(By Ray D.)
SPIEGEL ONLINE Exploits Tsunami Disaster to Attack George W. Bush
SPIEGEL ONLINE seems to know no limits in its tireless efforts to destroy the reputation of President Bush in Germany. Now the online magazine is exploiting the horrible tsunami tragedy to attack the United States and Mr. Bush ("Tsunami Deepens Rift Between UN and USA") . Not only that, but the publication is also using false information to incorrectly portray Bush as a unilateralist bent on deepening the divide between the UN and the United States.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: "With the emergency help for the Tsunami victims Bush is demonstratively avoiding cooperation with the UN. Instead he is relying on a hastily forged emergency alliance with India, Japan and Australia." (quoted German text circled in red above)
Either SPON doesn't know what is going on or they are simply lying to make Bush look bad. CNN and numerous other news agencies are reporting the following:
"The Bush administration also lent its support to a European-hosted international conference designed to accelerate pledges of assistance to victims of the Asian and African tsunamis and added the United Nations to a four-nation coalition organizing humanitarian relief."
ABC News reports:
"The United States, India, Australia, Japan and the United Nations have formed an international coalition to coordinate worldwide relief and reconstruction efforts."
The BBC reports:
"UN chief Kofi Annan and US Secretary of State Colin Powell are to discuss aid efforts on Friday as rescuers struggle to get supplies to remote areas."
That hardly seems to reflect the actions of an administration or a leader intent on "demonstratively avoiding cooperation with the UN." How does SPIEGEL ONLINE explain this clear contradiction?
SPIEGEL ONLINE Falsely Accuses Bush of "Attacking" the United Nations
And of course in its article, entitled "Tsunami Deepens Rift Between UN and USA," SPIEGEL ONLINE does not miss the opportunity to vocally support UN officials like Jan Egeland who have called wealthy nations like the US "stingy." That despite the fact that the US has been responsible for contributing 40% of worldwide aid for natural catastrophes this past year. To top it all off, SPON labels Bush's mild rebuke of Egeland a "heavy attack" on the UN. The article's opening paragraph reads:
"It took an entire 72 hours until George Bush made a statement from his ranch in Texas after the flood catastrophe in Southeast Asia. All the more heavy then was the attack of the US President against the United Nations. The reason: The highest UN aid coordinator criticized the aid of the USA as too stingy."
But Mr. Bush never attacked (or even directly mentioned) the United Nations in his recent statement on the tsunami disaster. He also never "attacked" Mr. Egeland. He simply described Mr. Egeland as "misguided" and "ill-informed." Here is the uncut text of the statement that SPON is referring to. Decide for yourself whether it represents a "heavy attack" on the UN:
Question from reporter: "Mr. President, were you offended by the suggestion that rich nations have been stingy in the aid over the tsunami? And is this a sign of another rift with the U.N.?"
THE PRESIDENT: "Well, I felt like the person who made that statement was very misguided and ill-informed. The -- take, for example, in the year 2004, our government provided $2.4 billion in food, in cash, in humanitarian relief to cover the disasters for last year. That's $2.4 billion. That's 40 percent of all the relief aid given in the world last year, was provided by the United States government. No, we're a very generous, kindhearted nation.
You know, the -- what you're beginning to see is a typical response from America. First of all, we provide immediate cash relief, to the tune of about $35 billion [sic]. And then there will be an assessment of the damage, so that the relief is -- the next tranche of relief will be spent wisely. That's what's happening now. I just got off the phone with the President of Sri Lanka, she asked for help to assess the damage. In other words, not only did they want immediate help, but they wanted help to assess damage so that we can better direct resources. And so our government is fully prepared to continue to provide assistance and help."
(Click here to read the entire transcript of Bush's press conference.)
The fact that the US government plans to spend far more on tsunami relief than the initial $35 million it has already pledged from emergency contingency funds is only briefly mentioned at the end of SPON's article. SPIEGEL ONLINE also fails to inform readers that Congressional approval is required before truly large sums can be released by the US government.
Bush is further criticized for not leaving his ranch and rushing back to the White House to coordinate the American response. What SPON fails to mention is that Bush's Crawford ranch is considered to be the "Western" White House because it is fully equipped to deal with any emergency or situation the President might face. Apparently Bush should have immediately run around pulling his hair out and exclaiming "I feel your pain." That is perhaps the only reaction that would have pleased the Angry Left and the German media. The fact that the US is leading worldwide efforts together WITH the UN and Europe is just not important to the German media's Bush haters. Once again, they have chosen to twist the facts to match their worldview, and in so doing have further deepened the rift between Germany and the USA.
It is a phenomenon that we have seen before and that we will likely see again in the future. No matter what the United States does, no matter how much money it gives or how much it helps others, the Angry Left and elitist Euro Snobs will always find some fault and some reason to bash it all. Let's just hope Americans don't get so angered by all the cynicism and phony criticism that they really decide to stop doing the right thing. That would be another catastrophe that we don't need.
Note: If you would like to make a donation to help the tsunami victims, click here. Emphasis ours on all quoted statements above.
+++UPDATE+++ Check out our second article on this topic. One of our readers just emailed and pointed out that the article is now in SPIEGEL ONLINE's "Politik" section. It was removed from the main homepage where it had been prominently featured. If you would like to email SPIEGEL ONLINE with your comments on the article, you may contact them at: firstname.lastname@example.org