Leadership, Assistance and Occupation: lessons from Afghanistan!

“If we don’t stand for our sovereignty, it won’t take long before that assistance turns into an occupation”, said Afghan President criticizing the US and others.

As a global leadership scholar, I am studying American soft power leadership and its practices on the global world in general and in Haiti in particular.

Shortly after the earthquake last January, I spent several days at the airport in Port-au-Prince where most rescue teams stayed for the first phase of the emergency response. Most of the rescues were from Afghanistan and I had the opportunity to talk about the situation of this country.

I just read a story published by the Wall Street Journal on Afghan Affairs. And what I read is close to the situation in Haiti with one difference: Haiti is not an open war zone on terrorism and ethnic fundamentalism.

But besides this main difference, some tags words will include both countries: aid, troops, election, corruption, occupation, sovereignty etc…

100,000 American troops are fighting a deadly war against the Taliban in Afghanistan whose government is propped up by billions of dollars in aid.

US President Barack Obama just visited his Afghan homologue President Hamid Karzai. Talks from both side were not soft.

Obama criticized Mr. Karzai on pervasive corruption in his government.

This looks the same with Obama meeting with Preval recently at the White House. I don’t know the content of their closed talks but shortly after his visit, the State Department released a report on corruption in Preval’s administration.

USA today published a story pointing at a Minister closed to Preval who is a stakeholder in a construction firm which has been granted several contracts in the reconstruction of Port-au-Prince.

Afghanistan and Haiti should have elections this year.

Karzai, on his side, is very hard on elections issues and the control of the Electoral Commission.

Parliamentary elections are slated for September in Afghanistan. And the control over the Electoral Commission is the main target.

The main challenge for the US and its allies in Afghanistan is the ability to use at the very same time both the hard power of the military intervention and the soft power of influence through leadership building capacity.

Soft power as defined by Joseph Nye of Harvard University is the ability to obtain what one wants through co-option and attraction. It is in contradistinction to ‘hard power‘, which is the use of coercion and payment.  Soft power should be based on trust, values and institutions.

Roosevelt Jean-Francois

Mots-clefs : , , , ,


The Government is reporting that 112,392 have died and 196,501 people have been injured by the earthquake.  Some 262,901 people have left the earthquake-affected areas for departments in the north and west, according to the Government. The number of displaced people ranges from 800,000 to one million.

Relief supplies are being distributed throughout affected areas but the needs continue to outweigh the response. The priorities for assistance are food, including ready-to-eat meals and beans and rice, and shelter, including tents and shelter material such as plastic sheeting The Shelter Cluster is currently trying to ascertain the exact numbers of tents in country and in the pipeline. Stoves are required to support the cooking of dry rations.

A Joint Operations Tasking Center has started operations and will enable the Haitian Government, MINUSTAH, the humanitarian community, the US and Canadian militaries to coordinate their support to the affected population. An increase in number of cancelled flight slots or no-show slots has been reported at  Port-au-Prince airport. They are unable to meet scheduled arrival slot times.  Flights into Port-au-Prince should only contain cargo that is consigned to organizations that are able to move the cargo from the airport upon arrival and distribute or utilize the materials immediately.

While commercial activities have resumed in many parts of the country, retailers are expressing concern about the difficulties with procurement of new supplies to replenish stocks. All entry points in the country are being used exclusively for humanitarian aid, interrupting normal commercial supply lines. An increase in commodity prices has also been reported further increasing the number of people who are dependent on humanitarian assistance.

In order to help stimulate the local economy, UNDP has started engaging Haitians in cash-for-work programmes. So far, some 7,500 people have been hired for initial activities such as rubble removal and road clearing. UNDP and WFP are currently discussing the possibility of accompanying the daily cash remuneration (150 Gourdes/$3) with a food ration, bringing the remuneration to 200 Gourdes/$5 a day. The  second phase of the programme will focus on hiring people for reconstruction activities.

A joint OCHA/EU assessment of Leogane on 25 and 26 January found that food, water and health remain priority concerns. Apart from one large settlement area at the Stade Gerard Christophe which houses about 400 families, no large makeshift camps were observed; most of the affected populations are in minority.

Some 43,000 radios have been distributed to people in Port-au-Prince by the US as part of an overall effort to reach the people of Haiti via FM/AM broadcasting of Haiti public service announcements. PAHO/WHO is preparing key health messages (e.g. water sanitation, handling patients, etc.) and translating them for dissemination to the public.

The security situation in Port-au-Prince and other affected areas remains stable. There has been a need for crowd control measures at food distribution points and some distributions have been disrupted. Military escorts are required for UN relief distributions. MINUSTAH continues to assist nationwide efforts to apprehend recent prison escapees.