The presidential battle ended with panache last night. Today is Wednesday, November 7, 2012. We have a new President, like it or not. There was a general feeling of relief that was either happiness with the winner or happiness that the endless political ads have finally ended. Tonight, we met at Chez Billy’s restaurant in mid-town northwest Washington, DC to discuss Helping Out: Humanitarian Policy for Global Security. The group was so brilliant and participatory. There were three men and four women with me. Among them were a senior development specialist, an information technologist, property manager, an attorney, a mortician, retired systems accountant, and a retired professor of film making. Everyone had advanced degrees beyond the master’s level and loads of occupations along the way and broad travel.
I was taken with their immediate grasp of the topic and the certainty with which they gave opinions. It was as though they have been the originating panels that authored the booklet. I asked them why it is the responsibility of the United States to help other nations. The answers were unexpected. Participants felt that the US 1) collects money contributions from other countries to address disasters and 2) the US promotes its own interests and influence over other countries using a disaster as an entry. They wondered why disaster relief is not the responsibility of The United Nations. The US is supposed to be the leader of the world and the responsibility to rescue comes with that position. We are sometimes in the management role over the money contributed by other countries and sometimes we supply all of the funding from our annual budget. Everyone emphasized that the US does not do things for no reason. They are always furthering their agenda or accumulating good reputation points. It was suggested that guilt might be the reason for aiding countries that are in trouble because the US is always doing mean things to other countries. The mistreatment of Haitian refugees over the years and the failure to ensure that help reached the Haitian people were given as examples. Some additional reasons are spying, to prop up interests, economics, to infiltrate, to create dependence, to cause indebtedness, to identify minerals and resources, or to image build. Some motives are humanitarian and some political.
In Addressing Suffering, we went through all three sub-sections of Speedy Response, Stop Crimes Against Humanity, and Protect the Displaced and they said that there always are two sides to the possibility. There are the people that you are helping and the government of the country they live in. The list on page 4 does not work in the mind of one participant. He does not trust this country’s attitude in providing relief. The list is a blueprint and not a plan. The list does not compute. It is as though we expect things to happen and are not preventative, proactive, and just reactive. The US has to know when things are on the brink of a catastrophe. It would cost a lot of money to get in front of disasters, but it costs even more to correct things after a disaster hits. It would require a paradigm shift.