The disaster in Haiti will require tremendous global efforts to bring life back to the country. In such a landscape of destruction, aid workers are entitled to work in a secure environment in order to focus on the job in hand. Given the chaos in the aftermath of a disaster of such magnitude, it is commonplace for looters and opportunist to take advantage of the heavy multinational presence and lack of state control to carry out their dirty work. Therefore, professional security measures become a logical necessity.
To rescue the devastated Haitian population, the US army has deployed in support of the recovery efforts by the international community, led by the United Nations. The presence of the US Army in Haiti cannot be seen as on a par with its presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. While the latter was an occupation against the will of the international community represented by the United Nations, the former is a materialization of that will. The US Army is doing good to Haiti and its people and has to be appreciated for that.
On the other hand, the presence of non-state organizations and bodies to carry out security-related operations in Haiti for awesome sums of compensation in return is indeed a form of "Disaster Capitalism." In a time of disaster like the one in Haiti, the moral obligation is to help in return for human self-esteem and actualization rather than for wealth. Therefore, the presence of private security organizations in an impoverished country like Haiti may be welcome if only they would operate in an NGO-like mode. Charging reasonable costs to their operations and expertise would be deemed acceptable to allow for directing the bigger portion of funds towards real value for the Haitian people.
IPOA, brokering million-dollar deals under such a dire need for the international community to lend a hand to Haiti, tarnishes its image with opportunism and lack of a sense of social responsibility. It would have been smarter of IPOA to take such an opportunity to undo the negative image it acquired by its involvement in Iraq.
Private security is not a sin as long as it follows certain standards. Running operations in support of governments in Sierra Lione or in tracking down eco-criminals in Kenya and DRC in exchange for good money can be ethical business, whereas charging the same for humanitarian assistance in desperate circumstances is called "Disaster Capitalism" and "Disaster Profiteering."
Jan 25 2010 - 12:20am