At the United Nations, our unconfirmed U.N. Ambassador John Bolton keeps up the vitriolic rhetoric at the United Nations. You would think that after the worst natural catastrophe in the United States in most of our lifetimes that he might be a bit more demur. Sadly, this is not the case. We Americans are extraordinary fortunate to still have allies. Yes, even those damned effeminate and pussy whipped Frenchies seem to be anxious to help the United States out through the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.
Aid (or at least offers of aid) is pouring in from countries of all types. Germany, France, Spain, Great Britain and Canada are all working their refineries overtime for us. Europe is drawing from its strategic gasoline reserves and shipping much of it to the United States.
“It’s self-evident that we support the American bid,” German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder told a news conference in Berlin.
France echoed Schroeder’s remarks: “This request is consistent with efforts for solidarity with the American people,” the Industry Ministry said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency announced that its members would release an extra two million barrels of oil a day to help stabilize oil markets. About half of this amount is in the form of already refined gasoline stocks to be provided by European countries. In the United States, our immediate problem is not a lack of oil. It is a lack of refining capacity. While we may still see gas lines in the short run, over the next few weeks we should see the situation ease as our foreign friends step in to help us through a tough time.
Non-petroleum aid is flowing in too. Even erstwhile enemy Cuba is offering to fly in 1,110 doctors and 26 tons of aid. The country of Sri Lanka, hit by the devastating December 26th tsunami, is sending aid. It may be a token amount, but it demonstrates how powerful the forces of international compassion can be when disaster strikes.
That some of these countries still count us as friends shows how fortunate our country is. If they were to respond to our country the way we have vilified some of them over the last few years we could just as easily been left high and dry. Perhaps we would have deserved our comeuppance. I have to assume their leaders are cut from some better cloth than ours. Perhaps this outpouring of international support is just a logical reaction to the horrible news stories from our gulf coast that are being sent across the world. Or more likely we are still drawing from the legacy of cooperative international leadership that was typical of the United States from Roosevelt until the election of Ronald Reagan. Or perhaps our allies recognize that our current government is an aberration and that sensible government will return by 2008.
For whatever reasons we Americans should be grateful for this charity, because the conduct of late of our so-called leaders suggests that we do not deserve it. Let us not forget that after 9/11 our NATO allies provided aircraft and other facilities to guard our own coastlines. Yet, when some of these same allies refused to support us in our illegal invasion of Iraq, we railed against them. We hissed at them. No less than our own Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld rudely dismissed Germany and France as part of “Old Europe”.
It will take many months for New Orleans to be even in a position to rebuild. Rebuilding that city, along with many others along that part of the gulf coast, will take many years. Thanks to the benevolence of other countries, Americans will be spared a lot of unnecessary agony. Ironically, a lot of this international aid might not have been necessary had our government not failed so miserably managing its response to this hurricane. Our failure is a direct result of a leadership whose attention is focused on the wrong priorities. Now many of those nations that we so recently scorned and pilloried are rushing to help us.
Just as good neighbors make a good neighborhood, good relations with other countries make for a better world community. We can see this goodwill manifested once again in this latest time of need. I would hope that we would learn a lesson from this goodwill. However, so far we see nothing from “Ambassador” John Bolton that would indicate he sees much value in cooperative working relations with other countries unless they echo the perspective of the United States. As for our Secretary of State, Condi Rice found it convenient to spend her holiday shoe shopping and seeing Spamalot rather than high tailing it back to Washington to coordinate international relief.
Therefore, expecting much of a change of behavior for our current administration is likely pointless. However, hopefully the American people are now fully awake and sober. We may pretend otherwise but we are one world. Consequently, we had better all learn to get along together. We must learn to scratch each other’s backs. It is a shame that the United States, which for so long epitomized international cooperation, now has to painfully relearn it. When progressive government is put back into place in 2006 and 2008, I am hopeful that the United States will once again reenter the international mainstream.
Meanwhile, from one U.S. citizen to the rest of the world, I would like to say that we are thankful and appreciative that you are coming to help in our time of great need.