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catallaxy in technical exile

Who’s in charge here?

with 68 comments

Have you ever been in one of those meetings, on an important subject, when everyone is wandering all over the place, then one person takes charge and the rest want to fight over whether he or she had the authority to take charge,  rather than work on solving the problem?

Seems to be happening in Haiti.

The French seem to have been arguing about clearance for flights evacuating French citizens. I understand that following the SE Asian Tsunami representatives of aid organisations were in some places tripping over each other looking for things to do.

In a crisis, someone’s got to take charge and pretty clearly in Haiti it should be the Americans. They are close and have the resources.

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Written by Ken Nielsen

January 19, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

68 Responses

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  1. It’s getting so dangerous in Haiti that I fully expect the UN’s “peace keepers” to pull out any minute.

    C.L.

    January 19, 2010 at 3:19 pm

  2. It’s getting so dangerous in Haiti that I fully expect the UN’s “peace keepers” to pull out any minute

    Once they’ve had their fill of goats and children I expect they’ll withdraw.

    Infidel Tiger

    January 19, 2010 at 3:25 pm

  3. Concerns about security are emanating from the US government and some dubious press sources, not the aid agencies thesmelves:

    “We haven’t had any security issues at all,” said Abi Weaver, an American Red Cross spokeswoman, in a telephone interview.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601102&sid=asYXmlwaWSfQ

    And I’ve read that US troops have been bungling things all over the place, for instance, sending Medecins sans Frontier away three times for ‘security reasons’.

    THR

    January 19, 2010 at 3:32 pm

  4. THR: You will read a lot of stuff – grumbles, complaints, rumours – mostly because there are hundreds of reporters there (by my count ABC News has 3) all looking for things to write.
    Anyone with a complaint will have no problem finding someone to run with it. Expect a lot more.
    Despite that, someone’s gotta be in charge.

    Ken Nielsen

    January 19, 2010 at 3:36 pm

  5. THR

    I mean this quite seriously: You really should be ashamed of yourself! Arguably the largest single natural catastrophe in any of our life-times, yet for you it is merely an opportunity to light up some Marxist outrage over US imperialism. I bet the Haitians are soooo angry that the US military has not turned over control of the operation to Amnesty. Jesus.

    Peter Patton

    January 19, 2010 at 3:41 pm

  6. Here’s the thing no one wants to ever raise.

    The average IQ in Haiti is around 70. This means there isn’t the brainpower to initiate an effective response in a enormous % of the population.

    The effects we’re seeing is what we should expect with that sort of figure and it shouldn’t surprise in the least. That’s why it’s important for the Americans to take reasonable charge of the relief efforts.

    jc

    January 19, 2010 at 3:42 pm

  7. The US should withdraw and let the French run the recovery effort. They did such a bang up job with Haiti previously, I fail to see what could go wrong.

    Infidel Tiger

    January 19, 2010 at 3:42 pm

  8. I haven’t mentioned Marx or imperialism, though they are worth mentioning, since Haiti will revert back to being amnesic in public consciousness in about a week or so.

    My point is that it isn’t self-evident that the US should be in charge (or the French, for that matter). The last ‘rebuilding’ effort by US forces was less than successful, by any measure.

    THR

    January 19, 2010 at 3:45 pm

  9. So, THR, by what process should it be decided who will take charge? Refer it to the UN perhaps?
    And how long should we allow for that process?

    Ken Nielsen

    January 19, 2010 at 3:48 pm

  10. Reminds me of Clare Short’s whinging about the American (and Australian) aid effort following the Boxing day tsunami. Apparently aid given without UN control lacks “moral authority”!!!

    See http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4136447.stm

    Matt

    January 19, 2010 at 3:48 pm

  11. So, THR, by what process should it be decided who will take charge

    I don’t know, to be honest. Obviously, you’d want to cut out the middle men, so you’d probably want aid agencies directing things rather than the US or UN. And even if that couldn’t happen, it still doesn’t make the US a self-evident choice for leadership.

    THR

    January 19, 2010 at 3:50 pm

  12. OK, THR, no-one has the right to take charge.
    No ATC at the airport, no order on the streets, just the aid agencies (how many are there? Care Australia has just sent one clean water expert) all milling around trying to help.
    Have you ever witnessed an emergency?

