Tens of thousands are feared dead in the aftermath of Haiti's worst earthquake in more than two centuries. Relief workers warn that the devastation from the quake, which measured 7.0 on the Richter scale, could rank with the 2004 tsunami as one of the world's worst natural disasters in living memory. Bodies lay everywhere; the capital city, Port-au-Prince, is in ruins—the presidential palace, Catholic cathedral, parliament building, schools, hospitals, and countless homes have collapsed. And rescue workers—both Haitian and those streaming in from abroad—are having difficulty reaching those trapped in the rubble because of blocked and ruined streets. Is the U.S. doing enough to help Haiti? (Watch a Fox News panel discuss medical needs in Haiti.)
The U.S. must take the lead: "Not even a developed country could completely withstand such a powerful temblor so close to the Earth's surface and city center," say the editors of the Los Angeles Times. "Yet the full extent of Haiti's devastation is a result of its broken state, where 80 percent live below the poverty line." The only way to limit the unimaginable suffering that has and will come from this earthquake is for the U.S. to show leadership during the rescue and rebuilding to come.
"Helping Haiti help itself"
We must act now: "The world has had sufficient experience with earthquake relief to know that the first 72 hours are critical," say the editors of The Wall Street Journal. We know that while natural calamities don't discriminate between rich and poor nations, it is the poor ones that always suffer most, because they lack the resources to respond quickly when disaster strikes. In the long term, Haiti needs the political and economic progress that will get "people out of the slums and shanties that easily become death traps. For now, however, we wish godspeed to the armies of relief headed for Haiti's desperate shore."
Rescue and relief work is just the beginning: "The United States has a special responsibility to help its neighbor," say the editors of The New York Times. "This is an opportunity for President Obama to demonstrate how the United States shoulders its responsibilities and mobilizes other countries to do their full part as well." Obama promised swift aid "through the coordinated efforts of the military, civilian aid agencies, and nongovernmental organizations," but helping Haiti recover and rise out of the mire created by generations of misrule is "a commitment of years."
To really help, listen to what Haitians say they need: "There will be a major rescue operation; experts will argue and debate how to remake Haiti again," says Joel Dreyfuss in The Root. "Consultants will collect large fees. Bill Clinton, who has been serving as the pied piper for Haitian development, will bring investors on another trip to look for opportunity—construction companies will surely join the delegation this time. My hope is that all the experts will listen carefully to the Haitian people and help them rebuild what they need to change Haiti's future."
SEE THE WEEK'S LATEST COVERAGE OF THE HAITI CRISIS:
• Haiti disaster: The essential facts
• Can Bill Clinton save Haiti?
• Pat Robertson's 'hateful" Haiti remarks
• The Haiti cruise ship scandal
• Related political cartoons
HOW YOU CAN HELP: Tips on contributing to the relief fund