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Shock and $$$
January 22, 2010 2:23 PM   Subscribe

US Mercenaries Set Sights on Haiti. The Shock Doctrine [previously] at work: Jeremy Scahill writes about disaster-profiteering in Haiti.

Previously at The Nation:
The IMF loans money to Haiti, with some strings attached.

Related: Is the humanitarian aid a cover for an occupation? Some think so.
posted by Saxon Kane (38 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
The French are such twits about Haiti.
posted by smackfu at 2:25 PM on January 22, 2010


The French are such twits about Haiti.

Who do you think backed Duvalier?
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:44 PM on January 22, 2010



How long til these bottom-feeding mercenary companies start turning on each other and battling each other like rabid hyenas for disasters to exploit?
posted by Liquidwolf at 2:58 PM on January 22, 2010


I have an idea - can we pay them NOT to go to Haiti?
posted by Salvor Hardin at 3:01 PM on January 22, 2010


From the haiti-security.com site, services section: "High Threat terminations." Jeezus. That doesn't sound at all problematic. Hopefully they don't win any big contracts.

This whole crisis management system has far too many entrenched business interests. After seeing how badly governments and their subcontractors botched the Katrina efforts, then reading stories like "Lancet accuses aid groups of 'jostling' for publicity," it kind of screams out for some kind of umbrella international non-corporate aid solution.

To me anyway. I'm prepared to be convinced otherwise by stories of NGO mismanagement, but if governments and the supposed 'pros' in aid agencies fail, isn't it time for a new structure? (Aid agencies are by and large companies, not NGOs, right? The only NGO aid agencies I know of are ActionAid and Oxfam.)
posted by Hardcore Poser at 3:01 PM on January 22, 2010


You guys can relax about the whole Haiti thing. Superhero Sean Penn is on it.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 3:05 PM on January 22, 2010


it kind of screams out for some kind of umbrella international non-corporate aid solution.

We have one. It's called the United Nations. The organization in charge of the relief effort in Haiti right now. The American military is providing aid transit, logistics, and security, but they're not running the aid effort.

Aid agencies are by and large companies, not NGOs, right?

No, they're by and large NGOs and not-for-profits.

The Lancet article is infuriating because it's not really helpful and only feeds compassion fatigue. It would have been nice for them to actually name names of the camerawhore NGOs. I can probably guess some of them, but saying it without evidence and names is just dumb.

Ms. Klein's crying wolf the moment any disaster happens has gotten old, and I wish there would condemnation of her like there's been for Rush Limbaugh. She's not helping.
posted by dw at 3:12 PM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


...but if governments and the supposed 'pros' in aid agencies fail, isn't it time for a new structure?

This just in...Systems designed and organized by human beings will tend toward inefficiencies and, often, corruption. Wide-spread disasters will compound this effect.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:15 PM on January 22, 2010


It's a little frustrating to hear dire warnings of a military takeover in the guise of humanitarianism. Personally, I am thrilled to see the US military being used for aid purposes.

There is plenty for us to be cynical about, lets not go after those groups who have boots on the ground and fresh water in hand.
posted by Think_Long at 3:28 PM on January 22, 2010


Private security firms, on the other hand, can go fuck themselves.
posted by Think_Long at 3:30 PM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thorzdad: Willing to give you the benefit of a doubt; however, some of your wording sounded a bit patronizing. No one's claiming that inefficiencies are new here. That's not the point.

The Lancet editorial wasn't talking about corruption; it was making the point that energies spent on 'jostling for position' in the media and claiming to 'spearhead' the relief effort are not helping with efforts to organize. At this stage that point seems on the money to me.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 3:35 PM on January 22, 2010


Personally, I am thrilled to see the US military being used for aid purposes.

Yea, they do that a lot. In case you were expressing surprise rather than acknowledging the regular good deeds.

Also, what exactly is wrong with having the security contractors there? Clearly someone feels insecure and is willing to pay them. I haven't heard them trying to replace the police force or shooting widly into crowds yet. Do you Shock Doctrine people react this poorly to mall cops and bank guards? I mean, the author just seems to be an assume that security contractors are all evil, and that their very presence is offensive.
posted by FuManchu at 3:46 PM on January 22, 2010


Personally, I am thrilled to see the US military being used for aid purposes.

