Thursday, September 08, 2005

Bush, Kofi, and the international community: friends forever?

Opinio Juris posted some excerpts of Condoleeza Rice's public speech thanking foreign countries for contributions. I'd like to make some comments about them (below in Bold). Mrs Rice says:

I just want to say that people have said without fail that the United States is a compassionate country that has helped so much when there has been devastation around the world that they want give back to the United States. And that should make us feel good as Americans to know that people acknowledge how much we have been able to help and that they now want to help us.

It is NOT because the US is a compassionate country that the world is giving an aid. Facing a human tragedy of those proportions, everyone feels bound to help. But it is not a 'do ut des' type of aide. That is to say, it is not a pay back. It would happen with any country in the world, with no discrimination, and this for the simple reason that we all have a moral duty to help those who have been struck by a lethal blow.

The United Nations has mobilized their disaster experts. I want to thank Secretary General Kofi Annan for that. Their people are sitting with our people in Washington to plan out UN support. So there's just a lot.

Oh all of a sudden, Kofi boy becomes a good old friend. And the UN a great, supportive, institutions. This is ridiculous.

And if I could just close with one story that is particularly heartening to me, the small country of Sri Lanka, which has just gone through its own devastation because of a tsunami, is one of the cash contributors to this effort. And that says something about the heart of the world as well as the heart of America.

This should be taken as a lesson and not as a fairy tale. Sri Lanka is simply giving an example of (international) solidarity. A word, that the Bush administration can barely comprehend. Bush and Rice say that because of their compassionate attitude, the world is now showing solidarity. The truth is that the world is showing international solidarity precisely because of the lack of domestic solidarity seen in the US. We know Bush's administration had the financial means to cope with the tragedy. This is not the issue. Bush' s administration lacked the will of showing strong, immediate, domestic solidarity. Sri Lanka gave a moral lesson to the Bush administration.

How does the story end? Today (??) Bush is asking the Congress to give money for relief...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

These comments really irked me. To say 'thank you' by saying, "We are great and we deserve this, so thank you" is not much of a 'thank you'... it's just not very gracious. Can't you just say 'thank you'??

But the U.S. hasn't demonstrated much diplomatic prowess at the high level lately. With Iraq, it chose to commence an illegal war before exhausting all diplomatic, peaceful means of dispute resolution. Diplomacy isn't really where this administration's strengths lie. Rice has been saying lately, "Now is the time for diplomacy." No, before the U.S. went to war was the time for diplomacy. Isn't that what the Dept of State is for? I found these latest comments to be another example of a poor showing by the U.S.'s top diplomat.