Steven Cohen on Haiti and the Obama Administration

“This is a critical moment for the United States and the Obama administration to demonstrate that the lessons of our government’s shameful response to Katrina have truly been learned.”—Steven Cohen, “Haiti Is a Critical Test for the Obama Administration.”

Steven Cohen, author of Understanding Environmental Policy and executive director of The Earth Institute, recently contributed to Huffington Post on the responsibility of the United States and the Obama administration to help in Haiti in wake of the earthquake.

Cohen argues that the United States and the military should take the lead in relief efforts to help the people of Haiti and to demonstrate “American ideals, values, confidence, and capacity.” Obama himself, Cohen suggests, should visit Haiti as soon it safe enough to do so.

Natural disasters are going to be more common in the future and it is imperative for nations to work together in the future. Cohen writes:

There is a broader lesson to be taken from this disaster for both the United States and what we sometimes optimistically call the “community of nations.” As the world becomes more crowded and urbanized, the impact of natural disasters will only grow. It is not that we are seeing more hurricanes, earthquakes and floods than we used to, but rather that more people are in harm’s way than ever before. The lesson here is that we must build a global network of emergency response capacity that is far greater than the one we have now. When there are half a dozen major natural disasters in a year, they should no longer be defined as emergencies, but as periodic and almost predictable events. A larger amount of resources must be devoted to this critical governmental function, both here and throughout the world.

To find out how to help Haiti you can visit the Red Cross or the Web sites of other charities.

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