First The Diplomad tells you what the UN is doing (NOTHING) like have another meeting to decide what to do in the next meeting! All this while US FSO's and State are working almost round the clock.
Do I really need to say anything more? "Only really the UN can do the job?" We have US C-130s flying in and out here dropping off heaps of supplies; US choppers arrive today; USAID is doing a knock-out job of marshalling and coordinating US and local resources to deliver real assistance to real people. The Aussies have planes and troops delivering stuff; even the Indians have goods on the way. The UN? Nowhere to be seen. OK, I'm not being fair. Last night they played host to a big "coordination" meeting of donors to announce that the UNDP has another large "assessment and coordination team" team arriving. Our USAID guys, who've been working 18-20 hrs/day, came back furious from this meeting saying everybody would be dead if the delivery of aid waited for the UN to set up shop and begin "coordinating." The UN types are upset with the US, Ms. Short, dear, not because we're undermining them but because we're showing them up as totally inept.
Then there's: Things That Make You Say 'Blah!' The UN Response to the Tsunami
Our regular readers know that this blog is very critical of the Foreign Service and the State Department. But to be fair, I think Americans would be proud of the dedication shown and of the work being done by their Foreign Service, some incredibly competent and energetic USAID workers, and, of course, the US military. Everybody in the Embassy community is giving up leave, canceling long-standing holiday plans, volunteering for every imaginable duty -- including some quite hazardous ones -- and doing incredible work, all to save the lives of people, many of whom a few days ago probably would have been perfectly willing to burn down our Embassy or march against the USA. Most of the bureaucratic crap is forgotten and common sense rules the day. Americans are everywhere in this corner of the Far Abroad doing things that no other country on earth can or will do and at a truly amazing pace. Proud to be an American (and for the Aussies, you, too, can be very proud of your folks who are doing a bang up job -- as the Aussie military always does.)
In stark contrast, the much-vaunted UN humanitarian effort is a disgrace.