Mona Charen

Prince Felix Schwartenberg of Austria was asked in 1848 how his country would respond to Russia's help putting down a Hungarian insurrection. "Austria," he replied, "will astound the world with the magnitude of her ingratitude."

 Well stand aside, Prince, because Indonesia can now assume first place in the pantheon of ingrates. The world's most populous Muslim nation, horribly battered by the tsunami, announced that it wished to see American and other foreign troops who are providing disaster relief out by March 31. "The sooner the better," said Vice President Yusuf Kalla. The U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln was reportedly asked to withdraw from Indonesian territorial waters off Banda Aceh due to Indonesian "sensitivity" about U.S. training flights.

 Our diplomats are doing what they always do, attempting to portray a knife in the back as a friendly pat. Thus U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia B. Lynn Pascoe was quick to assure the world that the deadline was just dandy. "We don't intend to be there a minute afterward. ... As I understand, the vice president was referring to a plan they have internally for the length of time it is going to take them to be set up and have transportation sufficient that they will not need helicopters. That's a perfectly reasonable position to me."

 Really? It makes many Americans want to spit. Should we be leaning over backward to assure Indonesia that we won't overstay our welcome -- enduring heat, accidents, disease, expense and other hardships in order to help her people?

 Here's an alternate theory: The Indonesian government's hatred for the United States overpowers even the most dire needs of its suffering people. That is a mighty hatred. Even Turkey gratefully accepted aid from Greece when the former suffered an earthquake in 1999.

 Certainly the Indonesian government does not speak for everyone in the country. Many Indonesians have expressed their thanks to the United States and the rest of the world. But neither is it deniable that Islamic extremists have poisoned many minds in the Muslim world. As Paul Marshall reported in The Weekly Standard, a "prominent Islamist Website Jihad Unspun maintains the tsunami struck Thailand for supporting 'the Christian crusaders in the war on terror.'" The other nations on the Indian Ocean that suffered death and destruction were similarly deserving -- India for its "polytheism" and Sri Lanka for supposedly "giving its full backing to the Christian Crusaders inside the White House."

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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