The United States made an initial pledge of $15 million in post-tsunami disaster relief. Incredibly generous compared to, say, France, which is offering 100,000 euros; but less open-handed compared to Japan, which is sending $30 million and other forms of help; aid from Australia and the Netherland (something like $7.5 million and $2 million, respectively) is far greater per capita than what we’re offering. But it’s really the thought that counts.
Here’s how our $15 million stacks up against the pile of money we’re ploughing into Iraq. The cost of our ongoing "bust a dictator, start a democracy" project is about $150 billion to date. That’s 10,000 times as much as we’re contemplating putting into the tsunami recovery effort. Wait, though: It’s taken us 21 months to spend all that Iraq money. In round figures, let’s say we’ve spent $7 billion a month on average on dictator busting. In round figures again, that breaks down to $230 million a day. We spend $15 million in Iraq every one hour and 40 minutes. So the conclusion is obvious: We’re shelling out about 15.33 times as much for one day of building our future Mesopotamian democracy as we’re willing to spend to help deal with a calamity that some are calling the costliest disaster in history.