America to the disaster rescue

A U.S. MV-22 Osprey carrying relief goods takes off from the Japanese Defense Force escort vessel Hyuga on Tuesday, en route to the earthquake-hit Kumamoto prefecture in southern Japan. (Koji Harada/Kyodo News via AP)

The United States’ long-term duty as world cop stirs needed debate, and not just during election years.

But while Americans are predictably divided on when, where, how — and how long — our nation’s armed forces should intervene in distant realms, a solid public consensus rightly persists on the indispensable humanitarian role we must play when natural disasters strike around the world.

Thus, President Barack Obama offered needed assurances Tuesday that the U.S. will provide substantial assistance to Ecuador as it recovers from a powerful earthquake that hit on Saturday.

As of Tuesday evening, according to Ecuadoran officials, the death toll had surpassed 430, with more than 4,000 injured.

The Associated Press also reported: “The U.S. Agency for International Development announced Tuesday that it was joining the effort to help survivors of Saturday’s magnitude-7.8 earthquake in the South American country. Teams from Mexico, Switzerland, Colombia, Venezuela and other countries are already in place. The agency says U.S. workers will help analyze the situation on the ground and work to meet humanitarian needs.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. military is performing timely service in the relief mission in areas of southern Japan struck by two devastating earthquakes over the weekend. More than 40 people were killed, and more than 1,110 injured in the tremors that hit near Kumamoto City on the southern island of Kyushu, where landslides cut off numerous evacuation routes.

The U.S. Armed Forces are delivering vital air support for rescue and relief missions there — just as they did five years ago when a mammoth earthquake and tsunamis inflicted tragic damage on Japan’s central east coast.

So yes, American foreign policy, including the prudent use of our military, remains fair game for differences of opinion.

But helping friends, and at times even enemies, in dire need after natural disasters should remain a proud American tradition.