The Scandal Of
Tsunami Relief: Sad Proof That Bush And Blair Would Rather Spend Money Killing
People Rather Than Saving Them
Governments can't prevent natural
disasters. Not even I can think of a way to blame Tony Blair for the tsunami
that has destroyed much of Asia. (Though it is possible that America's selfish
determination to ignore the Kyoto Protocol might be in some way responsible for
this particular disaster.)
But, just as we have responsibilities to our
families and our communities, so the Governments of rich, well-established
countries have responsibilities to help other nations. Individuals, taxed up to
their eyeballs by greedy and incompetent Governments, cannot possibly manage to
send all the help needed in Asia.
Of course, `responsibility' isn't a
concept which means much to George Bush or Tony Blair.
What a pity it is
for the millions who need help as a result of the earthquake in Asia that there
is no oil to be `rescued' in Thailand or Sri Lanka.
If there was a major
oilfield in the middle of Thailand the Americans would be in there like a shot -
pledging aid in return for oil. That's their usual self-centred way of helping
people out. The Americans have proved time and time again that they will only
help when they can see a way of making a buck. Now, under Blair, Britain seems
to be following the same ruthless approach when creating its foreign policies.
`Starving? Struggling to cope with a disaster? Need help? Forget it, unless
you've got something we want.'
Bush and Blair have together spent
billions of taxpayers' money killing people in Afghanistan and Iraq. Blair in
particular spent public money against the wishes of the people who pay the
bills. He deceived Parliament and the electors so that they would pay for a war
he wanted but they didn't. The total bill for cluster bombs, landmines, rockets
and all the other lethal weaponry is likely to exceed £1,000 billion. So far
Bush and Blair have managed to kill 100,000 innocent civilians in Iraq alone -
mostly women and children. (That is, coincidentally, around the same number as
have been killed by the earthquake in Asia).
Bush and Blair have pushed
Afghanistan and Iraq into chaos and destroyed their fragile infrastructures.
They have further destabilised the Middle East and put their own citizens at
risk of counter-attack from terrorists.
But Britain's initial offer of
aid to the countries where five million people are homeless, injured, hungry or
at risk of disease was just £500,000. I suspect that David Blunkett spent more
than that on the bizarre and meaningless investigation into his own `visa for
the mistress's nanny' scandal. Half a million quid is just an expenses claim for
a couple of New Labour MPs.
British voters want their Government to help.
They would gladly see some of their taxes being used to save lives in Indonesia,
Sri Lanka and Thailand. But Blair doesn't seem to know - or care - what his
employers really want. Only after it was made clear to them that the British
people expected more of their Government did Blair and Company dig a little
deeper into the nation's coffers. (They will, no doubt, use this as an excuse
for huge tax increases in the near future.)
`The emergency relief is of
almost Biblical proportions,' said Chancellor Gordon Brown on the radio, `and
that is why we will put whatever money is necessary behind the international
effort.' It sounded good but it was just more typical New Labour spin. At that
point the New Labour Government had offered just half a million pounds in aid to
the five million people desperately needing food, water and medicines and to the
countries struggling to repair their damaged infrastructure.
might wonder, was Blair when news of the crisis broke? On one of his endless
free holidays, perhaps? Not a bad guess. Without much chance of a decent photo
opportunity he was tucked away comfortably in Egypt, nowhere to be seen -
leaving whichever Ministers weren't busy sorting out visas for their mistress's
nannies to offer up the spin to the media. Blair has truly shown us where his
heart lies. He is presumably too busy planning his next illegal invasion to
spend time worrying about the starving millions on the other side of the world.)
The initial offer of help from America (the country which loves to
remind us that it is the richest nation in the world) was typically mean. I
would not be surprised if their total offer of £18 million (less than an A list
Hollywood film star will expect to be paid when the movie about the earthquake
is made) was tied up with clauses designed to ensure that American corporations
will be the only real beneficiaries.
When criticised for their pathetic
offers of help both Governments were quick to defend themselves. Britain doubled
its offer of aid to £1,000,000. And then pushed it up to £15,000,000. And, under
pressure, took it up even higher. Bush, ignoring the fact that the people of
Asia need help not spin, went on television to tell the world that America is a
It would, of course, have been far more helpful if
Blair had offered to send a large chunk of our army over there to help rebuild
roads and bridges and to provide field hospitals and distribute food and water.
But Blair couldn't do that because the British army is scattered around
the world killing innocent people and destroying - rather than mending - vital
roads and bridges.
A great, caring Prime Minister would have devoted
energy, time and money to dealing with what was within hours perceived as one of
the greatest tragedies of modern times. A caring Prime Minister would have cut
his latest holiday short, and come home to ensure that his Government did
everything it could to help its own citizens (many of whom are in hospital
abroad) and to help the citizens of those Asian nations in so much trouble.
But `great' and `caring' are not words which fit easily alongside the
In my heart, I really don't suppose Blair gives a toss about
what has happened in Asia. He prefers to take his holidays (preferably freebies)
closer to home. Besides, his best pal George W Bush hasn't told him he has to do
something. And Blair doesn't get out of bed in the morning unless Bush has told
Britain, now effectively the 51st State, is it seems, unable to
act on his own. Blair's Britain does what Bush's America does.
America is not a good example to follow.
America - our modern mentor
where foreign policy is concerned - has behaved appallingly when other countries
need help and is the meanest country in the world when it comes to foreign aid -
coming 22 out of 22.
Denmark, one of the most generous nations, gives
1.01% of its GDP to foreign aid.
In contrast, America gives 0.1% - and
most of that goes to Israel for arms purchases (from American arms companies).
America's foreign aid is organised in such a way that the only country which
ever really benefits is America. America sees another nation's problems simply
as an opportunity to gain wealth or power or both. When George W Bush boasts
about his nation's generosity he forgets to mention this. George W Bush regards
America's invasion of Iraq as `foreign aid'.
When the Americans actually
do give something away it is usually something that neither they nor anyone else
will really want. For example, in Afghanistan the Americans dropped peanut
butter to villages they had destroyed. They then flew in boxes full of school
satchels. Which American decided that school satchels and peanut butter are the
thing to win the hearts of the people of Afghanistan who are reduced to living
in tents in the middle of a rocky desert? The Americans seem unaware that the
children have no books and no schools; they are presumably not aware that 90% of
children in Afghanistan don't actually go to school but spend their days
scavenging for bits of scrap metal (guess where that comes from) or building
coffins (one of the few growth industries in yet another country destroyed by
Bush and Blair).
And it is worth remembering that America only entered
World War I when both sides were pretty well exhausted by the fighting. Once it
finally agreed to join the war, America demanded that its own economic and
political objectives be taken into account when the war was over. One of those
objectives was access to oil. And America made a fortune out of the Second World
War too. The Americans entered the war when it was half over and demanded that
the world be restructured so that they would be on top. They wanted control of
the world's oil and they insisted that the dollar be the world's only
significant currency. For the Americans, World War II was a business opportunity
that was too good to miss.
The initial response of Blair's Government to
the crisis in Asia caused by the earthquake which has destroyed so much of that
part of the world is just one more piece of evidence damning Blair, his
Government and his party.
Has Britain ever had a more loathsome,
detestable creature as its Prime Minister?
I can't think of one.
Has Britain ever had a more dangerous, more destructive, more uncaring
December 30th 2004
Copyright Vernon Coleman