Thursday, April 20, 2006

Indonesian bird flu joke

What do you say about a country that has had 31 cases of bird flu and 24 deaths, making it second in the world on that tally (all since last July): just had a family of five admitted to the hospital, a family who had three other children diagnosed earlier; and has diseased birds all over a huge, sprawling archipelago, much of it remote and without veterinary services?

Here's one thing I would be very unlikely to say about it:
Indonesia is winning its fight against bird flu and expects to be free of the killer virus by 2008, the country’s agriculture minister said today.

“During the rainy season, bird flu cases did increase, but in general, cases both in humans and animals are declining in Indonesia,” Anton Apriyantono said in Jakarta. “This is because we have gained experience and are capable of fighting bird flu in better ways.” (Ireland Online) (h/t Coming Influenza Pandemic)
Indonesia is an unfamiliar culture for many Americans, so this kind of statement needs to be translated into language more familiar to us:
"I picked up a newspaper today and I couldn't believe it," he said. "I read eight headlines that talked about chaos, violence, unrest. And it just was Henny Penny - 'The sky is falling'. I've never seen anything like it! And here is a country that's being liberated, here are people who are going from being repressed and held under the thumb of a vicious dictator, and they're free. And all this newspaper could do, with eight or 10 headlines, they showed a man bleeding, a civilian, who they claimed we had shot - one thing after another. It's just unbelievable ..." (US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, three years ago, responding to news that the situation in Iraq was detiorating only a month after the invasion)

Over the past year, the coalition has pursued a strategy of building up Iraqi institutions and strengthening the Iraqi people's capacity for self-government and self-reliance. The progress that's taken place in governance, security, and in essential services all represent a threat to the goals of the terrorists and the regime remnants, which is very likely why as the transfer of sovereignty approaches those folks have stepped up their efforts to sow violence. (Secretary Rumsfeld, two years ago, explaining why he was extending the term duty of 20,000 US troops in Iraq)

Gen. George W. Casey said that despite continued lethal attacks by insurgents, the security situation in Iraq had improved. He reiterated a position he had taken earlier this year on the possible decrease in the U.S. military presence during a one-day visit by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld for meetings with Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari. (General Casey, one year ago)

The terrorists seem to recognize that they are losing in Iraq. I believe that history will show that to be the case. (Donald Rumsfeld, last month)
That makes it clear. Now I am just as certain Indonesia is making progress against bird flu as I am that US forces are making progress in Iraq.

Maybe even more certain.