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Posted by Richard Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Is it any wonder that the BBC – staffed heavily with natural Guardian readers - reacts as it does, if the current sample of letters on the Asian tsunami is any guide?

Mr Craig Duncan of Dresden, Germany, thinks the US should give more. He compares US and EU aid donations and argues that the EU has its own aid programmes and does not work solely through the UN or through its own individual countries.

In addition, he asserts, US aid is mostly in the form of grain and foodstuffs from the US itself, and so therefore also directly benefits itself from the aid given - basically using aid as a tax cheat. The EU, on the other hand, has a policy of trying to develop the aid infrastructure in the affected areas themselves, thereby making them stronger against future occurrences. It therefore does not benefit from the aid given.

Maria Blum of Birmingham thinks "the official US response to the earthquake disaster was selfish, arrogant, and embarrassing." The feeble attempts to wriggle out of this mistake with some shred of dignity are just as bad, she adds.

Chris Lawrence, of Seend, Wilts maintains that it is only right and proper that the US should contribute more than any other country in the form of aid relief to poorer countries since it exploits the underprivileged and helpless countries more than any other country on earth.

Furthermore, he says, the US has dragged and manipulated a number of wealthy countries into its ill-conceived Iraqi escapade, which has cost us a great deal more in the past six months than it might have cost to rebuild and reconstruct the entire coastline of south-east Asia.

Only Francis Sedgemore of London strikes a dissonant note. He argues that “bashing America is a fashionable European sport”. Our American friends, he argues, whatever one may think about the amount they spend on defence, supply more per capita on emergency relief and international aid than we do. The EU and its regional governments, however, appear to be reacting to the initiative of individual citizens and civil society, but across the pond the sums committed speak for themselves.

How did he get into the Grauniad?