I have been to Haiti – stayed in a nice hotel on the Boulevard Harry Truman, right off the beach.
The drive from the airport to the hotel was short – it’s only about 10 miles. The road is lined with shanty towns – not tall buildings that can collapse and block the highway. It is a very very easy drive.
From what it looks like today, that drive from the airport to the center of Haiti could be a million miles. While only a short distance away, people suffer and die, and anarchy reigns, the US Marines and the Haitian president dare not venture from the safety of the airport.
Even the brave and dashing Geraldo Rivera remains at the airport’s safe haven (while he sends his second-dog brother into town).
Supplies that were sent sit idly at the airport.
Fox News is now shifting the blame to the Haitian government – a government without a single important building left standing.
Troops have not been assigned to help deliver water or guard medical facilities, but are doing little fearing the wrath of an unarmed people, who have heard for days about aid and money donated, and then seeing nothing. (And these US troops are going to free Afghanistan?)
Greg Palast points to some facts that the TV networks that are ignoring as they milk Haiti’s pain in an orgy of self-congratulatory reporting:
- China deployed rescuers with sniffer dogs within 48 hours. China, Mr. President. China: 8,000 miles distant. Miami: 700 miles close. US bases in Puerto Rico: right there.
- Obama’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, “I don’t know how this government could have responded faster or more comprehensively than it has.” We know Gates doesn’t know.
- Send in the Marines. That’s America’s response. That’s what we’re good at. The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson finally showed up after three days. With what? It was dramatically deployed — without any emergency relief supplies. It has sidewinder missiles and 19 helicopters.
- But don’t worry, the International Search and Rescue Team, fully equipped and self-sufficient for up to seven days in the field, deployed immediately with ten metric tons of tools and equipment, three tons of water, tents, advanced communication equipment and water purifying capability. They’re from Iceland.
- Gates wouldn’t send in food and water because, he said, there was no “structure … to provide security.” For Gates, appointed by Bush and allowed to hang around by Obama, it’s security first. That was his lesson from Hurricane Katrina. Blackwater before drinking water.
- From my own work in the field, I know that FEMA has access to ready-to-go potable water, generators, mobile medical equipment and more for hurricane relief on the Gulf Coast. It’s all still there.
The Israelis should be added to the list of those who can deliver – working in their field hospitals at night, while the other doctors flee the scene, leaving their victims to die on the operation tables.
Can’t our military wimps drop supplies to the Haitians from the safety of a helicopter, and then return home to the airport for their next square meal?
If you were a Haitian, wouldn’t you be ready to blow the lid off too?