Disaster and the Politics of Intervention

Disaster and the Politics of Intervention

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    Disaster and the Politics of Intervention
    Book Description:

    Government plays a critical role in mitigating individual and collective vulnerability to disaster. Through measures such as disaster relief, infrastructure development, and environmental regulation, public policy is central to making societies more resilient. However, the recent drive to replace public institutions with market mechanisms has challenged governmental efforts to manage collective risk. The contributors to this volume analyze the respective roles of the public and private sectors in the management of catastrophic risk, addressing questions such as: How should homeland security officials evaluate the risk posed by terrorist attacks and natural disasters? Are market-based interventions likely to mitigate our vulnerability to the effects of climate change? What is the appropriate relationship between non-governmental organizations and private security firms in responding to humanitarian emergencies? And how can philanthropic efforts to combat the AIDS crisis ensure ongoing access to life-saving drugs in the developing world? More generally, these essays point to the way thoughtful policy intervention can improve our capacity to withstand catastrophic events.

    Additional Columbia / SSRC books on the Privatization of Risk and its Implications for Americans

    Bailouts: Public Money, Private ProfitEdited by Robert E. Wright

    Health at Risk: America's Ailing Health System-and How to Heal ItEdited by Jacob S. Hacker

    Laid Off, Laid Low: Political and Economic Consequences of Employment InsecurityEdited by Katherine S. Newman

    Pensions, Social Security, and the Privatization of RiskEdited by Mitchell A. Orenstein

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51925-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[viii])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-13)

    In late October 2007, a series of wildfires raged uncontrollably in Southern California, surrounding the suburbs of Los Angeles and San Diego and moving rapidly toward the urban core of San Diego. Over half a million residents were evacuated from their homes, a federal emergency was declared, the U.S. Marines and National Guard were mobilized, and President Bush flew to the region to demonstrate the government’s commitment to those in need. A combustible mixture of gusting winds, heat, and stores of dry brush was blamed for the conflagration. But as a number of commentators noted, the magnitude of the disaster...

  4. CHAPTER ONE Beyond Calculation A Democratic Response to Risk
    (pp. 14-41)

    Twice in the new millennium, in calamities barely eight months apart, first in Asia in December 2004 and again in the United States in August 2005, water played havoc with hundreds of thousands of human lives. The two disasters, a tidal wave (or tsunami, as the Japanese call it) and a hurricane, occurred worlds apart—spatially, socially, culturally, economically, in their apparent causes and impacts, and in the political and humanitarian responses that each evoked. But there were deep similarities as well. Both were catastrophic in scale, producing death, dislocation, and damage of unprecedented magnitude. Both were “natural” disasters, in...

  5. CHAPTER TWO Private Choices, Public Harms The Evolution of National Disaster Organizations in the United States
    (pp. 42-69)

    While emergency management agencies in the United States have evolved to provide more public assistance for a greater range of disasters than ever before, several trends in American government have led to confusion about the goals of emergency preparedness and the proper role of the federal government in a complex web of management organizations. Politicization, bureaucratization, deference to states and localities, privatization, and tensions between security and non-security missions complicate efforts at preparing for the shifting category of “disaster.”¹ The success the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) enjoyed in coordinating preparation and response efforts during the 1990s was the exception,...

  6. CHAPTER THREE Strange Brew Private Military Contractors and Humanitarians
    (pp. 70-99)
    P. W. SINGER

    In Afghanistan, a private demining team clears decades-old minefields so that local villagers can till their fields. In Iraq, a unit of corporate commandos escorts an engineering team fixing local sewage facilities. In Darfur, private helicopter crews provide transport for African peacekeepers. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), private soldiers guard United Nations (UN) facilities and warehouses. And along the U.S. Gulf Coast, ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, privately contracted soldiers guard buildings from looters, rescue stranded families by helicopter, and collect and process the dead.

    Scenes like these may have once sounded like fiction, but they are the...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR Risking Health HIV/AIDS and the Problem of Access to Essential Medicines
    (pp. 100-129)

    After twenty years, the human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) pandemic has finally been recognized as a global health crisis, yet the debate over access to the public goods that are essential to defeating this scourge—antiretroviral medicines (ARVs)—continues to be shaped less by principles of public health than by concerns over unrestricted trade and intellectual property rights. This is so despite a general understanding that the HIV/AIDS pandemic is the “defining humanitarian catastrophe of our time”¹ and that it is the availability of antiretroviral drugs that shapes the impact this pandemic is having on different societies. Availability...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE Constructing Carbon Markets Learning from Experiments in the Technopolitics of Emissions Trading Schemes
    (pp. 130-149)

    Climate change is a looming source of large-scale disaster that will require multiple kinds of interventions at multiple political scales in order to mitigate its risks. Successful intervention is a “technopolitical” matter: it must be politically viable, but it must also be materially effective, and its efficacy is a matter of its apparent detail as well as of its general features.

    One of the major current initiatives for abating greenhouse-gas emissions and thus mitigating climate change risk is the development of carbon emissions markets. There is much argument about whether such an approach will be effective, but it is clear...

  9. List of Contributors
    (pp. 150-152)