    Ken Nielsen

    January 19, 2010 at 3:53 pm

  13. Yes, I have. You say it ‘pretty clearly’ should be the US who takes charge. I say that this isn’t clear, because the job they’re doing now could be done a lot better by some accounts. And when I suggested aid agencies, I meant that US forces (inter alia) could take their direction from the aid agencies to a large degree, providing security and logistical support at their instigation.

    THR

    January 19, 2010 at 3:57 pm

  14. There is a more nuanced discussion of this issue on another blog, including a thorough demolition of the position of the like of THR, using actual reports from events on the ground. Look, particularly for the posts from “Jo”.

    http://larvatusprodeo.net/2010/01/19/haiti/

    Peter Patton

    January 19, 2010 at 3:58 pm

  15. “The average IQ in Haiti is around 70”
    C’mon jc, I’ve gotta call you on that.
    I just don’t believe you.
    Do you have a source?

    Ken Nielsen

    January 19, 2010 at 3:59 pm

  16. If the US was really of a giving , charitable mind they should open up the borders and allow those that wanted to go to the US to move there.

    In fact, the reality is that Haiti is a failed state and has been forever. Another large country should simply annex it and allow Haitians free movement.

    jc

    January 19, 2010 at 4:01 pm

  17. THR I am sure your views will be taken into account in future critical situations.

    Ken Nielsen

    January 19, 2010 at 4:06 pm

  18. I read it a while ago Ken.

    Here’s a list by nation.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IQ_and_the_Wealth_of_Nations

    Jamaica is 75 and it isn’t quite as poor.

    In the early to mid twentieth century, Haiti was poorly situated to attract Chinese and other immigrants, unlike say Jamaica or Trinidad. It is interesting that many of the wealthiest families in Haiti are Lebanese, such as the Naders.

    http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2010/01/why-is-haiti-so-poor/comments/page/5/

    I’m not going to look for it again, but I would guess that Haiti’s IQ is lower than Jamaica’s for that very reason expressed in marginal revolution.

    jc

    January 19, 2010 at 4:09 pm

  19. “The average IQ in Haiti is around 70. This means there isn’t the brainpower to initiate an effective response in a enormous % of the population.”

    At last the Dago makes a sensible comment. If only the Haitians had the sensibility of an Englishman – or even of an Eye-Talian – they’d work out how to move all that rubble.

    Bravo, Woppy. Good to see you thinking like a White Man, more or less.

    Ron Pauline Hanson

    January 19, 2010 at 4:10 pm

  20. The big question is: have UN personnel got their Land Cruisers and quality accommodation? I recall them spitting the dummy about these vital questions after the tsunami disaster.

    C.L.

    January 19, 2010 at 4:13 pm

  21. Actually, how silly of me. The US should leave immediately, and allow Tim Costello and Sarah Hanson-Yound to co-ordinate the delivery of water and sanitation methods to 2 million people. Now, any volunteers for the food and security? Perhaps Naomi Klein and George Monbiot?

    Peter Patton

    January 19, 2010 at 4:18 pm

  22. I often wonder why Americans help people. All they ever get is criticism.

    I look forward to the day when there’s a natural disaster and America says “EU/UN/China – you can handle this one”.

    Fred

    January 19, 2010 at 4:46 pm

  23. To use an analogy, Ken and Peter, if there’s an emergency in Australia at a small, local level, and the relevant services turn up, you don’t necessarily want police running the show. It might be one thing to have them deal with some things (security and safety at an emergency site) in conjunction with other services, but you wouldn’t necessarily want them having carte blanche. The analogy is rough, but I think it applies here.

    The information so far suggests that both the US and the UN are struggling to provide aid:

    http://haitianalysis.com/2010/1/17/ips-as-aid-efforts-flounder-haitians-rely-on-each-other

    Again, the US are using security as an excuse to delay aid, but some reports on the ground contradict claims of a crisis in security:

    http://standwithhaiti.org/haiti/news-entry/the-city-is-changed-forever-evan-lyon/

    More disturbingly, the jackals who profiteered from the bloodbath in Iraq are offering their services in Haiti, happy to perform ‘terminations’ to quell ‘worker unrest’:

    http://rebelreports.com/post/341673601/us-security-company-offers-to-perform-high-threat

    All of which ought to at least raise some questions about the suitability of the US for the job of leadership in Haiti.

