The rest of the world does not hate the United States. For the most part, other countries and their peoples are extraordinarily generous and supportive of the U.S., even if they may object to our president and his military misadventures.

Yet, if the rest of the world does not hate us, surely they must have a hard time figuring this country out.

After Hurricane Katrina struck in the late summer of 2OO5, countries around the world rushed to aid the U.S. In all, they offered more than $854 million in cash and oil supplies that were to be sold to raise money for the relief efforts.

Now, the better part of two years later, only about $4O million has been spent to aid disaster victims and their communities.

The vast majority of aid offers were turned down, even though they came with no strings attached and clearly were needed — as the U.S. government still has not restored New Orleans and other storm-damaged communities, and still has not gotten hundreds of thousands of dislocated men, women and children home.

Worse yet, according to documents obtained by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington [CREW] watchdog group, aid that arrived went to waste.

Among to records obtained by CREW, State Department officials debated among themselves about whether to tell the Italian government that shipments of medicine and other supplies that had gotten through to the southeastern United States, were left to spoil in the elements.

Finally, one official said, “Tell them we blew it.”

That’s an understatement.

It is no secret that the Bush administration, with its war in Iraq, its neglect of crises in the Middle East and its rigid free-trade policies squandered enormous international good will after the September 11, 2OO1, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

But there was still enough good will to attract almost $1 billion in aid offers after Hurricane Katrina struck.

Unfortunately, Bush and his cronies squandered that, too.