January 26, 2010

Obama's failure in Haiti?

Perhaps it’s just because I am slightly biased in favor of him—and this because I have learned to trust him—that I can’t help but think that Guido Bertolaso is right and his critics are wrong. Or perhaps not, who knows? However, this is how I feel about the whole matter.

Bertolaso, head of Italy’s civil protection service, was personally sent to Haiti by Silvio Berlusconi because of his expertise—he received international acclaim for his handling of the rescue efforts after the earthquake last April at L’Aquila in Abruzzo, which killed nearly 300 people and left 40,000 homeless—and arrived in Port au Prince on Friday. After two days of observations he described the international aid effort in Haiti as “a pathetic situation which could have been much better organised” and told Italian television that the aid organisations, including United Nations bodies, wrongly thought Haiti was “another humanitarian catastrophe like Cambodia or Rwanda. They thought they could bring something to eat and drink and the problem would be resolved.”

Among many other “compliments” he added that the US military effort was “inefficient” and that troops were not trained to run an aid or disaster relief operation. “The Americans are extraordinary,” he said, “but when you are facing a situation in chaos, they tend to confuse military intervention with emergency aid, which cannot be entrusted to the armed forces.”

Last but not least, he accused many of the organisations involved in the Haiti operation of “putting on a vanity show for the television cameras instead of rolling up their sleeves,” singling out Bill Clinton, the US Special envoy to Haiti, who made a show of helping with water supplies during his time in Haiti, “but went back after a day.” Which earned Bertolaso the gratitude of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who called Bertolaso’s swipes “Monday morning quarterbacking.” Though, she must have already realized that it is not a matter of family, nor of the US Military or of America (may God always bless America and the US Army!): it’s a matter of failure of leadershipde te, Obama, fabula narratur…


  1. Bertolaso is one of Italy's true heroes of today. If what he did in Italy were done in the U.S. by someone like him, the talk in the U.S. would be about his potential for being President.

    He is not always right however. He embarrassed himself with his fuss over building Obama a private basketball court in L'Aquila so Obama would have a place to unwind during the "hectic G- conference." But that is a silly defect. Bertolaso is the real deal...and that's what makes him unusual for a European these days.

    He is wrong about the failure of the U.S. Military in Haiti. They should have been given complete control of the situation but instead were forced to report to Obama's civilian bureaucrats. The situation at the Haitian airports was a disaster and it was run by Obama's bureaucrats; turn them over to USMC air traffic control and you'd have instant order...they train just for those scenarios.

    BTW, excellent blog.

  2. Thank you, ma_che62. As for the US Military and the Obama's bureaucrats, I think Bertolaso would agree with you (as far as I have understood his point).