Cheap, Smelly Americans

By dave742 This paper takes a quick look at an issue brought up by Robert Spencer in one of his books regarding the “generosity” that the West shows to the Muslim world. (Mr. Spencer is a writer on the fringe right of the political spectrum who focuses on Islamic terrorism and jihad. He is the founder of the Jihadwatch (from here on – JW) website.) As an example of this “generosity”, Mr. Spencer brings up the 2004 tsunami that occurred off the coast of Indonesia, and makes the claim that the West responded with generous donations of aid, while at the same time Muslim countries were stingy in donating aid to their fellow Muslims:
“When a tsunami devastated Muslim Indonesia and other South Asian countries in 2004, Western states pledged millions: the United States sent $950 million, Great Britain almost $800 million (including aid from nongovernmental organizations), Germany over $670 million, Canada $400 million, France about $300 million, Norway $175 million, and so on. The European Union also kicked in $628 million aside from the individual contributions of its member states, making Europe‟s contribution two billion. The West‟s contributions weren‟t merely financial, the United States and Australian armed forces were the first responders to bring aid to people in need. This Western generosity, however, has gone largely unnoticed. What of oil-rich Muslim nations? Qatar sent $25 million. After criticism of their initial paltry responses, Saudi Arabia sent $300 million, Kuwait $100 million, and the United Arab Emirates $20 million. So much for the solidarity of the umma.”1

First, let‟s look at the following sentence of the above quote:
“The West‟s contributions weren‟t merely financial, the United States and Australian armed forces were the first responders to bring aid to people in need.”


Spencer, Robert, Religion of Peace? Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2007), p. 15


It is true that the US did use its military to bring aid to the affected area in the days following the tsunami, but there is more to this story than that. In reality, the partnership between the US and Australia (which also included Japan and India, as we shall see), was more of a political ploy than a humanitarian gesture. In the first three days following the tsunami, President Bush was not heard from. He was too busy vacationing in Crawford, Texas, to bother with dead brown people. By the time he made his first public appearance, this is what the situation looked like:
“The official death toll, based on figures provided by each affected country, is about 77,000…More than 500,000 are reported injured and 161,200 homeless across the Indian Ocean. The federation has so far been unable to assess the total number of missing people.”2

The same article as above mentioned that “the Red Cross said staff on the ground are coordinating its relief efforts with the United Nations.” This is not a surprise, since all international relief efforts are handled through the UN, and a visit to the UN ReliefWeb website will show how routine this is.3 So what did President Bush say when he finally got around to addressing the disaster? Other than the standard remarks about being shocked and saddened over the event, the sole purpose of his short speech (which was 416 words and took about 3 minutes to give) was to announce the following:
“Secretary Powell is working hard. He has spoken with his counterparts in Japan, India, Australia, as well as other nations who are helping with the response in order to begin building an international coalition for immediate humanitarian relief and longterm recovery and reconstruction efforts. Based on these discussions, we've established a regional core group with India, Japan and Australia to help coordinate relief efforts. I'm confident more nations will join this core group in short order. Under Secretary of State Mark Grossman will lead a U.S. task force to work with these


AP Worldstream, “International Red Cross fears quake, tsunami death toll could top 100,000,” December 29, 2004, by Sam Cage 3 Home page:


partners to help coordinate interagency response in our own government and to encourage other nations to participate in the relief efforts.”4

The point of Bush‟s speech was to announce to the world that instead of working through the UN like every other country in the world does for every humanitarian relief effort that occurs anywhere in the world, the US had instead decided that they would bypass the UN and coordinate the relief effort themselves. Bush said that Australia, Japan, and India were already partners, and that he was “confident more nations will join this core group in short order.” His first official act in response to the disaster, then, was to try and use it as a tool to undermine the UN as part of the US‟s endless quest to delegitimize them. The disaster was used as just another political tool for our “generous” nation. Mr. Spencer says that the US was working with Australia as “first responders,” but Japan and India were also part of the “core group.” Mr. Spencer decided to leave out non-Western countries. This is not unique to right wing extremists. Even when AFP reported the story, although they listed all four countries in the body of the article, they left India out of the title.5 Funny. Bush‟s plan was recognized for what it was, a political ploy, and in the end it did not work. The very next day in the UK the former International Development Secretary Clare Short said:
"I think this initiative from America to set up four countries claiming to coordinate sounds like yet another attempt to undermine the UN when it is the best system we have got and the one that needs building up."6

The stunt was criticized everywhere:

