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Archive for Friday, January 22, 2010

No apologies

It is so easy for people to criticize the United States for what some perceive as failure in a tragedy.

January 22, 2010

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This Haiti thing is all Uncle Sam’s fault, right?

To hear some commentators and columnists, at home as well as abroad, the United States never did anything in the past to help one of the world’s more impoverished countries; didn’t do nearly enough, and certainly not soon enough, to help the survivors of the earthquake that claimed more than 200,000 lives; failed miserably to get people, equipment and supplies on the ground when the slightest bit of aid would soften the suffering.

Anything you can dream up making America the villain in all this tragedy won’t come even close to some of the ridiculous charges some have been making despite constant efforts by our government and our people to do what is right and needed.

Most disgusting were the attacks based on political views by some of the radio and television talking heads. How come President Obama’s people didn’t reach out and touch the soil and make miracles happen, such as turning a few loaves and fishes into everything the Haitians need? Fact is, Obama pledged $100 million to help the beleaguered little country. Contrast that with the “generous” gift of $1 million by Russia. China is supposed to be a world leader, but where were its outpourings of finances and material? The Port-au-Prince airport had only a single runway, and at one point all traffic was held up by about an hour by a Chinese group organizing a photo opportunity.

And the American people. No matter what would-be experts say, private citizens immediately rose up and did everything within their grasp to accept refugees, donating funds and sending people who would do some good in the devastating situation. There is no end to the compassion and generosity we in America have generated in an effort to help the sick and injured and restore some semblance of infrastructure, which never existed in the first place.

Here was an area that already lacked hospitals, roads, food and water services and other amenities we take for granted. With so many facilities destroyed and so many key people killed, including United Nations personnel in Haiti specifically for pre-earthquake guidance, there was nowhere for those on the inside to turn. There had been no major facilities, and suddenly outsiders, mainly the United States, were expected to pull them out of thin air.

Yet despite the complaints, the errors in judgment, the difficulties of access by land and sea, all these seemingly insurmountable obstacles, helpers of many nations got significant things done. More often than not, the Samaritans doing the important tasks were Americans who unselfishly gave of themselves and their resources to alter the grim picture.

There’s that age-old bit about the merits of doing the right things because they are right rather than doing them for credit. Americans should be proud of their efforts in Haiti despite the ludicrous barrage of criticism.

Comments

anon1958 4 years, 11 months ago

The American military is the best trained armed force in the world. No one can top their logistical expertise, they basically increased the capacity of the Port au Prince 100 fold from pre-earthquake capacity of about 18 flights/day to over 150/day in very short order.

So far the world wide response has been really impressive given the circumstances. The complainers and critics are just good old fashioned misanthropes and reactionary right wingers that are POed because the comparison will be made to Bush's Katrina incompetence.

commuter 4 years, 11 months ago

anon - there is a big difference between what happened in Haiti and New Orleans. Haiti asked foir help, LA governor and New Orleans mayor did not want the federal government help unitl it was too late. Don't get me wrong, there is enough blame on the federal government for Katrina but don't let the local & state government get away from any blame just because of a hatred of President Bush.

kansasmutt 4 years, 11 months ago

When you dial 911 it can take 10 minutes to get through. When they send help it can take 30 minutes. That is here and only 5 miles. Now you add in the fact of being thousands of miles away and communications being broke down. I think the USA came out looking awesome on getting help to those folks. The katrina mess, well that was many factors at work. 1 a mayor who failed to know the facts and the real need for help. 2 state leaders who where blind to the facts and didnt care ,it appears. 3 a storm that was differant than any other in history. I say the Haiti effort gets an A+ and katrina efforts get a D- . Now can our leaders respond to this nations needs in the future and help our country ? How about deploying the National Gaurd to the big cities to fight some crime ? How about placing troops on our borders to protect us ? We seem to be able to help out around the world, but forget about our own backyards.

georgiahawk 4 years, 11 months ago

Kansasmutt, the last thing we need is a military presence on our streets. You don't like big government? This would be the worst possible scenario!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 11 months ago

"Here was an area that already lacked hospitals, roads, food and water services and other amenities we take for granted."

