Soft Power and the Response to the Haitian Earthquake
Galrahn of Information Dissemination has an outstanding post on the U. S. response to the earthquake in Haiti that deserves your attention. He asks some very interesting and potentially embarrassing questions:
- How long will it take the Naval Expeditionary Combat Command to open up the port in Port-au-Prince?
- How effective will the helicopter operations of the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) be in meeting the demands of this crisis? Will the decision by the US Navy not to build a medium lift helicopter carry significant consequences regarding the capacity for the US Navy to respond to this disaster?
- Has SOUTHCOM responded sufficiently with US assets, specifically assets carried forward by the MSC related to supporting over the shore logistics? Will SOUTHCOM insure enough pipelines are available from sea to sufficiently meet the quantity of aid that will be required to support a humanitarian operation of 3 million people in a timely manner?
- Can only three amphibious ships provide enough capability to support the over the shore logistics requirements for a large city without a functioning sea port? How influential would the capabilities of the proposed, but rumored to be canceled in FY2011 budget, Sea Basing concept be to this operation?
- How proactive is SOUTHCOM being in preparing follow on assets that may be necessary before full awareness is determined regarding the requirements? Are we accurately predicting events before they unfold, controlling the chaos as necessary as we place assets?
- Why is China kicking the State Department’s ass in strategic communication in Haiti?
There’s lots more. He also points out the possiblel political hazards of the situation for the Obama Administration:
Things are going to get a lot worse in Haiti before they get better, and that was never clearly articulated by the President, State Department, SOUTHCOM, or Rajiv Shah to the American people, who may begin to doubt our governments efforts in the very near future. President Obama is positioned to take a political hit for what happens over the next 48-72 hours for apparently having advisors who are treating Haiti as anything but the most important event of his political career to date.
In my opinion, and I will let time determine the accuracy, so far it is my impression the Obama administration appears to be completely unaware of how much trouble Haiti can bring upon his Presidency. I’ll bet a Heineken keg that if the President attends a Martin Luther King event Monday instead of focus on what is going to be a political public relations nightmare unfolding in Haiti on television, it will cost the President 5 points in his approval ratings and he will be dogged by claims from his own political party that he is as distracted with Haiti as Bush was during Katrina.
President Obama has made the right noises so far but so did President Bush in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It’s what happens that matters and not necessarily the statements made at the outset.