Audio Clips

27 August 2011

Rebuilding After Disasters

Peter Boettke of George Mason University recently wrote an article for The Freeman called "The Militarization of Compassion". He writes about disasters and the tendency to want a command and control rebuilding effort afterwards. In a study he conducted he found that the sooner commerce was allowed to resume and private humanitarian efforts allowed to take place the sooner things got back to normal. I found the following paragraph to be enlightening.

The language of disaster and recovery efforts is one of centralization—a military effort is presumed to be required to tackle the urgent problem. But the militarization of compassion is not very effective in achieving improvement. As my colleague Chris Coyne (author of After War and a forthcoming book on humanitarian aid) suggests in his paper “Delusions of Grandeur,” imagine you asked the firemen responding to a raging fire at a corporate building to also coordinate the provision of medical supplies and treatment, oversee the reconstruction of the building, and then rebuild the company’s supply chain after the fire was extinguished and the building rebuilt. This is precisely what happens through the creeping militarization of humanitarian efforts.

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