Powell and Little Bro Should Stay Home
By Linda Edwards
As the Bush administration stumbles towards its response to the South Asian Disaster, tacking on pieces of response as the days move forward, I want to suggest to responsible news agencies that they urge the administration to cancel the proposed trip to South Asia. My specific reasons are as follows:
1. The visit will/could distract essential personnel, both civilian and military, from the critical tasks of road clearing, ministering to the sick, burying the dead and sheltering the homeless. It will not be a problem of resources, because we generally carry our own, but a question of detracting from the issue.
2. The visit could invite all sorts of anti-US groups, from outside the area, to take potshots at these important people, in this period of vulnerability of all affected countries; and if that happens, there will of course be a military response, and before you know what's happening, we are involved in a war there when our intention was to help.
3. The third issue is, who specifically invited them? India, Sri Lanka, Thailand?, Indonesia? Myanmar? Bangladesh? If we invited ourselves, as is most probably the case, these people are too polite to say not to come. So they get involved in a mad scramble to accommodate the Big Wigs, and weaken in the process, the fragile but essential task of caring for the needy.
Someone on CNN yesterday asked UN Secretary General Kofi Annan if he was going. He did not answer the question. Clearly the answer is no, he has people on the ground who know what to do, and he knows his visit would be a distraction.
Sometimes, we blunder into intercultural situations using our own roadmaps. If this was an American disaster, on American soil, a visit from the head of state to the distressed area would have been almost mandatory, but the situation is different in South Asia. Distressed people do not need to be in one more TV picture, attempting to grin around their pain. They do not need another wound lifted into the cameras of the world.
How many other high level delegations from donor countries are going? Is Tony Blair of Britain? James Howard of Australia, is someone from China going? Germany? Spain? Is Sonia Ghandi of India going to tour the other distressed areas? What do these other high level people know that we do not? This, and simply this: That the high cost of the safety and protection of this delegation would be an unnecessary strain on the resources of the countries chosen for this visit. Colin and Jeb are not in the same league as Diana of Wales visiting land mine victims in Angola.
These are two right arms of America's Military Might going into a devastated area, accompanied by two aircraft carriers, (the one from Diego Garcia has not been mentioned in the news for two days, so maybe it turned back,) and their support ships.
I would suggest that the delegation led by Colin and Little Bro itself turn back, or not start at all. Sending navy ships with water filtration plants and hospitals is a sign of peace, sending Colin Powell, even though he has been the most moderate of the first Bush cabinet, could be read by many in terms other than those of peace.
So, scratch the delegation. Send the money. Trust those already on the ground to know what's needed, or at the very least, stay on board ship.
That way, the burden of guilt will not fall on any country if these sanitized people catch something from the polluted area, and the burden of protecting them would be America's alone. Since our top people could see aircraft carriers in Newport News and Dan Diego, why go at all? The criticism about a slow response, a less than generous response, will not go away by this visit. Other countries, with so much less, of people and resources, have already given so much more.
I hope the news agencies that receive this will not only be content to send me the routine acknowledgement letter, but will do something further about the ideas contained herein.
Happy New Year to you all. http://www.trinicenter.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=934