Burma Air Drops
Barbara Stocking explains that simply dropping food into Burma is much harder than it sounds.
[A]ir drops are not the aid equivalent of smart bombs. Running a humanitarian effort from the skies, like running a purely airborne war, is fraught with problems.
For a start it requires excellent intelligence. Yet no one knows exactly where the worst affected areas are, or how many people are suffering in each place. We don’t know if people are on the move, or what diseases are starting to appear, or exactly what state their homes and infrastructure are in.
Without good intelligence it’s very hard to run an effective humanitarian operation – especially an airborne one. It would be only too easy to drop the food miles from the nearest village, or even in water or swamp. Food is perishable and leaving it outside for too long could ruin it. You can’t drop a well or a sanitation system from the sky without specialists to set it up. Communities could find themselves with aid completely inappropriate to their situation.
Of course, air drops would presumably be at least marginally better than standing by and doing nothing while waiting for the junta to allow us to help. But it’s not as simple as it sounds. That’s pretty much always the case when “Send in the military!” is proposed as a solution to some crisis.
True, we managed to overcome plenty of obstacles in a somewhat similar situation decades ago with the Berlin Airlift. But we were dealing with a rather smaller geographic area and had plenty of experienced people on the ground to deal with the sort of issues Stocking describes.
Via Andrew Sullivan