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Author Topic: The UN in "High Gear"
Daruma28
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Ha....here's some insight from the Q&O blog on the UN action on the ground in the wake of the tsunami.

The UN in "high gear"

Posted by: McQ

Here's another example of blogs being able to give us a bit of ground truth about a huge story. A great new blog, The Diplomad, is blogging out of the area devastated by the earthquake and chronicalling the relief effort, to include the UN's part in it all.

To make a long story short, the UN is having meetings about meetings, the EU is following the UN lead and the US, Australia, Indonesia and India are setting up hospitals and getting critical supplies to those in need ... IOW, carrying the load.

The Diplomad cites a couple of paragraphs from a January 2nd report from two Dutch diplomats which pretty much says it all:

quote:
The US military has arrived and is clearly establishing its presence everywhere in Banda Aceh. They completely have taken over the military hospital, which was a mess until yesterday but is now completely up and running. They brought big stocks of medicines, materials for the operation room, teams of doctors, water and food. Most of the patients who were lying in the hospital untreated for a week have undergone medical treatment by the US teams by this afternoon. US military have unloaded lots of heavy vehicles and organize the logistics with Indonesian military near the airport. A big camp is being set up at a major square in the town. Huge generators are ready to provide electricity. US helicopters fly to places which haven't been reached for the whole week and drop food. The impression it makes on the people is also highly positive; finally something happens in the city of Banda Aceh and finally it seems some people are in control and are doing something. No talking but action. European countries are until now invisible on the ground. IOM staff (note: this is a USAID-funded organization) is very busy briefing the incoming Americans and Australians about the situation.

The US, Australia, Singapore and the Indonesian military have started a 'Coalition Co-ordination Centre' in Medan to organize all the incoming and outgoing military flights with aid. A sub-centre is established in Banda Aceh."

Meanwhile the UN is announcing plans to have meetings:

quote:
The UN continues to send its best product, bureaucrats. Just today the city's Embassies got a letter from the local UN representative requesting a meeting for "Ms. Margareeta Wahlstrom, United Nations Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator and the Secretary-General's Special Coordinator for Humanitarian Assistance in Tsunami-afected countries." Wow! Put that on a business card! And she must be really, really special because she has the word "coordinator" twice in her title!

The letter, in typically modest UN style, goes on to explain that "Ms. Wahlstrom's main task will be to provide leadership and support to the international relief effort. She will undertake high-level consultations with the concerned governments in order to facilitate the delivery of international assistance." Oh, and she'll be visiting from January 4-5.

Once, again, a hearty Diplomadic "WOW!" She's going to do all that in two days! The Australians and we have been feeding and otherwise helping tens-of-thousands of people stay alive for the past ten days, and still have a long, long way to go, but she's going to wrap the whole thing up in a couple of days of meetings. Thank goodness she's here to provide the poor lost Aussies and Yanks with leadership. The Diplomad bows in awe to such power and wisdom. The letter is signed, by the way, by the same UN official who suggested a couple of days back that the Australian and US air traffic controllers in Aceh should don UN blue (see our post of January 2.)

You'll have to excuse the writers cynical humor, especially after you read the results of the planned meeting. Remember now, this is almost 2 weeks after the tsunamis hit.

The post below reports on the impending arrival of Ms. Margareeta Wahlstrom "United Nations Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator and the Secretary-General's Special Coordinator for Humanitarian Assistance in Tsunami-affected countries."

quote:
She has spoken! At a large meeting this afternoon, she and the local UN rep, Mr. Bo "Please Wear Blue" Asplund have announced the arrival of yet another "United Nations Joint Assessment Team." But this one is very, very ultra- special. According to the UNocrats, it's not "just another assessment team." Oh, no, banish that thought! You see, "This assessment team will coordinate all the other assessment teams." In addition, the UN will set up a "Civil-Military Coordination Office to coordinate [that word! that word!] all military assistance because the military do not have experience in disaster relief (!)"
Heh ... incredible. Anyway, read the blog. Its well done and does indeed give a good picture of the UN in "high gear".
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Delirium Tremens
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quote:
a bit of ground truth
"A Blog by career US Foreign Service officers. They are Republican (most of the time) in an institution (State Department) in which being a Republican can be bad for your career -- even with a Republican President!"

