The horrendous situation occurring in Haiti since a major earthquake struck the island nation last weekend points up something that should sober the world—especially the so-called “developed,” and “free” nations. Countries like Haiti are an embarassment to a modern, “enlightened” world, and are a condemnation of the tyrants and most of all, of all the good people who do nothing.
Haiti has an interesting history as the only nation in the western hemisphere to have had a successful slave revolt. Unfortunately, to paraphrase Mel Gibson from his movie, The Patriot, the people exchanged one tyrant thousands of miles away, for other tyrants one mile away.
Haiti’s is a history of dictatorship and corruption. Billions in yearly financial aid have poured in from many nations. In particular, Uncle Sam, of course, has been very generous to the Haitians, and most recently President Clinton, during his administration and since, has taken a keen interest in the Haitian condition. And while we’ve indeed poured in more than enough funds to spur development, we’ve never been very good at tracking what happens to our money once it arrives in Port au Prince. If we believe it’s ending up in the bank accounts of the few at the expense of the many, I’m certain we’d be correct.
President Bush famously said, “Americans are a free people, who know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not America’s gift to the world; it’s God’s gift to humanity.”
The problem is that the strong free nations fail again and again to stand up for, and with, the people of weaker oppressed nations. In too many cases, the free nations continue to provide economic support and fail to comply with sanctions against tyrants. For example, right now while I write, people in Darfur, Sudan continue to be slaughtered because the “developed,” “free” nations can’t—won’t—refuse to come together to end it.
Does anyone doubt that if the free (and semi-free) nations truly stood together both economically and militarily, nations such as, Great Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Israel, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Poland, Georgia, Brazil, Mexico, the Scandinavian nations, the Baltic states, and how about Russia, just to name a short list, that they together in a committed common cause couldn’t exert a powerful influence and facilitate the eventual demise of the brutal dictators of our world?
Two primary issues come to mind: The first reason is a misplaced national self interest. They put the short term over the long term, thinking placating or appeasing tyrants today will protect them in the future, even as those tyrants’ power grows. More liberty anywhere is more liberty everywhere. Second, too many nations have been busy over the years conducting their socialism experiments at the expense of their national defense, content to crouch under America’s shield, the only nation that can competently and consistently project power anywhere on earth, for protection, all the while routinely disparaging their benefactor.
I’m afraid that until nations cast aside their socialist delusions and embrace individual human liberty, we will continue to see tragic events like that which we see today in Haiti following their earthquake. In 1989 the U.S. experienced a similar strength earthquake in the heavily populated San Francisco-Oakland region. And while it appears that the Haitians will suffer anywhere from fifty to a hundred thousand or more deaths; only 62 people died in the California quake. The majority of buildings didn’t collapse on people.
However, in a final comment on the subject: while what I’ve said is food for thought, and is indeed something desperately needed in Haiti, right now the real suffering can only be mitigated by the charitable efforts of the world. While the people’s political and economic plight has individuals to blame, a catastrophic disaster is totally within the realm of an indiscriminate nature.
Let’s take this opportunity to help the Haitians, who are a friendly, good, and decent people, build a nation conceived in the liberty that is every person’s God-given right. Here in Seattle, back in 1889, the town suffered a major catastrophe when the fledgling city burned to the ground. The people chose to rebuild rather than relocate and many people today believe that had Seattle not had that great municipal “do-over,” having replaced the previous wooden structures with beautiful brick and stone ones, many of which still stand today, the Emerald City wouldn’t be the crown jewel of the Great Pacific Northwest, and the world class American city we admire today.
If the people of Haiti are willing to build a free nation from the rubble of earthquake and oppression, let’s help them do it, but do it right.