Tsunami : le rôle de la criminelle négligence US
- 30 Déc 2004
Deux animateurs du Centre d'Action Internationale, depuis des années à la pointe de l'action anti-guerre aux USA (voir nos LIENS : http://www.iacenter.org), apportent des éléments précis et concrets sur la responsabilité indirecte des Etats-Unis par rapport aux conséquences du tsunami. Bientôt, nous enverrons une brève en français sur ce sujet.
Casualties of a policy of war, negligence, and corporate
A Statement from the International Action Center
While earthquakes and tsunamis are natural disasters, the
decision to spend billions of dollars on wars of conquest
while ignoring simple measures that can save human lives
At least 55,000 people were killed by the tsunami that
devastated coastlines from Indonesia to Somalia. Almost a
third of the dead are children. Thousands are still
missing and millions are homeless in 11 countries.
Hundreds of thousands have lost everything, and millions
face a bleak future because of polluted drinking water, a
lack of sanitation and no health services, according to UN
undersecretary Jan Egeland, who is in charge of emergency
Egeland said, "We cannot fathom the cost of these poor
societies and the nameless fishermen and fishing villages
and so on that have just been wiped out. Hundreds of
thousands of livelihoods have gone."
No money for early warning system
Much of this death and destruction could have been
prevented with a simple and inexpensive system of buoys.
Officials in Thailand and Indonesia have said that an
immediate public warning could have saved lives, but that
they could not know of the danger because there is no
international system in place to track tsunamis in the
Such a system is not difficult or expensive to install.
In fact, the detector buoys that monitor tsunamis have
been available for decades and the U.S. has had a
monitoring system in place for more than half a century.
More than 50 seismometers are scattered across the
Northwest to detect and measure earthquakes that might
spawn tsunamis. In the middle of the Pacific are six buoys
equipped with sensors called "tsunameters" that measure
small changes in water pressure and programmed to
automatically alert the country's two tsunami-warning
centers in Hawaii and Alaska.
Dr. Eddie Bernard, director of the NOAA Pacific Marine
Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, says just a few buoys
could do the job. Scientists wanted to place two more
tsunami meters in the Indian Ocean, including one near
Indonesia, but the plan had not been funded, said Bernard.
The tsunameters each cost only $250,000.
A mere half million dollars could have provided an early
warning system that could have saved thousands of lives.
This should be compared to the $1,500,000,000 the U.S.
spends every day to fund the Pentagon war machine. This
means that for what the U.S. is spending for less than one
second of bombing and destruction it could construct a
system that could have prevented thousands of needless
deaths. Lack of funding for an inexpensive, low-tech early
warning system is simply criminal negligence.
Indian Minister of State for Science and Technology Kapil
Sibal said, “If the country had such an alert system in
place, we could have warned the coastal areas of the
imminent danger and avoided the loss of life.” But there
is no room in the Bush budget for such life-saving
measures; the U.S. government's priorities are corporate
profit and endless war.
At a meeting of the UN Intergovernmental Oceanographic
Commission in June, experts concluded that the "Indian
Ocean has a significant threat from both local and distant
tsunamis" and should have a warning network. But no action
was agreed upon. Geologist Brian Atwater of the U.S.
Geological Survey said, "Sumatra has an ample history of
great earthquakes, which makes the lack of a tsunami
warning system in the Indian Ocean all the more tragic.
Everyone knew Sumatra was a loaded gun."
U.S. government failed to warn region
Although the local governments had no real warning, the
U.S. government did, and it failed to pass along the
information. Within minutes of the massive 9.0 magnitude
earthquake off the coast of Indonesia, U.S. scientists
working with National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) suspected that a deadly wave was
spreading through the Indian Ocean. They did not call
anyone in the governments in the area. Jeff LaDouce, an
official in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, said that they e-mailed Indonesian
officials, but said that he wasn’t aware what happened
after they sent the e-mails.
In this day of instant communications, controlled in a
large part by the U.S., it is possible to communicate
within minutes to every part of the globe. It is beyond
belief that the officials at the NOAA could not find any
method to directly and immediately contact civilian
authorities in the area. Their decision not to do so may
have cost thousands of lives.
Even a few minutes warning would have given the
inhabitants a chance to seek higher ground. The NOAA had
several hours notice before the first waves hit shore. Tim
Walsh, geologic-hazards program manager for the Washington
State Department of Natural Resources, said, "Fifty feet
of elevation would be enough to escape the worst of the
waves. In most places, 25 feet would be sufficient. If
you go uphill or inland, the effect of the tsunami will be
diminished." But the inhabitants of the area weren't
given the warning – as a result, television and radio
alerts were not issued in Thailand until nearly an hour
after the waves had hit and thousands were already dead.
The failure to make any real effort to warn the people of
the region, knowing that tens of thousands of lives were
at stake, is part of a pattern of imperial contempt and
racism that has become the cornerstone of U.S. policies
The NOAA immediately warned the U.S. Naval Station at
Diego Garcia, which suffered very little damage from the
tsunami. It is telling that the NOAA was able to get the
warning to the US Navy base in the area, but wouldn't pick
up the phone and call the civil authorities in the region
to warn them. They made sure that a US military base was
notified and did almost nothing to issue a warning to the
civilian inhabitants who were in the direct path of the
wave–a warning that might have saved thousands of lives.
This is criminal negligence.
Disease may kill tens of thousands more
The 55,000 deaths directly resulting from the tsunami are
just the beginning of the tragedy. Disease could claim as
many victims as have been killed in the weekend's
earthquake-sparked tsunami, according to the World Health
Organization (WHO). Medical experts warn that malaria,
cholera and dengue fever are expected to pose serious
health threats to survivors in the area, where waves
spoiled drinking-water supplies, polluted streets and
homes with raw sewage, swept away medical clinics, ruined
food stocks and left acres of stagnant ponds where
malaria-carrying mosquitoes can breed.
"The biggest threat to survivors is from the spread of
infection through contamination of drinking water and
putrefying bodies left by the receding waters," said Jamie
McGoldrick, a senior U.N. health official.
"Within a few days, we fear, there is going to be
outbreaks of disease," Indonesian Vice President Jusuf
Kalla said. "Cholera is going to be a problem. This is
going to be the most important thing in a few days."
The response of the U.S. government to this emergency is
to offer a paltry $15 million "aid package." To put this
in perspective, this is one tenth of one percent of what
Washington has spent thus far on the war against the
people of Iraq.
Money for human needs, not for war
The U.S. and British governments owe billions of dollars
in reparations to the countries of this region and to all
other formerly colonized countries. The poverty and lack
of infrastructure that contribute to and exacerbate the
scope of this disaster are the direct result of colonial
rule and neo-colonial policies. Although economic and
political policies cannot control the weather, they can
determine how a nation is impacted by natural disasters.
We must hold the U.S. government accountable for their
role in tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of deaths.
We must demand that it stop spending $1.5 billion each
day for war and occupation and instead provide health care
for the victims of this tragedy, build an early warning
system, and rebuild the homes and infrastructure destroyed
by the tsunami.
for the International Action Center