We think the above photo makes a reassuring statement about our country at a time when the United States' image in much of the world is that of a bullying superpower. It reminds us that throughout history, America _ both its government and its people _ has responded to tragedies around the world with compassion and generosity. That commitment to help others in desperate times is reflected in our collective response to the tsunami disaster this week _ the sailor evacuating an injured child in Indonesia, military planes and ships loaded with supplies, former Presidents Clinton and Bush leading a fundraising effort, $350-million from the federal government, tens of millions more raised by nonprofit agencies, young and old from all walks of life chipping in what they can.
More than 150,000 have died in the worst natural disaster in a generation. The magnitude of the damage and the suffering will require a sophisticated, sustained relief effort.
Unfortunately, the world's wealthiest nations, including the United States, have failed to mount such a massive and coordinated effort to stop genocide in Africa or to battle the spread of AIDS, malaria and other diseases that take a far greater toll in human life than the tsunamis. Children dying slowly, one by one, from starvation and disease cannot compete with natural disasters for the world's attention.
With America's international image bruised by an unpopular war in Iraq, the sight of U.S. soldiers, aircraft and warships delivering aid to tsunami victims should reassure critics, at home and abroad, that the United States remains, despite its faults, a caring nation.