Responding to shocking scenes of a major American city descending into chaos and anarchy, the world is responding with offers of emergency aid and expertise to what some say is a superpower in crisis.

From a French offer of ships, aircraft and supplies to a $25,000 donation by tsunami-ravaged Sri Lanka, humanitarian assistance is beginning to flow from nearly every continent.

The head of NATO, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, said Friday, "when our partner and important friend" asks for assistance, the alliance stands ready to respond.

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solano said the 25-nation bloc would provide anything that Washington requests.

The Netherlands, a low-lying country that depends on a system of levees has offered to send a team of experts to help plan the reconstruction of New Orleans.

Many world leaders say they are waiting for the Bush administration to tell them what it needs.