Bits and Pieces

Thursday, January 06, 2005

IHT says Muslims like the US, then says they don't.

I am generally skeptical of the claim that giving massive aid to the tsunami-battered countries will have any impact on how Muslims in general and Indonesians in particular view the US. And i don't think that the US gives aid in cases like this solely for political gain. Some, of course, but not to the extent that everybody who would call us stingy if we didn't give as much would like to think.

Raymond Bonner from the NYT has a piece this morning in the International Herald Tribune about how the US is starting to look like the good guy to many in South Asia. What's most interesting is that the title early this morning was something like "Muslims are seeing a not-so-ugly America" and now reads "Help from the U.S. poses quandary for many Indonesians."

Sheesh. Why the switch? Who knows, other than that maybe the first headline looked to pro-American.

Bonner does quote some Muslims who don't get why their Muslim brother countries are holding out:

"I am getting messages from friends, saying, 'Why have the Muslim countries been so slow and stingy?"' said Goenawan Mohamad, who is a veteran editor, writer, poet and one of Indonesia's most prominent intellectuals.

Indonesians are comparing the small amounts that have been offered by Arab countries with the hundreds of millions from the United States, Australia, Europe, Japan and China, said Mohamad, who along with the overwhelming majority of Indonesians has protested the American invasion of Iraq.
A few days ago, a letter in Koran Tempo, a major Indonesian newspaper, asked why Jemaah Islamiyah, the radical Islamic organization here, was not doing anything to help in Aceh Province, which bore the brunt of the tsunami on Dec. 26.

Jemaah Islamiyah is a terrorist group whose leader, Abu Bakar Bashir is on trial for the bombong of the JW Marriott in Jakarta.

But Bonner can't help himself from inserting standard boilerplate propaganda:

Indonesians are not basically anti-American, Mohamad said. But most of them are strongly opposed to American policies in the Middle East, starting with what is seen here as America's unwavering support for Israel. After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Indonesians generally expressed solidarity with the United States, but the good will evaporated quickly.

Bonner writes that "Some Indonesian are still upset" that the US originally pledge a measly $15 million. Really? Who would that be? Somehow I find it hard to believe that someone trying to dig their house out from under a ton of mud or trying to find food or medicine or looking for (probably) dead loved ones give two snots to the US's original pledge."

In fact, if Bonner is actually doing the reporting (the name of the contributing reporter is now not on the site), I'm willing to bet that the only way that "some" Indonesians would even know about the $15 million is if somebody, oh I don't know, in the press maybe, told them. How does someone with no house and no running water and no electicity get that kind of information?

And lastly, Bonner has to put in just a little reference to the fact that Sumatra has OIL. How pathetic.

See that, Jack gets to do the fun stuff and I'm stuck of politics and tsunamis and crappy reporters. I have to find something geeky cool to write about, too.
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