Saturday, 16 January 2010

Haiti: All Our Fault…

The Haiti disaster has been dominating the news these last few days. A 7.0 magnitude quake would wreak havoc almost anywhere, never mind a (literal) banana republic, and some of the pictures have been truly horrific.

Certainly, they put the hysteria over the snow that has featured in our MSM to shame…

But is it a purely natural disaster, compounded by the state of the even-more-laughably named ‘government’ of Haiti, or basically the fault of the West?

Step forward, Peter Hallward to tell us:
…it's no accident that so much of Port-au-Prince now looks like a war zone. Much of the devastation wreaked by this latest and most calamitous disaster to befall Haiti is best understood as another thoroughly manmade outcome of a long and ugly historical sequence.
Yup, it’s all the fault of the west that Haiti is a basket case.

This is standard lefty boilerplate. In fact, you could remove the words ‘Haiti’ and ‘earthquake’ and replace them with other third-world hellholes and natural disasters and print the same load of guff. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone had
The noble "international community" which is currently scrambling to send its "humanitarian aid" (Ed: no, I don’t understand the need for scare quotes there, either…) to Haiti is largely responsible for the extent of the suffering it now aims to reduce. Ever since the US invaded and occupied the country in 1915, every serious political attempt to allow Haiti's people to move (in former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide's phrase) "from absolute misery to a dignified poverty" has been violently and deliberately blocked by the US government and some of its allies.
Because they are sadistic bastards, presumably, and knew this earthquake was coming. Hell, maybe they even fired up their Super Secret Earthquake Machine™ just for shits and giggles…

Peter seems a little confused about the damage a 7.0 magnitude earthquake can cause:
As Brian Concannon, the director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, points out: "Those people got there because they or their parents were intentionally pushed out of the countryside by aid and trade policies specifically designed to create a large captive and therefore exploitable labour force in the cities; by definition they are people who would not be able to afford to build earthquake resistant houses."
Umm, take a good look at the pictures of the Presidential Palace. Are we saying they couldn’t afford to build earthquake-resistant structures?

Or more likely, that there's very little could be done to resist this…
Meanwhile the city's basic infrastructure – running water, electricity, roads, etc – remains woefully inadequate, often non-existent. The government's ability to mobilise any sort of disaster relief is next to nil.
Because every time someone attempts to build a road or a hospital, US forces swoop in and take the building materials out of their hands, eh Peter?
The international community has been effectively ruling Haiti since the 2004 coup. The same countries scrambling to send emergency help to Haiti now, however, have during the last five years consistently voted against any extension of the UN mission's mandate beyond its immediate military purpose.
What do you want, Peter? Do you want colonialism, then? You were arguing against it in your opening paragraphs…
Proposals to divert some of this "investment" towards poverty reduction or agrarian development have been blocked, in keeping with the long-term patterns that continue to shape the distribution of international "aid".
Why, it couldn’t be that international aid is really more a way to provide jobs for graduates in wealthy countries than to improve the lives of the poor, could it, Peter?

Maybe what they would be better off doing is resolving their own problems, electing less corrupt governments and not relying on a helping hand from the west?

But no, it seems what Peter thinks they need is…Fidel Castro:
The same storms that killed so many in 2008 hit Cuba just as hard but killed only four people. Cuba has escaped the worst effects of neoliberal "reform", and its government retains a capacity to defend its people from disaster. If we are serious about helping Haiti through this latest crisis then we should take this comparative point on board.
Well, I’m sure things can only get better in Haiti if they adopt Cuba’s system of governance…



JohnRS said...

Pretty straightforward 1960s student politics, didnt think anyone still believed in such tosh.

Umbongo said...

" . . didnt think anyone still believed in such tosh."

Ever listened to a Labour or LibDem (or Conservative, come to that) MP? Ever read the numerous examples of British "justice" logged by JuliaM? Ever listened to BBC correspondents (talking from anywhere) or the Today programme? The political class came to "maturity" in the 60s: that's when they ingested their political beliefs which they currently spew out in the media and apply through the organs of the state.

Mark Wadsworth said...

1. There has always been a huge difference between Dominican Republic and Haiti, despite they share an island. We ought to find out why that is.

2. The un-PC brigade say that maybe Africa is poorer than other continents because Africans are incapable of running things. It would appear that this rule holds for countries outside Africa as well.

3. Fair play to Cuba, when there's a hurricane or somthing, they don't mess about, they get everything sorted. I'm no big fan of the Cuban regime, but their disaster limitation work is absolutely superb.

4. There are in fact hardly any natural disasters. What they usually are is a miserable failure in planning regulations - if you build the wrong kind of building in an earthquake, flood or volcano zone, then sooner or later it will be destroyed.

Chuckles said...

@John R,

" ..didnt think anyone still believed in such tosh."

Do you mean other than most of the current UK and USA governments?
And all their sycophants and hangers-on. Thats the straight party line there. The real deal.

I can't help thinking that if Cuba is so good at these things, they're conveniently right next door, so lets leave them to it.

banned said...

Haiti deserves to become a UN protectorate along the lines of Bosnia, perhaps in that way her people could be rid of the endless line of voodoo ( seems it's Vooduo now btw) merchants, kleptomanics, military dictators and gangsters that have run the place since they kicked out the French.