And why do they lack these things? There are many reasons, but at the very top of the list are the downright criminal actions and policies of the US Government over more than 200 years, including two coups in the last twenty years against its elected president.

And BTW, 75, stating the very clear facts is only "carping" to the willfully ignorant.

anon1958 4 years, 11 months ago

"anon - there is a big difference between what happened in Haiti and New Orleans. Haiti asked foir help, LA governor and New Orleans mayor did not want the federal government help unitl it was too late."

When people are drowning they do not need to go through the state or city government to ask for help from anyone! Your logic just completely fails here. The federal government does not require permission to execute search and rescue missions in the USA.

anon1958 4 years, 11 months ago

5x55 (Anonymous) says…

“reactionary right wingers ”

Really? There's no constant barrage of anti-American leftists carping about how we propped up dictators and kept 'the people' under their thumbs by our foreign policy actions for the last 100 years?

Hmm. Balance is lacking, I think.

Your first error of fallacious argumentation is by defining people on the left of the political spectrum as anti-American. There have been so many on the left writing and criticizing our policy of propping up dictators that I am wondering if you are illiterate and had to dictate your post orally to someone that can read and write. Better for you to be illiterate than so poorly read that you would make such an egregiously uninformed statement.

On the off chance that you can read, here are two men that have documented and criticized the policies you refer to, Christopher Hitchens and Noam Chomsky. Chomsky is very left of center Hitchens is more complex. This is just a suggestion to get you started, good luck, you have a huge amount of catching up to do, like 50 years worth.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 11 months ago

"Or more likely the willfully deceptive only stating a certain subset of facts to support their own subversive agenda."

You summed yourself up quite well, given the huge body of facts that you find inconvenient to your sanitized worldview.

"LA governor and New Orleans mayor did not want the federal government help unitl it was too late.”"

The actual facts are that BushCo politicized how the aid was going to be supplied from the start, and this greatly added to the confusion in getting local, state and federal aid where it needed to be by creating unnecessary turf wars.

jaywalker 4 years, 11 months ago

"but at the very top of the list are the downright criminal actions and policies of the US Government"

Just threw up in my mouth a little bit. The only part of that post that was remotely factual was "There are many reasons". Haiti's only been around as it's own nation for about 200 years and in that small period of time they've had something like 20-30 coups. I have no idea what coups bozo seems to believe the U.S. has led, but I know in the '90's Clinton sent Carter in at the request of the Haitian President, and we did help Baby Doc get his family out instead of getting slaughtered. It's a small island that's almost completely deforested and their main export is coffee. Something like 2/3 of the population are subsistence farmers only, more than that are illiterate, and the country scrapes by with close to 50% of their money coming from foreign aid, the most coming from the U.S.

But yeah, we're "at the top of the list" to blame. What a moron.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 11 months ago

"Perhaps 'anti-liberty' would be more accurate,"

Accurate? It's yet another undefined, and undefinable slur, meant to short-circuit any meaningful debate.

acg 4 years, 11 months ago

Here here! America rocks! As can be witnessed by the Haitian people chanting "USA USA USA" during the rescue of some trapped victims the other day (see huffpost for video). We always step up and help those in need. That's what makes us, for all of our flaws and problems, the best country in the world.

Laura Wilson 4 years, 11 months ago

Possibly the first time I've ever agreed with a JW editorial, though it's really not surprising the world, in general, blames the US for everything. We do tend to get the blame, sometimes deserved, but certainly not in this case.

jimmyjms 4 years, 11 months ago

"How come President Obama’s people didn’t reach out and touch the soil and make miracles happen, such as turning a few loaves and fishes into everything the Haitians need? "

Um, hasn't this been Dolph junior's stance on Obama all along?

Fred Whitehead Jr. 4 years, 11 months ago

Wow, the owners of Rush's Republican Rag seem to be offended by the gems of journalism by their anointed outlet of sewage and vocal garbage! Amazing! This scourge on the American public has been running his mouth for a number of years now and has even been touted as a possible presidential candidate. Now the local Republican trumpet section is annoyed with his gems of wisdom. Amazing!
When you sleep with dogs you have fleas.

