The UN Role in Tsunami Relief: Help or Hinderance?
There is a tug-o-war going on between a "core group" of able nations and the United Nations over the administering of relief efforts in the tsunami-afflicted areas of Asia. It seems that George W. Bush is (gasp!) a little apprehensive about handing over hundreds of millions of dollars intended for relief over to Kofi & Company at the UN. The dumb Texan just might have figured out that when the UN 'serves' between the relievers and the relieved, the relief load gets lighter in transit.
The UN Middleman Wedge
Wretchard at Belmont Club points to comments by Clare Short (former UK Department of International Development Secretary) where she declares:
“I think this initiative from America to set up four countries claiming to coordinate sounds like yet another attempt to undermine the UN when it is the best system we have got and the one that needs building up...It (UN) is the only body that has the moral authority."
I love Wretchard's deadpan conclusion:
The stage was set for wrangling between the US and the UN. The proponents of the United Nations have argued that the key issue dividing it from America is legitimacy. They would be right.
There are two excellent posts at Belmont Club (here and here) regarding what precisely the UN's role in the relief effort is or even should be and all of the political huff-&-puff that has gone on along with it. Each has quite interesting and insightful discussion in the comments section.
American JTF-536 On Site
If you were wondering exactly what American assets were set in motion by President Bush (before the UN had finished stirring their collective tea, I might add), Chester has once again done an excellent job of assembling the military operational information at The Adventures of Chester. JTF-536 and all 12,000+ American servicemen & women are either already in theater or steaming hard in route.
Do you wonder (as do I) how much exactly it costs to operate 12,000-man Joint Task Force and all of its equipment each day? Equally as important, do you think the media and the rest of the 'stingy critics' wonder?
(Self-induced pause: It is probable that the Bush Administration included it within its $350 million calculation, but I cannot be certain. However, there probably aren't any journalists who pushed the 'stingy' storyline that can tell us definitively either.)
The World Bank
While we are on the topic of relief contributions (and stinginess), Tom Carter makes an outstanding observation that parallels my JTF-536 question above...except Col. Tom Carter sharpened his pencil and brought it to the fight.
Colonel Carter (US Army, Ret.) notes that, while the World Bank appears on CNN's Nation-by-Nation Scoreboard as contributing $250 million to the relief efforts, 16% of the World Bank's funds are from American contributions. (That's double the nearest contributor [Japan] and nearly 4-times the third [Germany] of 184 member nations.) 16% of "The World Bank's" $250 is $40 million.
I am not objecting to The World Bank's contribution. Not at all. However, it is worthy of note before we grace them with praise for their generosity that they are after all (like the UN itself) spending other people's money.
Yup. Stingy America.