Wednesday, May 31, 2006

US Assistance, US bombs

My letter to Jakarta Post. Printed on Wednesday 31 May 2006.

US Assistance, US bombs

Houses destroyed. Communities devastated. Thousands of civilian deaths. Tens of thousands of injured and suffering. Hospitals lacking basic supplies. No electricity. No sanitation. Total disruption of daily life. No end to the suffering in sight.

But is this Yogya or Baghdad? How can we tell the difference? It’s easy. In one city, the Bush administration is offering condolences and lots of assistance. In the other city, the US is the direct cause of the devastation. I’m sure you know which is which. Bombs or earthquake? Isn't the result much the same?

Many critics of the US war of aggression against Iraq cite the fact that US troops only secured the Iraqi Oil Ministry and none of the hospitals, which allowed them to be looted at gunpoint. How does a civilized country in this day and age cause untold suffering against one civilian population with one hand and then offer much needed assistance to a different civilian population with the other? Does no one see the hypocrisy? Where is the international media? More to the point, where is the US media? How come no one is speaking about this?

During the Soeharto era, I proudly told my students about how great America was because of its many freedoms, especially freedom of the press. The US was once a great and noble country that others aspired to follow. Where have all the good Americans gone? More importantly, when are they coming back? For what its worth, here’s my advice: fewer bombs, more medicine. People tend to notice the difference!

Gene Netto

Jakarta, Indonesia

29 May, 2006

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