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Why did a U.N. official’s remark soon after the tsunami hit that rich countries are “stingy” stir such a furor in the U.S.? We are a thick-skinned people, inventors of “Crossfire” and the NFL, led by a president who takes pride in disregarding foreign opinion. Yet even though Jan Egeland, the U.N. point person for disaster relief, did not single out the U.S., his words hit a raw nerve.
Even as the tragedy in Asia elicits an outpouring of charity from Americans, it has sparked controversy over whether America is in fact generous. President Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) chief Andrew Natsios have all asserted that America is generous. What are the facts?
Vice President Cheney’s speech at Davos was widely covered in the world press. He focused on the risk of “new and far greater terror” than that of September 11 itself, which itself he called “only the merest glimpse of the terrorism that threatens us all.” In artful language, he argued that freedom and democracy everywhere would overcome those risks; in the interim, however, and as a last resort there might need to use force.