Ricky_Vaughn 4 years, 11 months ago

Great job with Haiti, but let's not pretend we're perfect.

Melissa Sigler 4 years, 11 months ago

I agree with this article, mostly.

Where are all the outpours of money and assistance when we need it for people here?

Not trying to imply that this event isn't tragic, it most certainly is and its nice that so many people are willing to help, but when it comes to our own people in need, well...I'm not even going to go there.

Reading back on other comments, I have to agree with this:

When you dial 911 it can take 10 minutes to get through. When they send help it can take 30 minutes. That is here and only 5 miles. Now you add in the fact of being thousands of miles away and communications being broke down. I think the USA came out looking awesome on getting help to those folks. The katrina mess, well that was many factors at work. 1 a mayor who failed to know the facts and the real need for help. 2 state leaders who where blind to the facts and didnt care ,it appears. 3 a storm that was differant than any other in history. I say the Haiti effort gets an A+ and katrina efforts get a D- . Now can our leaders respond to this nations needs in the future and help our country ? How about deploying the National Gaurd to the big cities to fight some crime ? How about placing troops on our borders to protect us ? We seem to be able to help out around the world, but forget about our own backyards.

George Lippencott 4 years, 11 months ago

Amen.

Anderson Cooper stands there day and night complaining of a lack of medical care. Over a million and a half people are without food, water, sanitation, shelter and so on. How did Mr. Cooper become such an expert on humanitarian aid – because the doctors at MSF complain they are shorted? There is one limited airport and until today no port. Many transport vehicles were destroyed in the quake. The roads are blocked. Heavy equipment to open them quickly would come at the expense of humanitarian aid.

Haiti, whether we like it or not is one massive triage operation. Do we focus on the few at the expense of the many?? And do not mistake it – that is what Mr. Cooper is suggesting. Until we open more avenues of transport the care of the many will be inadequate – the few may just have to wait. Heartless? Yes, but probably necessary. Ask our disaster preparedness people. If we have a massive disaster here, we will do the same here. The difference is that we have infrastructure to start with. It is in spite of massive American aid both public and private that Haiti has little-further complicating our aid effort.

I expect our enemies to attack us no matter what we do. The French (to include MSF) haven’t gotten over their loss of empire and still want to dictate – even though they are contributing little compared to us. Remember they created the mess in Haiti long ago and have done little but complain about our efforts to fix it. Kind of like what they do with all their former colonies. Many elite Europeans are very opinionated about the average American. We have too much and we do not do what they say. Unfortunately our élites too often fall for this baloney.

I believe the Obama administration is doing the best anyone can do with this unprecedented disaster. Remember, the UN is in charge. They finally are moving staff to assume the burden. Their peace keepers are hopelessly inadequate. The sooner they adequately augment their staff the better so we can meet the demands of the expatriate Haitians and get our troops out (they might just take over the country if they stay??).

All this proves to me is that it is irrelevant how we approach the rest of the world. We can cooperate or we can go it alone but they will complain no matter what. Has anybody heard any thanks from the UN or its members for our massive efforts both public and private??

George Lippencott 4 years, 11 months ago

Hi thos complaing about past errors

How horrible, we supported dictators of the right. Having done that we must eat crow for ever? Did we forget about President Clinton reinstalling an elected leader in Haiti?? We have spent a lot of money there and not received much in return (both public and private).

Are you suggesting we invade countries who's government we find less than admirable although the legal government? There is a difference between trying to leverage the existing government whatever it is to do better and "supporting" it!!

How about some comments on all those wonderful nations that had large colonial holdings, like France, that they messed up immeasurably- to include Haiti

I apologize for nothing. My service and the service of many others made your ill informed bitching possible.

I hope when we get further along in Haiti the government we have to deal with is democratic and cares about its people.

Do they teach this drivel about our past transgressions at KU without perspective or are you unable to understand the sophisticated notion that KU may be trying to present?

Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

As radio news has put it natives are concerned about the US military taking over the country.

GW Bush left a bad impression as have other administrations. How do americans know what our government is doing abroad?

Security “Red Zones” in Haiti Preventing Large Aid Groups from Effectively Distributing Aid

As thousands of well-equipped US soldiers pour into Haiti, there is an increasing concern about the militarization of the country, supporting the soldiers and not the people.

Or, as one doctor put it, “people need gauze, not guns.” We take a look at aid distribution in Haiti and the effect on Haitians fighting to survive in the aftermath of the earthquake.

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/1/22/security_red_zones_in_haiti_preventing

Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

By Lindsay Beyerstein

Within hours of last week's devastating earthquake in Haiti, the U.S. International Development Agency (USAID) reached out to highly skilled teams of union firefighters to help rescue survivors.

USAID works with many fire departments nationwide through preexisting partnerships, but according to Dan Schmidt, public affairs officer for the Fairfax County Fire Department, Fairfax, Va., and Los Angleles County have the only teams in the U.S. certified by the United Nations in light and heavy recovery operations.

The Fairfax firefighters belong to the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2068. LA County task force firefighters belong to IAFF Local 1014.

Fairfax County sent two teams to Haiti. The "heavy" team has 72 human members and 6 rescue dogs. About 80 percent of team members are firefighters. Paramedics, doctors, structural engineers, heavy rigging experts, and dog handlers are also represented.The team carries enough supplies to sustain itself in the field for two weeks.

The heavy team was alerted by USAID on the evening of January 12, just hours after the earthquake, and shipped out the next morning. A second 42-member "medium" team deployed on January 14.

Fairfax made its first rescue on January 14, when they helped free an Estonian guard from the rubble of UN Headquarters. Rescuers had to "de-layer" nearly three floors of concrete to reach the man, who was pinned under a chair. They passed him a saw. The guard cut himself free and walked out on his own.

Two days ago, Fairfax team members worked with French and Turkish rescuers to save a Haitian woman. The rescue, which took several hours, involved cameras, listening devices, jackhammers, and saws.

There are several U.S. search and rescue teams operating in Haiti under the direction of USAID; as of Friday, these teams had rescued a total of 43 people.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

According to radio news Cuba was providing doctors shortly after disaster. China was flying in relief as well. Well before the USA contingent began.

George Lippencott 4 years, 11 months ago

Merrill:

How about sources. It really sounds like you are paranoid. Do you really believe that Obama would take over an independent nation??

anon1958 4 years, 11 months ago

5x55 (Anonymous) says…

Ah, let the obfuscation begin. To be expected of the nascent Chomskyite. What exactly is it to be…”American”….? That, my friend, is known as a 'tarbaby'.

“Anti-american” is indeed a vague concept, and probably cannot be anything other than vague. As a catch-phrase it serves it's purpose to be more readily understood. Perhaps 'anti-liberty' would be more accurate, though less comprehensible to many - consider how many of your political 'heroes' really ascribe to the concept of liberty as understood by the founders? There's your homework for the weekend.

You apparently do not understand the error I pointed out in your logic because you have compounded it in your reply. I suppose I shall not criticize you for it since someone probably had to read my post to you and perhaps something was lost in the translation. I did not endorse Chomsky or Hitchens in my reply I merely listed them as examples (among dozens) of people that have produced a vast body of literature that you claimed did not exist.

Because your knowledge of the recent political literature is so impoverished I am skeptical that you have delved deeply in the literature, letters and pamphlets of pre-revolutionary Americans. I seriously doubt if you are in any intellectual position to assign me homework readings on any subject that I have even the faintest interest in.

George Lippencott 4 years, 11 months ago

merrill (Anonymous) says…

I commend the Cubans if they responded rapidly. I doubt that China got there that fast but what matters is that they responded. Is it true they held up movement at the airport for a photo-op??.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

Moderate is making up things that posters said or did not say....

