"Slow Response" to Nargis: What about Katrina?

First Lady Laura Bush had a rare press conference in response to the catastrophic Cyclone Nargis that the Burmese government is now saying killed at least 22,000 people and 41,000 people have gone unaccounted for.

From Voice of America:

"The United States stands prepared to provide an assistance team and much needed supplies to Burma as soon as the Burmese government accepts our offer," said Laura Bush. "The government of Burma should accept this team quickly as well as other offers of international assistance."

..."I think in front of their own people and in front of the world, if they don't accept aid from the United States and from all the rest of the international community that wants to help the people of Burma that that is just another way the military regime looks so cut off and so unaware of what the real needs of their people are," she said.

Mrs. Bush says the Burmese government seems to value its own survival above all else. She says despite all the havoc created by the cyclone, the regime is going forward with a referendum scheduled for this Saturday on a new constitution drafted without input from opposition and minority groups.

"Burma's ruling generals have had their chance to implement the good government they promised to their people," said Mrs. Bush. "If it proceeds under current conditions, the constitutional referendum they have planned should not be seen as a step towards freedom, but rather as a confirmation of the unacceptable status quo."

Most importantly she complained about the "slow response" on the part of the Burmese government to provide aid. With all due respect to Mrs Bush, where was her outrage in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when it took five days for the federal government to get down to the Gulf region to provide aid?

I just watched the full press conference on CNN, and it's just a hot mess. Here are my observations:

1. Mrs Bush said that Burma should work with the United Nations to expediate aid. Since when does the Bush regime cooperate with the United Nations?

2. She complained that Burma refuses to take foreign aid to support cyclone victims. The United States refused aid from countries like Cuba and Venezuela - two countries that were the first to pledge assistance - in Katrina's aftermath.

3. Most importantly, Mrs Bush said in her conference that Burma's "military regime looks so cut off and so unaware of what the real needs of their people are" because of the "slow response." Need I say more?

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