Statement on the humanitarian crisis in Asia
The world has witnessed the greatest natural disaster in the lifetime of most of the people now living. The expressions of human solidarity, stretching across countries and continents, is the one bright light. But even that light is dimmed by the reports and images of growing human suffering and loss that nearly defies the imagination.
President Bush, after days of silence, emerged from his Texas vacation to issue a brief statement. Following a public rebuke and the worldwide reaction of utter contempt, the initial aid offering of the Bush administration was raised from $15 million to $35 million. More is to come, Bush officials promise, as they jockey to have a U.S.-led "coalition" take the leadership of the relief effort away from the United Nations.
Many have commented on the paltry, really disgraceful U.S. aid offer. The U.S. spends approximately $270 million each day for the occupation of Iraq. The cost of one F-22 Raptor fighter jet is $225 million.
The Bush-Cheney Presidential Inaugural Committee intends to raise $40 million in the next few weeks to host its gala parties and the inaugural parade.
This year, the Bush Administration provided a total of $13.6 billion in emergency funding to Florida (it was an election year) in response to the four hurricanes that caused so much destruction in the state. The death, suffering and property destruction was great. More than 100 families lost a loved one. But in the last week more than 100,000 people in South Asia have died. 5 million are now without access to the basic requirements of life - water, food and sanitation. In Indonesia (the largest Muslim country in the world) and in Sri Lanka and India whole villages and towns have been entirely wiped out.
Building human solidarity, especially at a moment of great crisis, is the cornerstone of the new world movement that opposes militarism and war, racism and globalized exploitation.
The Bush administration is shameless. Endless funds for limitless violence to take over Iraq is one thing (it is well over $150 billion in the last 21 months). Money to meet human needs and to alleviate suffering, however, that will only come as a consequence of political pressure and radical change.
Many of our members and friends have sent donations directly to organizations providing relief to those in need in South Asia and Africa. Given the callous indifference and political cynicism of the Bush administration, it is only natural that people have extended their generous support in a direct way. Members of our movement have been doing the same by sending medicine directly to the people of Haiti after the devastation caused by the hurricane this past Autumn.
We are also seeking to connect any and all humanitarian efforts with a struggle to create political change. Every life that is saved from humanitarian efforts is precious. By creating broad political change, we establish the social and economic foundation that guarantees that access to basic services become a realized achievement of the human race. We, modern society, have this capacity. The allocation of resources is essentially a matter of political priorities. This is the choice: food, water, housing, medicine, schools for the people everywhere - or the funneling of society's wealth to those who maintain and profit from a system of militarism.
When we march and rally in the thousands on January 20 along Bush's inaugural parade route we will be showing the people of the world that this administration is being opposed by a large segment of the people of the United States. From Iraq to South Asia to Venezuela to Haiti, Cuba, the Philippines and elsewhere, the Bush administration asserts that its policies have the support of the people. Bush claimed a mandate even when he lost the election in 2001 and asserts now that the people have given him to pursue his criminal and anti-people policies. Richard Nixon assumed the same posture at his reelection inauguration in January 1973 - 18 months before he resigned rather than face impeachment.
Please do your part to help make the January 20 CounterInaugural protest the next big step for the antiwar movement.
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