Do you want to know what the definition of ungrateful is? It is being clearly spelled out for us in the world’s response – or rather, its lack of response – to the carnage wrought by Hurricane Katrina earlier this week.
Though much of the U.S. Gulf Coast, including a healthy portion of our oil and gas production and refining capability – 30 percent of which resides in the Gulf of Mexico region – lies in ruins; though tens of billions of dollars in damage has been done; though hundreds of American citizens have been killed; though millions could be without power for up to a month; offers of international aid and assistance to help us get back on our feet are not exactly pouring in.
As of this writing, I’ve seen exactly two offers of assistance. The first comes from Venezuela, whose left-wing leader, President Hugo Chavez, is simply pulling a public-relations stunt and using our misfortune to jab a stick in the eye of the Bush administration, which opposes his anti-U.S. regime.
The second comes from Ontario, Canada. Yes, that’s right – just that lone province, not the whole of the Canadian central government.
Excuse me if I don’t exactly get misty-eyed from all of this generosity.
Meanwhile, as our rescue teams, military, and emergency management agencies work to save lives and restore some semblance of order and sanity to the stricken areas, the cost estimates for physical damages (the cost in human lives can never be measured) is in the scores of billions of dollars. One estimate puts the estimated price tag of Katrina in insurance claims alone at around $25 billion.
These figures are paltry to a country with a $10 trillion economy, but let’s look at the bigger picture: It’s the thought that counts, and right now it sure doesn’t look like our “friends” and “allies” are giving our problems much thought. Truth be told, some of our buddies are probably even laughing about our misfortune, in a sneering “you-got-what-you-deserved” kind of way.
Yet, even as our own people suffer, die and otherwise watch their lives and dreams wash away before their eyes, our leaders are giving away taxpayer dollars to help other countries at present.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the United States spent a record $18.7 billion on foreign aid in 2003 – a figure which has risen substantially since President Bush took first took office in January 2001. That figure alone would take a huge chunk out of the price tag for Katrina.
We also spend billions more dollars abroad to help others deal with everything from AIDS prevention to stamping out anti-government militias. And let’s not forget that little $1 billion donation to help the Asian tsunami victims earlier this year. Aren’t we the thoughtful ones?
But it’s always this way, isn’t it? I mean, haven’t the professional and collegiate sports clubs said it best when they reminded us this week, as they ramped up relief efforts and dug into their own pockets, that it is the American way to be generous to a fault when our neighbors are down and out?
That simply means, of course, when the chips are down we Americans know who to count on in a crisis: ourselves.
So to the rest of the world – you ungrateful leeches – I say this: When we decide “unilaterally” to defend ourselves the next time we’re attacked; when we next opt to “unilaterally” battle a global evil like terrorism because no one else can or will; when we act “unilaterally” to insist global organizations like the United Nations clean up its act; now you know why. We’re used to going it alone.
And one final note: Don’t call us … we’ll call you.