Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Will Haiti Be Obama`s Katrina?

CaribWorldNews: The new book getting all the buzz, `Game Change,` the inside look at the 2008 election and all that led up to it takes the position that Hurricane Katrina played a decisive role in Obama becoming President.

The contention is that watching George Bush`s bumbling response to that natural disaster made Obama believe he could do better as President and provide the leadership the United States needed.

Well we may be witnessing `ironic justice` taking place in Haiti. Let`s be clear. Haiti will never play the same role in the American consciousness as New Orleans did. But that may not protect Obama from the damage Haiti may inflict on his already diminished image.

It is beyond dispute that Obama is not providing leadership here. And isn`t that so indicative of the wider Obama style? Now as is inevitable, Haiti will recede to the background in the coming weeks.

Obama will make a difference there. Even less so with all his other problems. Except that is not leadership but doing the exact same thing he accused Bush of doing following Katrina.

But it is certain that as a result of Obama`s lack of leadership on Haiti today the United States is finally going to get serious about Haiti`s long term future.

All of this should concern all Americans but of course the entire Caribbean most of all. President Obama made a high profile visit to Trinidad early in his Presidency last April. He said nothing of substance at that enclave of Caribbean and other hemisphere leaders and he has done nothing more for the Caribbean since than did the Bush Administration. All that seems to concern him is usual U.S. security issue and being sure the Caribbean is not a conduit for mainland security threats.

He also of course seems somewhat willing to provide funds for policing on the islands to keep the locals in check. What else has he offered? You tell me?

Worse still, put in the context of his mantra change, we can believe in and his so called transformational Presidency, no one can see any transformation coming in the Caribbean before or after the earthquake. Not in Haiti or all over the Caribbean.

If Obama thought and acted as those of us who care about Haiti and the Caribbean do, he would be offering frequent personal statements about Haiti and not just his one immediate message right after the disaster.

He would do more than send Hillary Clinton there for an hour or two along with lower level figures. Vice President Biden along with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would have been assigned to go there. And even more President Obama would have already named a new Haitian Czar to manage and highlight an Obama Administration wide response to the earthquake both our immediate and long term response.

That official would be there right now, staying there and be making daily reports directly to President Obama.
Even more, a really engaged President Obama would have a Task Force here already underway with orders to have a full `business plan` for Haiti`s future over the next decade and what role the United States should play in the future of Haiti and the entire Caribbean.

Finally for now, President Obama should use this tragedy as the reason for the United States to finally name an Assistant Secretary of State for the Caribbean, a post that has never existed.

All of these are obvious immediate steps President Obama would have already taken if he was providing change we can believe in for Haiti and the Caribbean and a clear break from the Bush Administration. Instead he has taken none of these steps.

What`s that you say? President Obama has so many problems to deal with on the first anniversary of becoming President? I say add one more to the list of issues where he is not displaying leadership - Haiti that may become Obama`s Katrina. – Commentary by Arthur Piccolo/Special To CWNN.

Source: CWN

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