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Tuesday, January 04, 2005  

Politics: Powell offers selfish reason for tsunami aid

Colin Powell, speaking on behalf of the Bush administration, came up with a reason for providing more aid to the Asian and African countries devastated by tsunamis last week. His remarks came during a visit to the area, and, of course, after President George W. Bush was embarrassed into increasing the funds and material assistance committed to the recovery effort. Powell says that enhancing the image of the United States makes contributing more aid worthwhile.

The Associated Press reports.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - Secretary of State Colin Powell said Tuesday the outpouring of American aid and humanitarian help in the region devastated by the tsunami may also help Muslim nations see the United States in a better light.

``What it does in the Muslim world, the rest of the world is giving an opportunity to see American generosity, American values in action,'' Powell said after meeting with Hassan Wirayuda, his Indonesian counterpart.

``America is not an anti-Islamic, anti-Muslim nation. America is a diverse society. We respect all religions,'' he said

Powell said he hopes Muslim countries see the wide range of U.S. aid and involvement around the world, of which the disaster relief is only the latest example. U.S. involvement and cooperation ``is in the best interest of those countries and it's in our best interest,'' he said.

Perhaps contributing more to the ravaged nations will cause their inhabitants to look more favorably on America. But, that should not be the main reason for increasing the paltry commitment the U.S. initially made. America should contribute generously to the effort because that is the right thing to do. Unfortunately, many Americans are so selfish that they must have a stake in any act to be motivated to carry it out. Powell has done a fine job of expressing that perspective.

Despite the increased commitment, to $350 million, the United States still plans to spend only as much on the relief effort as it does on the occupation of Iraq in three days. So, Powell's self-congratulation may be premature. Reasonable people will doubtlessly realize that the war against a Muslim country has a higher priority with the Bush administration than ending the suffering in the tsunami zone. Goodwill may not be bought as cheaply as he thinks.

Reasonably related

Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist David Horsey expresses the reality of the Bush administration's increased pledge to the countries damaged by this natural disaster of historical proportions. Don't miss his cartoon.

10:00 PM