THERE is a certain familiarity to the concomitant series of actions and reactions when disaster strikes in the world. The US stands ready, willing and able to offer assistance. It is often the first country to send in millions of dollars, navy strike groups loaded with food and medical supplies, and transport planes, helicopters and floating hospitals to help those devastated by natural disaster.
Then, just as swift and with equal predictability, those wedded to the Great Satan view of the US begin to carp, drawing on a potent mixture of cynicism and conspiracy theories to criticise the last remaining superpower. When the US keeps doing so much of the heavy lifting to alleviate suffering, you'd figure that the anti-Americans might eventually revise their view of the US. But they never do. And coming under constant attack even when helping others, you'd figure that Americans would eventually draw the curtains on world crises. But they haven't. At least not yet.
There is a teenaged immaturity about the rest of the world's relationship with the US. Whenever a serious crisis erupts somewhere, our dependence on the US becomes obvious, and many hate the US because of it. That the hatred is irrational is beside the point.
We can denounce the Yanks for being Muslim-hating flouters of international law while demanding the US rescue Bosnian Muslims from Serbia without UN authority. We can be disgusted by crass American materialism and ridiculous stockpiling of worldly goods yet also be the first to demand material help from the US when disaster strikes.
The really unfortunate part about this adolescent love-hate relationship with the US is that, unlike most teenagers, many never seem to grow out of it. Within each new generation is a vicious strain of irrational anti-Americanism. But unlike a parent, the US could just get sick of it all and walk away.
The US has had isolationist periods in the past and it must be enormously tempted sometimes to have another one soon. The consequences of that possibility deserve some serious thought. If the neighbours worry about Russian bullying over oil and gas, just imagine a Russia unfettered by a US military presence in Europe. How long would South Korea, Israel or Taiwan last if the US decided it wanted to spend on itself the money it presently devotes to military spending in the Middle East and Asia?
None of this is to say the US does not deserve loud and frequent criticism. No country has as many or as strident critics - internally and externally - as the US. The US actually promotes such debate. But just occasionally we should moderate that criticism when circumstances demand a dose of fairness.
Indeed, why not break into a standing ovation every now and again? As more US C-130s and helicopters stand waiting on Burma's doorstep, desperate to help a shattered populace and stymied only by an appalling anti-US regime, this is one of those times.
Let's hear it for America.