I don't know. This article from today's Slate made for some pretty depressing reading.
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:50 PM on January 22, 2010


Do you Shock Doctrine people react this poorly to mall cops and bank guards?

I don't have a problem with mall cops and bank guards really. I guess my reaction comes mostly from post-blackwater-cynicism-syndrome. That, and it's a little bit gross that people see profit where everyone else sees charity.

(and yes, I'm generally aware that the military does a lot of good deeds - but my exposure to them through the media is pretty limited)
posted by Think_Long at 3:53 PM on January 22, 2010


I would think Haiti would do well to have some shock doctrine applied. How much worse off could Haiti be if the Milton Friedman-ite Overlords replaced the usual kleptocracy with a functioning free market economy? If only private security forces (or US military forces for that matter) were capable of pulling this off.
posted by 2N2222 at 4:44 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do you Shock Doctrine people react this poorly to mall cops and bank guards?

..it's a very different thing to drop private security forces into a chaos like Iraq or Haiti when they're (effectively) answerable to no one. That was a really dumb analogy by the way.
posted by bonobothegreat at 5:11 PM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Atom Eyes, thanks for that Slate link.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:35 PM on January 22, 2010


Crass vultures. Makes me hate people. They're why we can't have nice things. Grar.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:01 PM on January 22, 2010


Anybody read Zeitoun? That's probably happening right now, somewhere in Haiti.
posted by rusty at 6:19 PM on January 22, 2010


From 1804 to the present, during all but a few years, it has been the official policy of Washington DC and of every European capital that Haiti must fail...

Haiti is the only country in the western hemisphere to win its independence from Europe against the wishes of its white minority, to win its independence in a slave revolt. And that is why, unlike every other country and state south of the 40th north line of latitude, when Haiti got its independence,
the entire white population of Haiti fled, taking everything they could pry loose with them.

And, even more to the point, that is why it became official US policy all the way back
during the Jefferson administration that Haiti must fail, a policy that has remained to this very day under every US president but two, Carter and Clinton, and under every British prime minister since then until now, and under every French president until the current administration: the world must never see, the world's poor must never see, the world's former and current slaves must never, never see a slave rebellion that works. Period.The idea that the Haitians need to be shocked even more than they have been for the last 100+ years (for their own good) is reprehensible, inhumane, at odds with history, and bordering on evil, if only through a fundamental misunderstanding of history.

I could be wrong about that. I just don't think I am.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 6:38 PM on January 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


I swear I previewed that comment and the formatting came out right when I did. Arrrgh...
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 6:39 PM on January 22, 2010


I didn't much care for that Slate article (as usual). The US military is not a humanitarian organization. What it is is a huge bureaucracy that does certain things certain ways and has a lot of recent experience not being welcome in foreign countries. Certainly there were a lot of unfortunate inefficiencies in the aid response but they were there to help and doing their best. They are also the only resource the US has to respond rapidly and massively. "Murderous Consequences"? That's ridiculous hyperbole. Coming up with two possible conclusions: The US government either wants to create an empire in the Caribbean or is institutionally racist? Ben Ehrenreich needs to remember: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity (or incompetence).
posted by ghharr at 7:25 PM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow.

One of those companies put up a page at its website, and another one - the horror! the horror! - registered an URL! And the Heritage Foundation posted something to its blog!!! This Friedman-fuelled disaster capitalism is unstoppable!!!1!

Three measly dollar signs in the title of a post containing this kind of vague half-hearted gesturing in the general direction of something that might eventually be somewhat underhanded or something? Come on, Saxon Kane. The Chicago School doesn't even roll out of its condor-feathered bed and put on its necklace of human skulls for less than five dollar signs. Why downplay it? Are you . . . are you on the take too ?!!?

Just . . . just wow.

I'd ask one of you to hold me, but I'm pretty sure that might lead to at least one of us feeling exploited.
posted by gompa at 10:33 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the Brad Hicks link, P-B-Z-M. I often disagree with him, but he tends to understand the history of this sort of thing pretty well.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:51 AM on January 23, 2010


Also, what exactly is wrong with having the security contractors there? Clearly someone feels insecure and is willing to pay them. I haven't heard them trying to replace the police force or shooting widly into crowds yet. Do you Shock Doctrine people react this poorly to mall cops and bank guards? I mean, the author just seems to be an assume that security contractors are all evil, and that their very presence is offensive.

Obviously we should wait until private security contractors rape and kill people before we express outrage. Do private security companies get a free pass in Haiti, like they had in Iraq? Maybe DynCorp can make a few $$$ in human trafficking. Again.
posted by ryoshu at 6:56 AM on January 23, 2010


Security contractors are all evil, and their very presence is offensive.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:41 AM on January 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


The US military is not a humanitarian organization.

Maybe there should be some consideration given to that idea, though. The Canadian forces are generally perceived as a peace-keeping force. Having a US peace-keeping force as partners in an honest effort to help nations that welcome us would be awesome.

…[it] has a lot of recent experience not being welcome in foreign countries.

Maybe that's somehow connected to it not thinking of itself as a humanitarian organization.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:43 AM on January 23, 2010


Security contractors are all evil, and their very presence is offensive.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop was also pretty bad.
posted by srboisvert at 2:40 PM on January 23, 2010


One thing the USS Carl Vinson can do that the Slate article fails to mention is produce fresh water - a LOT of it.
posted by matty at 4:27 PM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Another military angle that the Slate article ignores - the USNS Comfort, on scene and working to capacity. Also, an E-2C Squadron - VAW-125, operated as an airborne air traffic control facility into Port-au-Prince until a CATC unit could be set up on the ground. Also by Wednesday of this week Greyhound C-2 aircraft from multiple squadrons had delivered 6 tons of water, 23 tons of food and 3 tons of medical supplies to Port au Prince.

Don't tell me the military isn't helping.
posted by matty at 4:36 PM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


If that IMF debt cancellation turns out to be true - that will be huge.
posted by serazin at 5:31 PM on January 23, 2010




I read the Slate article. I don't know if I'm quite willing to yell "Invasion" yet.

I'm very glad that the US responded quickly and in such numbers, and I'm equally proud of the donations and response coming from my country (Canada). As I understand it, the aid effort is being directed by the UN. The coming weeks (and years) will tell the real story.

God, I hope the private security companies don't get a foot in there.
posted by Artful Codger at 4:27 PM on January 24, 2010


I would think Haiti would do well to have some shock doctrine applied. How much worse off could Haiti be if the Milton Friedman-ite Overlords replaced the usual kleptocracy with a functioning free market economy? If only private security forces (or US military forces for that matter) were capable of pulling this off.

Fucking hell.

If, instead of applying neoliberal shock therapy - cutting public sector wages and increasing prices, we moved to establish a social democracy with a strong social welfare system, the people of Haiti, who have suffered so much, might actually have something to look forward to.

Shock therapy helps the rich (domestic and foreign) to suck what little wealth there is left out of the Haitian people, so perhaps instead of applying the failed neoliberal policies that gutted social support structures, left millions homeless and starving, and enriched those willing to exploit disasters as profit opportunities, we should try something that helps those most in need.
posted by knapah at 12:33 PM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry about the long sentences in that comment, I was just really, really angry.
posted by knapah at 1:22 PM on January 25, 2010


If, instead of applying neoliberal shock therapy - cutting public sector wages and increasing prices

Of course, given there isn't much of a public sector in Haiti, it's hard to see how neoliberal reforms could help it. That country didn't have much of an infrastructure before the quake, and what little it had is rubble now. And there's really not much wealth to suck out of Haiti other than human capital; most of the natural resources were long ago mined and chopped down. Establishing a welfare system would require there to be enough wealth in the economy to redistribute.

The policy should be simple: Build that country a damn infrastructure. Once that's going, then we can argue Keynes vs Friedman, but until then you're yelling ideological banter over a mound of rubble.
posted by dw at 10:08 PM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Rep. Grayson had an excellent little speech about Pat Robertson's hate-speech.

Say, I wonder how the Dominican Republic is doing.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:39 PM on January 26, 2010


Well, turns out they only had a strong quake, not a damaging one. The island must suck up a lot of energy.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:56 PM on January 26, 2010


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