September 10, 2005 | New York Daily News

U.S. Struggles & Allies Gloat

By: Richard Z. Chesnoff.

Suddenly the roles are dramatically reversed. The great giver is in dire need. And the image of some 50 foreign nations, including some of the world's poorest, offering aid to an America devastated by Katrina should be deeply heartening to every American.

Less heartening is the smugness that seems to accompany much of the international help offers. While voicing sympathy for the victims, a foreign legion of gabbers have been quick to blame America and American policy for the horrors of Katrina.

First are the glasshouse critics – those who conveniently overlook their own failures to protect their populations in dire emergencies. The French press has been clucking about America's “inability to save its own population of the forgotten.”

But remember when France was hit with a horrid freak heat wave two summers ago? An estimated 15,000 people died because France's much-vaunted social and hospital system – under pressure from a public welfare program France can't afford – found it couldn't care for them.

Most of the victims were elderly, many dying because their families failed to interrupt their paid summer vacations to check on grandpère or grandmère. So much for French family values.

Then there are the prophets of doom, like German Environment Minister Juergen Trittin, who say Katrina was nothing less than a direct result of the Bush administration's policies on global warming – specifically, its failure to support the Kyoto Accord.

“By neglecting environmental protection,” Trittin recently pontificated, “America's President shuts his eyes to the economic and human damage that natural catastrophes like Katrina inflict on his country and the world's economy.”

What Trittin and other environmental “experts” forget is that America has been battling devastating hurricanes since long before the days of three- and four-car families or fuel-driven heavy industry.

The problem is that much of the world, especially Europe, suffers from schizophrenia when it comes to the U.S. While admiring, even envying our accomplishments, they revile our standards, policies and way of life.

It's fair enough to question how the administration handled (or mishandled) the aftermath of the storm. But it's downright dumb to blame racism for the chaos gripping much of the Gulf Coast. Ditto the war in Iraq: It's one thing to oppose it, but simply silly to insist that our efforts to bring democracy to the Middle East are what has left the United States without resources to handle natural disasters.

Some foreign reaction has been nutty. Several Islamic “scholars” have informed their faithful that Katrina was a direct result of “America's war on Islam.”

Not to be outdone, a wacko rabbi in Jerusalem declared that Katrina struck because the Lord was angry with President Bush for forcing Israel to withdraw from Gaza (Oy Vey!). I'm sure there were some equally enlightened Christian, Buddhist and other religious screwballs with similar “I told you so” theories about America and its millions of sinners.

Thanks for the aid offers and advice, foreign friends. But try to give without gloating!