Some weeks ago, Italy, one of the few allies to actually put boots on the ground alongside US troops in Iraq, was hit by a destructive earthquake.
The US, which has a century long history and reputation for helping both friend and foe in time of natural disaster; offered manpower and equipment to help alleviate the suffering. The Italian government very diplomatically said that personnel, while appreciated, were not needed. An influx of personnel who were not totally self-sufficient could problematical.
In previous cases where monetary needs were greater than others, the US has given multiple millions for the rebuilding of infrastructure and to build temporary housing and feed the homeless.
In this case, however, the President, who was at the G 20 meetings stated that the US would make a cash donation of $50,000. Undoubtedly, he was trying to convince his fellow G 20 heads of his intent to get control of the US economy.
On the other hand pop entertainer and actress Madonna gave a personal donation of a half-million to the small town in which her grandparents met.
I wonder how the US donation might have been adjusted had the earthquake stuck in a country with a recent history of animosity toward the US and a third world position coupled with a more diverse religious makeup. It probably would help for the recepient nation to have no history of African colonialism.