4 5 AFP, “Australia Boosts Tsunami Aid, Signals Joint Effort with US, Japan,” 28 Dec 2004. See: 6 Press Association, “Bush ‘Undermining UN With Aid Coalition’,” 30 Dec., 2004, by Jamie Lyons


“The U.S. move to launch the four-member „core group‟ has drawn criticism within Europe. The French media has accused Washington of supplanting and sidelining the United Nations…India's decision to join the „core group‟ has drawn flak from within the country too.”7

Although Bush was “confident more nations will join this core group in short order,” no other nations were interested in participating in the political stunt, and were instead more focused on trying to help people. Bush got the message, as was reported only 3 days later:
“Observers noted that Bush made no reference to the aid coalition, consisting of the United States, Japan, India and Australia he had touted last week as a „core group‟ that would attract other donor nations. Diplomatic sources in Washington said the initiative had not, in fact, attracted other countries and was likely to be played down.”8

As a result of the rest of the world deciding to stick with the UN and not the US, the “core group” was dissolved a little over a week after it was formed:
“The United Nations said Thursday it was assuming leadership of a U.S.-led core group of countries guiding the massive operation to provide relief to Indian Ocean tsunami survivors. Jan Egeland, the U.N. emergency humanitarian coordinator, said that the core group of the United States, Japan, India and Australia was phasing out and joining the U.N. relief operation.”9

This incident is not reflective of the “generosity” of the US, but an example of how even in times of disaster, all the US thinks about is increasing its power. Now let‟s look at the rest of Mr. Spencer‟s paragraph. He gives values for 10 different countries and the aid package that each of those countries pledged for the tsunami effort. (Mr. Spencer first uses the word “pledged,” but then uses the word “sent” three

7 8

IPS, “Tsunami Impact: US-Led ‘Core Group’ on Aid Bypasses the UN,” 5 Jan. 2005, by Praful Bidwai UPI, “Analysis: The Money and Politics of Global Aid,” 3 Jan., 2005, by Roland Flamini. Copy here: 9 Deutsche Presse-Agentur, “UN Takes over US-Led Tsunami Relief Group,” 6 Jan. 2005


times. Pledging money and actually sending it are two different things. The totals he gives are money that was pledged). Let‟s put these values in a table form:

Table 1:
Aid Donated In millions 950 800 670 400 300 300 175 100 25 20

Country 1) United States 2) UK 3) Germany 4) Canada 5) France 6) Saudi Arabia 7) Norway 8) Kuwait 9) Qatar 10) UAE

I have color coded the table. The US is in blood-red, EU countries are in yellow, and Islamic countries are in blue. The table is not complete, however. Mr. Spencer also mentions that the EU as a whole donated 628 million, which is in addition to what each EU country gave individually. In order to account for this money, I will include what each of the EU countries contributed to the 628 million dollar EU contribution. The EU makes donations to humanitarian aid mainly through the European Commission Humanitarian Aid (ECHO). The amount that each country contributes to ECHO is proportional to that countries GDP relative to the total EU GDP. For example, Germany‟s GDP is 2,918,000 (in this paper all my GDP numbers will be in millions of dollars, so Germany‟s GDP is 2.18 trillion – all GDP numbers are 2008 estimates from the CIA Factbook). The total EU GDP is 15,721,422 (15.7 trillion). Germany‟s percentage of the EU GDP is 2,918,000/15,721,422=18.56%. Germany‟s portion of the ECHO contribution to the tsunami is therefore 18.56% of 628 million, or 117 million. Using similar calculations, France‟s contribution is 85 million (France GDP=2,128,000), and the UK contribution is 107 million (UK GDP=2,674,000). Adding these values to the values contributed by the


individual countries, we get the following table which encompasses all the information given by Mr. Spencer: Table 2: Aid Donated In millions 950 907 787 400 385 300 186 100 25 20

Country 1) United States 2) UK 3) Germany 4) Canada 5) France 6) Saudi Arabia 7) Norway 8) Kuwait 9) Qatar 10) UAE

At this point we need to look at a couple of Mr. Spencer‟s data points. For the UK, he gives a total (not including the EU ECHO contributions) of 800 million, which he says is “including aid from nongovernmental organizations.” The problem is that if you want to make a fair comparison, you cannot include charitable donations from one country, and not include them for the rest. Why does Mr. Spencer feel the need to include charitable donations only in the case of the UK? The reference he gives for the UK value contains the following paragraph:
“In addition to the £300m donated to the DEC, other British charities have raised £50m and the government has promised £75m on top of the resources it provided for the aid effort.”10

The DEC is “an umbrella group of 12 aid agencies.” So of the total amount raised of £425m, £350m was from charities, and £75m was from the UK government. Using dollars (the exchange rate at the times was about $1.87 per UK pound), we get


