It is hard to say something about something so terrible. It’s not really a moment for a political blog. If I was around there I would just try to find some way to join the aid effort. I have heard on the news that cash is the best way to help from far away. I don’t know what the best organizations are to give to – anyone with good suggestions please make them in the comments section.

Author: Justin Podur

Author of Siegebreakers. Ecology. Environmental Science. Political Science. Anti-imperialism. Political fiction. Teach at York U's FES. Author. Writer at ZNet, TeleSUR, AlterNet, Ricochet, and the Independent Media Institute.

3 thoughts on “Tsunami”

  1. Justin, I know I don’t have
    Justin, I know I don’t have to tell you, but unfortunately even in the case of natural disasters, there are unnatural economic and political forces at work. In the case of the tsunami and earthquake that have ravaged southern and south eastern asia, perhaps some of the death could have been avoided. Had the international community chosen to spend some money, early-warning indicators could have been placed on the sea floor that could have flagged the approaching tsunami and residents could have fled to higher points on shore. The Pacific rim has such early-warning indicators, which are – as I understand it – seismic detectors that can measure an oncoming earthquake and the possibility of a subsequent tsunami within 3 to 15 minutes of it hitting shore. Such detectors were put in place by a UNESCO-related agency in the last-half of the last century – but only in the Pacific rim, an area that encompasses the western US and Canada among other regions. The decision to put such detectors on the Pacific rim was a matter of “efficient resource allocation” to put it crudely. The logic behind the decision was that 95% of the world’s earthquakes originate in the Pacific rim. Sounds logical, sure. BUT…one of the most volatile regions in terms of plate tectonics is the Indian ocean where the India plate is hitting the Burma plate. It was this collision of the two plates, long known to scientists and policy makers as a great danger, that caused yesterday’s destruction.

  2. At first the Indonesian
    At first the Indonesian government was unsure if they were going to allow international aid agencies into Aceh, a hotbed of rebellion in the nation. However, a possible death toll of 20,000 in that region alone made them reconsider. Were they initially reluctant because Indonesian repression might be revealed? Did they consent because the tsunami has created such havoc that evidence of their repression disappeared?

    Also, this is exactly what our military forces should be used for. I’ve often said that our military’s primary training should be in emergency response and search & rescue. Any defence training should be secondary to that. I asked a cousin who is in the infantry what sort of training they do receive, in this area. He replied, “none.” It also sounds like Canada is offering a pitiful sum in aid for the devastated regions. Considering so many people live in cramped quarters on the seashore either to serve our tourists, to escape destruction inland to provide us with resources, or to survive off the sea, due to our impoverishment of their nation, massive aid is called for.

  3. Here’s what the Indonesian
    Here’s what the Indonesian Human Rights Network and the East Timor Action Network is sending out:

    Urgent Alert
    Call Your Representative Today to Sign Letter on U.S. Emergency Response to Earthquake and Tsunami;
    Urge Unrestricted Access to Aceh for International Humanitarian Organizations and Media

    As Indonesia and other South and Southeast Asian countries struggle with the effects of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that has already claimed over 20,000 lives – with the death toll expected to rise – please call your Representative in Congress and urge her/him to:

    ****sign the following Dear Colleague letter initiated by Congressman Crowley to Secretary of State Powell calling for immediate U.S. leadership and action in emergency aid relief. The deadline is Jan. 4. The contact in Mr. Crowley’s office is Gregg Sheiowitz.

    ***call Secretary Powell and urge him to press Indonesia to allow international NGOs and the media immediate, unrestricted access to Aceh.

    Aceh, the region closest to the earthquake, has been almost entirely sealed from foreign presence since the beginning of marti allawinMay2003. There are rumors that the Indonesian government is now debating whether to allow foreign organizations access to Aceh. The U.S. government has offered assistance. Every second delayed contributes to needless death, sickness and suffering. This is clearly not the time for politics to supersede dire humanitarian needs.

    Phone calls are the most effective way to contact your Representative. The Congressional switchboard number is 202-224-3121; ask for your Representative’s office. Then ask to speak with the foreign policy aide. If you don’t know who your Representative is, go to http://www.house.gov to find out. If you are not able to make a phone call, then fax. E-mails are a last option, but are generally less effective than phone calls and faxes.

    Please call as soon as possible. For more information, contact Karen Orenstein, karen@etan.org, 202-544-6911. Please let us know the results of your phone calls.

    A copy of the Congressional Dear Colleague letter follows.

    Support Humanitarian Aid for South and South East Asian Tsunami Victims

    December 27, 2004

    Dear Colleague:

    As you know, yesterday South and South East Asia suffered the worst earthquake in the past 40 years. It is being reported that over 23,000 people have been killed and millions displaced from the tsunami caused by this quake. I urge you to join me in sending the below letter to Secretary Powell urging the administration to be the leader in the emergency aid relief effort.

    The United States has a moral obligation to help those affected by this tragic natural disaster. If you would like to sign on or for more information please contact Gregg Sheiowitz in my office at gregg.sheiowitz@mail.house.gov or via phone at 5-3965. The deadline to sign will be close of business on January 4, 2005.


    Joseph Crowley

    Member of Congress

    December XX, 2004

    The Honorable Colin Powell
    Secretary of State
    U.S. Department of State
    2201 C Street N.W.
    Washington, D.C. 20520

    Dear Secretary Powell,

    We are deeply saddened and concerned by the loss of 23,000 lives from the worst earthquake in the past 40 years and the 4th strongest in a century. As a strong leader in the world, the United States must be at the forefront of dispensing emergency humanitarian aid to the scores of nations affected by this tragedy. We are pleased to see President Bush’s December 26, 2004 release regarding the Bay of Bengal earthquake stating, “The United States stands ready to offer all appropriate assistance to those nations most affected” but we must back these words up with immediate action.

    As you know, the death toll is expected to rise with thousands more reported missing in eight countries after the tsunami ripped through coastal communities. We believe the relief effort must first be focused on ensuring the people affected by this massive tsunami have clean water and food due to the fact the flood waters contaminated the drinking water and food is scarce. Second, the humanitarian effort must also be focused on stopping disease before it spreads through the population who survived this horrible ordeal. While aid workers access the damage done by the tsunami, it is important for the United States to take the lead in dispensing aid, we must lead by example.

    We also believe that to ensure this high loss of life does not occur again, we urge you to work with the South and South East Asian nations to assist them in setting up a network warning system for earthquakes in the Indian Ocean similar to the one along Pacific Rim nations in North America, Asia and South America. We also believe that better coordination is needed between the international tsunami warning system and all nations even where tsunamis have been rare like in the Indian Ocean. The United States Agency for International Development should work with all the countries in South and South East Asia to develop an early warning system to save lives from future tsunamis.

    We look forward to your immediate action for those millions affected by this tragedy and thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.


    Karen Orenstein
    Washington Coordinator
    East Timor Action Network: 13 Years for Self-determination and Justice
    202-544-6911 (t/f)
    karen@etan.org; http://www.etan.org

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