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Three Years On – Why Haiti Continues To Flounder.

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It’s been three years since Haiti’s earthquake.

Do you remember all those Haiti flags on our Twitter avatars? And all that charity? Are things any better? No. All the rending of hair and the celebrity tours meant nothing. Haiti remains as forgotten today as it was before the quake hit.

What conclusions can we draw from all this?

First, we’re all blowhard hypocrites. We say we want to help, but what we really want is for a problem to go away. And once another problem comes along, there’s our excuse.

Let’s get beyond that.

Let’s try to get our collective memories back, and prioritize our interests to what we can actually achieve. Haiti is fixable. If the US took it under its wing, it would show the world our magnanimity.

Second, the key to real aid designed to bring about lasting change is strategic influence. The less you matter, the less reconstruction you get. In other words, if you threaten the motherland you get help. If you don’t, you’re out of luck.

Let’s get beyond that.

If I was a Haitian, I’d invent a Jihadist cell or two in Port-au-Prince, exploiting all that poverty in the name of Islam. That would attract Washington’s attention.

And thirdly, if interests here in the US want to make sure Haiti stays down, they stay quiet about it, but Haiti sure stays down.

Let’s get beyond that.

Haiti has land, skilled labor, and proximity to the US market.  We should be putting factories there and not in the Far East. Haitians know textiles, but there are US interests that don’t want to be flooded by cheap clothes made in Haiti, so the block trade agreements with Haiti that would allow US companies to build factories there.

So Haiti suffers, and all our words of sorrow are empty.

Written by coolrebel

January 12, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Sadr and Duvalier – Bad Guys Check in at The Democracy Motel

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Chalk it up as a bad week for democracy.

A few days ago, Muqtada Al Sadr comes back from his extended vacation in Iran to restore a little of his special brand of sanity to the Iraqi Government in Baghdad. And yesterday, Jean-Claude Duvalier, retired evil dictator who along with his evil dictator dad drove what was left of Haiti into a ditch checks into a luxury hotel to plot a return engagement in Port-au-Prince.

Neither of these characters has the words “avowed believer in democracy” on their blood-stained resumes.

So I’m guessing in both cases, Washington is none too pleased. In the case of Sadr, we’re talking about a guy who whipped up a very nasty insurgency and cost us plenty in lives and treasure. And as for Haiti, we’ve been dabbling with much failure in the place, since Duvalier was turfed out, and are powerless to do anything to stop him raiding the hotel mini-bar.

In both cases, an exhausted and disillusioned populace might well reinforce our own fears. They want these guys back, and they don’t want us. The fact that they’re wrong on a thousand different levels only points to something more fundamental. We did a terrible job of convincing the locals that we were the guys to make their world right. This despite many billions thrown into the maw of their catastrophes.

We shouldn’t have been there, but could still have done so much to effect serious change, because American power is best expressed through its economic and diplomatic influence. We could have exposed Saddam Hussein’s shell game on WMD without losing a man and brought him low by continuing to choke his regime with sanctions. And in the case of Haiti, we could have made simple changes to our trade treaties with the Haitian government to bring much wanted jobs to the Island nation, jobs that are currently outsourced to our arch-enemies in China.

But we didn’t. Not because we couldn’t but because we didn’t have the balls to extend our reach the right way, the smart way, the American way. It was America that helped coordinate the Stuxnet virus that has set the Iranian’s back a critical 3-5 years in their quest for nuclear weapons. Did we have to bomb the place? No. Did we have to spend billions? No. Did we succeed by being plain smart. Yes.

And what happens when we’re not.

Bad guys come back home and raid the mini-bar.

Let that be a lesson to those of little imagination.

Written by coolrebel

January 17, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Welcome to the Bullshit Era

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In the old days, policy used to have at least some potential to become reality, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that in America at least, those days are over. Nothing anybody seems to suggest from the President on downwards seems to mean a hill of beans anymore. It’s as if the country is set on a course for planet “slow decline into mediocrity” (or worse) and there’s not a damn thing anyone can do about it. All this despite some soaring rhetoric from the President, and plenty of hot air from just about everyone else.

Here’s a rundown of the current bullshitian landscape.

Jobs.

Anyone who thinks a $30-40bn Jobs bill is going to pass without being watered down to meaninglessness is dreaming. And it’s not certain why it will fare any better than the $800bn dollar stimulus package which was supposed to rebuild the economy and create, yes, that’s right. Jobs. The problems that the US economy is facing are profound and structural. Just throwing money at the problem without deep and lasting changes to – industrial, fiscal, and budgetary policy – sorry about the ‘P word’ again – needs to rethink very, very quickly. We don’t make stuff here. Some people suggest that manufacturing in the US isn’t “cost effective”, but my question is this. Why is it cost-effective in Germany?

Any-way, moving on to…

Wall Street

The President talks a great game about beating up onWall Street, especially now he’s been sobered up to the problem by the Massachusetts debacle. But it’s a tad too late. In January of 2009 the banks were still sinking in the quicksand. That’s the time to make them an offer they can’t refuse. After we’ve pulled them out, and they’ve put on fresh $500 shirts is not the time to be making a deal with them. And yet this is what we did. We had our boot on their necks and we blew our chance to make the single most destructive force in this country pay. And now, in the cold light of day, is anyone in the 41 strong Republican Senate caucus going to vote for meaningful financial reform? Uhh, Nope. Will Wall Street be constrained from ruining the nation again? Nope.

