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Help first, criticize later

May 09, 2008

Re "Regime unswayed by cyclone," May 6

Twenty-nine years running a relief agency have taught me this: First Lady Laura Bush was poorly served by her husband's advisors in complaining about the Myanmar generals' behavior while demanding they open up the country to U.S. officials and aid. That the aid will be generous, as it was after the Asian tsunami, there can be little doubt. But getting it there during the critical first week after such a major disaster is a function of the host government opening its doors.

The generals running Myanmar are much like North Korea's rulers -- criticism only exacerbates their paranoia and xenophobia. We could just as easily have delivered the aid to the beloved and respected king of Thailand and asked him to sponsor its delivery and reflagged our planes with the Thai royal insignia for a couple of weeks.

Richard M. Walden

President and CEO

Operation USA

Culver City

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Laura Bush is quick to criticize the Burmese government for its failure to prepare for Tropical Cyclone Nargis. I hope she wasn't suggesting that they take the U.S. preparation for and response to Hurricane Katrina as a model for how things should be done.

Richard Pollard

Santa Monica

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