    THR

    January 19, 2010 at 4:51 pm

  24. All this muttering about how the US should ‘hand over to the UN’ highlights the reality that there really is no such power as the “UN”, and certainly not one that transcends its member states, and absolutely not one privileged over the US. In fact, whenever control is handed over to this entity, we soon realize what is truly meant by ‘couldn’t organize a pissup in a brewery’!

    Peter Patton

    January 19, 2010 at 4:51 pm

  25. The ones who have historically not been able to handle a piss up in a brewery have been the Haitian government. Are the people there ever likely to just give up and ask to join the Dominican Republic?

    Andrew

    January 19, 2010 at 4:54 pm

  26. Fred

    The US is far from perfect, and its high-halo days are long gone. It’s treatment of Katrina was more than a fiasco. It was a frightening globally-broadcast reality death-show of how even in such an otherwise liberal democracy, mass incompetence and venality can infest the power apparatus. Compare Australia’s leadership of foreign disasters such as Aceh and East Timor.

    Nevertheless, at this point in time in the Carribean, the US is the only game in town, so everybody needs to knuckle down and do as the boss says.

    Peter Patton

    January 19, 2010 at 4:58 pm

  27. The average IQ in Haiti is around 70″
    C’mon jc, I’ve gotta call you on that.
    I just don’t believe you.
    Do you have a source?

    Sorry Ken but you had to ask … . This is my last word on the subject!

    http://vdare.com/misc/rushton_african_iq.htm

    John H.

    January 19, 2010 at 4:59 pm

  28. Andrew, that in no way invalidates the silliness and incompetence of the UN!

    Peter Patton

    January 19, 2010 at 5:00 pm

  29. I often wonder why Americans help people. All they ever get is criticism.

    And yet time and again people who go to the US find the citizens to be friendly, generous, and kind. This must be a longstanding attribute because while my father certainly was no lover of yanks when he was over there in WW2 he found exactly the same thing and made a point of telling me that. So I get really pissed with endless “yank” bashing.

    John H.

    January 19, 2010 at 5:03 pm

  30. John H

    Why should that be the last word on the subject? That’s basically rancid liberalism ensuring we don’t talk about the obvious with the end result that it destroys more lives than it helps.

    It’s clear that relief efforts are big time logistical efforts that require a real, decent amount of brainpower on know how.

    We never seem to have a problem talking about the high IQ’s of Asians which incidentally is higher than Europeans. However the moment that subject focuses on where it really counts which is parts of Africa or people of African descent it immediately becomes a no go area.

    If people took more care to look at basic stats like those they would be able to quickly figure just how much help a region would need that requires fast relief and save more lives.

    It’s actually disgusting watching this play out as though it has no possible bearing on results which is to help people rather than then seeing them suffer.

    jc

    January 19, 2010 at 5:12 pm

  31. I think Obma should go the full gear on this one and just annex the country…

    No downside for the average Haitan, even the poorest states in America are a mile in front of them. Big stimulus for the US economy as they absorb the country. Plus youd get to watch Hogo Chavez and Naiomi Klein squirt blood from thier eye sockets like horned toads…..

    thefrollickingmole

    January 19, 2010 at 5:14 pm

  32. Okay – cleaned a whole bunch of stuff out of moderation.

    Remember more than two links goes straight into moderation.

    Sinclair Davidson

    January 19, 2010 at 5:31 pm

  33. JC the difference between Haiti and Jamaica is solely down to who colonised them, not IQ. Always take the British option.