Meanwhile:

Doctor: Misinformation and Racism Have Frozen Recovery Effort at General Hospital in Port-au-Prince

“There are no security issues,” says Dr. Evan Lyon of Partners in Health, reporting from the General Hospital in Port-Au-Prince in Haiti, where 1,000 people are in need of operations. Lyon said the reports of violence in the city have been overblown by the media and have affected the delivery of aid and medical services.

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/1/20/devastated_port_au_prince_hospital_struggles

============================================================== Bottled Water Supplies in Port-au-Prince Airport Being Distributed...to US Embassy

In the airport in Port-au-Prince, huge pallets of aid, including medical supplies, food and water, sit in fields around the tarmac. Amy Goodman reports on how hundreds of cases of bottled water are being delivered to the US embassy. http://www.democracynow.org/2010/1/21/bottled_water_supplies_in_port_au ===============================================================

"She Had a Desire to Live I Have Never Seen" - Rescue Worker Describes Pulling Woman Out of Rubble 7 Days After Haiti Quake

We speak with French search and rescue worker Jean-Philippe Oustalet, of the group Rescuers Without Borders. He talks about rescuing a twenty-five-year-old Haitian woman who was buried under rubble in Port-au-Prince for seven days. http://www.democracynow.org/2010/1/21/she_had_a_desire_to_live ================================================================

Doctor: Misinformation and Racism Have Frozen Recovery Effort at General Hospital in Port-au-Prince

“There are no security issues,” says Dr. Evan Lyon of Partners in Health, reporting from the General Hospital in Port-Au-Prince in Haiti, where 1,000 people are in need of operations. Lyon said the reports of violence in the city have been overblown by the media and have affected the delivery of aid and medical services. http://www.democracynow.org/2010/1/19/doctor_misinformation_and_racism_have_frozen

Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

"Bush Was Responsible for Destroying Haitian Democracy" - Randall Robinson on Obama Tapping Bush to Co-Chair US Relief Efforts

We speak with TransAfrica founder Randall Robinson, author of An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, from Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President. On President Obama tapping former President Bill Clinton and former President George W Bush to co-chair US relief efforts in Haiti, Robinson says, “Bush was responsible for destroying Haitian democracy…Clinton has largely sponsored a program of economic development that supports the idea of sweatshops… but that is not what we should focus on now. We should focus on saving lives.” http://www.democracynow.org/2010/1/15/bush_was_responsible_for_destroying_haitian

commuter 4 years, 11 months ago

Merrill- I am learning from all of your posts. If you say the same thing again and again, people may start think it is true.

Bush is to blame for everything!!!

Bush is to blame for allowing Merrill to continue to live here in Lawrence!!!

Bush is to blame for not sending Merrill to Guantanomo Bay!!!

Bush is to blame for allowing Merrill to be on the Lawrence Traffic Advisory Board and screw up Lawrence more!!!

Bush is to blame for allowing Merrill to posts "fair and balanced and unbiased" links!!!

Merrill pays a lot in taxes!!!

Merrill actually will put his own money for his pet projects!!!

Bush is to blame for everything!!!

Bush is to blame for allowing Merrill to continue to live here in Lawrence!!!

Bush is to blame for not sending Merrill to Guantanomo Bay!!!

Bush is to blame for allowing Merrill to be on the Lawrence Traffic Advisory Board and screw up Lawrence more!!!

Bush is to blame for allowing Merrill to posts "fair and balanced and unbiased" links!!!

Merrill pays a lot in taxes!!!

Merrill actually will put his own money for his pet projects!!!

Bush is to blame for everything!!!

Bush is to blame for allowing Merrill to continue to live here in Lawrence!!!

Bush is to blame for not sending Merrill to Guantanomo Bay!!!

Bush is to blame for allowing Merrill to be on the Lawrence Traffic Advisory Board and screw up Lawrence more!!!

Bush is to blame for allowing Merrill to posts "fair and balanced and unbiased" links!!!

Merrill pays a lot in taxes!!!

Merrill actually will put his own money for his pet projects!!!

Bush is to blame for everything!!!

Bush is to blame for allowing Merrill to continue to live here in Lawrence!!!

