Humanitarian Aid or Military Occupation?

When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, George W. Bush displayed a callous disregard for the Black victims of the disaster.

When his administration finally responded, it deployed the National Guard and armed Blackwater personnel to impose order, rather than putting the priority on providing food, shelter and safe water. Kanye West’s words during an NBC Concert for Hurricane Relief–“George Bush doesn’t care about Black people”–were proved right.

On the surface, the response of the Obama administration to the horrific earthquake that struck Haiti last week couldn’t seem more different. “I have directed my administration to respond with a swift, coordinated, and aggressive effort to save lives,” Obama declared. “The people of Haiti will have the full support of the United States in the urgent effort to rescue those trapped beneath the rubble, and to deliver the humanitarian relief–the food, water and medicine–that Haitians will need in the coming days.”

His words were a stark contrast to the ravings of the racist right. Rush Limbaugh claimed that Obama’s speech was an attempt to win support among “both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country,” and that “we’ve already donated to Haiti. It’s called the U.S. income tax.” Writing in the New York Times, conservative columnist David Brooks dismissed the idea that aid could help Haiti in this crisis–because Haiti’s culture is “more progress-resistant than others.”

Compared to such statements, Obama’s sympathetic response and promises of aid may seem decent and just. But in the week since the earthquake, it has become clear that the U.S. isn’t pursuing a humanitarian policy.

Though it is an opponent of the Obama administration, the conservative Heritage Foundation accurately described the aims that are driving U.S. policy in Haiti:

The U.S. response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti earthquake offers opportunities to re-shape Haiti’s long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the public image of the United States in the region.

While on the ground in Haiti, the U.S. military can also interrupt the nightly flights of cocaine to Haiti and the Dominican Republic from the Venezuelan coast and counter the ongoing efforts of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez to destabilize the island of Hispaniola. This U.S. military presence, which should also include a large contingent of U.S. Coast Guard assets, can also prevent any large-scale movement by Haitians to take to the sea in rickety watercraft to try to enter the U.S. illegally.

Meanwhile, the U.S. must be prepared to insist that the Haiti government work closely with the U.S. to insure that corruption does not infect the humanitarian assistance flowing to Haiti. Long-term reforms for Haitian democracy and its economy are also badly overdue.

However impolitic–the piece was quickly removed from the Heritage web site–this actually describes the policy that Barack Obama is carrying out.

If the Obama administration were pursuing a humanitarian policy in Haiti, it wouldn’t have appointed George Bush to join former President Bill Clinton in overseeing fundraising for disaster relief.

Not only did Bush spectacularly fail the victims of Hurricane Katrina, but his administration orchestrated a political destabilization campaign against Haiti’s democratically elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Bush imposed sanctions on the country that undermined Aristide’s presidency and impoverished the masses. The U.S. then backed a right-wing coup that toppled the government in 2004.

Appointing Bush to oversee aid to Haiti is like putting Nero in charge of the fire department.

Then there’s the mismatch between Obama’s words about “full support” and the pittance his administration plans to spend to address the crisis–just $100 million. As Bill Quigley, legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights, wrote, “A Kentucky couple won $128 million in a Powerball lottery on December 24, 2009. The richest nation in the history for the world is giving Powerball money to a neighbor with tens of thousands of deaths already?”

Moreover, a week into the disaster, while U.S. officials, privileged Americans and rich Haitians received quick relief, the promised aid hasn’t reached the mass of Haitian people.

Amid a crisis where the first 48 hours are decisive in saving people’s lives, the United Nations–and the U.S. in particular–failed to come anywhere near addressing the needs of the 3 million people impacted by the earthquake.

Every minute that aid gets delayed means more people dying from starvation, dehydration, injury and disease–and yet by Monday, the UN only planned to distribute food and water to 95,000 people.

An estimated 1.5 million people are homeless and sleeping in the streets, as many as 200,000 have died, and with each tick of the clock, the toll grows higher. Why could the U.S. not rush aid to Haiti. Why were American helicopters and transport planes so late in starting aid drops.