    Infidel Tiger

    January 19, 2010 at 5:37 pm

  34. Tiger:

    I wasn’t suggesting there was much of a difference between Haiti and Jamaica. I couldn’t recall where I had read the point made about Haitian average IQ so I used Jamaica as a marker seeing the people came from a similar (not the same) place.

    jc

    January 19, 2010 at 5:40 pm

  35. JC
    I believe IQ differences between ethnicities for whatever reason, do exist. This is beyond dispute. But I also think that you start taking IQ scores with a grain of salt once you get pronouncements about an entire population of people having an average IQ of 70 which is basically retardation level. That simply doesn’t fly and is more revealing of the limitations of the scoring process.

    jtfsoon

    January 19, 2010 at 5:46 pm

  36. Jason:

    The relief efforts by the local population has been a failure.

    Relief efforts where IQ appear to be higher never seem to be this disastrous.

    In so far as the limitations for entire populations goes a large number of these tests have been preformed to rule out (reduce) cultural differences.

    The point I’m making is not to highlight the difference for any other reason that perhaps these variations ought to be taken into account when determining the level of relief required in terms of logistical support and distribution.

    I really think it does matter.

    jc

    January 19, 2010 at 6:01 pm

  37. JC,

    I am sick to death of those debates.
    Jason,

    You have a point but keep in mind that poor pre natal care, diet, lack of early schooling, lack of role models in the culture, can and very much do impact on IQ measures. It doesn’t have to be genetic dude, there is more than enough “environmental room” to induce these types of results. To be honest though, I strongly suspect there is probably a genetic component at play. After all, we will acknowledge that Ashkensai Jews are amazingly smart and this probably arose through natural selection acting on the the trials of being a Jew in medieval Europe, yet we won’t accept that peoples could have low IQs because there was no selection pressure to encourage higher IQs.

    John H.

    January 19, 2010 at 6:01 pm

  38. There is no need to get precious about IQ scores or colonialism to state the bleeding obvious that Haiti is fucked, fucked, really fucked, and always has been.

    Peter Patton

    January 19, 2010 at 6:04 pm

  39. John H.

    You could probably go a little futher than that and speculate most of the “uppity” or high IQ slaves tended to get weeded out. And thuggish despotisms arent well known for fostering tallent either.

    Id say a few generations of other factors you mention would close that gap a lot though. So not purely genetics by a long shot.

    thefrollickingmole

    January 19, 2010 at 6:14 pm

  40. For the record, I don’t give a flying fuck about a person’s iq. All human beings are to be treated with dignity but if they behave like assholes then stuff ém. IQ has nothing to do with the humanity of an individual, what matters is their behavior, not their intelligence.

    John H.

    January 19, 2010 at 6:28 pm

  41. Talking about IQs and US imperialism in these circumstances is just disgusting.

    Peter Patton

    January 19, 2010 at 6:33 pm

  42. True John H but what I’m saying is that while you may need an IQ test to differentiate ‘dull’ from average (e.g. 85 vs 100) once you get to something as low as 70 behaviourial indicators are almost as good.

    It’s the difference between people who can’t be rocket scientists or doctors vs people who can’t manage their own lives without some supervision.

    People would know what a 70 IQ person is like – they’re likely to be institutionalised or close to having to be. Take a typical Down’s Syndrome person. At IQ as low as 70 you get some obvious indicators which you don’t need an IQ test to pick up. Haitians hold jobs, have children, by and large manage their lives OK, as do most of sub saharan Africa. To believe that it’s meaningful to talk of this population as having IQ levels of 70 or below is just numerical fetishism.

    Jason Soon

    January 19, 2010 at 6:35 pm

  43. Jason:

    this isn’t a suggestion they can’t manage their lives ok. However a disaster is not a normal circumstance.

    And a relief operation is going to end up being a failure if it’s not handled right, as we’re seeing right now.

    jc

    January 19, 2010 at 6:38 pm

  44. Jason,

    Yeah, the differences in IQ do not mean people cannot find a meaningful role in life. I am not a great fan of IQ studies but they are useful heuristics. I have absolutely no doubt that given the appropriate opportunities via diet, education etc, etc. the children of those peoples deemed to have such low IQs can do very well in our society. Sure, they may not be rocket scientists but they can surely fill a great many professional roles, and yes there will be those who will reach the very top. It is still a distribution so when people read about an IQ’s of peoples they have no right to assume that the person in front of them has the iq of their particular ethnic group. There might even be a huge skewing in the data because unlike people in our culture others simply aren’t as motivated to do as well on IQ studies. Had the same experience myself, some idiot made me, with a visual disability, do a Raven Matrices IQ test and at 8.00am in the morning the moron psychologist that he was. So I fudged it, didn’t bother with the test, got a very low score, and he started wildly speculating as to why while I sat there quietly laughing at him.