No further comment.

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carmachu
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quote:
Originally posted by Delirium Tremens:
quote:
a bit of ground truth
"A Blog by career US Foreign Service officers. They are Republican (most of the time) in an institution (State Department) in which being a Republican can be bad for your career -- even with a Republican President!"

No further comment.

So becuase their republicans, it makes it invalid?

Using your logic, we can throw out any articles from NY Times, LA Times, and any news from CNN and the big three networks then, especially CBS?

I mean they are liberals after all.....


carmachu

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meworkingman
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quote:

No further comment.

It's a good thing that you have no further comment. It's good to see that you're following the old addage: "It's better to keep quiet and appear the fool than to open your mouth and confirm it."
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Delirium Tremens
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quote:
So becuase their republicans, it makes it invalid?

Using your logic...

Because you claimed a causal relationship which wasn't there, you don't seem to know a lot about logic.


If your mission statement is belonging to a political party, any statement you make is likely oriented to promote your political ideals. The truth comes at the second place in these cases.

Those guys don't even claim to tell the truth...

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Daruma28
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The guy is reporting what he is seeing at the scene...so because he openly proclaims his political affiliation, you automatically discount it's validity?

ok..... [Roll Eyes]

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meworkingman
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Okay, can you list some action by the UN that has improved the situation in the area and then compare/contrast that action with the actions being taken by the "stingy" US? Until you can do that, maybe it would be best for you to maintain your original "No further comment" stance.
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Delirium Tremens
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quote:
because he openly proclaims his political affiliation, you automatically discount it's validity?
It's not only openly proclaiming. It's is business card, his mission statement, it's the reason why he is blogging.

I wouldn't have a problem with somebody saying: "I swear that what I tell you is the truth, and by the way, I belong to party X..." but I do have a problem with somebody who says: "I belong to party X and I tell you..." In the second case, the fact that he belongs to a political party is more important than the fact that he is telling the truth or not.

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javelin
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Okay, hand over the tinfoil hat, people...
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The Drake
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Exposing a source as biased and inaccurate is usually more effective when coupled with the accurate data. Fools have been known to quote facts, though the conclusions may well be off-base.

And those conclusions do seem a bit extreme. The UN has no military assets with which it can respond immediately - no naval gulf presence from which to launch helicopters.

With respect to the facts, from the UN website:

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=12928&Cr=tsunami&Cr1=

A variety of UN agencies are quite legitimately in high gear, including UNICEF, UNHCR, WFP...

Those of you who have followed my posts know that I'm no fan of the politics and structure of the UN - but the humanitarian and relief agencies do their job well. I'm rather incredulous to find myself defending them here.

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meworkingman
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Thanks, Drake, for injecting some facts into the discussion. That's all I was asking for from Delirium, although my manner in doing so was more than a bit obnoxious (for which I apologize). It's pretty easy to come out and complain that a source is biased but it doesn't really add much to the discussion if you don't back it up with a couple of facts.

quote:

A variety of UN agencies are quite legitimately in high gear, including UNICEF, UNHCR, WFP...

Well... When you compare that with what the "stingy" US has done, I'd say the UN agencies are more in 2nd gear as opposed to high gear. If you read the page you link to closely, you'll notice that much of the touted UN aid is spoken of in the future tense; they haven't delivered it yet. I guess that this is the reason I was so obnoxious in my eariler posts. It's a little frustrating having to endure foolish UN officials characterize the US as being stingy when the aid the UN has provided is a drop in the bucket compared with what we've done. This is especially galling when you consider that humanitarian aid is supposed to be the raison d'etre of the UN.
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JLMyers
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quote:
It's pretty easy to come out and complain that a source is biased but it doesn't really add much to the discussion if you don't back it up with a couple of facts.


