Thursday, December 30, 2004

Let's get some perspective

The picture is from Sri Lanka, but it could be India, Phuket or Indonesia. Far more than a million people are out of their homes and the death toll is up to 117,000 at last count, with many still missing.

Yes, there's been some complaints about the compassionate conservative response. Is it fair? In 1999 an earthquake struck Northwest Turkey, centered in Izmit. I worked at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Red Cross at the time, and our Chapter CEO was tasked to do the US Red Cross PR on-site in Turkey. I briefed him before he left. I'm quite familiar with that disaster. It killed about 14,000 people, and left 200,000 homeless in late summer. The potential for disease was less than in the Indian ocean, as the tropics promote more of that sort of thing. Some of these figures can be found at Yeah, this disaster is anywhere from five to ten times the magnitude of the Turkish disaster. How does Bush's compassion compare to Clinton's?

What was the US response led by Clinton? The quake happened on August 17th, 1999. On August 19th President Clinton ordered three Navy ships from Spain with a compliment of 2,100 marines aboard.

The three "amphibious-ready" ships, the USS Kearsarge, the USS Ponce and the USS Gunston Hall, have about 630 beds, six operating rooms, five X-ray rooms, eight doctors, three dental officers and 88 medical corpsmen.

The 22 helicopters on the ships can provide medical evacuations from the damaged areas.

This report doesn't include monetary figures to compare to Bush's contributions now committed several days after the disaster, but, then, this report from CNN is just three days after the Turkish quakes!

What we have here is the law of unintended consequences, and it will surely bite America in the ass like all other Bush policies have. Surely Bush didn't intend, of course, to be stretched so thin that he had no marines, no hospital ships, and no supplies to send on humanitarian missions. But that's the result. This is called opportunity cost, folks. The opportunity cost of a quagmire is that we are unable to effectively play our role as citizen of the world. And that boy in the picture will not receive the help he and nore than a million others so desperately need.

But I forgot, the Bushies have sold the Iraq quagmire as a humanitarian mission, or tried to do so. What's the count now of deads Iraqi citizens from American munitions?