BBC, “Tsunami appeal finishes at £300m,” 26 Feb 2005, available here:


$654.5 million from charities and $140.25 million from the UK government, for a total of $794.75 million, which Mr. Spencer rounds up to $800 million. Since we would like to make a fair comparison, we should only use government pledges. Just because Mr. Spencer didn‟t like the value for the UK government aid pledge, he cannot simply add the charity number for that country only. This is dishonest. The correct number for the UK should be $140.25 million, plus the UK portion of the ECHO donation, which comes to $247.25 million. For France, Mr. Spencer gives a value of “about $300 million.” He gives no reference for this value. In the first 30 days after the tsunami hit, there was a bidding game going on amongst many nations to see who could out-give the other. France raised its total a few times initially, but then said publically that it would no longer play the bidding game.11 The article reporting this said that the French had pledged 50 million Euros, or $66 million dollars, up until that point. An AP report from the day before gave a value of $103 million.12 I find no announcement of a higher figure after this date. I do not know where Mr. Spencer got his total of $300 million, as he didn‟t give a source. Including France‟s ECHO contribution, the French total (using the higher AP value) comes to $188 million. This is the correct value. The next problem is with the value given by Mr. Spencer for Saudi Arabia. The sentence by Mr. Spencer that contains the total for all the Muslim countries in his comparison comes from one Christian Science Monitor article.13 Mr. Spencer gives a value of $100 million for Kuwait, and the article says that “initially Kuwait offered $1 million on the day of the tsunami, then doubled it. A few days later, the contribution increased to $10 million and has now soared to $100 million.” Mr. Spencer, then, gives the correct value for Kuwait. Mr. Spencer then gives a value of $20 million for


“Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said Friday that France would not be drawn into "this bidding game" to provide relief aid for countries hit by the Asian tsunami… The French government has pledged *euro+50 million (US$66 million) in relief aid.” AP Worldstream, “France avoids 'bidding game' over relief aid for tsunami-hit countries, Barnier says,” January 7, 2005 12 AP, “Government Pledges for Tsunami Victims,” 6 Jan 2005 13 Christian Science Monitor, “After slow start, Arab countries crank up tsunami relief,” 12 Jan 2005, available here:


the United Arab Emirates, and the article states “the United Arab Emirates raised its donation from $2 million to $20 million last week.” Correct again. Mr. Spencer then gives a value of $300 million for Saudi Arabia. The article says:
“Saudi Arabia raised its contribution from $10 million to $30 million, with another $101 million from public donations. The Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank has allocated $10 million in emergency relief as part of a broader aid package.”

I have no idea how Mr. Spencer came up with a value of $300 million for Saudi Arabia from this reference. Even by adding all these values, we come up with only $141 million. And as we mentioned with the UK, adding donations from charities to a government pledge is incorrect. As far as the Saudi Bank, not all the money from the Islamic Development Bank is from Saudi Arabia. If you look at the Islamic Development Bank Annual Report of 2009 in Annex 5, you see that the percentage of subscribed capital owned by Saudi Arabia is 24.44%.14 So let‟s attribute 24.44% of the 10 million donated by the Islamic Development bank as coming from Saudi Arabia (this is similar to how we calculated EU contributions from member countries). The amount of the $10 million from the Islamic Development Bank that comes from Saudi Arabia is $2,440,000. The correct total for Saudi Arabia is $32.44 million. It‟s strange that Mr. Spencer would inflate the number for a Muslim country. The next issue is with Canada. For his value of 400 million, Mr. Spencer uses for a reference a link from the Canadian International Development Agency, which manages Canada‟s development assistance program. Mr. Spencer‟s link is no longer active, since this data is updated frequently. A currently active website gives a value of $425 million15, which is the same value that was announced at a Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly meeting on 27 Jan 200516. Maybe Mr. Spencer is


Islamic Development Bank, 34 Annual Report, 1429H – 2008, Annex 5, p. 86, available here: _Reports/34th/AnnualReport_34.pdf 15 16 “Our government is matching most of these private donations; it has pledged 425 million dollars over the next five years.”



unaware, however, than Canadian dollars are different than American dollars. Using an AP article from when this value was announced17, this works out to $345 US dollars. This is the correct value. Here, then, is a table using Mr. Spencer‟s information with the correct values: Table 3: Aid Donated In millions 950 787 345 247 188 186 100 32.4 25 20

Country 1) United States 2) Germany 3) Canada 4) UK 5) France 6) Norway 7) Kuwait 8) Saudi Arabia 9) Qatar 10) UAE

Now comes the part that is difficult for many Americans to understand: you cannot determine the relative generosity of nations by comparing the total amount of money that nations donate to a specific cause! There are two reasons for this. First, these nations have different numbers of people in them!! For example, the US has 307 million people, and Qatar has 833 thousand. The US has over 350 times as many citizens as Qatar does. Now think real hard. Does it make sense to compare what these countries give as a whole, when one has over 350 times as many people? Let‟s say you gave $200 to charity last year. A proportionately equivalent situation would be the following: What would you say if I along with 9 of my friends gave $210 total, and we called you cheap for only giving $200? I know what I would say: go to hell! More people should give more money to charity. This is not a difficult concept to understand.

