Skip to comments.Bush Criticizes U.N. 'Stingy' Comment
Posted on 12/29/2004 10:01:47 AM PST by RockinRight
By JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - President Bush (news - web sites) defended American generosity Wednesday, even as his administration figures out how to pay for more help beyond the $35 million it has already promised to tsunami victims in Asia.
In his first remarks since the weekend disaster that so far has killed more than 76,000, Bush like some in his administration previously took umbrage at a U.N. official's suggestion that the world's richest nations were "stingy," and indicated much more is expected to be spent to help the victims.
"Well, I felt like the person who made that statement was very misguided and ill-informed," Bush said from his Texas ranch. "We're a very generous, kindhearted nation, and, you know, what you're beginning to see is a typical response from America."
Bush noted that the United States provided $2.4 billion "in food, in cash, in humanitarian relief to cover the disasters for last year. ... That's 40 percent of all the relief aid given in the world last year."
But the journey from the $35 million to potentially $1 billion or more in help for the tens of thousands of latest victims is fraught with bureaucratic twists.
First, the U.S. Agency for International Development, which distributes foreign aid, will have to ask for more money, since the initial $35 million aid package drained its emergency relief fund, said Andrew Natsios, the agency's administrator.
"We just spent it," Natsios said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press. "We'll be talking to the (White House) budget office ... (about) what to do at this point."
Natsios said the Pentagon (news - web sites) also is spending tens of millions to mobilize an additional relief operation, with C-130 transport planes winging their way from Dubai to Indonesia with tents, blankets, food and water bags.
As of Wednesday, dozens of countries and relief groups had pledged at least $261 million in help for South and East Asia, said the Geneva-based U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
"There's no doubt there'll be more than that," said Jamie McGoldrick, the U.N. officer in charge of coordinating the international response from Switzerland. "The size of this thing is a challenge."
But measuring the generosity of the United States depends on the yardstick.
The U.S. government is always near the top in total humanitarian aid dollars even before private donations are counted but it finishes near the bottom of the list of rich countries when that money is compared to gross national product.
Such figures were what prompted Jan Egeland the United Nations (news - web sites)' emergency relief coordinator and former head of the Norwegian Red Cross to challenge the giving of rich nations.
"We were more generous when we were less rich, many of the rich countries," Egeland said. "And it is beyond me, why are we so stingy, really. ... Even Christmas time should remind many Western countries at least how rich we have become."
Egeland told reporters Tuesday his complaint wasn't directed at any nation in particular.
Secretary of State Colin Powell (news - web sites) clearly was annoyed while making the rounds of the morning television news shows Tuesday. He said it remains to be determined what the eventual U.S. contribution will be, but that he agrees with estimates that the total international aid effort "will run into the billions of dollars."
Natsios was quick to point out Tuesday that foreign assistance for development and emergency relief rose from $10 billion in President Clinton (news - web sites)'s last year to $24 billion under President Bush in 2003. Powell said U.S. assistance for this week's earthquake and tsunamis alone will eventually exceed $1 billion.
"The notion that the United States is not generous is simply not true, factually," Natsios said.
The United States uses the most common measure of the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a group of 30 rich nations that counts development aid.
By that measure, the United States spent almost $15.8 billion for "official development assistance" to developing countries in 2003. Next closest was Japan, at $8.9 billion.
That doesn't include billions more the United States spends in other areas, such as AIDS (news - web sites) and HIV (news - web sites) programs and other U.N. assistance.
Measured another way, as a percentage of gross national product, the OECD's figures on development aid show that as of April, none of the world's richest countries donated even 1 percent of its gross national product. Norway was highest, at 0.92 percent; the United States was last, at 0.14 percent.
Seems to me we have "given" perhaps $1 trillion in wealth transfer over the last 20 years to the affected nations via outsourcing. These nations have plenty of cash to take care of this themselves. they wont get a dime of my money. I give to families of fallen military, firefighter and police funds, and Christian charities for Americans here at home. It is sheer perversion how we made millionaires out of 9/11 widows and military widows get practically nothing.
President Bush: "You know, Mr. Egeland is absolutely right. That's why, in order to boost the size of our disaster relief fund, we are going to close overseas military bases in Europe, transfer the maintenance costs for those bases into the relief fund, and also reroute all the United States' funding for the United Nations into international disaster aid."
I only wish...
I agree. There will always be those who think the only reason American wealth exisists is for it to be distributed to all the have-nots. I even heard a guy this weekend saying that FEMA spent $3 billion to aid Florida hurricane victims, and that $35 million was pathetic. Well, um, FEMA is funded by US taxpayers to provide emergency services to US taxpayers, NOT to help evey country that has a disaster. What gall! From the sound of it USAID emptied its account right off the bat: this was just an immediate relief payment. And yes, the US government might pay a lower proportion of GDP, but this does not include private donations. By that measure, Americans are the most generous in the world. Mark my words, by the time this is over, you'll find the US government and citizens were more generous than any other country.
Not to mention all the bad loans to developing countries the US has forgiven. That's in the trillions.
Maybe the UN should give some of the money it stole from the oil for food program, that is it Kofi and son are willing to give up some of their blood money.
Or maybe the U.S. should just donate its UN membership fees to help the victims rather then give it to the crooks at the UN.
THAT would be a right tidy sum.
Glass houses and stones...
Fine. We're stingy.
I'm tired of giving cookies to the mice.
I propose we stop giving any financial or physical aid anywhere in the world for one full year.
Does this moron author have any idea how much it costs to divert a Marine expeditionary group and a blttle group including an aircraft carrier? There are dead people EVERYWHERE and these people want to turn it into a demand the US raise our taxes in order to GIVE AID MONEY TO THE UN? Wassamatta, does it hurt that much to lose all those blood for oil vouchers bucks??
How'sabout every UN employee give up one paycheck and send all their five star, catered dinners to Sumatra, Maylaysia and Sri Lanka?
I'm with you. And cut off all aid to the UN while we're at it. And oh, by the way, the UN building in NY has just been condemned, so get your sorry a$$es over to Paris where you belong.
"Bush Criticizes U.N. 'Stingy' Comment"
good for the President.
We have been and are the most generous and unselfish country in the world.
How much have muslim country contribute in the annals of history? Not much except for terrorism and conversion by the sword.
I hope every blanket, meal, cot, tent and vial of medicine is stamped "From the people of the United States of America". Maybe the recipients will appreciate it (unlike Europe and the Middle East).
Just wait till I run in 2016...after President Sanford's term is up. ;-)
That was a great post you reposted...I really loved the way he took advantage of the reporter's original question (after stressing that the taxpayer dollars the US sends is seperate from what American private CITIZENS send) tell us donating private citizens to donate cash rather than blankets because cash is easier to transport.
I hope someone (other than the UN) sets up an audit of how the money given to the UN for this disaster is being spent.
I'd like to know if Kofi's son Kojo's new company gets any of the money meant for the victims.
Good idea. Works for me. We should just use 06's dues. Anyone know a Congress critter who might be receptive toward sponsoring some legislation?
Nahhh. That would sound too much like Harry Truman and we couldn't have that now, could we?
I sure wish that the expulsion of the U.N. would happen. It would be a wonderful thing. I just don't see our leaders growing big enough b*lls to do it. The Clintons would never "permit " it. Let's not forget that Slick Willie wants the job there.
As a nation, our government could give more if it wasn't providing defense for over half of the world. Tell ya what, Canada, France, Germany etc. You remiburse us for our military and will kick the cash to humanitarian aid. Okay ?
I'd like to nominate you for Sec. of State
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