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International support exists for U.S.

Letter to the Editor | Friday, September 2, 2005

The suffering caused by Hurricane Katrina is nothing less than tragic. The horrific loss of life and extensive damage will have a lasting effect on Louisiana and the entire nation. The sympathies and prayers of the Notre Dame community are certainly with those affected.

However, Sarah Harward’s letter in the Aug. 31 issue of The Observer makes several inappropriate claims. She has “not heard report of a single foreign dignitary offering his/her condolences of our loss.” However, this reveals either her severe lack of research skills, at best, or her willful ignorance, at worst. A cursory Google News search for “Katrina foreign condolences” reveals that China, New Zealand, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and yes, even the allegedly totalitarian state of Venezuela, have expressed sorrow and offered aid.

Harward also seems to consider international aid for the disaster insufficient compared to that given to the countries affected by the tsunami. She grudgingly acknowledges that the United States is richer than these Asian nations. However, Thailand’s GDP per capita is a mere 20 percent of the United States’, while Indonesia’s is less than 10 percent. This is an incredibly striking disparity, especially considering that between 170,000 and 250,000 people died in the tsunami while New Orleans mayor has declared that the death toll for Katrina is in the thousands. Simply put, the United States has significantly more money with which to assist significantly fewer people. We have the financial capability to manage natural disasters that other nations do not.

Both catastrophes are lamentable and both have inflicted havoc upon far too many. However, there are reasons that the international community has not come to the aid of the victims of Katrina to the same degree that it aided the victims of the tsunami. Yet, instead of rationally investigating facts, Harward would rather blame Michael Moore, Green Day, the Rolling Stones and the ubiquitous forces of “anti-Americanism.”

Jason JamesseniorZahmSept. 1