The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Tsunami:
Put the "relief effort" in perspective

Jan 10, 2005

More people will die in the days and months ahead than in the monster waves themselves. Serious injuries left untreated, lack of medicines, unclean water, no food, and no sanitary facilities all this will kill them. At least five million have no place to live. In Sri Lanka alone, which has since been hit by severe rain, 850,000 are without housing. Even before the tsunami hit, the situation was drastic; today it is a veritable catastrophe for tens of millions of people.

Yes, we hear a lot about all the money and supplies being promised. And we are daily treated to photographs of some helicopters and a ship or two being sent with supplies. But even those photos show some of the reality with the desperate attempts of many people to grab one of the very few packages delivered, ending almost in fights.

What has been sent, or even what has been promised, is next to nothing compared to what the rich countries could do. They have armies made up of millions of people, equipped and organized to be put into service almost immediately. They have field hospitals, earth-moving equipment, equipment to produce safe drinking water, numerous field kitchens able to produce meals for tens of thousands of people on one spot. They have air, sea and land transport, designed to go into areas that have been ravaged by war. They could be used in places ravaged by a tsunami. They have means of communication that could be used to organize the relief.

But where are they today? The U.S. has its forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, and a number of other lesser known combat areas around the globe. France and Britain have troops in Africa. Germany has troops in Afghanistan. All of them may make a show of sending aid. But none will use even an insignificant part of the resources they have to relieve the misery of these desperate people living around the Indian Ocean.

The amount the U.S. has promised in aid is less than a tiny fraction of one% of the U.S. budget. It is less than 5% of what it spends every month in Iraq, destroying that country. The resources it uses in Iraq show just how much could be made available to aid the tsunami victims.

Those resources aren't used because the U.S. chooses not to use them. Its priorities are elsewhere controlling other countries in order to exploit their labor and steal their material wealth.