No, sometimes it's enough to point out that the source is biased.

KE

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carmachu
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quote:



No, sometimes it's enough to point out that the source is biased.

[/QB][/QUOTE]

*Snort* In that case:

Mod needs to lock the forum down and everyone go home. I mean everyone's bias, so Hey, no discussions to be had.....

carmachu

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JLMyers
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Bias doesn't matter, or is taken for granted, when discussing issues as we do here. Bias does matter when deciding to take someone's word for a news account. I would have thought that was self-evident, but I guess not.

I tend to be a little naive and believe what I am told at first blush, especially when it's something I want to believe like the UN sucks and the US rules. But I prefer the truth to self-serving lies, so I thank you Delirium Tremens for calling this bloggers bias to my attention.

KE

[ January 06, 2005, 11:30 AM: Message edited by: JLMyers ]

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The Drake
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I think that some of my most surprising revelations come from biased sources. Michael Moore is unbelievably biased, and he proclaims it. But I learned some facts from F911, like the complaints made about the election by Congressmen on the floor. (not turning this into a referendum on F911 or Moore, just using a well-known example to demonstrate why I don't immediately dismiss any source)

@ meworkingman:

It seems to me that the same arrogance demonstrated by the UN is being shown by the author of this inflammatory article. A UN beaurocrat complains that the US is stingy. The author, on behalf of the US, is trying to paint the UN as useless. The facts don't really support either position with respect to this disaster.

I'm sure that the UN probably hasn't had the immediate impact that the US has -- The UN isn't really set up for rapid deployment. Even so, it hasn't taken their agencies long to get off the ground.

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/UNHCR/641ecccc5caf0ccc890fc84e2439ac3f.htm

quote:
GENEVA, Jan. 2 (UNHCR) – A giant Antonov 124 cargo plane loaded with 100 tonnes of relief supplies left Denmark early Sunday to spearhead a massive UNHCR airlift operation aimed at providing vital aid to 100,000 people in Indonesia's tsunami-battered Aceh province. In all, the three-day airlift operation will deliver 400 tonnes of aid from UNHCR stockpiles in Denmark and Dubai.
Now, to me, that qualifies as "high gear". The US gear ratio may be higher, but both the US and the UN seem to be going as fast as they can.
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The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by JLMyers:
Bias doesn't matter, or is taken for granted, when discussing issues as we do here. Bias does matter when deciding to take someone's word for a news account. I would have thought that was self-evident, but I guess not.

Whenever I see the word "blog", I take out my largest salt-shaker. By definition, these sources are unconfirmed opinion generators fed by rumour mills. This blogger quotes, but doesn't link source, in fact it is a secret source. He might even be adding whole fabrications into the mix. It is double hearsay at best. All of those things should rightfully be pointed out in rebuttal, but it is the techniques to criticize - not the bias.
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Delirium Tremens
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quote:
Thanks, Drake, for injecting some facts into the discussion. That's all I was asking for from Delirium, although my manner in doing so was more than a bit obnoxious (for which I apologize).
Apology accepted.
The reason why I didn't provide any facts was twofold:
- I was too lazy to do so (for which I apologize as well)
- I did not want to go into the debate of "stingy US" vs "the only thing the UN does is holding meetings". Both statements are just so untrue and mentioning (only) facts of UN actions would have put me in the first camp.

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carmachu
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QUOTE]Whenever I see the word "blog", I take out my largest salt-shaker. By definition, these sources are unconfirmed opinion generators fed by rumour mills. This blogger quotes, but doesn't link source, in fact it is a secret source. He might even be adding whole fabrications into the mix. It is double hearsay at best. All of those things should rightfully be pointed out in rebuttal, but it is the techniques to criticize - not the bias. [/QB][/QUOTE]


*shrug* All depends on your POV. Wasnt it some said said bloggers that first blow the lid off the CBS false story run against bush, with forged documents?

Everything has its use, it all depends on what to where.

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