How does one comprehend the magnitude, impact, and context of a disaster that may claim more than 100,000 lives? But enough about the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
The recent earthquake/tsunami in Asia raises more questions than answers.
Here's a start:
What's the political context of the disaster? Reports on the Asian tsunami typically ignore the crucial political back stories in volatile areas like Aceh and Sri Lanka...and how "aid" efforts will be exploited for geo-political gain. Without such context, the coverage is woefully incomplete and irresponsible. Yesterday, Democracy Now did delve deeper into the situation in Aceh...the military repression, the role of Exxon-Mobil, and now the earthquake/tsunami. Do some research and see for yourself.
Is the U.S. stingy? Even if we were to trust the estimates of $1 billion in aid eventually coming from the U.S., that number pales in comparison to the tens of billions being spent in Iraq to keep the world safe for petroleum. At this writing, the U.S. has spent an average of $9.5 million every hour on the war and occupation of Iraq. In a global sense, the U.S. spends $1 million dollars a minute on war...a percentage of which helps create Third World poverty and the inability to deal with natural disasters.
there no warning? There was warning. Here's how the folks at Democracy Now
describe what happened: "Within minutes of the tsunami forming on Sunday,
U.S. officials at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii began
tracking the waves. But the scientists claimed they had no one to contact in
the Indian Ocean region about the possible danger. One exception was the
British-owned island of Diego Garcia that houses a major US Naval base. The
Independent of London reports that U.S. officials in Hawaii did warn Diego
Garcia about the possible tsunami and the island suffered no major damage."
Will it happen again? Can it happen here? As I sit here in New York, with a fault line running across 125th St., I need only remember that 200 million years ago the earth was one gigantic continent.
does this disaster rank for that area? The continent of Asia is no stranger
to natural events like this. A 1942 hurricane in Bengal, India killed
40,000. A 1970 cyclone Bangladesh claimed 300,000 lives. Going back to 1556,
830,000 died in an earthquake in Shaanxi, China. August 1931 saw China's
Huang He River flood and kill 3,700,000.
How can I help? If you're trying to figure out a way to help but do not want your dollars sucked into a huge bureaucracy, you can help the Indonesian area of Aceh via the East Timor Action Network.
Another way to help (in a more abstract manner) is to see past the corporate media coverage of the tragedy and educate yourself on the deeper issues. The more we know about the world, the harder it is to fool us. Donate at the link given above. Donate...then educate, agitate, and demonstrate.
Here in the U.S., we can't honestly say we haven't been warned...
Mickey Z. is the author of four books, most recently: The Seven Deadly Spins: Exposing the Lies Behind War Propaganda (Common Courage Press). He can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.
Bush’s “Appropriate” Response by William Brasch
Other Recent Articles by Mickey Z.
Our Table: Direct Action for Third World Misery