The power of the quake

March 27, 2011, 11:18 a.m. | By Valerie Hu | 11 years, 12 months ago

Would you rather… live life with heavy exposure to radiation or live life with a lack of food? Trick question, though it seems as though the U.S. would choose the former.

On March 11, a magnitude 8.9 earthquake devastated the east coast of Honshu, Japan and gave rise to a 23-foot tall tsunami that tore up the shore of the island. Spectators across the globe watched live coverage of the tsunami waves as they swept away hundreds of houses and cars. On the day of the earthquake, officials reported about 350 people dead and another 500 missing, according to BBC News.

On March 11, a magnitude 8.9 earthquake, followed by a 23-foot tall tsunami, hit the east coast of Honshu, Japan and caused major destruction surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Photo courtesy of Associated Press.

With the death toll still climbing, the damage is far from over. After the earthquake released a destructive tsunami, about 50 aftershocks followed, several of which were magnitude 6.0 or higher earthquakes. In addition to carrying away homes and possessions, the tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and shut down the plant's cooling system. Although some progress has been made to restore the system, the possibility of radioactive material leaking from the plant and into food imports is still high. Now, the Japanese government is desperately trying to recover the plant, but who says they can't use a little – or maybe a lot – of help from the U.S.?

Japan's nuclear crisis must be taken care of immediately. So far, American forces have focused primarily on humanitarian assistance, and have only offered to respond to the nuclear crisis if the Japanese appear unable to handle the crisis on their own, according to NavyTimes. But, radioactive material, especially when present in food and water, has the potential to be as dangerous to victims as a lack of food or shelter. While sending forces near the nuclear plant may be risky, the U.S. should be taking any steps necessary to assist what President Obama refers to as one of its "strongest allies."

It is plausible that sending the U.S. military to halt radiation from the plant could overshadow the humanitarian needs of Japanese citizens. Items such as food, clothing and water are clearly essential for survival and should require just as much attention from the U.S. military as the nuclear crisis. However, it is more realistic for civilians to donate easily accessible items such as food or clothing to victims overseas than to help in the recovery of the nuclear plant. In the face of such extreme conditions, the U.S. cannot afford to hold back any assistance it has to offer Japan, including military support.

Increased civilian involvement in humanitarian assistance would ease the tasks of American forces in Japan, and make their time in Japan more efficient and worthwhile. This combination of civilian and military effort would help the U.S. deliver its most useful assistance to Japan and benefit citizens on a greater scale.

By offering, and hopefully not limiting, assistance to Japan during such crucial times, the U.S. and other foreign countries are paving the way for a new generation of international relations – one in which comfort and assistance do not come only when disaster strikes.

Humans are all related, whether it is through blood, marriage, race, gender, emotion or nationality. With so much in common, why is it that only when the worst occurs that our bond becomes the strongest? In times of dire need, countries should refrain from half-heartedly offering their assistance. And while it's commendable that the world is coming together to benefit Japan, countries should be pursuing these issues with quicker speed and aggressiveness. As for now, the coast of Japan might be in ruins, but the global community is certainly on the right track to a better, more cohesive future.

Valerie Hu. Valerie Hu loves pasta, beaches and laughing with friends. She draws inspiration from traveling, whether she is in Paris or in Disney World. Like the blog, she appreciates the little things in life. She aspires to one day receive as many candy canes as Glen … More »

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