Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Government responsibility during times of crisis outside our borders

The recent earthquake in Haiti has lead to an outpouring of support from around the world. The United States government has already done much to aid those in need in the poor Caribbean nation. The Department of Health and Human Services will deploy thousands of medical professionals and 22,000 pounds of medical equipment and supplies to Haiti in the coming days. The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development have more than 250 Americans on the ground, including search and rescue teams, assisting with relief efforts. The Coast Guard has preformed reconnaissance flights to help determine the extent of the earthquake’s damage. The U.S. military has sent cargo planes filled with aid supplies, the 82nd Airborne Division has arrived, and the Navy’s hospital ship, Comfort, is on its way to Haiti.

Ask your students to discuss the responsibility of the United States government to support other countries faced with a natural disaster. Is there any Constitutional limit to the amount of aid the United States can offer? Should decisions about giving such aid be made in light of national interest? What effect, if any, does offering such aid have on our country’s foreign policy and foreign relations? It maybe helpful to have your students compare other instances in which the United States gave aid to foreign nations in times of national emergency or national disaster: the post-World War II Marshall Plan; the 2004 Tsunami on the coast of the Indian Ocean; the 2009 Earthquake in Italy.

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