for disaster to strike before responding generously and with a caring spirit; the spirit of generosity should also impel world leaders to work together to put in place the necessary infrastructure that could help stave off disasters."
"Strengthen U.N. Finances"
The Lagos-based independent tabloid Sun observed (1/6): "We note that the humanitarian responses of the international community to the South Asian tsunami quake has been commendable.... Peoples and the entire countries of the world must care because whatever happens anywhere in the world affects the rest of the globe. In addition, the tsunami disaster should also remind the world about the need to strengthen the UN's finances, for it is only the organization that can afford the prolonged demand of any effective humanitarian intervention, such that is needed in the present misery caused by the tsunami earthquake in South Asia."
"Where Is The World's Fattest Purse?"
Olu Obafemi said in the Lagos-based independent tabloid Sun (1/6): "At no other time will the rich nations show their might and compassion for the world's deprived than now. Japan, it would seem, has heeded the clarion call sounded by Italy. Japan leads the world in the donation drive, with the whopping sum of half a billion dollars! Will the greatest love emerge from the fattest purse in the world's hour of need?"
"For The Sake Of Common Bond"
Lagos-based independent New Age declared (1/5): "The level of devastation caused by the quake in many nations across the region has elicited a massive response from the international community.... International health and relief organizations like in the past have risen up to the occasion to mitigate further losses. Particularly admirable is the way common people and organizations across the world have responded with money and material to meet this huge emergency. It is, however, shameful that no such gesture has come from these shores. The bonds of our common humanity demand that we demonstrate fellow feeling that overcomes our own pitiable circumstances when we have disasters such as the one in South-east Asia."
"Relief And Rehabilitation"
The Lagos-based independent Daily Champion editorialized (1/5): "Within a short spell, the tragedy has attracted stellar international compassion, the biggest outpouring of international relief.... Even so, the international efforts so far may not serve more than the purposes of the emergency and recovery phases. The next critical stage, even when the first two phases have not really been accomplished, is rehabilitation, which calls equally for consistent and intensified international assistance, to save the survivors of the disaster from hunger, diseases and homelessness. This demands an elaborate and adequate plan to restore the victims' means of livelihood and their decent living, as human beings. Thus, the UN should formally declare the affected regions disaster areas and persuade neighboring countries to open their borders to the influx of refugees."
TANZANIA: "World Tsunami Summit A Welcome Move"
The English-language government-owned Daily News commented (1/6): "An emergency summit opens today in Jakarta, Indonesia. Donors will join the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, and leaders of the nations worst hit by tsunami at the meeting. The international conference seeks to mobilise resources for urgent humanitarian needs of the victims, restoration of essential services because of swept away infrastructure and reconstruction. We welcome this move which demonstrates the unity of the world and togetherness of nations. It is essential for the international community to mobilise resources for a disaster that has no parallel and which has already claimed 14,000 lives. The ripples of the December 26 tsunami were felt in Eastern Africa. Tanzania lost 10 and Somalia 176 people. The South Eastern Asian countries bore the brunt of this disaster. They deserve full international support because the level of devastation is too high and the amount of resources needed is enormous. We extend our sympathy with nations directly hit by the disaster and urge each country that has been spared to offer assistance in order to restore the infrastructure, take care of humanitarian needs and avert epidemics. We take note of the timely and leading donation of Japan - some 500 million US dollars - and Germany, 26 million US dollars, towards rebuilding and rehabilitation of affected nations. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has warned the world about the criminal gangs preying on helpless tsunami victims to enhance their human trafficking objectives. We add our voice to the condemnation of thugs who are taking advantage the helplessness of the victims and sending them to slavery, child labour or sex trade. Some of the victims have been orphaned by or lost in the disaster. The world should not allow criminals to take advantage of powerless women and children to engage them in dehumanising activities.”
CANADA: "Mending Fences With Relief Effort?"
Editor emeritus Peter Worthington observed in the conservative tabloid Ottawa Sun (1/7): "Signs of old animosities being put on hold, at least temporarily, can be seen in the sharing of relief supplies as the militaries of the U.S., Australia, India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka work to alleviate the suffering.... A hope expressed by former U.S. President George Bush Sr. is that the Islamic world might realize by the U.S.' generous response that hate generated against America is unjustified. After all, Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim country and America is busting its butt to help.... So far, it seems a forlorn hope, albeit a fond one. While the western world has shown unprecedented generosity in helping victims of the tsunami, much of the Islamic world seems conspicuously unmoved.... Reality is that with the arguable exception of Turkey, no Islamic country is democratic--and none of them much like one another.... In some rich, militant Muslim countries there even seems an attitude of why should they care if a big wave in the South Pacific wipes out a bunch of people whose living largely depends on tourism?.... The tsunami...made Americans proud of their generosity, quick compassion and their military's effective relief efforts. While the generosity of the world has been unlike anything before seen, it also raises questions. Viewing the tsunami as history's most lethal disaster may be useful as a fundraiser, but it is overstatement.... Corruption is also becoming a major story--witness reports of fears that some orphans may have been kidnapped by trafficking gangs for the sex trade. The tsunami disaster is reaching another phase, about which there are justifiable forebodings."