AP Worldstream, “Canada boosts tsunami relief pledge to US$345 million,” 10 Jan 2005, available here:


Second, people in different countries make different amounts of money!! For example, the GDP per capita in Saudi Arabia is $20,500, and in the US it is $46,900. If someone is making twice as much money as you are, they should give more money to charity. Bill Gates should give a lot more money to charity than the average American. This also is not a difficult concept to understand. (This concept works in reverse for Kuwait and Qatar, since their GDP per capita is larger than in the US. In both of these countries, an individual should give more than an American individual should). Both of these factors are routinely taken into account when making financial comparisons such as donation amounts by calculating the amount of the donation as a percentage of a particular nations total GDP.18 When the UN made the goals for its Millennium Project, they asked rich countries to donate 0.7% of their GDP to development assistance.19 Instead of asking for a percentage of a nations GDP, the UN could have followed the example of Mr. Spencer, and asked for a specific value from all nations, regardless of population or wealth. Do you know why they didn‟t do this? Because they are not asinine. To make any real comparison of aid donation between countries, you do it by calculating the donation as a percentage of that country‟s GDP. So let‟s do that using the correct values that we found in Table 3, and express them as a percentage of those nations GDP. I will use the value of how much each nation donates per million dollars of those nations GDP:


For a discussion of this and also a discussion of how cheap and smelly Americans are, see; 19 UN Development Project, an in-depth look, available here:


Table 4: Dollars of aid per million dollars of GDP 675.38 670.69 274.73 269.71 265.38 108.70 92.37 88.35 63.11 56.20


GDP in millions of dollars 275,400 149,100 91,000 2,918,000 1,300,000 184,000 2,674,000 2,128,000 14,260,000 576,500

1) Norway 2) Kuwait 3) Qatar 4) Germany 5) Canada 6) UAE 7) UK 8) France 9) United States 10) Saudi Arabia

Wow! The order looks a lot different now! Kuwait gave over ten times as much as the United States when expressed as a percentage of GDP. The US comes out near the bottom, only squeaking by Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait challenged Norway for the top spot. Not the picture that Mr. Spencer painted. Now that we know the correct way to look at this type of data, the next step is to get better data. The Reuters Alertnet website has a list of the top 40 biggest donors to the tsunami relief effort.20 This list of the top 40 includes both individual countries and multilateral aid. Thirty six of the 40 are individual countries, and 4 (the European Commission, the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, and the Islamic Development Bank) are multilateral aid. For the air from the European Commission, we already discussed how to allocate the total amounts to the individual countries. For the EC amount, you can allocate the total using the individual countries GDP as a percentage of the total EU GDP. For the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), we can use the values in their annual report, as we did above. For the Asian Development




Bank (ADB), we can use the values from their website which gives the percentage of “subscribed capital” for each nation.21 For instance, the value for the US is 15.57%. So 15.57% of the value contributed by the ADB can be allocated to the US. Finally, the money for the World Bank (WB) comes from something called the “Multi-Donor Fund for Aceh and Nias,” which has 15 donor nations. 22 The World Bank money can be allocated using the percentages obtained from this website. After allocating the money from the 4 multilateral aid donations (for all nations I used the value for “aid allocated,” and not “aid promised”) to the appropriate country, and then calculating the donation as a percentage of that nations‟ GDP, the 36 nations in the Reuters website are ranked as follows (see next page):

21 22

See See,,contentMDK: 21140670~pagePK:141137~piPK:141127~theSitePK:226309,00.html


Table 5: Dollars of aid donated in thousands of dollars 795,038 192,136 87,562 66,073 378,405 44,697 96,901 15,777 72,914 119,055 631,763 291,260 38,980 533,549 35,877 55,066 62,672 670,089 85,912 34,611 304,900 252,884 43,509 25,021 68,348 28,870 22,382 983,756 88,601 89,774 43,095 7,360 71,516 132,376 35,200 3,400


