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Posted by on Jan 19, 2010 in International, Media, Places, Politics, Society, War | 31 comments

Haiti: The BBC Lets Me Have My Say

The BBC World Service has a unique daily discussion program, “World Have Your Say,” where the BBC provides a platform for a world-wide discussion of topics of general interest, and facilitates live exchanges between and among BBC staff, invited guests, and callers from all over the world.

Today’s subject was, of course, the Haiti catastrophe—more specifically how “Once again, in a crisis, the world turns to the U.S. to sort it out….”

I was flattered to have been asked by the BBC to participate in the program.

The subject on which I was asked to provide comments and feedback was the relief effort being provided by the U.S. military.

Was it enough? Was it too much? Was it timely? Was it effective? Was it appreciated? “Was it an Invasion?”

I was pleased that most of the comments made in this regard were positive. Of course there were a few critical comments. I was also pleased that the BBC moderator, Ross Atkins, was very objective and factual.

As to my participation, I don’t know how I came across. I am not very quick on my feet or, for that matter, “eloquent” when it comes to such occasions.

Looking back, I probably could have praised and defended the U.S. and the U.S. military’s efforts much better and, in particular, I could have expressed my opinions much stronger when the subject turned to “America wanting to sort of take over,” and, more specifically, to the unfortunate comments recently made by Alain Joyandet, the French Cooperation Minister, that “This is about helping Haiti, not about occupying Haiti…”

I limited my comments to comparing the French minister’s remarks to similar recent drivel by Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega.

However, I wish that I had had the presence of mind and the time to make the following observations:

The United States has a President who ran a campaign based on condemning our invasion and occupation of Iraq and on the promise to get our country out of Iraq as soon as possible. Furthermore—at least according to the opposition—it was “like pulling teeth” to get Mr. Obama to send additional troops to Afghanistan. Why in heavens would he, would the United States, want to invade Haiti?

The United States has used its military to provide humanitarian assistance and relief in dozens of natural disasters, in places such as Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Rwanda, Mozambique, Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, several Central American countries, etc., etc. Were these considered to be military invasions? Did the U.S. occupy any of these countries afterwards?

The unmistakable orders given our military in Haiti are to use deadly force only as a ”last resort,” in self-defense or to save lives. Are these the orders normally given to invaders?

The Guardian today published the words of a U.S. paratrooper doing his selfless job in Haiti: “I don’t plan on firing a single shot while I am here. I’ve been in Iraq three times and I have done enough of that.” Are these the words of an “invader”?

With very few exceptions we only hear words of immense gratitude and high praise for our U.S. military, and other relief workers, from Haitians. Are these the sentiments expressed by those who are “being invaded”?

I could go on, and I wish I had done so during the BBC program.

Fortunately I do have a second chance to express those views here at The Moderate Voice and, guess what, I feel much better now.

Again, my thanks to the BBC for giving me such an opportunity, albeit I did not fully take advantage of it, and for linking to my post, “Haiti: The U.S. Military Steps Up to the Plate.”