Saturday, January 16, 2010

A point of clarification

In my previous post about Haiti, I don't want the reader to think we shouldn't be providing humanitarian relief to the Haitians.  Indeed, being the rescuers of helpless souls is one of those things that makes me proud to be a part of this country.  I don't think that out continual pumping of foreign aid dollars into Haiti has any value to us (or them.)  The Haitians have been conditioned for so long to rely on government and foreign aid that they are making it harder to get humanitarian relief to them, because they have clogged the airports and seaports with refugees willing to get out on whatever vessel will take them.  Planes can't land, boats can't dock. 

They are, literally, the hopeless beggars who sit on the street, holding a cup, not even making the effort to beg.

We should send them humanitarian aid, in the form of medical support, food, clean water, etc.  Our government should do so on behalf of the people of the United States, again showing the world that we care.  The problem comes when the Haitians have mucked things up so badly that we can't get that aid to them.  Can't land the plane, if we drop pallets of food, water, etc., it will go to whomever has the AK, and will (historical precedent in Haiti says) then be SOLD to people who need it.  Smaller parcels, dropped from helicopter might work, but the risk then is that the helicopter may be shot down, by the same guy with the AK, to get all the parcels.

Marines guarding the relief supplies is just asking for a "Massacre" along the lines of the Boston Massacre, where people storm the food storage areas, and Marines fire to defend themselves from the mob.  People die, and the rescuing heroes are now monsters (at least in the US press) while the press back home asks "why couldn't they just let them have the supplies" not understanding that you have to ensure it is even distributed.

The problem is a logistical one, with some of the population in desperate need, some of the population in desperate need but focused on hoarding, and some of the population just damn crazy.  (Like the ones looting office furniture and electronics.  Guess they don't need food, water and medical attention that bad.)  I think we should provide humanitarian aid for six weeks or less, and then we are gone.  We should tell the people that looting, rioting, and stealing are indicators to us that they do not need our help, and if it happens, we are gone.  We should further make it known that once we leave, the purse strings are cut, and until they have a stable, democratically elected, peaceful government, they will not be re-opened.

I think in the long run, the issue I have with giving them (non-relief) foreign aid is that we could take every last Haitian out of Haiti, completely rebuild the country, modernize it, make factories and hotels and resorts and industry, build homes and buildings for commerce and government, replant their forests, and return it to them in pristine order, and in 10 years, it'd still be a stinking pit of despair.  After all, they got themselves into the mess they are in--not to say they created the earthquake, just that they created their inability to do anything about recovering from it.


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