The news has been full lately of analysis of why many sources have been slow to donate to the Pakistan flood disaster. To be fair, the UK general public has been generous with over £30 million given already, but apparently worldwide, giving is lower than expected.
Speculation in the media has been about the assertion that a flood seems less of a disaster than an earthquake (say) because it happens slowly and the thought of 'a bit of water' isn't as distressing as 'the earth open up and shifting.' Another possibility I have heard is that the TV reports haven't been showing enough close-ups of people, concentrating instead on sweeping shots of flood water where people appear small on the screen. The theory is this prevents personalization of the disaster, and if we think of it as impersonal, we don't identify. It's the same reason that many charities will tell you individuals' stories, rather than give the whole picture.
I think there is one piece of reasoning they've missed. It's false reasoning, but I can't help but feel it is influencing people. Is it so unlikely that some people and organizations are thinking 'If a country has enough money to spend billions of dollars on nuclear weapons, why do we need to help them?' I can imagine it being considered a bit like seeing a beggar, bedecked in Cartier diamonds.
There are a couple of reasons this is a false argument. Firstly, the disaster is on such a large scale that even a rich country couldn't cope without external help. Remember how the US struggled with New Orleans, which was tiny by comparison. Secondly, the weapons aren't evidence of riches, but rather of spending far too much on something unnecessary and then having even less left for the essentials. Reprehensible of the government, certainly, but it doesn't help the people in trouble. And unlike the Cartier diamonds, the weapons can't be sold to raise cash.
Just to emphasize my position - it is essential we give to the Pakistan appeal. If you haven't already, why not head over to the DEC website and donate now? But I feel the media are missing something in their analysis of the international response.