Dollars of aid per million dollars of GDP 990.21 695.39 585.70 566.67 561.85 488.23 474.77 399.73 375.85 344.99 282.54 223.53 206.24 182.41 173.91 166.26 160.61 154.40 153.99 145.49 142.94 138.41 126.55 105.44 95.77 90.76 84.52 68.13 66.22 64.03 47.68 23.95 21.65 16.56 15.50 2.17

GDP in millions of dollars 802,900 276,300 149,500 116,600 673,500 91,550 204,100 37,470 194,000 345,100 2,236,000 1,303,000 189,000 2,925,000 206,300 331,200 390,200 4,340,000 557,900 237,900 2,133,000 1,827,000 343,800 237,300 713,700 318,100 264,800 14,440,000 1,338,000 1,402,000 903,900 307,300 3,304,000 7,992,000 2,271,000 1,567,000

1) Australia 2) Norway 3) Kuwait 4) New Zealand 5) Netherlands 6) Qatar 7) Denmark 8) Luxembourg 9) Finland 10) Sweden 11) UK 12) Canada 13) Ireland 14) Germany 15) United Arab Emirates 16) Austria 17) Belgium 18) Japan 19) Saudi Arabia 20) Singapore 21) France 22) Italy 23) Greece 24) Portugal 25) Taiwan 26) Switzerland 27) Czech Republic 28) United States 29) South Korea 30) Spain 31) Turkey 32) Hong Kong **33) India** 34) China 35) Russia 36) Mexico


Using the Reuters values, the US is behind all 4 Muslim countries used by Mr. Spencer in his comparison, and the US comes ahead of only one Muslim country; Turkey (I guess Turkey has been partially Westernized). The US also came ahead of only one EU country; Spain. I highlighted India because they were expected to receive money from the international community as a result of the tsunami, since they were impacted by it. The fact that they refused all money and actually donated to other countries makes them a special case. Of course nobody expected them to give much under those circumstances. So the US came in 28th out of 36 countries (35 if we exclude India). I am not impressed with the generosity of the US. This, however, is not the whole story. In the table above, I allocated the multilateral aid from the EU, IDB, ADB, and WB only to those nations that are included in the Reuters chart, which are the top 36 nations. However, some nations that are not in the top 40 biggest donors, and therefore not in Reuters list, gave a substantial sum of money (relative to GDP) even if you only consider their contribution to the multilateral aid organizations, and ignore any individual contribution that they might have given. For example, Uzbekistan accounts for 0.02% of the amount given by the IDB, which is $45,860 (which becomes $45,755 after accounting for rounding errors). Uzbekistan also accounts for 0.672% of the amount given by the ADB, which works out to $5,113,248 (after rounding is $5,112,941). The ADB is also a donor to the World Bank Multi-Donor Fund, and Uzbekistan‟s portion of the World Bank amount is $48,164. The total amount given by Uzbekistan through multilateral aid, then, is $5,207,167. Again, this ignores any individual aid Uzbekistan may have given (if they did give any individually, it certainly would not have been large enough to end up on Reuters top 40 list). This amount given by Uzbekistan turns out to be larger (as a percentage of GDP) than the amount given by the US. In the following table, I have added the contribution of certain countries through their donations to multilateral aid organizations on the Reuters list, and compared them to the total values for the 36 countries shown in Table 5 above.


Table 6:


Dollars of aid per million dollars of GDP 990.21 695.39 585.70 566.67 561.85 512.01 512.01 488.23 474.77 399.73 375.85 344.99 282.54 255.84 223.53 220.71 208.42 207.30 206.24 182.41 173.91 171.95 171.73 166.26 160.61 154.40 153.99 145.60

Dollars of aid donated in thousand s of dollars 795,038 192,136 87,562 66,073 378,405 60 15 44,697 96,901 15,777 72,914 119,055 631,763 22,443 291,260 1,396 2,426 732 38,980 533,549 35,877 23 2,265 55,066 62,672 670,089 85,912 522

GDP in millions of dollars


Dollars of aid per million dollars of GDP 145.49 142.94 140.49 138.41 137.68 129.08 126.55 125.91 121.67 121.47 105.44 97.50 95.77 92.50 90.76 84.52 76.60 75.45 68.13 68.13 66.22 64.03 47.68 23.95 21.65 16.56 15.50 2.17

Dollars of aid donated in thousan ds of dollars 34,611 304,900 23 252,884 2,696 31 43,509 23 2,289 2,618 25,021 168 68,348 69 28,870 22,382 69 4,170 5,207 983,756 88,601 89,774 43,095 7,360 71,516 132,376 35,200 3,400

