The Australian: Gerard Baker: Tsunami must be fault of the US [December 31, 2004]
INEVITABLY, confronted with a tragedy of unimaginable scale, the human mind looks for someone to blame. In the Dark Ages, disasters were ascribed to the wrath of God. Now, in an odd inversion that we like to think of as progress, they are adduced as evidence of no God.
In the absence of a deity to decry or appease when the earth moves in such devastating fashion, humankind reaches for the next best thing – worldly authority. Authority should have known it was coming. Authority didn’t do enough to prevent it. Authority was too preoccupied with its own nefarious priorities to care.
There is plenty of authority to blame for the devastation caused by the Sumatran earthquake this week. Governments in Bangkok, Jakarta and Colombo will shoulder some of it. Governments farther afield will be inculpated for the poverty of their response. Media organisations will be attacked for being too callous and too mawkish. Unsurprisingly, perhaps the most inviting target is the US.
In the past three days I have been impressed by the originality of the latest critiques of the evil Americans. The earthquake and tsunami apparently had something to do with global warming, environmentalists say, caused of course by greedy American motorists. Then there was the rumour that the US military base at Diego Garcia was forewarned of the impending disaster and presumably because of some CIA-approved plot to undermine Islamic movements in Indonesia and Thailand did nothing about it.
To be fair, even the most animated America-hater, though, baulks at the idea of blaming George W. Bush for the destruction and death in southern Asia. But the US is blamed for not responding generously enough to help the victims of the catastrophe. A UN official this week derided Washington’s contribution as stingy.