Some helpful points below from Brendan Miniter's Wall St. Journal article on how the United States is taking advantage of public diplomacy opportunity in its aid to tsunami victims.
. . . as residents from Thailand in Southeast Asia to Somalia on the horn of Africa pick through the debris, it will not be lost on them that not only are food, fresh water and other necessities streaming in from the free societies of the world, but also that a large portion of those necessities are arriving on American military transports.
. . . this tsunami is putting on display exactly what United Nations and European bureaucrats are loath to admit: that the U.S. and its military are forces for good in the world. From the wealth and freedom that allow Americans to generously give to those in need to the military infrastructure that enables much of that aid to be delivered, this natural disaster is an advertisement for the type of societies that best serve the people of the world.
. . . By responding with generosity, it is also clear that the vision Americans share is of all nations prospering. Liberty for all is more than a political ideal; it's also the foundation of President Bush's foreign policy. Admittedly this is partly for the selfish reason that prosperous countries are unlikely to breed terror. Nonetheless, the policy is benefiting Afghans, Iraqis and Muslims around the globe.
. . . The point here isn't to squeeze a political opportunity out of what may be the worst natural disaster in recorded history. Rather it is to recognize that what's at stake in the war on terror is also what was nearly swept away by the sea--civilization itself. It won't be lost on the people of Thailand as they face their own terrorist problem that the same American military that is battling al Qaeda is now helping them battle the brutal natural world as well. The training exercises the U.S. military regularly conducts around the world with other nations' armed forces will now take on an added significance.