    BTW, a friend of mine once told me his colleague created an IQ test in which street smart kids did better than others!

    John H.

    January 19, 2010 at 6:44 pm

  45. Lynn amd Vanhaven are the Al Gores of IQ differences. Not inclined to search for it now but I have come acrpss writers who believe in ethnic IQ differences who have nonetheless urged caution in taking all their results at face value. They use a very large dataset of past IQ studies including some dodgy studies (administering IQ tests to barely literate villagers) and haven’t in fact vetted all the studies they throw in to come up with their averages.

    Jason Soon

    January 19, 2010 at 6:50 pm

  46. It’s getting so dangerous in Haiti that I fully expect the UN’s “peace keepers” to pull out any minute.
    .
    Indeed.
    .
    It should be the UN not the Americans. It’s time to stop relying on America to fix everything. This is something the UN should do and could if they just learned what bloody bullets are for.

    Adrien

    January 19, 2010 at 6:52 pm

  47. btw why on earth is the US imperialism being blamed when that should go to France?

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-01-14/why-haitis-earthquake-is-frances-problem/

    Haiti’s chronic impoverishment began at its birth in 1804, when, having overthrown its French rulers in a bloody, 12-year slave revolt, the newborn nation was subjected to crippling blockades and embargoes. This economic strangulation continued until 1825, when France offered to lift embargoes and recognize the Haitian Republic if the latter would pay restitution to France—for loss of property in Haiti, including slaves—of 150 million gold francs. The sum, about five times Haiti’s export revenue for 1825, was brutal, but Haiti had no choice: Pay up or perish over many more years of economic embargo, not to mention face French threats of invasion and reconquest. To pay, Haiti borrowed money at usurious rates from France, and did not finish paying off its debt until 1947, by which time its fate as the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country had been well and truly sealed.

    Jason Soon

    January 19, 2010 at 6:57 pm

  48. JC – don’t know what you’re doing but you’re ending up in the spaminator.

    Sinclair Davidson

    January 19, 2010 at 6:58 pm

  49. They use a very large dataset of past IQ studies including some dodgy studies (administering IQ tests to barely literate villagers) and haven’t in fact vetted all the studies they throw in to come up with their averages.

    And I remember reading an abstract from Harvard Uni bods which claimed that The Bell Curve studies seriously under estimated the role of environmental factors in cognitive development. Doesn’t surprise me, statisticians are not likely to have too much of an idea of how critical early environment is to cerebral maturation. If you want an example of this look up “enriched environments”. In those studies it is not just a matter of increased cognition but a noticeable reduction in neuron death that typically occurs shortly after birth(humans, circa one year), and at the onset of puberty.

    John H.

    January 19, 2010 at 6:59 pm

  50. Adrien

    What is “the UN” in a situation like this? It is precisely a situation like this that broadcasts what a paper tiger – indeed mirage – “the UN” is.

    Peter Patton

    January 19, 2010 at 7:00 pm

  51. this isn’t a suggestion they can’t manage their lives ok. However a disaster is not a normal circumstance.

    I’m saying 70 is way too low to be taken seriously. I’m precisely saying that 70 is near institutionalisation level/i.e. ‘can’t manage their own lives’/what you imagine Homer to be if you go solely by his writing level so it’s not credible as a score.

    Jason Soon

    January 19, 2010 at 7:06 pm

  52. “The Korean War was self financed”

    What IQ level does this indicate?

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 19, 2010 at 7:07 pm

  53. What is “the UN” in a situation like this? It is precisely a situation like this that broadcasts what a paper tiger – indeed mirage – “the UN” is.
    .
    That’s right.
    .
    So after WWIII when we do it (yet) again let’s start by being practical and asking ourselves what an association of nations can actually do.

    Adrien

    January 19, 2010 at 7:10 pm

  54. Adrien

    You do not have that luxury of seminar room pomp. All that matters is today.

