A long line forms to buy ice in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, at 6:56 p.m. on 27 September 2017. Photo: Kirsten Luce / The New York Times

By Juliette Kayyem
30 September 2017

(CNN) – It is a difficult task to turn the memory of Hurricane Katrina into a quaint story of well-meaning government actors unable to save a city from destruction.

President Donald Trump managed to do that on Saturday morning when he essentially blamed Puerto Rico and its mayor, in a series of tweets, for the devastation they are facing. From his own golf club, Trump attacked rather than reflected and helped.

I am a homeland and national security analyst for CNN and for this op-ed page. I keep my emotions in check. Indeed, having been in the field for some time, having worked on many disasters, I kept my criticisms to a minimum, as I know how hard disaster management is. I saw the disturbing images from Puerto Rico, but knowing the dedication and expertise of the professionals working the disaster I believed there had to be an explanation.

For example, I understood that the challenges of moving commodities quickly on a devastated island is arduous -- that the proverbial "last mile" to distribution is the greatest challenge of any mass mobilization. I had worked within the confines of the antiquated Jones Act, the law that prohibits foreign vessels from shipping to American ports, but understood that waivers, like the one that Trump issued, were readily available and the Act itself was likely not the cause of a slow response.

    I, like everyone else, had seen the tremendous work of Trump's homeland security team in hurricanes in Houston and Miami just weeks before. In some ways, I had convinced myself that Trump was a bit player in this tragedy.

    No longer. A good man who has empathy, or even knows how to pretend to have it, would not make the unfolding tragedy about himself. A confident President would not accuse Puerto Ricans of wanting "everything done for them." A self-reflective leader able to critically assess would question and push his team to send more resources and get the federal response moving. A strong Commander-in-Chief would know that his main duty is not to praise himself or lash back because of a bruised ego, but to use his global platform to provide two key needs: numbers (responders, commodities, ships, food, water, debris removal, etc) and hope.

    Hope. It's the easiest thing to do, to let Puerto Ricans, our own citizens, know that we understand their frustration and fear and we will not accept anything short of resolution. [more]

    'Trump's Katrina?' No, it's much worse

    1 comments :

    1. Dennis Mitchell said...

      Leader of the "free" world. Should he be intimidated by a major of a city? Maybe it is just women who intimidate him. Or maybe just smart people. The USA is considered by many to be one of the greatist countries ever. Yet we are given the choice of a sociopath or a narssisist to lead us.  

     

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