not the colossal failure of government on all levels and the resultant inability of the world's richest country to provide food and water to its citizens who are in desperate need?http://www.ajc.com/today/content/epaper/editions/today/news_3412c2c6f5c922a200ea.htmlImage czar says looting shocks world opinion
Ken Herman - Cox Washington Bureau
Friday, September 9, 2005
Washington --- Karen Hughes, who officially starts her job today as head of the nation's image-building effort abroad, said Thursday that Hurricane Katrina had complicated her already formidable task.
But while much of the global criticism has centered on the Bush administration's response to the storm, Hughes said something else was a problem for America's image around the world: the crime that followed.
"The images of crime being committed in the face of an awful natural disaster is hard for anyone to understand, people around the world and Americans. It sickens me as an American," she said. "How could criminals prey on vulnerable elderly citizens and children during a time of such horror?"
Like President Bush, Hughes acknowledged that the overall government response effort was flawed, but she did not include that as a reason the image of the United States might suffer as a result of the storm.
Hughes --- a longtime Bush aide and confidante --- takes the oath of office today as the State Department's undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs. Her job will be to improve America's global image.
Much of the international reaction to the hurricane has centered on the administration's response time. A Korea Herald editorial this week said it was "unbelievable that in America, a country the envy of most of the world's people, residents died by the thousands in a flood, corpses floated in the streets, were left on curbs and even astride the entrances to emergency relief centers."
In an interview at the State Department, Hughes touched lightly on possible world reaction to the relief and recovery effort.
"We saw pictures on Thursday of people who were waiting to be rescued and didn't feel that we had arrived quickly enough," she said, adding that Bush "has acknowledged that we have to do better and we want to do better."
"But what I will challenge in any stories I see is any idea that we didn't want to help people. We certainly wanted to help everyone," Hughes said, noting that a disproportionate number of the hardest-hit victims are black.
"It's offensive to me to suggest that somehow, as I've seen some headlines and some reports do, that people, that Americans, weren't helped because they are poor or because of their race," Hughes said. "That is anti-American. That is not what our country is about."
Hughes said it was "unfortunate that this natural disaster disproportionately affected people of one race and one income level."
But it is the images of post-storm crime that could do the most damage to the U.S. image abroad, according to Hughes.
"On the other hand, we've seen, especially in Texas, the generosity of thousands of people, an incredible outpouring," she said.
The images of Americans helping Americans will play well around the world, Hughes said. Hughes said the overall challenge of her job centered on a world perception that "it's all about us."
"What I say is, it's not about us. It's about all of us as civilized people," she said. "And we're the world's only superpower, so that comes with both respect and some resentment."