The U.S. and UN claimed that damage to Haiti’s airport, port and roads impeded delivery of doctors, nurses, food, water and rescue teams. But the U.S. always seems to find ways around such obstacles when it comes to invading countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. Clearly the means exist to deliver aid quickly to a country an hour away from Florida.

So did the U.S. relief operation fail to live up to its mission? The truth is that disaster relief for the poor is not the mission in Haiti, just as it wasn’t the priority in New Orleans or any other disaster.

Instead of rushing aid to Haiti’s poor, the Obama administration has prepared a military occupation, claiming that armed forces are necessary to control what they expected to be angry Black people.

The corporate media coverage shifted from its initial sympathy with victims of the disaster to churning out scare stories about looting. “[M]arauding looters emptied wrecked shops and tens of thousands of survivors waited desperately for food and medical care,” Reuters claimed. “Hundreds of scavengers and looters swarmed over wrecked stores in downtown Port-au-Prince, seizing goods and fighting among themselves.”

In other words, the media took a few isolated conflicts and blew them up into an implication that Haiti’s poor are a violent threat–and the real obstacle to relief efforts.

These scare stories in turn became a justification for not delivering aid. Writer Nelson Valdes reported:

The United Nations and the U.S. authorities on the ground are telling those who directly want to deliver help not to do so because they might be attacked by “hungry mobs.” Two cargo planes from Doctors Without Borders have been forced to land in the Dominican Republic because the shipments have to be accompanied within Port-au-Prince by U.S. military escorts, according to the U.S. command.

When asked why the U.S. hadn’t used its C130 transport planes to drop supplies in Port-au-Prince, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said, “It seems to me that air drops will simply lead to riots.”

Of course, precisely the opposite is case. People will riot because they lack food and water.

The real situation is quite different. As author Richard Seymour wrote:

The striking fact, patiently reported by observers on the ground, is that Haiti is not gripped by anarchy, “mob rule,” mass slaughter or anything of the kind. There was probably no more violent crime this weekend, and probably less than in some American cities. Instead, while aid is obstructed, Haitians have cooperated to undertake rescue efforts and administer aid without the assistance of relief workers.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez rightly describes Obama’s military intervention as “occupying Haiti undercover.” The U.S. has taken control of Haiti’s main airport and seaport, and is in the process of deploying 10,000 U.S. troops to bolster the 9,000 UN troops already occupying the island. Half of the soldiers will police Port-au-Prince and half will be deployed on military vessels surrounding the island.

In a puff piece meant to support this occupation, Time magazine perhaps unintentionally revealed the colonial nature of the operation. “Haiti,” they write, “for all intents and purposes, became the 51st state at 4:53 p.m. Tuesday in the wake of its deadly earthquake. If not a state, then at least a ward of the state.”

The U.S. is using its position of power to impose its control over the country and impede relief efforts, turning away planes from Doctors Without Borders, the Mexican government and the Caribbean Community and Common Market. Jarry Emmanuel, the air logistics officer for the World Food Program, complained, “There are 200 flights going in and out every day, which is an incredible amount for a country like Haiti. But most of those flights are for the United States military. Their priorities are to secure the country.”

In a stunning video report from Port-au-Prince, an Al Jazeera reporter said:

Most Haitians here have seen little humanitarian aid so far. What they have seen is guns, and lots of them. Armored personnel carriers cruise the streets. UN soldiers aren’t here to help pull people out of the rubble. They’re here, they say, to enforce the law.

This is what much of the UN presence actually looks like on the streets of Port-au-Prince: men in uniform, racing around in vehicles carrying guns. At the entrance to the city’s airport where most of the aid is coming in, there is anger and frustration. Much-needed supplies of water and food are inside, and Haitians are locked out.

“These weapons they bring,” [an unidentified Haitian says], “they are instruments of death. We don’t want them; we don’t need them. We are a traumatized people. What we want from the international community is technical help. Action, not words.”

As anger among Haitians simmers over the lack of real relief, it is only a matter of time before heavily armed U.S. and UN forces open fire and kill innocent Haitians.

Already, on Wednesday evening, CBS News reported, “Controlled chaos turned to confrontation near the airport in Port-au-Prince today, when UN peacekeepers were ordered to clear the street filled with Haitian men seeking jobs. The force was made up of Jordanian, Pakistani and Indian forces that were unable to speak Creole, English or French. They did their talking with nightsticks and rubber bullets. At least one rubber bullet was seen fired into the crowd. No one was seriously injured.”

U.S. ships are in the process of surrounding the island. Some will provide floating hospitals. But they are also there to prevent an exodus of refugees out of Haiti.

Under some pressure, Obama granted Temporary Protected Status to Haitian refugees currently in the U.S.–but only for 18 months. At the same time, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has announced that any Haitians who attempt to enter the U.S. will be returned to Haiti.

The Obama administration is already coordinating plans for the restructuring of Haitian society–in the interest of international capital. It is implementing what author Naomi Klein calls the “Shock Doctrine”–when capitalist powers use economic or natural disasters to impose neoliberal programs, such as opening up national markets to multinational corporations, privatization of state-owned companies and cuts to the minimum wage.

The UN’s special envoy to Haiti, Bill Clinton, had been hard at work implementing such proposals before the crisis. He cut deals with cruise ship companies to dock on Haiti’s northern coast, and pushed the re-development of the Haitian sweatshop industry.

Now Obama, Clinton and Bush will further impose neoliberal “reforms.” Already, the International Monetary Fund has extended $100 million in loans to Haiti during the crisis, and all that of money comes with strings attached. As the Nation‘s Richard Kim wrote:

The new loan was made through the IMF’s extended credit facility, to which Haiti already has $165 million in debt. Debt relief activists tell me that these loans came with conditions, including raising prices for electricity, refusing pay increases to all public employees except those making minimum wage, and keeping inflation low. They say that the new loans would impose these same conditions. In other words, in the face of this latest tragedy, the IMF is still using crisis and debt as leverage to compel neoliberal reforms.

While the U.S. sends soldiers to police Haiti instead of providing humanitarian aid, Haitians in the U.S., Haiti solidarity activists and unions are mobilizing to meet the needs of the Haitian poor–and help empower them to take control over their society. In one powerful example, the National Nurses Organizing Committee is in the process of mobilizing 7,000 nurses from the U.S. to volunteer in Haiti to provide medical care.

As activists continue to donate money to organizations like the Haiti Relief Fund and Partners in Health that aim to empower Haitian grassroots institutions, we must make several demands on the Obama administration.

First, we must demand that Obama immediately stop the military occupation of Haiti, and instead flood the country with doctors, nurses, food, water and construction machinery. Soldiers with guns will only make the situation worse.

Second, the U.S. must also end its enforcement of Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s exile and the ban on his party, Fanmi Lavalas, from participating in elections. Haitians, not the U.S., should have the right to determine their government.

Third, we must demand that the U.S., other countries and international financial institutions cancel Haiti’s debt, so that the aid money headed to Haiti will go to food and reconstruction, not debt repayment.

And we must agitate for Obama to indefinitely extend Temporary Protected Status to Haitians in the U.S.–and open the borders to any Haitians who do flee the country.

Only through agitating for these demands can we stop the U.S. from imposing its Shock Doctrine for Haiti at gunpoint.

Ashley Smith is a writer and activist from Burlington, Vermont. He writes frequently for Socialist Worker and the International Socialist Review. He can be reached at ashley05401@yahoo.com. Read other articles by Ashley.

23 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. beverly said on January 19th, 2010 at 9:24pm #

    Kanye needs to make himself useful again. Grab a mike out of the hand of Bono, Bruce, or any of the rock star posers now doing the obligatory “aid concerts” and tell the sheeple that “Obama doesn’t care about black people either.” That conversation is long overdue.

  2. Deadbeat said on January 19th, 2010 at 9:38pm #

    The Obama administration is already coordinating plans for the restructuring of Haitian society–in the interest of international capital. It is implementing what author Naomi Klein calls the “Shock Doctrine”–when capitalist powers use economic or natural disasters to impose neoliberal programs, such as opening up national markets to multinational corporations, privatization of state-owned companies and cuts to the minimum wage.

    Naomi Klein is another phony Left-wing acoyate to gain fame and fortune by stringing together an cliche from a couple of words. First her book was written as a facade to use neoliberalism to as a cover for heavily Zionist-influened War on Iraq.

    In addition here cliche implies that Haiti didn’t have a history of oppression until the earthquake hit. The U.S. didn’t need the earthquake to oppress Haiti. Both Bushes (Sr. & Jr.) overthrew Haiti and ousted the democratically elected Aristide. Clinton restored Aritided under neo-liberal conditions. No earthquake necessary.

    Aristide was overthrown because he RISED the Haitian minimum wage and was demanding reparations from the French. And because he INSPIRED the Haitian proletariat.

    I wish the Left would stop aping B.S. artists and start (radically) thinking for itself.

  3. Danny Ray said on January 20th, 2010 at 7:20am #

    beverly, Obama mostly cares about Obama, always has always will.

  4. Danny Ray said on January 20th, 2010 at 7:33am #

    Deadbeat,
    I believe you have your dates confused.

    Aristide was first deposed in 91 in a coup by the army, while Bush 41 was president,
    He returned in 94 while Slick Willy was in the white house,
    He was deposed again in 94 while Clinton was president,
    Bush 43 had his hand in a lot of crap but can not be accused of this,
    Clinton was the American president who said, “You guys need to make him go away” to the UN.

  5. Deadbeat said on January 20th, 2010 at 11:59am #

    Aristide was deposed in 91 restored in 94 and then ousted in a coup in 2004.

    Bush Sr (out) – Clinton (in with neoliberal stipulations) – Bush Jr (out).

  6. Danny Ray said on January 20th, 2010 at 12:26pm #

    My apologies deadbeat, you are right. Did not remember that he came back in 2000, mea culpa, mea culpa

  7. lichen said on January 20th, 2010 at 3:34pm #

    Yes, Naomi Klein is really on the left, she does not support neoliberalism and is extremely aware of Haitian history, which is why she warns against the factual shock doctrine from happening again; it was used to “reconstruct” the new Iraq, after Katrina and and the Asian Tsunami. How stupid some people are…

    In any case, it is extremely repulsive to see these military scum with their uniforms and machine guns taking over Haiti. The military is not trained to provide emergency aid or rebuild countries; they are trained to kill, and like the UN “peacekeepers” I’m sure it won’t be long before they do.

  8. lichen said on January 20th, 2010 at 4:38pm #

    Here is a good article by Naomi Klein where she talks about how Aristede was ousted for economic reasons:

    http://www.naomiklein.org/articles/2010/01/foreign-aid-still-trickle-devastated-port-au-prince-general-hospital-struggles-meet

  9. Danny Ray said on January 20th, 2010 at 4:40pm #

    Lichen, As one of those military scum, I am damned if I don’t ask. If not us , who? are you ready to load your C130 up with water and MRE’s and fly down. or take your hospital ship down and treat the injuried? Maybe you could fly your bulldozier down and build some airstrips? Perhaps if you are not using your Blackhawk this weekend you could use it to drop some meals to the starving.
    I know you would be happy to leave your family and go into a hell hole and feed people, while living off one meal a day and sleeping in the mud, all the while wondering when this is going to go south?
    Let me know and you can take the place of some poor kid who would really rather be clubing somewhere this weekend than be in Haiti.

    lichen I know you hate both the military and me and thats alright, we love you. But you have to know that there are people down there doing yeomans work, sweating blood and crying over the dead, away from there family living like animals, going hungry sometimes and working 20 hour days. With no idea when or if they will get to come home. You don’t seem to be down there. They are and someone has to be. Whats the use you do not care. not now nor ever.

  10. lichen said on January 20th, 2010 at 4:59pm #

    Funny that you are one of the scumbag troops militarizing the Haitian disaster but you are here talking on the internet with me–that says a lot about you and the newest US occupation, doesn’t it? But no, there is no significant violence or unrest–no ‘security problem’ and the ones going to Haiti should be doctors and aid organizations–not trained killers with machine guns and war paint all over their faces, especially with the history of US imperialism (and yes, imperialism deadbeat; it started centuries before israel existed, so it can hardly be zionist) toppling Haitian democracy with the cia and military.

    Neither US nor UN nor Nato troops have the right to murder a single Haitian, a single Afgani; and that is what they are there doing, unnecessarily. So yes, I think the medical supplies and volunteer non-military aid workers should have been given the priority, and no, the US military should not be taking over the state yet again. Ultimately, your description (and WTF you got that idea I don’t know) that the US military, who sits with it’s fast food at giant tents in the airport, not doing a damn thing for the Hatian people are the ones suffering and how dare I not sympathize as they point their guns at poor, starving, injured Haitians and pull the trigger is ridiculous.

  11. Danny Ray said on January 20th, 2010 at 5:43pm #

    I do not think I said I was in Haiti I said I was military, I have a nice safe desk job and they don’t need my MOS there anyway. I was answering your statement that all military are scum and cold blooded killers,
    That is somewhat akin to saying that all men are rapist or all black people are gang bangers.

    And ( to use your phrase (WTF) you got the idea that it is just a giant picnic for those people deployed. They do have fast food though, they just reach into a box and pick a meal, the same kind as they are passing out to the Haitians, true I am not there but I am in contact with those who are and no, they are not suffering like the Haitians no one can, but they are there and I ask again where are you?

  12. lichen said on January 20th, 2010 at 5:57pm #

    No, actually, if you rereard my statements above, I was directly reffering to the occupying military scum currently in Haiti. However, that you hold such a reactionary, immature, jingoistic emotional defense of these US death squads that call themselves “the army” is of no importance to me. Like deadbeat, you speak of things you have absolutely no understanding of, and since you are incapable of getting through your head that the Haitian’s neither want nor need numbskulls with machine guns arriving, I’m going to leave it here.

  13. Rehmat said on January 20th, 2010 at 6:45pm #

    The foreign troops being sent to Haiti are not to help the natives but to locate and rescue the foreigners. Historically, it’s the US which have been exploiting Haiti for the last two centuries.

    Robert Lantos writing for the anti-Islam Can-West daily, The National Post (September 11, 2009) called Noami Klein a “professional agitator and a liar”. Interestingly, he challenged Noami by saying: “There was no such thing as Palestine prior to 1948″. However, he did add: “When city of Tel Aviv was founded in 1909, it was a Turkish colony, later a British colony, and once upon a time a Roman colony.” I wonder why the idiot missed the period between 7th to 17th century when Palestine was “colonized” by Muslim Arabs including over 100 years by the European Christian Franks – who butchered Jerusalem’s entire Muslim population of 65,000 and Jewish population of 5,000!!

    TIFF ‘protest’ irks Israel Lobby
    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2009/09/13/tiff-protest-irks-israel-lobby/

  14. lichen said on January 20th, 2010 at 7:52pm #

    Yes, I’ve seen many zionists try to make an abstract argument that “there is no such thing as Palestine” and they twist historical labels to try and obscure the fact that there were people there that the invading zionist army killed and stole from, exiled.

    What Naomi Klein talked about in her book was the fact that a) the israel state took advantage of the fact that the soviet union collapsed and thus they were able to pursue a policy of closure via the fact that an influx of Russian “jews” replaced the cheap labor of the Palestineans and also gave them lots of colonists for the west bank, and b) that while once there was another incentive for the Israeli’s, that the war against Palestine was bad for their economy, was releived when the free market fundamentalist policies were enacted and they created a “defense tech” industry (selling ‘counterinsurgency expertise’ as well as high tech war and surveilance gadgets) that meant their stock market went up when the conflict increased, whereas before it had gone down.

    She does not deny that the Israeli government was made up of people that wanted to expand their territory and kill more Palestinians, she just pointed out two obstacles that were taken away; she was not trying to give out a general history of the conflict either, just fleshing out an issue in her thesis; which was mainly that groups swoop in to disasters to a) bring about free-market reforms and privitization that would be opposed and deeply unpopular in normal circumstances, and b) also privitize that general “releif” effort to the extent that the corporations providing ‘services’ receive a lot of money but things aren’t rebuilt, people are not helped. You can see that in Iraq, with the intentional corruption and all the subcontracting wasting billions of dollars while the hospitals lay in the rubble still; in Asia the tsunami was used to kick indigenous fisherman off the beaches for good so they could build hotels there instead; and of course, New Orleans was not rebuilt, instead, the public schools were privatized, the public hospital closed for good, the housing projects that weren’t even damaged bulldozed.

    With the reality of climate change, it may be that this is our collective future; a disaster comes, destroys our homes, kills our friends, takes away our jobs, food, water, and while there is much publicity, in the end we are left with free market reforms and some people that have become richer, but our former communities are a giant waste dump while the rich make off fine in their gated communities guarded by private security mercenaries. I think that is quite scary, personally,

  15. Melissa said on January 20th, 2010 at 7:58pm #

    “Neither US nor UN nor Nato troops have the right to murder a single Haitian . . . ” In the interest of facts, have the occupiers been murdering Haitians? Source?

    The flavor of U.S. style aid leaves a lot to be desired, yes. The security/military may or may not be beneficial to the aid workers that have been able to arrive (after the maddening blockade, grr).

    I think we’d all be quite gullible to think that the U.S. and its owners do not already have designs for the country, plans to benefit the owners, same ole crap. I appreciate Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine analysis, I think she’s right, I think she knows what she’s talking about. I think we’ll see it unfold.

    Hi Danny Ray. I agree with your statement and defense regarding lichen’s broad swath of acidic, generalized discrimination. I have a hard time myself “supporting the troops” because they fight for the wrong agenda, an agenda that is enslaving us at home as well. I feel that we (anti-murder, anti-imperialism) should empathize and keep our arms open, because most of the young people enlisted as fodder don’t realize who and what they are destroying. They believe the threat is somewhere else . . . it’s at home. In those 10 square miles. It takes some serious maturity to still love those that are ready to project upon and abuse you all as an entire group without returning insults. Some of us could learn a bit about that, eh?

    Peace, Resistance, Hope,
    Melissa

  16. lichen said on January 20th, 2010 at 8:17pm #

    Yes, the US/UN have been killing civilians on the streets since the coup against Aristede; you can look that up yourself. Abu Graib and other scandals show us that the “support our war criminals” lie about these being unsuspecting young poor people is ridiculous; no, indeed, a majority of them are people from places like texas that were raised under a deeply violent, racist culture that they bring with them when dragging schoolboys out of their homes at night and murdering them in Afghanistan. Nuremberg established that you are still responsible for what you do even ‘under orders.’ Since some conscientious objectors have refused to be shipped to the middle east to murder, we can expect all those of true conscience to do so; if not, they are culpable, also for the deeply insensitive, authoritarian culture of the military.

    Also, we know that the generals etc. in the military are demanding that the US government wage more, longer wars all the time; they are not some innocent lambs at the wrong place, wrong time. People in many countries have learned after military dictatorship just how deadly jingoism and pacifying attitudes towards the military can be.

  17. Melissa said on January 20th, 2010 at 8:30pm #

    “We’ve been circulating throughout the city until 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning every night, evacuating patients, moving materials. There’s no UN guards. There’s no US military presence. There’s no Haitian police presence. And there’s also no violence. There is no insecurity.”
    -Dr. Evan Lyon
    as reported by Democracy Now!

    “raised under a deeply violent, racist culture that they bring with them”
    -lichen

    That’s sorta my point about empathy and perspective, lichen. WE have work to do here at home, work that involves love and meeting people where they are, showing alternatives. This does not mean making excuses or allowing a free pass. Not more force, not more punishment, not further abuse and division. It only makes human beings worse, it doesn’t transform any one or any society for the better.

    Peace, Resistance, Hope,
    Melissa

  18. lichen said on January 20th, 2010 at 8:43pm #

    Yes, exactly; there is no insecurity, which is what makes theUS militarization of the aid effort, replete with it’s soldeirs carrying machine guns, so ridiculous and pernicious.

    Here is a clip from the link I posted above:

    “When United Nations troops kill residents of the Haitian slum Cité Soleil, friends and family often place photographs of exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on their bodies. The photographs silently insist that there is a method to the madness raging in Port-au-Prince. Poor Haitians are being slaughtered not for being “violent,” as we so often hear, but for being militant; for daring to demand the return of their elected president.

    It was only ten years ago that President Clinton celebrated Aristide’s return to power as “the triumph of freedom over fear.” So what changed? Corruption? Violence? Fraud? Aristide is certainly no saint. But even if the worst of the allegations are true, they pale next to the rap sheets of the convicted killers, drug smugglers and arms traders who ousted Aristide and continue to enjoy free rein, with full support from the Bush Administration and the UN. Turning Haiti over to this underworld gang out of concern for Aristide’s lack of “good governance” is like escaping an annoying date by accepting a lift home from Charles Manson.

    A few weeks ago I visited Aristide in Pretoria, South Africa, where he lives in forced exile. I asked him what was really behind his dramatic falling-out with Washington. He offered an explanation rarely heard in discussions of Haitian politics—actually, he offered three: “privatization, privatization and privatization.””

  19. Melissa said on January 20th, 2010 at 9:21pm #

    So, my question about whether the military has been killing people in Haiti . . . ? I failed to be specific, but I was questioning whether they’d jumped into target mode upon arrival. I think I wrongly interpreted your comment, lichen, I thought you were saying that the U.S. military swept in following the quake and began mowing people down.

    I understood that our “peacekeepers” from the UN had been doing their usual violence-keeping on behalf of the owners for quite some time. Thank you for sharing.

    Peace to you and yours,
    Melissa

  20. lichen said on January 20th, 2010 at 10:10pm #

    No, I didn’t mean to say that the US/UN had been gunning people down since the earthquake–I’ve heard nothing to suggest that, and hopefully it won’t happen. I can’t help but be upset about the history of it, however.

  21. Maryb said on January 21st, 2010 at 1:43am #

    Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
    Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
    Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
    Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come etc etc.

    Haiti’s problems are solved at a stroke

    …… Simon Cowell is organizing a charidee record.

  22. Deadbeat said on January 21st, 2010 at 11:44am #

    There seems to be a bit of apologia surrounding Naomi Klein’s logo “Disaster Capitalism” as she applied it to Haiti and other incidents of Capitalism. There are two very good critiques of Naomi Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine one by Alexander Cockburn the other by Doug Henwood.

    Essentially what Naomi Klein has done is exactly what she criticized in her “No Logo” book. She create a cliche to FIT HER THESIS rather than prove analysis. Her thesis which essentially starts with Milton Freedman abridge history. It creates a condition that removes analysis for a cliche phrase.

    In addition Klein used the book to explain that the War on Iraq was a neoliberal enterprise when in fact the War On Iraq was pushed by the Bush Administration NEOCONS. All the while Milton Freedman voiced his OPPOSITION to the War on Iraq!

    What Klein has done is to make her thesis FIT events in order for SHAMELESS self promotion rather than to offer analysis and a thesis to help educate and advance opposition.

    Is that “Left” that desperate for a voice? Apparently so.

  23. lichen said on January 21st, 2010 at 4:33pm #

    Ah yes, we have right wing alexander cockburn being cited again by deadbeat. And no, it is not a cliche; too bad you didn’t read the book instead of just stewing some ideological, non-productive vitriol about it.

    “Her thesis which essentially starts with Milton Freedman abridge history.” This is neither a sentence nor is it a point. But your defense of milton friedman, containing the false idea that he was against the iraq war but also the idea that it was about one person when, yes, it was the free market ideology that bremer and rumsefeld and Bush had studied from him which was used to destroy the country a second time, shows that you clearly are a right winger.

    No, indeed, Naomi Klein is a genuine, caring person who has selflessly devoted herself to great causes and movements over these many years; which I cannot say about you. Oh well.