First in line

We can?t fathom the enormity of the destruction that hit Japan last week. It seems the death toll will reach well into the thousands and the economic impact cannot be reasonably estimated. Even as we write, experts aren?t certain about the stability of that country?s nuclear power plants. Not only are they not producing power for hundreds of thousands of people who lack it, but a meltdown of the core is possible, which could add the threat of radioactive contamination.

It should surprise no one that the U.S. government was first in line to offer assistance and aid. It helps that Japan is one of our closest allies, but dispatching emergency relief and personnel to countries facing natural calamities?regardless of the political connection?has been this country?s track record for decades.

Some will say the U.S. can?t afford to divert billions of dollars in these economic times to come to the assistance of a nation halfway around the world. We wonder, though, if money spent for international relief isn?t as great a contribution to world peace as any weapons system the Pentagon might conjure. Even if it isn?t, it?s a worthwhile investment in the values we claim at the core of our identity as a people. ?DR

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