    Peter Patton

    January 19, 2010 at 7:12 pm

  55. Sinc:

    I don’t know what I’m doing that’s wrong. I have followed your strict instructions and dared not deviate.

    Jase

    Yes, that’s true, Homer would certainly suggest that numerical score is far too low. That’s a reasonable point.

    I also take your point that a national average may be too loose, however the top to the bottom national averages show an enormous deviation which can’t be ignored. Rather they shouldn’t be ignored.

    China had a major earthquake last year, which even though occurred in a regional area still affected a very large number of people. However the organization efforts and the behavior of the local population never collapsed into this mess.

    jc

    January 19, 2010 at 7:15 pm

  56. JC lazily confuses attitude with IQ which is to be expected from such a low IQ.

    rog

    January 19, 2010 at 7:16 pm

  57. All that matters is today.
    .
    And my comments matter to current geopolitical practice how? I think the State was about 4 thousand years old before one lasted more than twenty minutes. An international council has certain advantages but we ain’t gonna get it right the first time, or the second…
    .
    Obviously.
    .
    Hell forget it. CL’s right. Just bomb the towelheads flat and built a drive-in bank. 🙂

    Adrien

    January 19, 2010 at 7:16 pm

  58. I think Obma should go the full gear on this one and just annex the country…
    .
    There’s certainly no downside for Haiti.

    daddy dave

    January 19, 2010 at 7:18 pm

  59. “I think Obma should go the full gear on this one and just annex the country…”

    Why is it that such absurd notions are debated?

    rog

    January 19, 2010 at 7:20 pm

  60. Rog:
    JC lazily confuses attitude with IQ which is to be epected from such a low IQ.

    No, Rogette, you self absorbed goose. We’re not talking about you, our expectations of you and your general attitude.

    Aside from that; is Geoffrey pleased with the breast implants surgery?

    jc

    January 19, 2010 at 7:20 pm

  61. Serious question rog,

    Why do you think that is absurd?

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 19, 2010 at 7:22 pm

  62. it IS interesting that the Dominican Republic is not a relevant consideration in staging/organizing aid. Of course they hate the Haitians……

    I think Alexander Downer summed up the UN best – the politics of the lowest common denominator. The UN is incapable of any sort of prompt, decisive action, as it is first and foremost a talkfest.

    It’s why the UN was out to lunch following the Tsunami, why nothing happened at Hopenchangen, and why if you are serious about the Haitians, the UN gets lip service at best.

    Like it or not, rapid response and action remains the province of the nation state, or at most a coalition of the willing 🙂 The only nation state with significant power projection is the USA.

    The limitations of the UN model is OK by me, it is just annoying that so many try to use it as a vehicle for their own pet grievance or agenda, and thus try to cloak it in some weird kind of moral virtue. Which it does not deserve or need.

    The irony is that the US gets pilloried when it projects its power, regardless of the purpose. I am constantly amazed that they remain willing to help.

    entropy

    January 19, 2010 at 7:48 pm

  63. rog

    Its meant to be a bit of a joke, but at the same time make you think why its tolerable for Haitians to live in poverty because their sovereignty might be violated by the US…

    Seriously though, would it be a bad thing for the average citizen of that country?

    thefrollickingmole

    January 19, 2010 at 7:54 pm

  64. I think we’ll see re-colonisation of many busted arse countries over the 21 century. Unfortunately it will most likely be done by China.

    Infidel Tiger

    January 19, 2010 at 8:01 pm

  65. “Why do you think that is absurd?”

    Because it just wont happen, the days of the US “annexing countries” have long gone, if they ever existed.

    rog

    January 19, 2010 at 8:40 pm

  66. JC

    “I don’t know what I’m doing that’s wrong. I have followed your strict instructions and dared not deviate.”

    You forgot to STFU

    rog

    January 19, 2010 at 8:42 pm

  67. the politics of the lowest common denominator
    .
    Downer forgot to add the inertia generated by the UNSC.

    Adrien

    January 19, 2010 at 8:46 pm

  68. Nah, lowest common denominator there too.

    entropy

    January 19, 2010 at 9:44 pm


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