Why in the world haven’t we already accepted other nations’ offers of skimmers, boom? 

Last Thursday morning, I wrote on the question of why the Obama administration had been so slow to accept foreign aid on the oil spill. As it turns out, I was wrong to believe that it had accepted much of the aid offered. Our State Department released this document, which contains a rundown of what each country has offered, and whether or not we have accepted the aid. In most cases, the aid is merely “under consideration.”

If I had seen the document before I wrote on Thursday, I think I would have been much more critical.

To be sure, President Obama was correct when he pointed out in his last presser on the oil spill that not every offer of help should be treated as a top priority. A multiplicity of accepted offers does not translate automatically to a better cleanup. Some aid offers are more appropriate for later. It’s also perfectly understandable that in some cases, we don’t want to use the oil dispersants that other countries (such as France) have offered us.

But why in the world would we not instantly offers of boom? If I understand correctly, we have been short on the stuff since this crisis began, and we still are. Yet two months after the spill began, offers of containment and fire boom are still “under consideration” from Belgium, France, Germany, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Sweden, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Spain, Tunisia, Israel, Japan, and China. We did accept nearly two miles of boom from Canada (somehow it took us until June 4 even to do that), but we’re still considering whether to accept more.

Then there’s the issue of skimmers. We have “under consideration” offers from Belgium, the EU Maritime Safety Agency, South Korea and Sweden. We also have yet to accept offers of vessels from Sweden, Russia, The European Union and Vietnam. And bear in mind that if we ever do accept these offers, they won’t be fulfilled immediately. We could be three months into this thing before we get the offered aid.

Perhaps that’s the least of our problems. Between the administration and BP, we can’t even agree on accepting perfectly good boom from Maine, so it’s little wonder we aren’t accepting it from Romania. The level of incompetence and bureaucratic inflexibility is staggering, not to mention really, really sad.

About The Author

David Freddoso

David Freddoso came to the Washington Examiner in June 2009, after serving for nearly two years as a Capitol Hill-based staff reporter for National Review Online. Before writing his New York Times bestselling book, The Case Against Barack Obama, he spent three years assisting Robert Novak, the legendary Washington... more
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