Earthquake-ravage Haitians greeted U.S. troops with cheers as they started arriving en masse to help with the relief efforts, but French humanitarian aid minister Alain Joyandet had some words of warning this week for both the U.S. and Haitians: "This is about helping Haiti, not occupying Haiti." Given that the U.S. already has more troops on the ground than the Brazil-led U.N. peacekeeping force nominally in charge, is it unreasonable to question America's designs on its close Caribbean neighbor? (Watch a report about U.S. troops landing in Haiti)
The accusation doesn't even make sense: President Obama campaigned "based on condemning our invasion and occupation of Iraq," says Dorian de Wind in The Moderate Voice, so "why in heavens would he, would the United States, want to invade Haiti?" The U.S. military is in Haiti "to save lives," just like after natural disasters in places like Bangladesh, India, Kenya, and Indonesia. "Did the U.S. occupy any of these countries afterwards?" Of course not.
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No, France is right: America is sending in thousands of "Marines armed as if they were going to war," says Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, via Reuters, so it's reasonable to suggest that the U.S. "is occupying Haiti undercover." If America were serious about helping out, it would send doctors, medicine, and food. "There is not a shortage of guns there, my God."
"Chavez says U.S. occupying Haiti in name of aid"
What's France doing to help? If the French are so worried about Yankee "imperialism," says Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit, why don't they "send their own aircraft carriers, floating seaports, and massive logistical teams"? Oh, right — because they can't. I thought "the election of President Obama was supposed to put an end to this" kind of knee-jerk anti-American talk.
The U.S. should help, then get out: I think we can all agree that Haiti requires "an unprecedented level of international assistance," says Joshua Keating in Foreign Policy. But while the U.S. "is understandably taking the lead in the immediate rescue effort," it may not be "the best candidate for the long-term stabilization effort," given, among other things, its "history of frequently occupying Haiti." Brazil's throwing its all into Haiti — let it lead.
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