GDP in millions of dollars

1) Australia 2) Norway 3) Kuwait 4) New Zealand 5) Netherlands 6) Nauru 7) Tuvalu 8) Qatar 9) Denmark 10) Luxembourg 11) Finland 12) Sweden 13) UK 14) Libya 15) Canada 16) Mauritania 17) Kyrgyz Republic 18) Bhutan 19) Ireland 20) Germany United Arab Emirates 22) Marshall Islands 23) Tajikistan 24) Austria 25) Belgium 26) Japan 27) Saudi Arabia 28) Fiji Islands

802,900 276,300 149,500 116,600 673,500 30,721 7,680 91,550 204,100 37,470 194,000 345,100 2,236,000 87,720 1,303,000 6,323 11,640 3,533 189,000 2,925,000 206,300 134 13,190 331,200 390,200 4,340,000 557,900 3,587

29) Singapore 30) France 31) Palau 32) Italy 33) Brunei 34) Micronesia 36) Greece 37) Cook Islands 38) Armenia 39) Georgia 40) Portugal **41) Maldives** 42) Taiwan 43) Comoros 44) Switzerland CzechRepublic 46) Ginea Bissau **47) Myanmar** 48) Uzbekistan 49) United States 50) South Korea 51) Spain 52) Turkey 53) Hong Kong **54) India** 55) China 56) Russia 57) Mexico

237,900 2,133,000 164 1,827,000 19,580 238 343,800 183 18,810 21,560 237,300 1,723 713,700 742 318,100 264,800 896 55,270 71,840 14,440,000 1,338,000 1,402,000 903,900 307,300 3,304,000 7,992,000 2,271,000 1,567,000

Now there are 13 Islamic countries that gave more than the US. The US comes in 49th place when only 36 countries were compared. Quite a feat. Maldives, an Islamic


country, gave more than the US, and they were impacted by the tsunami. Even when they are impacted by the natural disaster, some countries still contribute more than the US does. Unbelievable. The Reuters data is not the best for one major reason. Their data includes donations in the form of debt relief and other non-direct aid. 23 As was made clear in the media at the time of the tsunami, debt relief in particular not only does nothing for the victims, but may actually harm the nations receiving the debt relief:
“Analysts have said that disaster-hit countries could face higher debt costs in the future if payments, frozen under a moratorium, pile up then later come due once debt relief is lifted. In addition, a delay in payments, especially if commercial debt is included in the moratorium, could cause downgrades by debt ratings agencies that would raise the cost of future borrowing. „It is one of those gestures that sounds good, but when you look at it more carefully it turns out not to be worth it. ... Costs outweigh the benefits,‟ said Tim Condon, head of Asian financial market research at ING Financial Markets, Singapore.”24

From the NYT:
“The proposal by Britain to grant tsunami-affected countries an international debt moratorium is wrong-headed…The proposal is wrong-headed because the losses have been primarily human rather than economic.”25

The problem is that debt relief does nothing for the victims. If you are hit by a natural disaster, and half your family is dead, the other half are injured, and you have no food or access to doctors, having a rich country tell the government of your country that they don‟t have to pay their debt for 5 years is not much help for you. What

23 24

See Turkish Daily News, “Tsunami Debt Relief Could Prove Costly to Asia Over Long Term,” 8 Jan 2005 25 New York Times, “Tsunami aid and beyond: II: Debt relief? No. A disaster force? Yes,” 6 Jan 2005, See: See also: and


victims need is direct aid.26 The Australian Prime Minister at the time, John Howard, said that he “believes direct aid is the best way to assist countries affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami. The Australian Government has resisted moves by the Group of Seven to place a moratorium on debt repayments from Indonesia and Sri Lanka, and other tsunami-stricken nations. Howard believes many countries may view the debt relief as aid, and withdraw direct financial aid” (Howard is paraphrased in the article). 27 The best source by far for comparing direct aid is the UN ReliefWeb Financial Tracking Service, which compiles humanitarian aid from every nation in the world for every disaster that the UN responds to.28 This source does not keep track of aid such as debt relief, which matters little to the victims. They track direct aid, which is mostly given as cash. I used their pdf that was compiled for the tsunami 29 to calculate the amount of aid given by every country in the world (I included the values for donations given by each countries Red Cross or Red Crescent societies, so a partial measure of private donations is included in the values below). Another issue with the most data is the difference between money pledged and money paid. Sometimes countries pledge a certain amount of money, but don‟t end up paying what they promised.30 The UN Reliefweb site tracks money that was actually paid.


