Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Hey - chuck enough money at a problem, it'll go away eventually

Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that people are donating in their droves - and that various countries are continuing to up their pledges as a result. It looks like since Colin Powell's visit (it'll be a real shame when he's gone) the US may up its donation again, so we can but hope that some real impact can be made.

But as aeuropean rightly says, money won't solve everything - in the early days they were calling for heavy lifting equipment, now doctors, soon (I hope) they'll need builders, carpenters and the like to help rebuild. Quite what practical help any of us can be, so many miles away, I have no idea - but every little counts.

Not that I've actually helped at all - just moaned like the typical whinging bastard that I am. Nothing's ever going to be good enough, because the scale of the problem - and not just in the tsunami-affected areas but around the world, as I have pointed out in another post - is overwhelming.

That, of course, doesn't mean we shouldn't try - but I'm still rather worried about the motivations of certain governments when it comes to this particular tragedy:

  • The UK is (almost certainly) in an election year and the Labour government don't want to be seen to be stingy
  • US President Bush is entering his second term, and seems to see placating the largely Muslim Indonesia as a good PR move which may help prove to those sympathetic to those evil terrorists that America isn't the Great Satan after all
  • Most disgracefully of all of these is the fact that India has rejected foreign aid entirely - largely because it wants a place on the UN Security Council, and so wants to prove it can cope on its own
Note: This is a repeat - with a few hastily added links - of a comment I made to one of my earlier posts on the tsunami aftermath

(By the way, to follow up on one of the other comments to that post regarding the relative scale of aid, has anyone else noticed that the United States' second pledge of $350 million to the tsunami-hit regions is but a tenth of the controversial $3 billion aid promised to that staunch ally in the war on terror (and military dictatorship), Pakistan?)

2 Comments:

Blogger Russell said...

Don't be so hard on India, they didn't say they didn't want aid, they said they thought aid would be more appropriately spent on other, more in need, countries. There is some truth to that.

1/05/2005 11:18:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Some truth, certainly - India has one of the most successful economies in the region. But they certainly have an eye on the UN seat.

The $23 million aid to Sri Lanka, the deployment of navy ships for use as hospitals all smells like an extra push to prove to the world that India can hack it with the big boys. The fact that a large chunk of its population still lives in poverty, and that a decent section of India's tsunami-affected regions are just as badly off as those in other parts of the region, is being brushed over (at least in part) for PR purposes.

It's great they're helping out their neighbours, but it is clear from the quotations in the linked article from India's Ambassador to the US, Ronen Sen, that New Delhi is trying to make the most out of the situation: "There are good reasons why it is called the Indian Ocean...it has always been in the Indian sphere of influence... it took the tsunami to realize India's expanse."

1/06/2005 11:09:00 am  

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