a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

The 0.3 percent questions

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 16th January 2010

Via Truthout:

The Obama administration plans to ask Congress for an extra $33 billion to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to an Associated Press report.

The $33 billion would be on top of a record request for $708 billion for the Defense Department next year.

Compare the outlays Obama wants for Haiti:

The United States armed forces are also on their way to support this effort. Several Coast Guard cutters are already there providing everything from basic services like water, to vital technical support for this massive logistical operation. Elements of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division will arrive today. We’re also deploying a Marine Expeditionary Unit, the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, and the Navy’s hospital ship, the Comfort.

And today, I’m also announcing an immediate investment of $100 million to support our relief efforts. This will mean more of the life-saving equipment, food, water and medicine that will be needed. This investment will grow over the coming year as we embark on the long-term recovery from this unimaginable tragedy.

These are great things. I was pleased, even downright proud that Obama deployed so much so quickly to help Haitians, and knew he could count on everyone’s support to do so. (Well, almost everyone’s.)

But that impressive sounding $100,000,000 is a mere 0.3 percent of the $33,000,000,000 amount we’re going to add to the financial sinkholes and military quagmires called Iraq and Afghanistan.

Question: wouldn’t it be safer, smarter, cheaper, and even (dare I say it) just a lot more fun and more satisfying to divide the Afghanistan/Iraq outlay by, say, 4, and multiply the Haiti commitment by as much?

Question: Wouldn’t it make more sense to help rebuild a friendly nation close to our shores from natural catastrophe, than to rebuild ones on the other side of the planet after bombing and killing their inhabitants?

Question:Wouldn’t it make more sense to redeploy our servicemen and women out of countries where they’re not wanted, to a place where they’re wanted desperately?

Question: which makes us safer in the long run — to earn the thanks of a country for rescuing it from catastrophe in time of need, to put it back on its feet so its inhabitants don’t need to emigrate, or to earn the enmity of families who’ve lost children, husbands, fathers to a war we’ve brought to them?

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Pact with the devil? Hmm.

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 16th January 2010

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Haiti Earthquake Reactions
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Crisis

My “favorite” part of the infamous Pat Robertson outburst on the terrible earthquake in Haiti was what’s her name next to him — pact with the devil!? how’m I supposed to react to that!? umm… disapproving little “hmm”, little concerned frown.

Her reaction wasn’t “oh my gosh a PACT with SATAN? we’ve got to DO something.” It was more like she she’d just heard from Heather that the Haitians hang out with the wrong crowd at her high school — so they should DIE.

And she half agrees, but she also half thinks maybe people are right and she’s teamed up with a nut.  But a nut who pays her salary. So: “hmm.”

= = =

Enough about Elmer Gantry and his sidekick.  We’ve given a couple hundred for Haiti now, I hope you’ll dig as deep as you can.  Lots of good groups out there, but one that keeps coming up is Partners in Health; see, for example, an op-ed in Thursday’s New York Times by Tracy Kidder (“Strength in What Remains”) mentioning them.  Also good, of course: Doctors without Borders, the Red Cross, and others.

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