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Last Updated: 09/20/2005Friends to the End (Here's Hoping)
Even as New Orleans was still reeling, an unusual thing was happening over at the State Department.
The whole world watched this month as the richest nation of them all fell on its face. One well-aimed hurricane was all it took, and suddenly the world’s only superpower was doubled over and wondering to itself what, exactly, went wrong.
As the levies broke and the cavalry didn’t come and
Bush infamously thought FEMA head Michael Brown was doing a “heck of a job,” while Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco apparently didn’t know that screaming for “everything you’ve got” did not cover active duty Federal troops, which must be formally and specifically requested.
Internationally, eyebrows were raised, and perhaps smirks stifled. If not wounded, the Giant at least had hemorrhoids.
A long time ago some thoughtful Greeks came up with a term that partially describes this situation – hubris, which is the excessive pride that precedes a fall from greatness and also makes it that much worse. Perhaps no single anecdote illustrated this national hubris more than the
After all, this was the
But even as
All told, well over 100 different countries have offered a hand, as well as a dozen aid organizations. For the first time in history, the United Nations was to begin a relief mission on American soil.
At first, the Bush administration was just as maladroit at handling the international aid situation as it was the relief effort itself. “We’re doing, just fine, thank you,” was the
“We will accept any and all aid in the spirit that it is given,” said State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack. And so cargo planes from all over the world continue to land in airports across the American South, loaded with things that, amazingly enough, Americans don’t have.
Among the biggest contributors are
Of course one shouldn't get too gooey over the international aid offered. Some countries simply knew which side their bread was buttered on, others used the irony of offering aid to the
Also, the way that the U.S. Federal Government has handled the aid has been, by some accounts, a disaster in itself.
Given this international outpouring of sympathy, it's tempting to finger-wag at the
But as you've probably guessed by now, there's subtler picture, involving that word hubris. History tells us that all great nations end, eventually - and with Katrina, the
When the end does come (or at least another potentially crippling blow) it could very easily be an event like Katrina. The San Andreas Fault, for instance, is way overdue for a bit of exercise, exercise which could drop
In situations like that, it's not a bad idea to have some good friends around to help you out, especially because it's not an if thing but a when thing. The
Peter Krupa is the editor of the Peace & Conflict Monitor