Can evil turn good?
"Just tell me how I can help! I'm there for you!"
Reporters and editors in the mainstream media find something titillating about the potential for national humiliation in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. Offers of aid from Venezuela, Iran, and Cuba have earned more attention from the media than far more substantial (and certainly less disingenuous) offers of assistance from countless other nations. The outstretched hands of tyrants are symbolic, and in a profoundly mean-spirited way (not like Sri Lanka's touching "token" donation of $20,000 in aid). The fact that the underlying message of these three offers is more significant than their substance is revealed in the media's relative lack of interest in the follow-up. Eli Lake in The New York Sun today strays from the pack and writes an interesting piece about what's become of the proposed deliveries of food, water, oil, and doctors.
Chavez made the offer of food and water just three weeks after he threatened to completely stop all shipments of Venezuelan crude if the U.S. doesn't stop meddling in their affairs. By "meddling" they mean objecting to Chavez providing arms to FARC "insurgents" in Colombia and cloaking cocaine dealers with Venezuelan diplomatic immunity. In any event, Lake writes that the U.S. has apparently said yes to their offer.
Iran offered oil, but on the condition that we suspend the economic sanctions in place over the mullahs' funding terrorism and making "Death to America" the driving philosophy of their foreign policy. When the people of the Iranian city of Bam needed help after an earthquake in 2003, the U.S. government quietly set aside differences and sanctions and allowed American assistance to flow unconditionally. Our government wisely decided to pass on the Iranian extortion.
Cuba offered to send doctors. Now this might be a sincere gesture, but it looks more like an absurd insinuation from Castro that the medical system in the U.S. is lacking compared to his own. Will he next offer to send a team of his vaunted literacy experts to teach the victims of capitalism now huddled in the Astrodome how to read? If it were a publicity ploy, sending hundreds of doctors to America could turn out to be risky for Castro. I suppose each one would come handcuffed to an escort from the G2, lest Fidel find his plane a little lighter upon its return from the Land of the Free. Talk about Doctors Without Borders. If it weren't for Cuba, China, and North Korea, the word "defector" could be finally laid to rest. (Cuba's missing one baseball player and one ballet dancer after the latest defections.) Lake says we politely declined, apparently since we don't even have diplomatic relations with Cuba. Another report--this one focusing on the difficulties of accepting and coordinating foreign aid offers--quotes a State Department official as saying we simply have enough medical personnel already.
North Korea has been more principled, holding out to America nothing more than its standing offer to nuke Anchorage. In a radio statement (radio being the most effective means of communication on the darkened upper half the peninsula), Kim Jong Il's government had this to say:
"The U.S. government has been neglecting the poor residents of New Orleans for a long time ..."
Their hypocrisy would be laughable if it weren't for the fact that two million North Koreans starved to death over the last decade while Kim Jong Il parties on in Pyongyang.
Lots of circus. Not much bread.
Perhaps the North Koreans can send over a hundred thousand of their "mass games" performers to entertain the refugees in the Astrodome.