"Strategic Aid Risks"
Terence Corcoran observed in the conservative National Post (1/6): "The great aid tsunami continues to gather momentum as it bears down on the people of South Asia. Yesterday the IMF threw in another $1-billion, Australia $750-million, Germany $680-million, bringing total announced international aid to more than $4-billion. We don't know exactly how many people desperately need help, but current estimates suggest the total aid package works out to maybe $2,000 per destitute survivor--for each man, woman and child.... But chances are that few actual victims will get to see much, if any, of the money, which is going to be worked through the massive planning machines of the UN. Also playing a role are the major powers, especially the U.S., which is explicitly using the tsunami disaster to further its geopolitical interests. By throwing its military might, two former presidents, billions of dollars and the public relations heft of Colin Powell and the president into the tsunami response, the Americans are deliberately trying to bolster the U.S. national image as a generous and caring nation, especially among Muslims. At a summit today in Jakarta, Indonesia, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan will join leaders from Australia, China, Japan and the United States to plot out a rehabilition strategy.... The major powers will attempt to figure out how to rebuild and redevelop vast areas, hoping to turn humanitarian relief into mega-projects of public relations triumph. History may play out in favour of the U.S. Years from now the spooky image and ominous flutter of a U.S. military helicopter--the Vietnam icon of senseless death and apocalyptic power--may well be seen as the American angel of relief and salvation. The UN and the World Bank may well regain international status. But there's a lot to overcome before any such transformation takes place.... Aceh, the rest of Sumatra and all of Indonesia suffer in an economic-policy environment that has created the worst economic performer in Southeast Asia. Harrassment of foreign investment, corruption...job-killing labour laws--these are the causes of poverty in Aceh. The World Bank ranks Indonesia as one of the most corrupt nations in the world. Lack of aid has nothing to do with conditions before the tsunami--or now.... Any economic study of Indonesia details a country that suffers from a lack of basic economic and individual freedoms--the very things that billions of aid dollars do not supply. Aid, in fact, produces the opposite, increasing dependence and undermining the economic foundations that could produce development and wealth. That so many individuals around the world have responded to a clear need is a natural occurrence. But when governments take up the same causes, driven by strategic motives and deploying policies that have been proven not to work, it is doubtful that the good produced will come close to matching the effort."
"Tsunami Turns Spotlight On Canada's Aid Policies"
Susan Riley commented in the nationalist Ottawa Citizen (1/5): "As always, some question how effectively the money will be spent, or how much of what is pledged will be delivered. In previous disasters, some big donors--including the World Bank and the U.S. government--have failed to live up to commitments. For all that, the Americans remain among the most generous of people. Even the belligerent George W. Bush has been striking the right notes: appearing on television to comment...appointing his father and former president Bill Clinton to spearhead private fundraising in the U.S.; and dispatching U.S. forces to the most devastated areas to ferry relief supplies and assist Indonesian forces. Whether conspicuously helping victims there will restore America's reputation in the Muslim world is doubtful, but helping is the right thing to do."
Richard Gwyn wrote in the liberal Toronto Star (1/5): "In all humanitarian crises, politics--the politics, moreover, of recipients as well as of givers--always raises its ugly head. In this crisis, politics has raised its head a good deal earlier and higher than is usual. Up to a point, this kind of behaviour shouldn't necessarily be condemned. To the extent that givers get more than a feeling of doing good from what they are doing, they will do more.... A major example: The U.S. is assembling off Sumatra its largest naval task force in southeast Asia since the Vietnam War.... This is happening because Americans are naturally an exceptionally generous people. Public opinion aside, it would be happening anyway because President George W. Bush is taking advantage of the chance to demonstrate that the war on terrorism is not a clash of civilizations by going to the limit and beyond to help, and to be seen to be helping, the citizens of the world's largest Muslim community.... Some of the wealthy nations that have proudly announced large contributions will never fulfill their pledges, and many will take the money from other aid projects.... What should be condemned is not so much the politics, much of which is pretty inevitable, if in no way excusable, as the cynical exploitation of the feelings of ordinary people. The response to the tsunami cataclysm represents globalization at its best.... What is unprecedented about the tsunami has been the response to it. The blanket media coverage has brought the pain of others into our living rooms. In country after country, people are both reaching deep into their own pockets and are pressing hard on their governments to do more."
