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09 February 2010


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If there was ever a case for regime change and imperialism, this would be it.

Haiti would be more like Germany after WWII, not Iraq or Afghanistan.

There are differences, so don't go there.


And when the current order which centres around the nation state and sovereignty is overthrown either all at once or one small step at a time - what then?

More or fewer preventably dead children?

International relations are far too close to a Hobbesian state of nature already.

In this case you're right (and somebody such as myself who has spent most of his adult working in a humanitarian capacity would be the last to deny that you're right).

The current order is dire.

But Colonel - what is to be put in its stead? And by whom?

I fear the alternative to the current system is the rough beast slouching towards Bethlehem to be born, but would dearly love to be proved wrong.


How about sending doctors with medical supplies? If not American, then Cuban?

I see no reason why Haiti can't keep its dignity and its children.

Nancy K

I always feel that the lives of children is much more important than the dignity of man or nation.
It is just too bad that egos and dreams of both women and men don't always put children first and themselves second.
It would be wonderful to suppose that all missionary zeal has nothing to do with ego and superiority but that is not always the case.
I think much ado is being made about all of this because now the world sees what a mess Haiti is and it's leaders can take the world's eyes off Haiti and put it on the US or at lease some missionaries from the US. It is all very sad and as always it is the children who suffer.


You had it right a few days ago with "no good deed goes unpunished." I say bribe whoever needs to be bribed to spring the missionaries and get whatever despot is left standing to issue a national statement to the effect of "do whatever is necessary to provide medical care to the citizens of Haiti."


Col. Lang:

Thanks for boiling it down to its essence.

Haiti is a repellant example but not unique. Worldwide the problem of greed continues to be ubiquitous with more and more of the existing moral and legal firewalls being rationalized away in the service of ideological purity. Kennedy’s question is a good one: When will the greed stop?


I know of someone who tried to interest a central African country in taking some measures that might lead to saving millions in a (predictable) catastrophe. Apparently the leaders response was along the lines of its "just a few years of population growth."

I suppose a similar attitude prevailed in Europe at the beginning of the last century, too.

Patrick Lang


Naive. pl

Patrick Lang


I think "nationalism" is a pernicious idea. That does not mean that I want to abolish the post Westphalian order in the world. The issue is is the viciousness and ineffectiveness of SOME governments. pl


Col. Lang,

With the greatest respect, I think you are being a little harsh.

Of course you are correct, and Haiti's "Gratin" have no sense of guilt over making as much money as possible out of the Western Christian compassion for the suffering of their own people.

However, I think your rage might be better directed at those who have enabled and profited from Haitis corruption and the complete lack of any trust or fellow feeling between its citizens.

I for example am raging against the cruise ship passengers drinking their rum and sunning themselves at a heavily guarded private resort, not Sixty miles from the epicentre of the quake.

It might be more constructive for all of us to consider how Haiti reached it's current situation and what might be done about it. A U.N. protectorate perhaps?


"Cuban medical teams have treated more than 13,000 patients in Port-au-Prince, performing more than 1,000 operations, including 550 major surgeries, said Gail Reed, international director of the California-based Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba. The nonprofit group works to enhance cooperation among the U.S., Cuban and global health communities.

In addition to Cuban teams, Haitian physicians trained in Cuba and 60 Haitian medical students from Cuba's Latin American Medical School are working with relief personnel from other countries in field hospitals, medical posts and public parks - as well as in three hospitals in Port-au-Prince. Furthermore, they have begun vaccinating the 400,000 patients, with tetanus vaccines donated by the Cuban government.


I'm glad to see the State Department supporting these efforts. Rather than simply rescuing a few dozen children by airlift, this is the broad scale approach that will cost effectively do the most good.

William P. Fitzgerald III

Pat Lang,

Nationalism is pernicious, but has little to do with the Peace of Westphalia, which was about state sovereignty. I wonder, referring to Haiti and other places, what is to be done about states which are not capable of sovereignty.



Bukoba sinking


I was doing aid work in Tanzania when this happened, local fishermen sailed out to "rescue" survivors, for a price.

If you did not have it, well a machete ended your troubles.

No different to the US contractor Blackwater in the Green Zone.

Obama could gavalnise world opinion, he's taking notes after Murtha (RIP), so not available for comment.


JohnH, why don't we ask al-Qaeda to send a specific Doctor to Haiti to help the Cubans?

Walrus, those ships add real money to the Haitian economy, unless it is stolen by the government.

Remember, Haiti is a "Banana Republic" without Bananas or anything else of value to sell.

Look every little bit helps, but unless you force people there to care for themselves it is hopeless.

All, this is an example of what happens when Haitians receive a fair chance to succeed.



I live in an earthquake prone area (greater L.A.). If a 7.0 hit tomorrow killing people and destroying property (See Northridge 1994), I'd have no resentments against cruise ships landing in San Diego (80 miles away) - or anywhere.


Do we even know if these Missionaries were even affiliated with an official adoption agency?

And why the hell are missionaries going to Catholic countries in the first place?

These clowns get zero sympathy from me.

Paul Escobar

The problem here isn't nationalism or paternalism.

The problem is that the UN (or any relevant international coordinating body) seems to have no contingency plan for disasters that wipe out entire governments.

So EVERYONE is CONFUSED, from the Americans trying to send children abroad, to the Haitians fearing that their young will never be seen again.

You could easily create an international centralized system for these situations, & have them explained to a nations public BEFORE disasters strike.

So when disaster does strike, people know that the children aren't just being taken by random people & rescuers know that they don't have to get approval from a minister trapped under rubble himself.


Colonel Lang

Its not slowing down its starting to stabilize, there is a difference. Yes its still not the best of situations.

But for every story of a child not being provided life threatening medical assistance in the US. There is the untold story of the services being rendered to children with life threatening conditions by the USS Comfort and the USS Hope...

We just has a little girl medvac to the USS Comfort who was in need of emergency eye surgery or face loosing sight.

The ground situation is very difficult and I can assure you that the USG (USAID, DoD, DHS, HHS, etc including USCG) and many, many NGO's are doing everything they can to make sure that all Haitians, especially the children are getting aid and medical care under very trying circumstances.

As far as the Haitian Government is concerned. Its needed life threatening assistance about 15 years ago....


Patrick Lang


God bless you all for what you are doing. The real question is whether or not the international system should continue to tolerate this farce in Haiti. pl

Patrick Lang


My comment was with regard to a previous comment. pl

different clue

If the choice really gets forced to just that stark a binary alternative; either respect the feelings of a Haitian elite and rump government who can't physically stop us from flying out children for life-saving treatment, or fly those children out and let the Haitian authorities hate us for it...we should fly out those children for treatment and live with the hatred of Haiti's upper crust elite and that elite's government. The families of those children certainly don't/won't hate us for flying them out for treatment.

But my question is...why are the pilots afraid to fly children out?
Have the Haitian authorities
threatened to regard medical
lifesaving flights in the same light as those Idahoans
taking out those "no medical treatment needed" children? Do the pilots in question have a real reason to fear being somehow stopped and arrested?



Let's see.

France starts by setting up a brutal colonial regime, which ends (as you might expect) in revolt, massacre and dictatorship. Between the Haitian elites and our own distaste for uppity Negroes giving our slaves ideas we, beacon of liberty that we were, give them nothing but grief for about 100 years until we decide to occupy the joint for twenty years.

We leave behind the loathsome Duvaliers, whose misrule produces the expected populist backlash. When the anti-populist-backlash defenestrates Aristide, we sit around going hommmina-hommina.

Then there's this BIG earthquake...and a bunch of knotheaded Jesus-pesterers with no experience or training in dealing with orphans try to walk off with a couple dozen.

And...this is some sort of judgment on "self-determination and nationalism in the third world"?????

Haiti is a mess. But, frankly, we're in no position to lecture the Haitians about this screwup unless we're willing to step back in and do a hell of a better job of unmaking this mess than we did from 1915 to 1934.

William R. Cumming

Agree totally with Paul Escobar's comment. IN fact there is NO HAITIAN Government and US efforts at pretending will just make it worse. Haiti is not just a failing nation state but thanks to Mother Nature it has FAILED. US must either take the long term lead or let the UN. I recommend that others should be involved in that decision. Right now the real decisions are being made by those who are totally corrupt like the huge drug cartels that have used Haiti for two decades as major transhipping point for US bound illegal cargo. And Haiti's future is all about the children. We (US) cannot get it right anymore when we intercede with ignorance, hubris, and ego leading. Paul Farmer, Harvard MD and PhD, expert in Haitian life and recently forced to withdraw as AID head should be listened to closely. He not only should be heading his organizations work in Haiti but the overall US efforts. This is not an effort to support a crippled nation state but an effort to support a "childrens" republic!


"The real question is whether or not the international system should continue to tolerate this farce in Haiti"

Sadly Col, I think that question has been asked and answered.

I'd be glad to be proven wrong.

Dan M

I'm with Walrus. The only thing that could have been done to preserve the dignity and self-respect of the haitian people in the aftermath of the earthquake was to shut down its tourism operations and fire all of their haitian workers so they could join their fellows for a round of dignified suffering in port-au-prince. Martinis... on a boat... creating jobs... disgusting!

In reality i'm with pat, though i have no idea how to create a less predatory and rapacious government for haiti.

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