the usa receive aid from other countries but talking about it doesn’t fit their imperialist narrative

July 26, 2018

The United States has worked hard to place itself as a superpower on the world stage. Time and again, news reports detail America’s role as savior and watchdog. When it comes to conversations on aid, America’s contributions are highly publicized because of its influence and power but the media doesn’t allow for the whole picture of global diplomacy to be represented. Trump’s ‘America First” initiative is easy to sell when the American public thinks that the world leaves America hanging during times of crisis, but the truth is, the world shows up just a fast as America when it is in the one in need.

“After Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill disasters, there was an outpouring of support and offers of aid—including proposed donations of supplies, expertise, and monetary funds—from countries around the world. After both disasters, however, U.S. officials declined the majority of the assistance offered, and were slow to accept the small amount they did.” – Heritage Report

Hurricane Katrina will forever be a stain on the Bush presidency for the way Americans were left to fend for themselves but what has been left out of this narrative is the way the world showed up for America in its time of need. When the storm ravaged the U.S. Gulf Coast, more than 150 countries offered in aid the form of supplies, cash and volunteers. Bangladesh offered $1 million and rescuers while Thailand offered 60 doctors (after recently going through a Tsunami) and rice as “gesture from the heart” reported Washington Post. The Post also added that “very large cash” donations came from Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Canada sent navy ships, helicopters and about 1,000 helpers.” Mexico sent an impressive amount of aid by deploying their army, marking the first time Mexican troops set foot on US oil since the Mexican-American War of 1846. In total, roughly $854 million in cash and oil was offered to the US yet only “only $45 million had been spent. Of the 77 offers made by the end of 2006 from the U.S.’s closest allies, Britain, Israel, and Canada, 54 were outright rejected,” reported Borgen Magazine.

“President Vicente Fox sent an army convoy and a naval vessel laden with food, water and medicine. By the end of their three-week operation in Louisiana and Mississippi, the Mexicans had served 170,000 meals, helped distribute more than 184,000 tons of supplies and conducted more than 500 medical consultations.” – Washington Post

When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in 2017, few countries publicly offered aid and in light of Trump’s Tweet storm that included demands for Mexico pay for the wall and threats to NAFTA (trade deal with Mexico and Canada), it’s understandable that the world would be reluctant to show up. Countries showed up anyway with Canada shipping supplies like baby bottles, formula and bath towels while “Taiwan reportedly offered $800,000, and Venezuela promised $5 million. It’s unclear whether that funding would be accepted.” The US had an opportunity to learn from its mistakes years before Harvey with the Deepwater Horizon rig spill in 2010. 30 countries came forth offering aid, one of them being Sweden that offered specialized equipment to clean up oil spills but that offer went unanswered.

“Maybe a distracted State Department experiencing attrition is unable to process foreign offers and aid. But it might also be that Trump actively alienates American friends and allies, boasts he is cutting USAID, and makes clear that America First translates into an aid policy of every nation for itself,” he wrote in an op-ed in the Miami Herald. “Countries seeking political payback, or simply eager to make a point, by sitting silent is a conceivable, if cruel, reaction to a White House that has been deliberately self-centered and dangerously provocative.” Washington Post

The issue with America first is that it hinges on the narrative that global diplomacy is one-way-street when America is involved. It’s easy to sell an alienating policy when Americans aren’t informed by the media that the global community shows up when disaster strikes. When Americans believe the “every-country-for-themselves” rhetoric that Trump lives by then it’s easy to convince them that America’s often violent foreign policy is justified. If America could learn how to properly receive aid then the people that would gain from that would be Americans. Less lives would be lost but that would mean the government would have to admit that America is not an island, and that even “the most powerful country on earth” needs help sometimes.



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