Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Tsunami Realpolitik

Interesting bloggage by Mr. X on the tsunami as a "war on terror" opportunity.

My comments:

As Winston Churchill (I think) said, "nations don't have allies -- they have interests."

Yes, Mr. X, expecting a government to do the right thing because it's the right thing (and leaving aside the question of whether extorting money from Americans to feed, clothe and shelter Indonesians is, indeed, the right thing) is naive.

Then again, expecting US aid, governmental or non-governmental, to placate the Islamists is naive too. Jemiah Islamiya won't be coming to Jesus just because Uncle Sam represented with some clean water and a bowl of Uncle Ben's Long-Grained Rice. It may cut into their support base some, temporarily (and the tsunami itself certainly cut into their funding). But the people being helped almost certainly do want a hand up, not a hand out -- and once they're on their feet, they'll likely not want the Americans to move in with their DVD players and start watching NYPD Blue reruns and tracking mud on the neon green Marshall Plan shag carpet. There's something to be said for doing the good deed and getting the hell out.

You're not "hopelessly" naive, Mr. X. Just remember that while you have a heart, the US government doesn't -- nor can it.

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