15 January, 2010

Haiti: Some Essential Reading

What a horrific situation.  Three days after the quake, relief is having a hard time finding its way into the country.  The port's destroyed, the airstrip's overwhelmed, and roads are impassable.  People are dying waiting for medical care, much less rescue.  It's going to get worse before it gets better.  But damn, is it ever good to have an adult in charge of the American response.  Obama's ensured that, even though this is a far more difficult disaster to deal with than Katrina was, not to mention the fact that Haiti's not a U.S. city, our response is comprehensive, appropriate, and swift.  Well, aside from getting George W. "Heckuva Job" Bush on board with the relief efforts, but I understand that's a PR move and Obama's smart enough not to put him in charge of anything important.

The United States Air Force took over air traffic control responsibilities for the airport in Port-au-Prince, restoring some order amidst the chaos.  The airport's handling three times the traffic it's used to, and there are delays, but things are better than they were.  This allows search and rescue teams from various countries to get in and get to work.  Within a few days, the American military should have heavy equipment on the ground, start clearing blocked roads, and make it a lot easier to get aid in to the disaster zone.  And in the short term, we'll be getting ships equipped with helicopters in to ferry supplies and personnel.  Some folks might complain the military hasn't responded quickly enough.  Those folks can go hang - we're talking about a massive rescue effort that has to be coordinated with a government that's in shambles.  I'm surprised the response has been as rapid as it has been.

And no, the military can't just invade a foreign country, not even for humanitarian reasons.  Especially not with our history.  Did you know that Bush the Elder and Bush the Younger both removed Haiti's democratically-elected president in what basically amounted to coups?  And that's not even the half of how the Western world has shit upon these people.  We have a bad history that goes back to the beginning of this country.  So, no, sending in a wave of American troops without coordinating with Haiti's government probably wouldn't be a great idea, no matter how noble the motives. 

Tragedy sometimes brings out the best in people.  Alas, it still doesn't do that for Rush Limbaugh.  Forgive me the temptation to spike his cigar with Superglue.  Meanwhile, Faux News devoted a whole 7 minutes of evening programming to the tragedy.  It appears that interviewing Sarah Palin, trashing Jon Stewart, and plugging Scott Brown for Senate is far more important to them than covering one of the worst earthquake disasters to ever strike this hemisphere.

Our own George takes on "compassion tourism."  Don't even get me started on this.  I'm still seeing red.

But here's something wonderful: folks have donated more than $7 million dollars via text message.  Here's how you can bring it to $10 million:
  •  Text the word "HAITI" to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross.
  • Text the word "YELE" to 501501 to donate $5 to the Yele Haiti foundation.
  • Text the word "HAITI" to 20222 to donate $10 to the Clinton Foundation Haiti Relief Fund.
  • Text "HAITI" to 25383 to donate $5 to the International Rescue Committee.
  • Text "HAITI" to 85944 to donate $10 to the International Medical Corps.

And yes, all of the above are legit.  So you can give safely.  You can also hit up this list here, if you prefer to give through more traditional channels.

One of the most tragic things I read today was what Port-au-Prince resident Bellefleur Jean Heber said: "Haiti is an abandoned country....  People are relying on themselves."

You're not abandoned, Mr. Heber.  Help's coming as fast as it can.  Rescuers from all over the world are  having a hard time getting through, but they're going to be there for you soon.

We won't forget you.


Cujo359 said...

People who have never either worked with a military or a disaster relief organization usually have little idea what things are like when they go sideways like this. There are few, if any, resources in Haiti at the moment. Yesterday, planes were stuck at the airport because there was no fuel. Everything that relief workers need for the next few days will have to be brought with them.

That's one of the big reasons why both we and other countries are sending military units. They're used to thinking about what they have to bring with them to operate. Even better, most have the capability in house to bring what they need with them.

Chris said...

My daughter posted a link on Facebook to some even worse comments on this by Rush - and Roger Ebert's blazing response: