This past week in Pakistan, a major earthquake struck the area, killing thousands and forcing millions into refugee camps. The United States quickly pledged $38 million, making Pakistan’s total aid $350 million.
Pakistan’s earthquake, along with Hurricane Katrina and the war in Iraq, will make America’s debt astronomically high. It is, for the American government, a complicated issue to offer more aid while the U.S. is at war.
Recently at the Pakistani Embassy, President George W. Bush offered to bring in more troops to provide Pakistan with further aid. Will the President remove troops from Iraq and transplant them for double duty? It is questionable how Bush will acquire more troops and money for Pakistan when he cannot accomplish such a task in Iraq.
However, the war in Iraq is forcing us to spend money in Pakistan. When the United States gives foreign aid, it is not just an act of gratitude, it is a political maneuver. If we give the impression to Pakistan that we will not help them, how can we expect them to help us with our goal for “democracy” in the Middle East? The insurgency in Iraq is still raging despite a strong Iraqi turnout in their recent constitutional elections. Even if liberals (and more recently, some conservatives) are angry that we have forged a war in Iraq, it does not change the fact that we are there. Unlike past administrations, we cannot “cut and run” or give excuses for turning our back on countries.
Furthermore, in the Gulf Coast, most of the residents are still without home or aid, living like desperate refugees. Others, according to the New York Times, have been lodged in hotels at the expense of the government at the alarming cost of $11 million a night.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) fiscal planning in the Gulf Coast is under scrutiny from the press and Congress because many feel, and rightfully so, that the government is foolishly wasting funds. Katrina’s aid distribution has been widely irresponsible and unorganized.
The recent terrorist threats to the New York City subway system and reports of praise coming from the Middle East about the destruction in New Orleans only make it more vital for the United States to appease the Middle East. This is not to say that the United States can keep on spreading aid and troops everywhere.
President Bush has stated that, despite requests from Congress, he will not raise taxes to relieve the massive deficit; the only other option is to cut spending from federal programs. With the disaster in the Gulf Coast, it is hard to understand how the President will cut federal programs and still effectively assist the poor in these areas.
The United States must keep a good rapport with the Middle East in order win the war on terror. Still, the Gulf Coast is not out of the storm just yet; the government needs to send more millions of dollars for the South to be rebuilt. The only thing Americans can expect from this administration is to increase the federal debt three-fold before 2008, even if they decide to cut back on sending international aid.