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It might sound Pollyannaish coming from anybody other than Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hard-nosed intellectual who was Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser. But he says the gigantic catastrophe in Haiti may suggest some good things about the state of the modern world.

“As I look at this tragedy and as I look at this enormous human suffering, I’m also a little bit encouraged by the symbolism of the collective global response,” Brzezinski said in an interview with MSNBC.

Help has arrived quickly not only from the United States, the country’s biggest and richest neighbor, but also from other countries including Brazil and China. That could be a hopeful sign of an emerging international template for responding to turmoil around the world, including in hot spots like Afghanistan.

“There is this surfacing in the international community of this sense of collective responsibility, of kind of shared appreciation of the obligation to help others. And that’s encouraging,” he said.

It could also be very good news in the long run for Haiti, which the United States had been trying to help stabilize before the quake hit this week. Actual stability would mark an unusual break in the country’s sad and violent history.