The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Damned if we do ...

As we watch, horrified, at the humanitarian disaster that has followed the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti, one can’t help but feel proud of the efforts of our President, our military, our emergency responders, and the generosity of the American people as we try our best to respond to this calamitous event.

And yet, at the same time, we can’t help but feel chagrined at how even our best efforts lead to anti-Americanism among some members of the “international community.”

Paul Goodman provides a well-worn recipe for what we’re seeing:
  • Calamitous events take place in a chaotic place (think Bosnia, think Somalia, think Iraq in 1991).

  • The U.N and the U.S intervene.

  • The civil government proves to be useless or malign, or both. The U.N isn’t up to the job. The only effective force in sight is the U.S. According to today’s Guardian, John O’Shea, the head of Goal, a medical charity, has called on the U.S to take charge of the whole operation. So has a major U.S aid agency (“which declined to be named for political reasons”).There are only two possible outcomes.

  • The U.S takes over. If this happens, it will be accused of “creating a military occupation under the guise of humanitarian aid” and “occupying” the country outright. (Apologies, my memory’s failing me. These criticisms have been aired already. The first quote’s from President Chavez of Venezuela. The second’s from Alain Joyandet, France’s “Co-operation Minister”.)

  • The U.S doesn’t take over. If this happens, it will be criticised for “not doing enough” - and isolationism.

  • So either way, the U.S loses.

When President Obama was elected, his ardent supporters suggested that his efforts would lead to a reduction in anti-Americanism around the world. Maybe they have, but it’s readily apparent that some governments ("friends" and foes) won’t like us, regardless of what we do.