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Global health smarts | 

Flickr, alles-schlumpf

What makes global health smart?

As President Clinton’s former Deputy Secretary of Defense John J. Hamre said Monday at a forum on “smart global health,” some of the most effective tactics the military uses today are vaccines, food, water and shelter in a crisis.

“After Sept. 11, our response was anger … fear,” said Hamre, now president of the D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. While a military response is obviously sometimes the right response, he said “smart power” is often much more effective than brute force at winning overseas in the long run.

After the 2004 massive earthquake that devastated parts of Indonesia, the U.S. military orchestrated a massive relief effort. Prior to this, Hamre noted, the approval rate for Americans in this predominantly Muslim nation was in the low teens. After the relief effort, he said, 70 percent of all Indonesians ranked the U.S. favorably.

And yet, Hamre noted, the federal government is now looking to cut foreign aid. Continue reading