Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Can You Say Ingrate--There I knew You Could

Yes, they will still hate us

Carol Giacomo, Reuters, 1/5/05

WASHINGTON - The devastating Asian tsunami has given America a chance to
begin repairing its tattered international reputation but will not by
itself overcome hostility toward U.S. policies in Iraq and the Middle East.

Shifting gears from three years of post-Sept 11 combat operations in
Afghanistan and Iraq, U.S. troops are delivering millions of dollars of
relief supplies in Thailand, Sri Lanka and Indonesia to survivors of the
most lethal natural disaster in recent memory.

As the world's richest nation and only superpower, much is expected of the
United States when calamity strikes and usually much is given. President
George W. Bush, who was criticized for initially offering just $15 million,
has now pledged $350 million. Private groups are doing even more.

But America's image as a force for good has suffered profoundly --
especially in the Arab and Muslim worlds -- from its occupation of Iraq and
its unwillingness to play a more balanced peacemaking role between Israel
and the Palestinians.

Although some Muslims will benefit from the U.S. aid, "having just worked
in Iraq and Afghanistan, I'm uncertain whether or not the U.S. can overcome
the obstacles it faces in those places and the Middle East in general by
demonstrating generosity," said Ray Salvatore Jennings, former head of
conflict management programs in Iraq for the United States Institute of Peace.

"They definitely got off to slow start with the pledges of $15 million and
then $35 million but I think they soon realized the perception was very
negative and more had to be done," said Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on
American-Islamic Relations.

"I think they realized this wasn't just a public relations exercise. The
perception of our response to this world-class disaster could have a real
impact on American policies around the world," he added
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