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Thursday, December 30, 2004

No more excuses! 

Well, I guess Canada can't be expected to just RESPOND to the Asia emergency by sending whatever we have on hand.
No, apparently that's not the Canadian way.
First we have to STUDY the issue. Then we have to CONSIDER what we could do, and CAREFULLY CRAFT the appropriately economical response. Then, AND ONLY THEN, should we actually send help.
And if, by then, another hundred thousand have died due to thirst, hunger and disease, well, them's the breaks.
I'm totally disgusted -- you see, Canada has this crack team of 200 soldiers, doctors and engineers called DART which was put together following the Rwanda cholera epidemic, specifically designed to be used for world-wide emergencies on 48-hour notice. And it has actually been used, twice, to great praise, in Honduras and in Turkey. But it costs $15 or $20 million to deploy it.
So since 1998, it hasn't been allowed off the ground.
The Globe, in reporting on Canadian tsunami aid - Canada commits $40 million for tsunami aid - notes in passing that we might send some or all of the DART team to Asia.
Or maybe not -- after all, DART can only be deployed, as Bill Graham qualifies it, "if it's going to be useful on the ground" -- it takes "four large planes" to move the whole team, he tells us.
First, apparently, we have to figure out how to make DART more "nimble". Now, we've had five years to study how to do this; regretfully, it apparently hasn't yet been done -- but hey, it was on someone's "to do" list, and its just too bad that no one actually got started on this until last fall.
Then we have to have an "advance reconnaissance team" to determine whether some parts of DART maybe could be sent to Asia.
The whole tone of Graham's reported remarks is that it just wouldn't DO, to act too hastily.
Well, knowing the way bureaucracies usually work, I suspect that the person who put DART together retired or quit about five years ago. And I suspect his successors, wanting to use the money for their own projects, have been trying to quietly kill it ever since.
But the people they're now killing are the people in Asia.
And DART could help, if the politicians and Ottawa military chiefs would just quit making excuses and SEND IT.

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