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Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See for full contents of our site

January 16, 2010


Ken Dilanian, USA Today - The U.S. relief effort for Haiti started too slowly and cautiously, says a retired general who led the military relief effort on the Gulf Coast after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

"The next morning after the earthquake, as a military man of 37 years service, I assumed . . . there would be airplanes delivering aid, not troops, but aid," said retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, who coordinated military operations after disaster struck the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005. "What we saw instead was discussion about, 'Well we've got to send an assessment team in to see what the needs are.' And anytime I hear that, my head turns red."

The problem, Honore told USA Today, is that the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, instead of the military, take the lead in international disaster response.

"I was a little frustrated to hear that USAID was the lead agency," he said. "I respect them, but they're not a rapid deployment unit."

USAID immediately dispatched an assessment team and search-and-rescue teams, but there has still not been widespread distribution of food or water, three days after the Haiti earthquake.

In the first two days after Tuesday evening's quake, "we saw national media in, but we didn't see Air Force airplanes taking in food and water," Honore said. Nor were military doctors on the ground treating the injured, he said.

. . . Honore is not alone is criticizing the speed of the U.S. response to Haiti.

"There is an enormous disparity between the scale of need here and seemingly the scale of the response," said Irwin Redlener, who directs the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.

Redlener, while praising the Obama administration's commitment to Haiti relief, questioned why military units didn't deploy faster. A rapid response unit such as the 82nd Airborne Division can deploy within 18 hours of an order to go, said retired general Jack Keane, the former Army vice chief of staff. . .

Other experts disputed the idea that the military's response was too slow.

"I honestly don't think the military can be counted on for the first 48 hours of a catastrophe, especially in a remote location," said William O'Neill, executive dean for clinical affairs at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, as he was en route to do relief work in Haiti. "It's just really tough to expect that the military would be kind of like the babysitter for all the world."

"Forty-eight hours is an extraordinarily short time to make an assessment and get the troops in," said former Army colonel Joseph Cerami, director of the public service leadership program at Texas A&M University. "I think the issue is having situational awareness. So you get 3,000 soldiers on the ground. What do they do when they get there? What is the security situation, what are the rules of engagement, is there any kind of civilian authority, what are the Haitians asking for? The devil's in the details in those kinds of operations."

Some military units did arrive almost immediately after the quake struck, including Coast Guard planes and Air Force special operations troops who got the airport up and running. . .



Anonymous vultures strike again said...

I expect and suspect what has happened is that, exactly as happened in NO's ninth ward, security for the press and US cronies was implemented over the needs of the actual victims, and I expect and suspect that, as in NO, this disaster will be used by the capitalists to turn poor people's property into banks of casinos.

January 16, 2010 9:39 AM  
Anonymous What'd I say? said...

January 16, 2010 3:52 PM  
Anonymous genocide warning said...

With likely two hundred thousand deaths and a destroyed infrastructure, Haiti illustrates what the US has in mind for all poor people, birth control ala Rockefeller Foundation,i.e. extinction. Notice how this mirrors gov't. response to Katrina, where it was treated as opportunity for commerce and the victims were essentially ignored and still are. They'll take your money and give it to Goldsacks or Blue Cross, but fuck you; you can drop dead . Nobody will read about it anyway, they own the media. Time to wake up before we all end up in camps like the Palestinians.

January 17, 2010 9:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Trinidad Express is reporting today that the Caribbean Community's emergency aid mission to Haiti was refused permission to land at the Haitian airport now under United States control.

January 18, 2010 5:31 AM  
Anonymous PAGE ONE said...

By Greg Palast

January 17, 2010 "The Huffinton Post
Bless the President for having rescue teams in the air almost immediately. That was President Olafur Grimsson of Iceland. On Wednesday, the AP reported that the President of the United States promised, "The initial contingent of 2,000 Marines could be deployed to the quake-ravaged country within the next few days." "In a few days," Mr. Obama?
There's no such thing as a 'natural' disaster. 200,000 Haitians have been slaughtered by slum housing and IMF "austerity" plans.
A friend of mine called. Do I know a journalist who could get medicine to her father? And she added, trying to hold her voice together, "My sister, she's under the rubble. Is anyone going who can help, anyone?" Should I tell her, "Obama will have Marines there in 'a few days'"?
China deployed rescuers with sniffer dogs within 48 hours. China, Mr. President. China: 8,000 miles distant. Miami: 700 miles close. US bases in Puerto Rico: right there.
Obama's Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, "I don't know how this government could have responded faster or more comprehensively than it has." We know Gates doesn't know.
From my own work in the field, I know that FEMA has access to ready-to-go potable water, generators, mobile medical equipment and more for hurricane relief on the Gulf Coast. It's all still there. Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who served as the task force commander for emergency response after Hurricane Katrina, told the Christian Science Monitor, “I thought we had learned that from Katrina, take food and water and start evacuating people." Maybe we learned but, apparently, Gates and the Defense Department missed school that day.
Send in the Marines. That's America's response. That's what we're good at. The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson finally showed up after three days. With what? It was dramatically deployed — without any emergency relief supplies. It has sidewinder missiles and 19 helicopters.

January 18, 2010 12:43 PM  
Anonymous PAGE TWO said...

But don't worry, the International Search and Rescue Team, fully equipped and self-sufficient for up to seven days in the field, deployed immediately with ten metric tons of tools and equipment, three tons of water, tents, advanced communication equipment and water purifying capability. They're from Iceland.
Gates wouldn't send in food and water because, he said, there was no "structure ... to provide security." For Gates, appointed by Bush and allowed to hang around by Obama, it's security first. That was his lesson from Hurricane Katrina. Blackwater before drinking water.
Previous US presidents have acted far more swiftly in getting troops on the ground on that island. Haiti is the right half of the island of Hispaniola. It's treated like the right testicle of Hell. The Dominican Republic the left. In 1965, when Dominicans demanded the return of Juan Bosch, their elected President, deposed by a junta, Lyndon Johnson reacted to this crisis rapidly, landing 45,000 US Marines on the beaches to prevent the return of the elected president.
How did Haiti end up so economically weakened, with infrastructure, from hospitals to water systems, busted or non-existent - there are two fire stations in the entire nation - and infrastructure so frail that the nation was simply waiting for "nature" to finish it off?
Don’t blame Mother Nature for all this death and destruction. That dishonor goes to Papa Doc and Baby Doc, the Duvalier dictatorship, which looted the nation for 28 years. Papa and his Baby put an estimated 80% of world aid into their own pockets - with the complicity of the US government happy to have the Duvaliers and their voodoo militia, Tonton Macoutes, as allies in the Cold War. (The war was easily won: the Duvaliers’ death squads murdered as many as 60,000 opponents of the regime.)
What Papa and Baby didn't run off with, the IMF finished off through its "austerity" plans. An austerity plan is a form of voodoo orchestrated by economists zomby-fied by an irrational belief that cutting government services will somehow help a nation prosper.
In 1991, five years after the murderous Baby fled, Haitians elected a priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who resisted the IMF's austerity diktats. Within months, the military, to the applause of Papa George HW Bush, deposed him.
History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. The farce was George W. Bush. In 2004, after the priest Aristide was re-elected President, he was kidnapped and removed again, to the applause of Baby Bush.

January 18, 2010 12:45 PM  

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