Scenes of a Disaster

If you are not familiar with the Daily Mail, you may want to check it out. It has the best photographic coverage of the disaster in Japan that I have seen. The scenes are truly shocking:
The Daily Mail quotes an associate professor at Chiba University, who is in Ishinomaki with the Japan Emergency Team:

“I think the death toll is going to be closer to 100,000 than 10,000.” … He said the Prime Minister was “a wonderful man in many ways” but indecisive as a leader: “In yesterday’s press conference on the nuclear reactor, he looked like he was going to cry, like a man having a nervous breakdown.
“Where is the sense of urgency? We need somebody to take charge. We’ve had an earthquake followed by fire, then a tsunami, then radiation, and now snow. It’s everything.
“There is nothing left. The world needs to step in. Where are the Americans? The Japanese are too proud to ask, but we need help and we need it now.”

Where are the Americans? I sincerely hope that this lament is unwarranted, but it is a cry we are hearing around the world. In Libya, Qaddafi reportedly is on the verge of dealing a death blow to the insurrection. The situation is desperate, and Hillary Clinton describes it as “urgent:”

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged on Wednesday that there was an “urgency” about the Libyan crisis as forces loyal to Moamer Kadhafi advance rapidly on the rebel-held east.
“We want to do what we can to protect innocent Libyans against the marauders let loose by the Kadhafi regime,” Clinton said in an interview with CBS television while on a visit to Libya’s eastern neighbour Cairo.
“And yes, time is fast upon us. There is an urgency to it.”
Clinton stopped short of explicitly backing a no-fly zone, saying only that it was one of a number of options under consideration to protect Libyan civilians.

Despite the urgency, it appears that the Libyan insurrection likely will be over before the Obama administration makes any decision as to what to do about it. It may well be that the best course has always been to do nothing. But if that is the case, what was the point of Obama’s pronouncement that Qaddafi “must” go? If it is important that Qaddafi go, then why is the United States unwilling to lift a finger to bring about the event that “must” happen? And how can a situation simultaneously be urgent, but not worth doing anything about?
Weakness, incoherence, drift, indecision–these are the hallmarks of the Obama administration. We are beginning to get a sense of what a world without American leadership looks like.

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