We Interrupt This D.C. Drama With a Message From the Red Cross

While the two major political parties in the United States wrangle over the raising of the debt ceiling and use the issue to advance their own long-term agendas, a more deadly battle is being waged in the Horn of Africa.

This battle is against Mother Nature—a much more inflexible force than a group of hard-line political or religious extremists.

Somalis, Ethiopians and Kenyans are facing the worst drought to hit the region in decades, and relief efforts have been frustrated by interference from Islamist militants in Somalia.

As worldwide media attention focused on the human-engineered crisis in Washington, D.C., on July 28 the American Red Cross announced—with a whisper, it seems—that it was pledging up to $1 million to humanitarian relief in the eastern Horn of Africa.

How far can $1 million go to help solve the problem of getting food, water and medical services to those who are suffering in the region? Perhaps not very far at all. But there is something poignant about the timing of the American Red Cross' announcement of its pledge. It has made the posturing in Washington, D.C., seem even more vain and self-serving than usual. It is the fly in the ointment.

The American Red Cross' announcement is not really about a $1 million pledge—it's about shifting media attention ever so slightly to the food crisis in East Africa while millions of people were already glued to the Web and cable news. The release hit the wires just as the debt ceiling crisis was reaching the boiling point.

The plan worked. Go to www.redcross.org for more information.