White House Distributes Bush Op-Ed to Foreign Newspapers

By: (AP) In a newspaper opinion piece signed by President Bush and offered to newspapers around the globe, a White House eager to lessen anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world is trumpeting U.S. efforts to help tsunami victims in the Indian Ocean region.

"Americans join those across the globe in mourning the tens of thousands of lives, many of them children, who were lost in the recent violent tsunamis from Thailand to the Horn of Africa," Bush writes in the op-ed distributed by the State Department starting last Saturday.

After a sluggish start in the days immediately after the earthquake and tsunami struck 12 countries on Dec. 26, the U.S. response moved into high gear.

Bush increased the U.S. relief aid pledge to $350 million and called that an initial commitment, sent Secretary of State Colin Powell and his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, to the region, visited the embassies of the hardest-hit nations and ordered American flags flown at half-staff. He also enlisted his father, former President Bush, and his predecessor, former President Clinton, to lead a national drive for private donations from Americans for the relief effort.

Other U.S. government contributions to the relief effort include a massive showing by the military that has sent ships, planes, and helicopters to the region to ferry aid and supplies to the suffering.

Bush showcased the multifaceted U.S. showing.

"In consultation with key allies and with the United Nations, the United States launched one of the largest humanitarian relief operations in recent history," he wrote. "Americans will do all we can to help the people of Asia confront the great challenges that face them in the aftermath of this devastation."

Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, has suffered the largest loss of life in the disaster. Though a fledgling democracy and an ally in the Bush administration's war on terrorism, suspicion of Americans runs deep in that Indian Ocean island chain.

M.C. Andrews, with a White House office in charge of helping to improve the U.S. image abroad, said Tuesday the op-ed has already been published in papers in Asia, Europe, and elsewhere.


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