As soon as Hurricane Harvey hit, Mexico — a country described by President Donald Trump as a source of rapists and drugs — stepped up to offer boats, food and other aid to the United States.
Another offer of help came from Venezuela, a country in severe political and economic crisis that has been repeatedly sanctioned by the Trump administration. It said it could give $5 million in aid.
The European Union has proudly noted that it is sharing its satellite mapping with U.S. emergency responders dealing the Harvey’s devastation. This despite Trump’s chastisement of European countries he views as overly dependent on the U.S. military.
Then there’s tiny Taiwan, which has reportedly offered $800,000 in aid — a number likely calculated to annoy China as much as to curry favor with Trump.
But compared with past crises, the list of foreign governments lining up to help the United States this time is relatively short for now. And the few countries that have raised their hand may get more out of it — politically, at least — than the U.S.
The relative dearth of global goodwill, some analysts say, may stem from anger at Trump over his “America First” approach to the world, which has irked even staunch U.S. allies.
“Foreign governments are holding back, and that hasn’t been the case historically,” said Markos Kounalakis, a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution. “They appear to be much more cautious, whether it’s for domestic political reasons or displeasure with President Trump. Do they want to be seen as helping Trump?”
The United States is developed and wealthy enough that it rarely needs foreign assistance. But there can be a political payoff for other countries that make an offer.