Thursday, December 27, 2012

Remembering Another Boxing Day: December 26, 2004

Much of the world knows the day after Christmas as Boxing Day. Why? Many explanations exist and you can look them up on the big wide wonderful world of the web, but it seems, as with so much  else, our British cousins get the credit for extending this holiday around the world. Boxing Day seems not to have survived well in North America, a bit in Canada where it provides an excuse for "50% off everything sales!", and not at all in the USA. In much of the other former British colonies, it has hung on and provides an excuse for another holiday.

I ramble on about this because this was the topic of conversation I was having with the Danish Ambassador at his very pleasant residence in Jakarta on December 26, 2004, when my cellphone went off. As I have written before, it is not a good sign to get called at 3 am or on your day off: rarely will you get a call from the Nobel Prize Committee, the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes, or a solicitor relaying that your long lost cousin in Australia died and left you as sole inheritor of the world's biggest sheep ranch. This call kept to the rule. It came from the Deputy USAID Director in Jakarta; he could not get in touch with our people in Sumatra, and had seen reports of a large earthquake, maybe over a 7.0. I remember saying, "That's a tsunami risk. Call the folks in Hawaii at the US Geological Service and see what they have to say."  He called back about ten or fifteen minutes later to say that the USGS estimated the earthquake at least an 8.0 and probably higher (eventually, it came in at over 9.0). They were issuing a tsunami warning to the Pacific Region.

In my previous incarnation as Diplomad 1.0, I wrote a great deal about what came after that seismic jolt. Those days and events have stayed with me since then. What stayed was not just the massive and breath-taking destruction that I saw in Banda Aceh and elsewhere on Sumatra. For me, the reaction to the earthquake demonstrated the fallacy of the cultural relativists. The aid to the victims came overwhelmingly and most quickly from Western, yes, Christian countries. The USA, Australia, UK, and Canada led the pack in providing assistance to the battered Muslims of Sumatra. I will never forget New Year's eve that year, coming out of the embassy at 2 am, working on getting assistance to the victims, and seeing Jakarta partying "like it was 1999." Foreigners, Western foreigners, were by far the most concerned about events in Sumatra and the most willing to do something about it.

The US and Australian military were absolutely superb in moving quickly and effectively to save thousands of lives in a massive relief operation. Let's give credit where credit is due: the Aussie C-130s were the first into Banda Aceh and did a great job throughout the relief effort. Remember this was about three months after a one-ton car bomb had been set off in front of the Australian embassy in Jakarta. Muslim terrorists had tried to kill the Australian embassy staff, and three months later that same staff sought to save Muslim lives. The UN, despite receiving huge amounts of donations, was spectacularly ineffective, and had the people of Banda Aceh had to wait on the UN, tens-of-thousands more of them would have died.

The much-reviled George Bush and John Howard were the heroes of the day, leading the relief effort and challenging the UN and the rest of the world to meet the standard set by the US and Australia.



15 comments:

  1. When bad stuff happens its best to have cowboys helping out, not carpetbaggers. But haven't you found the greatest disconnect between east and west is in the charity each gives to strangers, and the speed with which it is offered?

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  2. You have touched on one of the few things that really angers me. The lies, the Quislings that further those lies, and finally the monsters themselves who disguise themselves as Islamic "charities, damn them all.

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  3. I discovered your blog, back in 2004, while searching the internet for news regarding the tsunami. I recall you writing about some U.N. worker on a U.S. naval ship complaining about having to eat off of paper plates. Of course, the reason they were using paper plates was to conserve water, so it could be used help those in need.

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  4. I had been following your blog for a while before the tsunami hit and I think you gave me the first real understanding of the incompetence and arrogance of the U.N. I recall your saying that step one of disaster relief for the U.N. is to book all the most expensive hotels in the area...
    It turned out that one of the first ships on the scene was the Bonhomme Richard, a U.S. Marine transport that my son had rotated off the day before they sailed from San Diego! Having friends on the ship my son got reports that they were working their asses off and were met with derision by the natives.
    Shortly there after you went dark and I have always thought that you were found out by your higher ups and that they were not happy with your take on things, especially the U.N.
    Is that why you stopped blogging?

    December 27, 2012 7:34 AM

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    1. "step one of disaster relief for the U.N. is to book all the most expensive hotels in the area..."

      ...and then step 2 is to begin having meetings to format some plans, then meetings to decide HOW to implement aforementioned plans, then meetings to adjust the plans, then a meeting to make up new plans, etc., etc., all while in beautiful hotels, having catered snacks and full-staff meals, and don't forget the afternoon swim and evening cocktails, etc., etc.!

      Right?
      Sandra C

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  5. I believe that was when I began to follow Diplomad 1 - I remember reading the 'paper plate' story, and about how the first move by the US is to line up rooms at the most expensive hotels.