Healthcare

What was once a burning need is now a footnote that’s about to be buried ahead of the mid term elections. The Democrats thought that Healthcare reform was a winner, but after being thoroughly outmaneuvered by GOP demagoguery that idea is now going the way of another smart idea…

Stopping Global Warming.

Let’s get this straight. The world is waiting for America to get its act together on controlling greenhouse gases. But is 41 strong Republican Senate caucus going to vote fr meaningful climate legislation? Uhh, Nope. It will die.

Education

Ah, what’s the point. Nobody cares.

Finally, on domestic policy, my personal favorite…

High Speed Trains

California just got $2bn dollars of Federal Stimulus funding to build a high speed train network. Sounds great, right? Except for the fact that the total bill (and that’s before the usual corruption, incompetence, delays and overruns) is $42 billion. Chances of this happening in a state with a perennial budget crisis? Nil.

Moving abroad now…

Iraq

At a certain point in time, the United States is going to have to face the rather unpleasant moment when our last grunt gets on the last transport plane out of Baghdad Airport. Cue the bombs. Cue the resurgence of the insurgents and the reemergence of the Mahdi Army. Hello, reality.

Afghanistan

One day conference in London. Karzai tells us he’s going to end corruption and undo a millennia’s worth of being a basketcase that’s swallowed up empires, as well as buying off the Taliban recruits without guaranteeing their protection. He’s got 18 months before the troops we’re about to land there ship out. You do the math.

Iran

Sanctions work. And if you believe that, you think Sarah Palin is a closet liberal. Will the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 be able to justify NOT attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities? Unlikely.

Haiti

Will the outpouring of aid from Americans be matched by a long-term commitment to fix Haiti? Watch the BS flow. Ain’t nothing gonna change in Haiti.

So you see, on just about every front, there’s an awful lot of talk about how we’re going to fix things.

And then there’s reality.

Welcome to the Bullshit Era.

Written by coolrebel

January 28, 2010 at 11:57 am

Haiti Commentary: Want to Get your Nation Rebuilt? Export a LittleTerror.

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Haiti. A tragic, profoundly unlucky nation, poster child of colonial brutality and exploitation – right on America’s doorstep.

Every few years or so, Haiti pings the heartstrings of the world’s wealthy nations and donations flood in – along with every journalist worth his or her salt.

The scale and magnitude of this latest catastrophe is truly appalling, but its hard to imagine that its going to be any different this time. The Presidential Palace will be rebuilt and its new found glory will no doubt be photographed as a symbol of Haiti’s resurgence. But the photographers will be less present when the shanties are rebuilt too on the same hillsides they once stood on.

It’s possible that this time it will be different, that Haiti will be rebuilt by the world community, but it’s far more likely that Haiti’s misery will likely continue when we go back to business as usual, with our own jobs and futures on the line too.

It’s all just a tad ironic. I mean, nation building is something that we’ve been getting pretty good at recently. Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of miles away are works in progress, to put it kindly, with literally tens of billions of dollars frittered away on projects that are blown up, mismanaged, or simply abandoned as soon as the US contractors have cut their corners and pocketed their profits and then left.

What made Iraq a go-to destination for that special brand of US imperialism? Yellow cake, even if there wasn’t any. It helped that Baghdad was home to the world’s most quintessential dictator, and this his country is second to Saudi Arabia in oil reserves.

What makes the Afghans so much more deserving than the Haitians? One thing and one thing only. Terror. Afghanistan has been home to a massive attack on the US homeland, and Haiti has not. Afghanistan is a political game, played at the very highest levels, with a very special brand of lies and misinformation, Haiti is just a disaster area, no questions asked.

To put it mildly, Haiti is not strategically important. It has nothing to offer us except cheap labor, which on a global basis, let’s face it, is not in short supply. State Department policy wonks who want to move up in the world do not specialize in Haitian political machinations. It’s in the news, occasionally, not daily.

It’s easy to lob over the occasional peace-keeping mission, and get UN support for this or that move, because when a country is not strategically important to any of the permanent members of the Security Council, unanimity is suprisingly easy to come by. Politically, there are no domestic points to score by helping Haiti – except in New York. There are only downsides. In short it doesn’t rate high on the must-do list.

That could change. America could decide to get its nation-building groove on and fix Haiti once and for all. Clean water, better housing, hospitals and all that jazz, as long as the American people are happy to provide a nationalized charitable donation – at our own expense of course.  So it’s not likely.

The truth is that Haiti is not a threat. Not in the least.

If it was, Congress and the President would have an easier time fixing the place.

If only it had Jihadists, like Afghanistan, bent on laying ruin to Miami or Orlando. Why, then Republicans and Democrats would demand a force be sent to knock off the terrorists and clean out the shanties because they’re “breeding ground for Haitian terrorists”.  No such luck.

If only the Chinese were busy colonizing the place as a staging point for new waves of cheap crap to be sold throughout America, then we could at least justify going down there to ‘compete’ with the Chinese. Not gonna happen.

If only the latest Pandemic was known to be sourced in the fetid water of those self-same shanties, so in the name of humanity we could send down some guys in white suits and clean the place up. Highly unlikely.

No, for all our talk of solidarity, as sad as it is to say, Haiti, desparate, poor, tragic Haiti – is on its own.

Written by coolrebel

January 14, 2010 at 6:52 am