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Enough Is Enough – Part 1

I have dealt with some of this before, but I have about had it with all of the distortions, ignorance, and lies about the US mission to Haiti.

The US has a long history with Haiti, and most of it has been the US and its interests screwing over the Haitian people. US pork producers and US rice producers have combined to nearly eliminate the small farms in the county, and the US has an undeniable responsibility for the Duvalier reigns of terror in the country.

This time we are actually doing things right, acting like a friend, instead of “father”, and we are getting wholesale grief from everyone, except the Haitians.

Today the Secretary of State had reached her limits. In an AP article at the Washington Post [because they don’t seem to have any reporters left], Clinton: Critics of US Haiti relief misguided, she confined her direct remarks to the media coverage, but it hasn’t been just the media.

I ran across a good example of the sort of thing that has been going on when I did a search for article on the US attitude towards “violence” in Haiti. Lieutenant General P. K. (Ken) Keen is the Deputy Commander of Southern Command, and the head of the Haiti response by the command. He had a conference call with reporters and bloggers about the US response and conditions in Haiti.

I found the Danger Room article that I remembered reading, and also came across other reports from the same teleconference. What he said was presented in totally opposite ways by some people, including the Huffington Post.

General Keen basically said that there was violence before the earthquake, and there have been pockets of violence since the quake, but, overall, things were calm. He also made the point that security was the concern of the UN in Haiti and Haiti authorities, and not part of the US effort.

If I were the head of the UN mission in Haiti and I read the reports that claimed that General Keen had said that the level of violence was hindering relief efforts, I would be pretty angry. I now understand why the head of the mission was upset with the US. He obviously read, or was asked about the General’s conference call, and felt he and his people were being slandered by an American official, when, in fact, the General was quoted from his response to a hypothetical question [could violence affect relief operations], not the conditions that he saw on the ground.

Then you have Guido Bertolaso, Italy’s civil protection chief, giving an interview on Italian television, saying no one is in charge in Haiti, and the international community should appoint at “tsar” to take over the relief effort.

Haitian President Rene Preval, may have lost his home, and the Presidential Palace to the earthquake, but he is still the head of state, and deserves some respect for still trying to operate a government after the destruction of infrastructure and the loss of so many officials of his government.

As the BBC reports from the Montreal meeting on Haiti: Haiti ‘can lead quake recovery’, Canada summit told

Haiti’s government can lead efforts to rebuild the country in the wake of its devastating earthquake, Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive has said.

But Mr Bellerive told a meeting of world officials in the Canadian city of Montreal that “massive support” from the international community was needed.

It is not helpful when foreign government officials ignore the existing government in Haiti. They have already set up temporary offices at the airport, along with the UN and are trying to organize the country without many of their key people.

2 comments

1 Jack K., the Grumpy Forester { 01.27.10 at 11:01 pm }

…I have seen a remarkable amount of commentary about how the US involvement in relief efforts is nothing more than an “occupation” of the country, which apparently is happening for a whole host of nefarious reasons that I am insufficiently sophisticated to understand. It seems that the fact that the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force have immediately available resources that no corporation or relief agency can lay their hands on cannot defeat this “invasion” mindset…

I confess to wondering why that same charge wasn’t raised during the Christmas tsunamis back in 2004 when Naval carrier groups and Marine MEU’s were “invading” various countries around the Indian Ocean, but I am – or so I am told – insufficiently sophisticated…

2 Bryan { 01.27.10 at 11:32 pm }

Most people don’t know what the Southern Command does, other than the drug war garbage, but they respond to all of the hurricanes, so they have had a lot of relief experience. The big problem is that while a lot of bi-lingual [English-Spanish] people are available to SoCom, they have a real shortage of French or Creole. Frankly, Canada would have been a better choice, but they don’t have the resources.

I’ll be dealing with why the US is doing what it’s doing in the next part, and it boils down to they were asked to do it.

The guys in SoCom are very aware of US-Haiti relations and how potently touchy they are. The Marines are especially at a disadvantage working in Haiti because of history. The US military isn’t guarding anything they weren’t asked to guard by either the Haitians or the UN. They have done everything they can to avoid any security role.

So far, the direction is repairs to the infrastructure, and that requires men and machines. They can’t stay long because of other commitments, principally in Afghanistan, so they need to do a lot in a short time frame.

The Tsunami is comparable in the loss of life, but the infrastructure of the country wasn’t wiped out as occurred in Port au Prince. That’s a major difference. Indonesia still had resources available from outside the affected area to bring into Aceh. Too much of Haiti’s resources were concentrated in Port au Prince.

The real question should be – what in hell has Haiti got that the US would want? We have plenty of poor and unemployed people in the US, so we don’t need any more, and that’s the main resource of Haiti.