    One of the other things that astonished me in reading about the tsunami is accounts of people being curious, walking out to look at the fish flopping around, and taking pictures ... and not realizing that they should have been running inland and taking refuge on the highest land or in the largest, sturdiest modern building available.

    There was one story about an English schoolgirl who did know what it meant, and her warning saved her family and many of the other guests and workers at the resort where they were staying, but that was a rarity, enought that it justified a newspaper story. Here I thought that simply everyone knew that the water withdrawing from the shore is a sign of imminant danger - like knowing the sky is blue, bears c**p in the woods. But very few did at the time, which I found that rather mind-boggling.

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    1. Sorry - meant UN in first line. PIMF...

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    2. I understand that few if any Christians were killed or injured in this tsumnami because of the persecution they had been under they were holding their meetings on higher ground.

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  6. Dip:

    How well I remember your earlier post on UN "relief" efforts in Banda Aceh. It was painful to laugh at, but even more painful to realize it was our (America's) wallet that was being "relieved". And how I missed your presence when you then folded your blogging tent and disappeared. Let the record show how much I look forward to your Diplomad 2 posts. Thank you for your analyses.

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  7. I was teaching in Taiwan when the 2004 tsunami struck. However, that Indonesian Island Arc had pretty much absorbed the waves, so not much happened to the rump of Dr. Sun's Republic of China.

    Re the UN, my chief memory of working with them was in Thailand over refugee work (I was involved in Refugee and Migration Affairs). Since the Cambodians were classed as "displaced persons" rather than refugees (chiefly to please the Royal Thai Government, BTW), they were put in the care of a temporary agency called the UN Border Relief Operation (UNBRO) rather than the UN High Commisioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Well, UNBRO ran a pretty respectable show, but UNHCR office struck me as a treat-people-like-trivets and ease-of-administration-first sort of group that wanted to manage everything from an air-condition office in Bangkok; an institution rather than an instrument. Hence, when I heard about the UN people hunting first class hotel rooms while the US Navy and their Aussie Colleagues had already gotten a respectable relief effort underway, I wasn't all that surprised.

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  8. I started reading your Diplomad 1.0 for that article and the ineffective U.N. and how the Abraham Lincoln supplied aircraft and water to the relief effort. I believe that is where the paper-plate story came from.

    And then when the U.N. did finally arrive (I guess they had to wait for a 5-star hotel with 24-hr catering first) they started 'taking over' and organizing the organization of the existing relief efforts (and taking full credit BTW).

    I still love (and occasionally use) your term 'Vampire Vulture Elite' - it so perfectly describes the U.N.

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  9. So valuable are your insights, commentaries, reminders, and glimpses of true histories, Dip, as to reveal the acidic toxic poison of both the mainstream media, and the likes of CNN, et al, and the rest of the Godless bunch of eternal liars and hypocrites, and the distortion ridden professors of historical distortions, and unlearning, at most modern so called colleges.
    Too many times, your stories should be enshrined in a book resplendent with observations, realities, and truths, with good humor, and even a touch of poking fun at yourself, for a couple of adventures, or misadventures! Your purpose, known or not, is to stand as a witness to history, to Liberty, to America as exemplar, for the troubled world of today, and in history, not perfect, but oh so much better than the dictators, the destroyers of the world, and the "howling wilderness" (Hitchens) out there.
    Jack

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  10. I first found your blog at the beginning of the 2004 Tsunami disaster and I have never commented on it, though I've read almost every post. I just remember reading those dispatches, during that time when the entire world was captivated by the scale of the disaster. The UN was literally lapping up all the credit for the relief efforts. (The media more than happy to comply). I remember sitting in my chair at work or at home red in the face, steam coming out of my ears as I learned that everything I had ever imagined about the inefficiency, total lie/fraud that is the UN was true. I just remember seeing Kofi Annan in my mind as I would read your posts. I would picture him (and the other slime) living it up all over the world while presiding over genocides and natural disasters as the face of the beneficent UN, all the while being the most ineffective, corrupt bureaucrats imaginable. This was the same time the oil for food scandal was breaking, in which it was learned that his son's company had a played a part and no doubt daddy helped set it up. I get worked up thinking about it now and how that scandal got almost zero media coverage, especially in light of the Iraq situation at the time. Anyway, needless to say, I was hugely disappointed when your blog disappeared and very happy to see it return years later. I always wonder how many people returned that had read it 2004/2005. I sent those posts to everyone I knew that had an email address, so that they could learn the real truth about the UN vis-a-vis it's "global relief effort" effectiveness. They still sometimes come up in conversation.

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  11. I think your original essay on this was one of the first posts of yours I'd ever read, way back when I had a Live Journal account. It came in very handy as a club to beat Lefties with, who'd fallen for the UN line that the US was "selfish" in this matter.

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