[FoRK] What Americans Do...

Owen Byrne owen at permafrost.net
Tue Jan 4 19:23:26 PST 2005

Ah Colin you make me laugh....
Just like WW1, WW2, Yugoslavia, Somalia etc. etc. what Americans do is 
get dragged into doing good by the rest of the world,  kicking and 
screaming all the way. And then they take ALL the credit.

  Powell: U.S. values in action

*JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has 
said the United States is throwing its financial and military weight 
into southern Asian relief efforts not to gain favor in the Islamic 
world but because it's what Americans do.*

The opportunity for Muslims to see "American values in action" is a 
welcome byproduct, he said.

"The United States is responding the way it is because this is a human 
catastrophe," the secretary said at a news conference after his arrival 
in Jakarta, Indonesia Tuesday.

"In my career in public service, I have never seen anything like this."

Powell said the United States has so far pledged $350 million for the 
relief -- and promises more if that's needed -- "because of the human 
dimensions of this catastrophe."

"And it turns out that a majority of those nations are Muslim nations," 
he said. "We'd be doing it if they weren't."

Washington also plans to double the number of U.S. military helicopters 
operating in the tsunami-stricken regions from 46 to more than 90.

Indonesia, where Powell will attend a meeting of officials from 
countries affected by the tsunamis on Thursday, is the largest Muslim 
nation in the world and was the hardest hit by the December 26 
earthquake and tsunamis.

"We are doing it regardless of religion," Powell said, "but I think it 
does give the Muslim world -- and the rest of the world -- an 
opportunity to see American generosity, American values in action, where 
we care about the dignity of every individual and the worth of every 
individual." (Full story 

Meanwhile, a contingent of U.S. Marines has arrived in Sri Lanka, 
charged with Herculean humanitarian tasks left in the wake of last 
month's devastating tsunamis.

By Wednesday, between 900 and 1,200 Marines will be in Sri Lanka, along 
with heavy-lifting helicopters, bulldozers, generators and tonnes of 
food, water and medical supplies.

"Water will happen pretty fast," Brig. Gen. Frank Panter, told CNN. "We 
have bottled water. We also have reverse osmosis purification units."

Panter's Marines are bound for Sri Lanka's southern coast.

"We can remove some of the debris, bring water purification and medical 
support," the general said. "We've estimated, with the force load that 
we have planned, in about four days we can start making a significant 

The death toll from the December 26 earthquake and tsunamis, which 
shattered tourist resorts and seaside communities from Thailand to East 
Africa, has reached 155,000 -- a number the U.N.'s top emergency relief 
official says is not close to final.

"I've already said I thought it would be well above 150,000 total," said 
Jan Egeland. "How many tens of thousands more, we don't know."

Most of those additional "tens of thousands" will likely be found in two 
areas hit first by the gigantic waves that followed the magnitude 9 
earthquake -- the west coast of Indonesia's Sumatra Island, about 160 
kilometers (100 miles) east of the quake's epicenter, and India's 
Nicobar Islands, about 400 kilometers (300 miles) north.

Indonesian authorities have put the death toll there at 94,000 with 
thousands still missing. Hundreds of villages along the coast have 
vanished. All that remains are a few blocks or pieces of wood -- and in 
some cases a mosque, better built than other buildings.

Roads and bridges, too, are gone, making reaching the survivors -- who 
would have been forced to flee into the hills and mountains and rain 
forests beyond the coast -- all but impossible.

Aid packages for Indonesia come first to Medan, on the east coast, then 
northwest by airplane to Banda Aceh, the capital of the hardest hit 
province, Aceh.

 From Banda Aceh, U.S. helicopters fly aid to survivors where they are 

That process hit a snag early Tuesday when a commercial 737 cargo plane 
hit a water buffalo on the runway, damaging a landing gear and forcing 
the closure of the airport to fixed-wing aircraft for several hours.

U.S. Navy Capt. Matt Klunder told CNN that enough supplies were on hand 
that the snag did not hinder the relief effort, and eventually, Navy 
crewmen from the USS Lincoln and relief workers repaired the landing 
gear and helped pull the plane off the runway.

When the helicopters return to the airport, they usually bring a load of 
seriously injured people who have gone without medical care for 10 days.

The chopper pilots once took those victims directly to one of two 
functioning hospitals in the capital, but they have been ordered to stop 
because both facilities are overflowing with injured.

Now, officials said, the injured are being treated at a makeshift 
medical clinic at the airport.

Many of those less seriously injured are walking up the beach, 
subsisting on coconuts as they try to make their way to help.

"It's hard to say you've ever planned for anything on this magnitude, 
because, frankly, we haven't seen anything of this size before," said 
Adm. Thomas Fargo, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, at a Tuesday 
briefing held by the Department of Defense.

Fargo said he could not give a cost estimate for the relief effort.

"A lot of these costs, of course, have taken place already," he said. "I 
mean, a lot of these funds have already been expended for deployments to 
provide the presence and deterrence in the western Pacific. ...

"The American taxpayers made an investment in a very solid and robust 
military capability that has a wide range of uses. And we're 
demonstrating the value of that investment today."

Indian officials report that almost 6,000 people are missing on the 
Andaman and Nicobar islands, which run northward from Sumatra in the Bay 
of Bengal. Most of those -- more than 4,600 -- are missing from a single 
small island, Katchal.

India has experienced the same difficulties as Indonesia in reaching the 
remote islands, which are closer to Indonesia and Thailand than to their 
mother country. And, because they are islands, access is even more 
limited as few have any place to land an aircraft and the waves 
destroyed boat docks.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the world has donated or pledged 
more than $2 billion for the relief effort, and more will be needed.

He said he will launch a fresh appeal after Thursday's meeting of ASEAN 

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