January 7, 2005


Don't pillory the rescuers (Tony Parkinson, January 8, 2005, The Age)

It takes unusual Schadenfreude - not to mention a heart of granite - to clamber over the corpses of 150,000 tsunami victims in order to make a rhetorical point about war in Iraq.

Enter George Monbiot, darling of the left, columnist for The Guardian newspaper, and veteran of the "evil Amerikkka" school of opinion. [...]

Here are the incontrovertible, unassailable facts Monbiot would rather we ignored:

Australia, the United States and Japan are leading relief operations in the worst-affected nation, Indonesia. India has taken charge of operations in Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

As of Thursday, the aid pledges of Australia, Japan and the US (totalling more than $US1.6 billion) constituted almost half the entire commitment by governments across the world. Australia ($US765 million) topped the list, followed by Germany ( $US680 million), Japan ($US500 million), the United States ($US350 million), Norway ($US180 million), and Britain ($US96 million). It should be noted, in passing, that one characteristic shared by four of the top six donor nations is they happen also to be members of the "coalition of the willing" in Iraq.

Next, add into the calculations the direct, practical contributions to the emergency efforts. Australia flew into northern Sumatra cargo planes, medics, transport and logistics specialists, and 850 troops. Washington ordered the USS Abraham Lincoln, 20 support ships and more than 9000 troops to sail from Hong Kong.

This huge deployment included floating hospitals, helicopters to fly the wounded or stranded, surveillance aircraft, and equipment to generate millions of litres of drinkable water. As acknowledged by Michael Elmquist, co-ordinator of UN relief operations in Indonesia, the US military had brought to Sumatra unique capacities that would make a critical difference for many tens of thousands of villagers in remote areas.

By any commonsense standard of fairness and decency, these facts would be allowed to speak for themselves. But, for Monbiot, having devoted a lifetime's work to depicting the West as greedy and exploitative, such facts are unhelpful. They must be trumped with prejudice and bile.

In all this, there is one unavoidable - if seldom acknowledged - reality about the world today, as much as Monbiot and his fan club would choose to deny it. Strong, confident, successful societies such as the US and Australia come to the fore at times of crisis such as this for a very simple reason. More often than not, there is nobody else capable or willing.

It's not called the Axis of Good without reason.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 7, 2005 6:38 PM

I was so happy to hear the countries of the 'core group' on the radio. So far, the 'axis of good' concept is not broadly understood. I felt like the tsunami response was, in a way, its public debut.

Posted by: JAB at January 7, 2005 11:59 PM

I know British journalist Robert Fisk is the person whose moniker bequeathed the blog world the term "Fisking" for articles like this, but did Monbiot's name Anglicize into the term "Moonbat" for the Internet world as well?

Posted by: John at January 8, 2005 12:07 AM