Lorenzo Meyer wrote in independent Reforma (1/6): "It is a political mistake not to contribute generously.... This is true for the U.S. and other powerful countries, but it is also true for countries such as Mexico.... In order for Mexico to speak with any moral and political authority on its own behalf, or that of the underdeveloped world where it belongs, it must demonstrate clearly and wisely its generosity.... In order for Mexico to speak out about the protection and consideration that should be given to undocumented Mexican migrant workers in the U.S., Mexico should prove that we are equal to challenge in our own treatment of undocumented Central Americans living or passing through here... If Mexico wants the UN, rather than one strong country acting unilaterally, to impose order in the world, then it should be willing to contribute to UN peacekeepers. The best political lesson is one by example."
Gabriela de la Paz contended in independent El Norte (1/5): “The tragedy experienced by the earthquake of Banda Aceh and the tsunamis in southern Asia bring bitter lessons that we need to learn: from a larger respect towards nature to a better preparation to deal with such enormous catastrophes as the one which currently has accounted for approximately 150,000 lives and million of dollars in material damage.... According to the World Bank and other organizations, the Apocalypses suffered on December 26th will soon become a scar in Southern Asia that will heal slowly and whose consequences we will be living for the next years. Preventing a disaster like this one is everybody’s task and this is the main lesson.”
"Adam Smith's Tsunamis"
Alejandro Nadal wrote in left-of-center La Jornada (1/5): "Adam Smith would be surprised if he read the analysis of a prestigious international brokerage firm regarding the economic impact of the tsunamis; most of the analysis affirmed that the effects would be slight, perhaps insignificant.... GDP in the region will not be seriously affected, the world will barely notice.... Those tsunamis were the worst in history, given the number who died, so how does one explain so little economic impact? Analysts from the firm quickly found an explanation. Those regions were extremely poor, whew, what a relief! It is estimated that the damage costs for the insurance companies will not exceed 8 billion dollars. This is nothing compared to the 20 billion dollars paid out by insurers after the hurricanes in Florida last year. Poor people don't have anything, only their lives, which have no economic value--except when used as cannon folder by the maquila industries--so nothing much is lost when poor people die as a consequence of tsunamis."
Paz Flores asserted in independent El Norte (12/31): “It seems as if the Earth is upset. Climate change as well has caused hurricanes, typhoons, and other disasters. The UN Program for the Environment says the year 2004 will be remembered as the most expensive year for insurance companies. For 2012, the Kyoto Protocol intends to reduce the emission of gases (partly responsible for the global overheating) but there are other factors that go beyond the simple emission of gas, and have not been clearly explained yet."
Karen Batres mentioned in independent El Norte (12/31): “Nature’s manifestations, which we have witnessed, become complicated by human tendencies toward over population, and factors related to poverty, careless or destruction of the natural surrounding and the lack of resources and technology that could prevent the deterioration of the environment, which also contributes to the Earth’s overheating.... At least, let us reflex a little beyond the terrible parameters of this catastrophe. The victims deserve that we do something useful, each one of us.”
EL SALVADOR: "Buying Love"
Sergio Munoz Bata observed in moderate La Prensa Gráfica (1/6): "The political intention of Operation Empathy is to rehabilitate the damaged image of the (U.S.) abroad, to redefine the image of Bush as a compassionate leader and to emphasize the generosity of Americans… to replace the image of the ugly American, revived by the invasion to Iraq, by the one of the generous and compassionate giant who is able to replicate in Southeast Asia the famous Marshall Plan that facilitated the reconstruction of Europe after World War II. I doubt that Operation Empathy will be able to change the image of Bush and the United States in the world as long as the first is president. I understand clearly that the people who will benefit from American aid in Southeast Asia will be thankful. How could they not be! But we needn’t forget that while the effort of reconstruction in Asia is being carried out, the war in Iraq also continues. If the United States wants to improve its image in the world, it must become partners with moderate Islamic groups to promote the democratization of the Arab countries, act like an impartial referee in the Israel- Palestine conflict and negotiate a honorable and non-imperial exit from Iraq."
VENEZUELA: "Times Of Tsunami"
Antonio Cova Maduro remarked in leading conservative El Universal (1/5): “We begin the year 2005 with the first consequences of a natural catastrophe that will have unsuspected economic, political and social effects. Will this tsunami generate others that we cannot even foresee now?”
"George W. Bush And The Southeast Crisis"
Sensationalist 2001 noted (1/5): "The President of the U.S., in a gesture that demonstrates that the political and social differences can be worked out in the hour of greatest need, appointed former Presidents George H.W. Bush, his father, and Bill Clinton, his father’s political rival, so that they head a U.S. humanitarian relief campaign for the victims of the tsunami in Southeast Asia.”
|Office of Research||Issue Focus||Foreign Media Reaction|