From those wonderful folks who brought you the Iraqi oil-for-food corruption scandal, we have United Nations-coordinated Tsunami disaster relief. And what a relief that will be.
Shortly after the tsunami struck, two things happened.
First, the United States went into action. Hundreds of thousands of tsunami survivors were -- and are still -- threatened by disease, thirst and starvation. President Bush directed all branches of the US military to deliver on-scene, as soon as possible, all available assets capable of providing assistance and relief.
When it comes to providing immediate, tangible aid -- emergency medical treatment and water purification facilities coordinated on a large scale -- the rest of the world put together (particularly in the form of the United Nations) cannot do what the American military can do all by itself. Within a matter of days, the tsunami-struck areas had about 13,000 US military personnel, 20 ships and 90 aircraft delivering supplies and saving lives. These operations, which will continue into the indefinite future, cost the United States $5.6 million per day, and that figure will probably increase. The United States also organized a core group of nations, including Australia, India and Japan, to aid victims immediately, rather than wait for the United Nations to dither and debate as people die.
Second, UN "emergency coordinator" Jan Egeland criticized the United States for the "stinginess" its response to the tsunami. A crowd of enlightened European politicians and pundits quickly joined Egeland in chorus. The basis of their disapproval? An early estimate of $35 million in US tsunami relief (which soon rose to $350 million).
In contrast, the obscenely oil-rich kingdom of Saudi Arabia, self-proclaimed leader of the Muslim world and "protector of the Muslim holy places," pledged a measly $30 million in relief aid -- despite the fact that a Muslim country, Indonesia, was hardest hit by the tsunami. Every week, the United States military spends more on tsunami relief operations than Saudi Arabia's total pledge. Yet the sanctimonious UN bureaucrats have no complaints about Saudi "stinginess. The odor of the Saudis' pathetic $30 million pledge hung in the air for a few days and would not dissipate, so the country held a telethon that raised $82 million for tsunami relief. The "generosity" of this effort compares unfavorably with a recent Saudi telethon that raised $150 million for Palestinian terror bombers.
Tsunami survivors will not feel the chill of America's "stinginess" for much longer. Leadership of the relief efforts now goes to the UN, which will control the multi-billion-dollar program designed to aid desperate people in Southeast Asia.
Sound ominously familiar? In case anyone has forgotten, under the UN oil-for-food program, UN bureaucrats demonstrated their willingness to steal medicine from the sick and food from the starving. Simply put, the United Nations is so tainted with venality and corruption that the last thing it should do is disburse large amounts of money.
It is too late to do anything about UN "leadership" in the tsunami relief effort. The transfer of control is a done deal. The Bush administration, particularly the State Department, nurtures the forlorn hope that the UN may be of some assistance in dealing with international crises such as stabilizing Iraq and containing Iran's nuclear ambitions. The United States simply cannot keep these options open if it acknowledges that UN bureaucrats are morally unfit to control the tsunami aid funds.
Over the next few years, the United States, its government and its people, will spend billions of dollars in the tsunami relief effort. We do this because it is the right thing to do, and because we are a good and generous country. We must be careful, though -- lest our generosity support another UN "Baksheesh for Bureaucrats" program.
Brigitte Gabriel is an expert on the Middle East conflict and lectures
nationally and internationally on the subject. She's the former News anchor
of World News for Middle East television and now the founder of
Mr. Solberg graduated from the US Coast Guard Academy and Georgetown
University Law Center. He practiced law in Washington, D.C., for 24 years.
Mr. Solberg travels frequently to the Middle East, and writes and lectures
on the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict.