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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Not stingy on the UN-bashing, at least

Now the don't-blame-America-first crowd is crowing over the paltry French tsunami-relief contribution.

But if they had actually stopped to look at the initial remark that started this furor, they might realize the "stingy" comment was applied to all western countries:

"We will do more," Mr. Powell said on ABC's "Good Morning America," one of a series of television appearances apparently intended to rebut the comment on Monday by Jan Egeland, the emergency relief coordinator for the United Nations, that the West had generally been "stingy" in its aid to poor countries. ...

Mr. Egeland responded to Mr. Powell's criticism by saying that he had been misunderstood and that he had not been referring to aid for the quake and tsunami victims but to the overall trend in recent years by Western countries in aiding the poor. He said pledges for the current crisis had been "most generous."

"I have been misinterpreted when I yesterday said that my belief that rich countries in general can be more generous," Mr. Egeland added. "This has nothing to do with any particular country or the response to this emergency."

Last time I checked, France is also a western country (oh yes, they are aligned with Osama bin Laden now, I forgot).

I don't pretend to know jack about disaster relief or how to gauge whether the US is making an adequate response. I do think it's rather unfortunate that we throw away an opportunity to make common cause with other countries by letting a situation degenerate into such name-calling, though.