Even direct aid can be used as a way for rich countries to pursue their political interests, and are not always strict humanitarian gestures. See: 27 The Australian Financial Review, “Moratorium no substitute for direct aid: PM,” 12 Jan 2005 28 See 29 See 30 See The Times (London), “Millions pledged for tsunami go unpaid,” 29 March 2006, by : Rory Watson and Angela Jameson. See:



$ of aid / million dollars GDP

$ aid (in thousand)

GDP (in millions)


$ of aid / million GDP

$ of aid in thousand

GDP in millions

1) Malta 2) Palau 3) Cook Islands 4) Norway 5) Cyprus 6) UK 7) Qatar 8) Monaco 9) Sweden 10) U. A. E. 11) New Zealand 12) Denmark 13) Curacao (Neth.) 14) Finland 15) Liechtenstein 16) Luxembourg 17) Ireland 18) Micronesia 19) Japan 20) Fiji 21) Iceland 22) Greece 23) Switzerland 24) Canada 25) Liberia 26) Netherlands 27) Trinidad 28) Belgium 29) Australia 30) Kuwait 31) Papua N. G. 32) Hong Kong 33) Germany 34) Austria 35) Portugal 36) Albania 37) Italy 38) Guyana 39) France 40) Singapore 41) Estonia

1186.68 420.82 320.46 319.64 296.36 287.84 275.63 272.89 266.22 259.54 243.81 225.09 198.41 186.34 176.93 167.59 166.97 162.47 118.18 110.00 104.70 102.28 91.36 90.06 87.22 85.99 72.56 72.45 69.09 66.96 62.57 61.74 55.42 51.47 50.22 48.61 44.79 41.54 41.38 39.00 38.82

11,786 69 59 88,318 6,745 643,608 25,233 266 91,874 53,543 28,428 45,940 556 36,149 736 6,615 31,557 39 512,882 395 1,347 35,165 29,062 117,346 134 57,917 2,111 28,270 55,472 10,010 824 18,971 162,098 17,047 11,917 630 81,836 124 88,273 9,278 1,088

9,930 164 183 276,300 22,760 2,236,000 91,550 976 345,100 206,300 116,600 204,100 2,800 194,000 4,160 39,470 189,000 238 4,340,000 3,587 12,870 343,800 318,100 1,303,000 1,531 673,500 29,090 390,200 802,900 149,500 13,170 307,300 2,925,000 331,200 237,300 12,960 1,827,000 2,973 2,133,000 237,900 28,030

42) Saudi Arabia 43) Slovenia 44) Spain 45) Samoa 46) Slovakia 47) Barbados 48) Czech Rep. 49) Libya 50) Andorra 51) Lithuania 52) Hungary 53) Timor Leste 54) Thailand 55) Romania 56) Nigeria 57) Kazakhstan 58) Latvia 59) Mauritania 60) Croatia **61) Malaysia** 62) Unites States 63) Belize 64) Poland 65) Mali 66) Bulgaria 67) Azerbaijan 68) Mauritius 69) Bosnia 70) Senegal 71) Eq. Guinea 72) Vanuatu 73) Algeria 74) Turkey 75) Macedonia 76) China **77) S. Africa** 78) Israel 79) Laos 80) India 81) Russia 82) Taiwan

37.88 33.49 32.91 28.76 26.28 24.84 23.48 23.22 22.24 21.29 21.03 19.79 19.56 18.02 17.85 17.08 16.94 16.02 15.33 15.28 15.01 14.46 14.43 13.55 13.14 12.86 10.98 10.31 9.14 8.91 8.74 8.72 8.48 8.46 8.36 7.65 7.23 7.14 6.96 6.21 5.95

21,132 1,992 46,136 29 3,148 133 6,218 2,037 81 1,349 4,136 50 10,730 4,901 6,001 3,010 660 101 1,266 5,888 216,815 37 9,675 200 1,235 1,000 169 307 199 205 9 2,036 7,662 159 66,783 3,768 1,470 100 23,000 14,094 4,250

557,900 59,490 1,402,000 1,021 119,800 5,367 264,800 87,720 3,660 63,370 196,700 2,526 548,700 272,000 336,200 176,200 38,950 6,323 82,580 385,200 14,440,000 2,542 670,700 14,750 93,980 77,790 15,430 29,770 21,780 23,000 991 233,500 903,900 18,830 7,992,000 492,200 203,400 14,010 3,304,000 2,271,000 713,700


