Now, the United States is facing a disaster of monumental proportions of its own: an oil spill that threatens birds, fish, shellfish, hundreds of miles of sensitive coastline -- not to mention thousands of jobs and businesses.
But instead of aid, the rest of the world is offering to sell America equipment and supplies to contain or clean up the spill. Even nations that receive millions in U.S. aid are willing to help only if they get paid.
Israel, for instance, which receives about $3 billion in military and other aid from the United States each year, says it will provide containment booms, but at a price. Great Britain -- home of BP, owner of the oil-spewing rig -- also has offered containment booms, as well as chemical dispersants, but only if Washington is going to pay. In all, some 22 nations, including Russia, China, France and Vietnam, have offered help.
Only one -- Mexico -- offered anything that didn't come with a price tag.
According to The Associated Press, the United States is a victim of its own prosperity. Other nations simply assume that the American people can afford to pay for help.
That's true, of course. But it still would have been gratifying if more nations had offered their experts and equipment without a price tag attached. Making the offer would have been a good way of saying thanks for the U.S. assistance they have received -- even if Americans insisted on picking up the tab anyway.