May 20th, 2008 06:59 EST
Is America Better Than Other Countries In Handling Natural Disasters?
Myanmar (Burma) is a nation of around 55 million people; all aspects of society (business, media, economy) are controlled by the ruling military junta.
If a natural disaster strikes this developing country, only the all-powerful government can distribute aid and provide medical assistance to victims.
But if a major hurricane or earthquake hits Burma, the government doesn't have the resources or the experience to handle the logistics to provide aid and medical assistance to millions of victims.
Burma is a poor country and the aid must come from foreign donors. Burma is simply at the mercy of wealthy nations; it can't weather a catastrophe on its own.
"On May 3, 2008, Cyclone Nargis devastated the country when winds of up to 150 mph touched land in the densely populated, rice-farming delta of the Irrawaddy Division.
Recent reports estimate that more than 130,000 people are dead or missing from Cyclone Nargis that hit the country's Irrawaddy delta...
The United Nations projects that as many as 1 million were left homeless."
Quotation from Wikipedia
How did Burma, a developing country, handle this calamity of Biblical proportions?
Burma failed miserably.
Burma's totalitarian regime delayed and denied the United Nations, the United States and other Western countries from delivering food, bottled water and medical supplies.
The military junta used the disaster that decimated its nation for its political benefit. They re-labeled the few supplies that they did let it to make it look like they were provided by the military regime.
The People's Republic of China is the most populous country in the world, and one of the largest in land mass. China is Socialist Republic that's undergoing an economic boom, that has it on a pace to becoming the most powerful and influential nation in the world.
On May, 12, 2000 China was hit by a devastating earthquake that killed over 25,000 and left millions homeless.
How did China, a communist country, handle this tragedy?
China performed remarkably well.
China move expertly and efficiently on all fronts. Before the earth stopped shaking, or so it seems, relief efforts were already underway.
China made it known that it would gladly accept food and medical supplies from other countries.
From a public relations viewpoint China was spot on: The president was seen on TV providing comfort to the victims.
Even from a spiritual and psychological perspective, China did the right thing:
"The State Council declared a three-day period of national mourning for the quake victims starting from May 19th, 2008; The Chinese National Flag was raised at half mast. At 14:28 CST on May 19, 2008, a week after the earthquake, the Chinese public observed silence to express mourning; vehicles, vessels, trains, and air-defense alarms sounded, followed by a 3-minute moment of silence."
Quotation from Wikipedia.
The United Sates of America is the world's only remaining superpower. We have the experience, resources, and wisdom to handle any flood, hurricane or earthquake that would obliterate a lesser country.
America isn't run by a military junta or by a bunch of commies; we are a democracy. And everybody knows that democracies always deal best with natural disasters, right?
"Hurricane Katrina was the costliest and one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States... Katrina formed on August 23 during the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season and caused devastation along much of the north-central Gulf Coast. The most severe loss of life and property damage occurred in New Orleans, Louisiana, which flooded as the levee system catastrophically failed, in many cases hours after the storm had moved inland".
Quotation from Wikipedia.
How did America, the most powerful country in the world, handle Hurricane Katrina?
America failed miserably.
The response of the federal government to Hurricane Katrina was characterized by mismanagement and lack of leadership. Where was the federal government when the predominantly African American city of New Orleans was under water? The Bush administration left itself open to charges of racism and incompetence.
When the deadly earthquake hit China, the president was on the scene almost immediately offering consolation to his countrymen. But when Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, George W. Bush was missing in action. The commander-in-chief was probably searching for the weapons of mass destruction in Dick Cheney's garage.
Pundits and humanitarians have every right to condemn the military junta in Burma for placing roadblocks in the way of international aid. But if President has a modicum of integrity he would mute his complaints -- he is no role model for how to deal with a natural disaster.
China may be a communist nation with a miserable human rights record, but let's give the devil his due. The Chinese government should be commended for its efficiency and competence in dealing with a major natural disaster.