The United States comes in 62nd place in the world, behind 10 Muslim countries. One of those Muslim countries, Malaysia, gave more money than the US did, and they were affected by the tsunami. Once again, a Muslim country suffers from a natural disaster, and they still donate more than the US. Israel (who is also colored in red because the US is a puppet state of Israel) came in 78th. US = cheap. Earlier, we mentioned the UN Millennium Goals, one of which is that all members of the OECD Development Assistance Committee should donate 0.7% of their GDP for development assistance for poor countries. There are currently 23 members of the Committee, which include the US, Korea, Australia, Japan, Canada, and European countries.31 Among these nations, the US ranks 21st out of 22 (Korea is not included because they are a new member).32 Norway is in first place, donating 0.93% of their GDP. As a comparison, Saudi Arabia donates 4% of its GDP, which is over 4 times more than the most generous Western nation, and 18 times more than the US.33 Let‟s look at how Muslim countries donated financial aid in response to another natural disaster; hurricane Katrina on the Gulf coast of the US. In my opinion, the international community should not have donated a dime to the US in response to this event. The US is one of the wealthiest nations in the world, and it does not need money from other nations. (This would be just as true if a natural disaster hit Kuwait – they also would not need help from the rest of the world).The respectable thing for the US to do in response to the aid offers would have been to reject them, just as India did when they were offered money after the tsunami. The US, obviously, does not have the integrity that India does, and they accepted the offers of financial aid. Pathetic. Here is what some Muslim countries donated to the US in response to Katrina:

31 32

For a list, see here:,3343,en_2649_34603_1893350_1_1_1_1,00.html See: 33 The Washington Times, “’Saudi Generosity’,” 13 Jan 2005


Maldives: $25,000, which corresponds to $14.51 of aid per million dollars of GDP, which is almost as much money as the US donated in response to the tunami. 34 Gabon: $500,000, which, relative to GDP, is 57% more than what the US gave in response to the tsunami Djibouti: $50,000, 76% more than what the US gave. 35 Bahrain: $5 million. 12 times more than what the US gave. UAE: $100 million. 32 times more than what the US gave.36 Kuwait: $100 million. 44 times what the US gave. Qatar: $100 million. 72 times what the US gave. Freakin‟ Djibouti gives more to the US than the US gave for tsunami aid. Unbelievable. As for Saudi Arabia, they did not donate a large amount through their government, but helped in other ways:
“Saudi Arabia has promised nearly $5.3 million in funds from Saudi Refining Inc., a Houston-based subsidiary of Saudi Aramco, and from the Arab Gulf Programme for United Nations Development Organizations.”37



AP, “A look at what Katrina aid other countries have offered U.S.,” 6 Sept 2005. A copy is duplicated in this document: See this same reference for all the countries in this list. 35 Also see: “Cash from Djibouti, the US will accept… Djibouti, whose per capita GDP is one thirtieth of that of the US, has pledged £30,000. Afghanistan said it was offering £55,000, tsunami-ravaged Sri Lanka had come up with £13,000, poverty-stricken Bangladesh has offered £540,000…” The Times (London), “Poor and isolated nations rally to offer aid,” 9 Sept 2005 by Giles Whittell and Jane Macartney 36 For Kuwait, Qatar, and UAE, also see The Washington Times, “Global Katrina aid more than $800 million,” 22 Sept 2005: 37 Ibid


“Starting in January, shrimp boat owners on the Alabama coast will receive vouchers for free diesel fuel, about $1.2 million worth in all, paid for through the world's largest oil producer, the Saudi Arabian Oil Co. „I know, Saudi Arabia. It seems kind of strange. But they've been very kind and gracious to us,‟ said Ernie Anderson, president of the Organized Seafood Association of Alabama, which will administer the Saudi gift. „We all hope this will kick-start the economy down here.‟ Through their government-owned oil conglomerate, the Saudis have quietly donated „tens of millions‟ of dollars worth of goods to victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.”38

Once again: Muslim countries are generous, the US is cheap. Here is a true story of generosity:
“Some 200 Ugandan women who earn $1.20 per day breaking rocks into gravel in Kampala have donated $900 to the U.S. victims of Hurricane Katrina.”39

The 200 Ugandan women donated $4.50 per person to Katrina relief when they make only $1.20 per day, which means they donated 3 and ¾ days pay. And the pathetic US accepts this money! It makes me so proud. If the people of the US gave as much as these Ugandan women, we would have donated $480 per person for tsunami relief, or 147 billion as a whole. This sounds like a ridiculously large number, but it is nothing compared to what the US spends on wars. But killing people is more important to the US than helping them.

38 39

AP, “Saudi Arabia's Katrina aid to fill tanks for Alabama shrimpers,” 3- Dec 2005 UPI, “Ugandan women donate to Katrina relief,” 24 Nov 2005. Copy is here: