Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti: Resources and Access Should Not Be The Problem

I don't think anyone really knows yet how bad it is in Haiti. It may be a long time before there are accurate estimates on the total number of people killed. And I'm afraid the aftermath of this earthquake is going to be a rolling disaster in itself. Aid is flowing in from around the world, but there is a bottleneck trying to get supplies into a small country with a devastated infrastructure.

This is where the United States has a special responsibility. For better or for worse, the US military can bring massive force to bear at virtually any point on the globe--and do it quickly. The NY TImes says the aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson, will arrive near Haiti on Friday to serve as an offshore staging area for helicopters and air support for the island. There is also talk of sending about 2,000 Marines to maintain security in the capital. Landing US Marines in Haiti ought to bring back bad memories, but here's a chance to do right instead of wrong.

We should be air dropping supplies all over the Port-au-Prince region, landing as many aid workers and supplies on the beach as needed, and opening up the roads into the city. Lacking supplies and logistics should not be the problem here. It's an hour and a half flight from the richest country in the world to Port-au-Prince. We can blanket Haiti with resources. We can do a lot of good in this nightmare. We can't undo the earthquake, but the extent of the aftermath will depend largely on what we decide to do with the power we have.


Amy said...

Great points. I was up a few times in the night with the baby and I couldn't stop thinking about Haiti and those poor people. It certainly seems that resources are being mobilized quickly to help. I'm praying it can get to where it needs to go.

Mason said...

That's what I assumed during the Katrina "rescue". But if this turns out to be a "success" it will even more highlight the failure of the Katrina response. One benefit is that it's a foreign country, so we have the UN and #42 and maybe some other countries helping out.

Here's a question: if the earthquake were in Cuba, what would be our response, and how would it affect our relations?