Bush is to blame for not sending Merrill to Guantanomo Bay!!!

Bush is to blame for allowing Merrill to be on the Lawrence Traffic Advisory Board and screw up Lawrence more!!!

Bush is to blame for allowing Merrill to posts "fair and balanced and unbiased" links!!!

Merrill pays a lot in taxes!!!

Merrill actually will put his own money for his pet projects!!!

Bush is to blame for everything!!!

Bush is to blame for allowing Merrill to continue to live here in Lawrence!!!

Bush is to blame for not sending Merrill to Guantanomo Bay!!!

Bush is to blame for allowing Merrill to be on the Lawrence Traffic Advisory Board and screw up Lawrence more!!!

Bush is to blame for allowing Merrill to posts "fair and balanced and unbiased" links!!!

Merrill pays a lot in taxes!!!

Merrill actually will put his own money for his pet projects!!!

Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

Naomi Klein Issues Haiti Disaster Capitalism Alert: Stop Them Before They Shock Again

Journalist and author Naomi Klein spoke in New York last night and addressed the crisis in Haiti: “We have to be absolutely clear that this tragedy—which is part natural, part unnatural—must, under no circumstances, be used to, one, further indebt Haiti and, two, to push through unpopular corporatist policies in the interest of our corporations. This is not conspiracy theory. They have done it again and again.”

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/1/14/naomi_klein_issues_haiti_disaster_capitalism

bblbfolks 4 years, 11 months ago

Debate? HA! All I hear is people on both sides spewing hatred at each other. This is why I view all politicians as scoundrels. It doesn't matter what party they are with, they are all in it to get reelected...no matter what it takes to do that.

Maybe we should limit the number of press allowed to go into situations like this. I mean, for every reporter, how many support staff do they have with them, that are taking up vital resources that could be used to actually help someone. I would be surprised if Anderson Cooper has less than 5 people with him. Hmm, that would be 6 beds and I don't how much food and water every day that they are there.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

"It is hard to imagine what a magnitude 7 earthquake might do to a city that on any ordinary day already resembles a disaster area. Today, compassionate Americans will wince at the photos, then pick their way among the foundations which offer alms to the Haitian poor. Here is one unlikely proposal to help Haiti, taken from Juan Cole's email :

Memo to Obama on Haiti: "It's reported that Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase combined have set aside $47 billion for bonuses," says an NPR account, according to Cole. "Haiti's annual gross domestic product in nominal terms is about $7 bn. a year. Seize the bonuses. Send them to Haiti."

It'll never happen, of course. But if there were any justice in the world, it would."

http://motherjones.com/mojo/2010/01/us-policy-helped-keep-haiti-chaos

ldvander 4 years, 11 months ago

"When you dial 911 it can take 10 minutes to get through"

Hmmmm...I think you are lying big time and your exaggeration does not make any point for you.

ldvander 4 years, 11 months ago

"When people are drowning they do not need to go through the state or city government to ask for help from anyone" Actually a state does have to ask and allow federal troops "US Military" to enter and operate within the State. The Coast Guard have some flexibility. If you remember the 82nd airborne responded when the Governor finally asked congress for federal troops. Now, I'm sure there were some other skewed situations that screwed up N.O. but before the 82nd and National Guard elements responded 1st Cav. 82nd and 101st were on stand by as in any national disaster. California forest fires prompt military units to be ready if the Gov of Cali asks for federal troops to give assistance. But he has to ask and allow. Do you understand this? Now, you are suggesting that since a municipality has a search and rescue/fire unit, or police divers, or SWAT, or EMS that assist its community of human beings then therefore the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT should assist (control) its States anytime it sees fit?

commuter 4 years, 11 months ago

Merrill isn't a little early to be drunk?? Why should the government seize the bonuses?? Or are you jealous that people who get bonuses are mostly based on results, not a hand out.

If you really want to help Haiti, please go live there. The Haiti people would really appreciate it.

George Lippencott 4 years, 11 months ago

merrill (Anonymous) says…

OK. I don't think so!

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